Sunday, November 17, 2013

Throwback Movie Review! Land of the Dead

Hey everybody Joe Diesel here!  Welcome to the new blog for the Half Hour of Power!  To get things started, I'll put up some posts I did from my old blog!  I know you are bursting with joy and delight!  Don't worry we will get some new material up here momentarily!

Here is the review I wrote for Land of the Dead.  I first posted this on 7/5/05.  It appears unaltered and exactly as it did the day I first posted it.  This one got some fun comments that I may share in a later post.


It looks like we have to wait for The Devils Rejects to see a good horror movie! I can describe Land of the Dead in one word...disappointing. Like everyone else, I was waiting for another Romero zombie picture. I am a big fan of horror movies. They are my favorite kind of movie. So...when I heard that Romero finally got the backing to make his fourth zombie film, I was excited. I thought, "Romero will show 'em how it's done!" Alas! Alack! It was not to be!

The movie sounds good enough. A group of humans who survived the zombie holocaust have fortified a portion of a city trying to get back to some kind of normal life. They've been keeping the zombies out so far. At night, the humans go to the surrounding towns and gather supplies. Sounds good enough? Yea...that plot of the movie is fine. The execution is lackluster. The script needed more work. I think the movie is too short...with a running time of about 100min.

The June edition of Fangoria magazine has a great story about Land of the Dead. What!? You don't read Fangoria? If you are a horror movie fan, you should read Fangoria! Now...Fangoria gives what they call the Fango Seal of Approval. Almost every time I have watched a movie that sported the Fango Seal of Approval, the movie was either good or outstanding. The June issue has articles on two movies that get the seal...The Devils Rejects...and a Japanese horror film called Premonition. If you like horror films, you can safely put money down that you will most likely find these films good or outstanding. I bring this up because suspiciously absent from the Land of the Dead article is a seal of approval. Fangoria has covered Romero's career since the magazine first began in the late seventies. You would think that a new Romero zombie movie would have no trouble getting a Fango Seal of Approval. "What does this have to do with the movie?" you ask...let's look at the article and the movie side by side.

One of my big problems with the movie is the Big Daddy zombie. He is played by Eugene Clark. He says about Big Daddy, "He's a bad dude. He just don't take no stuff...You know what I'm sayin'? You come to my territory and mess with my people. Everybody's my people, you understand? So they come to town and do what they got to do. They gonna take care of bidness. That's all I gotta say. Don't mess with Big Daddy's people." You're a zombie! You have no people! He sounds so uppity and pretentious here I can't take it! But...wait...there's more! "I see Big Daddy as a man, a zombie, an entity who is evolving, and who realizes, 'This is wrong!' All right? You come into our territory, we eat you. You don't come into our territory, we don't eat you-we leave you alone. You come in, you cause mayhem, and it's wrong. So...civil rights? I don't think there are any civil rights. It's zombie rights. Leave us alone!" Again...You're a zombie! Mr. Clark sounds like he hasn't seen any of Romero's previous zombie films. Zombies have no territory! They wonder around aimlessly and will follow you and eat you even if you have never killed a zombie! All of the scenes with Big Daddy are painful to watch. Here's one where he holds a severed zombie head. He looks at it and seems to weep. He throws it down and smashes it under his boot. Then he lets out a mighty roar. I cringed at how stupid that was.

Ok...what else...In the beginning of the movie when the humans are raiding the town for supplies...Cholo (John Leguizamo) is showing a kid the ropes. They sit on a motorcycle and watch the others take out some zombies. The kid says, "I thought it was going to be a battle. It's a fucking massacre!" Cholo does not react to this as if he agrees! Whose side are you on kid?! Again...THEY ARE ZOMBIES! That line is sooo idiotic and out of place! Land of the Dead, the zombies are supposed to be evolving and becoming more aware. An example...they begin to use tools. For those who don't know...this is not new! The zombies have done that in every Romero zombie movie! In fact, within the first few minutes of Night of the Living Dead, the zombie picks up a rock and smashes the car window to get to Barbara! Also, Big Daddy is supposed to "lead" the zombies to the city. This is also not new! In Dawn of the Dead the Steven zombie "led" the zombies down the hallway, up the stairs, and into the secret hideaway! Everything the zombies do in Land of the Dead, the zombies could have done without the Big Daddy zombie! Bub figured out how tro use a gun in Day of the Dead! I just could not get Mr. Clark's asinine comments out of my head while watching the movie! You are playing a zombie!

