Friday, July 08, 2005

Land of the Dead

It has been 20 years since Pittsburgh based film maker George Romero has added a new installment to his ongoing series of "Dead" films. The very first was the cult classic "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), followed by "Dawn of the Dead" (1978); "Day of the Dead" (1985) and now "Land of the Dead". All four films pack a powerful punch, not only in terms of the excellent special effects rendered in depicting the gore and violence that these flesh eating zombies can inflict on tame flabby middle-class Americans, but also the keen and savage underlying social commentary that these films can refract to the attentive viewer. I highly recommend this latest effort and think it is as good or better than the previous three.

If you're a long time aficionado of these flicks, you'll get all of the inside jokes, references to past films and the recycling of familiar plot constructions. This particular film has a lot to say about the current state of affairs in our society and most especially about a militaristic outlook in a world where the Empire is outnumbered and out maneuvered. Even weapons of mass destruction cannot protect them from the eventual collapse of an evil & corrupt system. In this case the system is literally devoured.

The main difference from the first three movies is that it takes place mostly out in the world where the zombies exist rather than fortified away from the monsters in, first, a farm house, then a shopping mall and in the third film an underground government complex located in a former salt mine. There is also a central villain of the plot, who is played splendidly by Dennis Hopper. The ending is especially gratifying as swarms of well-heeled yuppies are grotesquely slaughtered by the ever hungry zombies who break into their exclusive galleria type mall. One of my favorite munching scenes is of a zombie plucking out a teenage girls silver belly button piercing with his teeth, leaving a nice bloody hole in her navel from which he could tear her open from. The scenes of yuppie carnage got the best that special effects could offer to graphically portray them being eaten messily for my viewing pleasure. A great flick if you wanna avoid the cliches of Hollywood and the blather of Big Media and take in a couple hours of great images, metaphors, horrific gore and well written dialogue.

I'm glad George Romero had one more epic left in him. As most of you know I despise Hollywood and this feature is most definitely not from there. It is honest good intelligent fun from the streets of Pittsburgh. As my grandmother would say "enjoy it in good health".


Devastatin' Dave said...

If I'm not mistaken, Night of the Living Dead was the first movie with a black hero. Revolutionary.

beamis said...

What about Sidney Poitier movies? Weren't he da first jig to get to be smart and hep da white folk outta dat dere plot dee-lemma?

Max said...

I remember seeing "Dawn of the Dead" in the cinema when it came out. More recently, however (although it was a few years ago), I had a dream in which I was dead and had become a flesh eating zombie. Weird.

Devastatin' Dave said...

The one heroic role I can think of for Sidney Portier was in In The Heat of the Night, but don't know if that was before or after NOTLD.