Ok...for some reason, that I can't begin to comprehend, Romero wants us to feel sympathy for these zombies. I have no sympathy for zombies! You can't exploit a zombie! You can't massacre a zombie! You can't abuse a zombie! You can't torture a zombie! You can't negotiate with a zombie to stay out of your territory!(to use Mr. Clark's words!) I named one of those scenes above. Another is when Big Daddy and his zombie horde reach the outskirts of the city. he shows a zombie carrying a butcher knife how to use it. He cuts through a board. Big Daddy peers through it. Oh my! He sees zombies hung upside down apparently used for target practice! brutal! How dare those filthy humans brutalize us poor defenseless zombies! Big Daddy lets out a mighty roar. "This is wrong he screams! Don't mess with my people!" Eat shit Big Daddy zombie you are the stupidest zombie ever to grace the silver screen! You dirty son-of-a...

My bad! I almost got off track!

Ok..another stupid sympathy the end of the movie, our hero Riley(Simon Baker) is about to leave town. Someone in his party is about to blow up a bridge that the Bid Daddy zombie just happens to be walking across with a bunch of other zombies. Riley stops 'em, "No. They're just looking for a place to go just like us." WHAT! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, THEY ARE ZOMBIES! BLOW THEM TO HELL! Riley is going to get all the humans killed with an attitude like that!

Ok..."What did Romero say about the movie?" You asking me? Let's check the Fangoria..."I tried to relate [this movie] to post 9/11 America. Living with terrorism, with the idea of this suddenly being a real threat." He goes on...but that is not relevant to this review. This is not new to any Romero zombie movie. All his zombie movies had something to say about society and the world around us. This didn't bother me...nor did it surprise me. I was accused of not liking it by Whitechocoricecrispyspaceapplejacks because of this commentary on politics and society. That is not the case. I think I have made that point quite clear.

I can go on with some more more...Kaufman(Dennis Hopper...the evil human...also not new to Romero zombie movies...evil humans I mean) is on his way out to escape. He gets in his car but his driver ran off with the keys. The car is in an underground parking garage. Who wanders in? That's right Big Daddy. It should be stated that in life, Big Daddy worked at a gas station. Kaufman sits in the car while Big Daddy takes a gas pump that is next to the car and shoves it through the windshield. Gas fills Kaufman's car. Big Daddy walks off. Big Daddy was all alone Kaufman could have killed Big Daddy with zero problem! Stupid human! The other reason I bring up this scene is, zombies wonder around and repeat what they did in life. This is the second time I bring this I need to expand the point? Zombies are not territorial and do not deserve sympathy from the humans or the audience. I've never seen Romero try so hard at trying to get the audience to feel sympathy for a zombie that will eat you...that will rip you limb from limb!

Ok...what did I like about it? The KNB boys handled the make up effects very well. The zombies look as good as they ever have. It was also good to see Tom Savini make a cameo as a zombie. It was good to see Asia Argento in this movie. She is a talented actress. I hope to see her in more of her father's (Dario Argento) movies and maybe some more good American movies.

That really is about it. All you waiting for a real horror movie go see The Devil's Rejects. That should wash the bad taste of this mediocre movie out of your mouth. For all it's flaws, I think Day of the Dead is a better more watchable zombie movie. Romero is capable of making another great zombie movie. When he does, I'll be the first in line...and the first to say job well done.

I can't resist. I hope to inflict some DEEP HURTING...DEEP HURTING on you with these parting thoughts from my favorite zombie and yours Eugene Clark playing the part of Big Daddy, "And when Big Daddy sees people dying, and people being slaughtered, it pains him...His world has been torn apart, his people-zombies-are being destroyed, and it's being caused by irresponsible people, and it has to stop. The challenge for me at times is, how do I keep my sanity?" How indeed...

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