Land of the Dead (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on December 13, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, Hungarian DD 5.1. English (FHI), Hungarian, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish Subtitles. 93 minutes
The Movie
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark
Screenplay: George A. Romero
Country: USA
To talk about George Romero is to define the zombie movie. Since Night of the Living Dead, pretty much well every zombie film, be it deliberate or subconsciously, has tipped its hat to Romero's undead films, mainly those post Dawn of the Dead, the second in the series, and also after Day of the Dead, the third in the series. In the sixties, Romero had written a short story that told of the return of the dead and their eventual evolution into a 'species' of their own, and here, over thirty years later, the story begun way back in that first movie has finally come to an end, in the Land of the Dead.

The Dead walk the Earth!! Simon Baker plays Riley, a mercenary who leaves the confines of the city, walled to keep the dead out, to gather supplies for the interred population, in an armored vehicle known as Dead Reckoning with his group, who include his sidekick Charlie (Robert Joy) and erratic self-involved second in command Cholo (John Leguizamo).

High above the walled city in the tower known as Fiddlers Green, a place for the rich, and where all aspire to reside, is the businessman who created his kingdom within the city, Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), a corrupt individual who rules with an iron fist. Eventually Riley is called to help Kaufman out with a little problem, where he and Charlie, along with hooker slack (Asia Argento) are called to stop Cholo from causing Kaufman's perfect world to fall apart. Not known to Kaufman, though, Riley has discovered the undead are evolving and through his observations of Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) he has realized they are communicating. What he doesn't realize though, is that they are becoming organized as well…

This Region 4 edition of Land of the Dead contains the Director's Cut of the film which includes some scenes that either weren't in the theatrical version, or have been fleshed out a little more, including some character development that really adds some layers to some otherwise two dimensional characters. Romero's strength lies in his ability to create interesting metaphors within the confines of a horror movie that reflect society's current concerns, such as consumerism or terrorism, but without making his film preachy or heavy and have it still deliver a great story. Something for Shaun of the Dead fans to look out for, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright play two zombies used for a Polaroid booth "Take your picture with a Zombie' attraction.

All in all, Land of the Dead is a great zombie movie with some brilliant effects and some excellent undead make-up…but what else would you expect from the master?
Most of the scenes take place at night, but the 2.31:1 anamorphic widescreen picture remains clear throughout the entire movie and is a pleasure to watch.
With so much gunplay and Hollywood hullabaloo, this 5.1 Surround soundtrack will take your sound system for a spin. As good to hear as it is to watch.
Extra Features
Undead Again: The Making Of Land Of The Dead (12 minutes 50 seconds). This is a quick look at the making of the film, with the usual ego stroking you see in this sort of thing, that seems to be more about how much every body loves Romero...who actually seems to be quite a nice guy.

A Day with the Living Dead (7 minutes 30 seconds). This is a not-very-serious look behind the scenes of the filming of Land of the Dead. Hosted by John Leguizamo, it is basically footage of him wandering about and pulling the piss out of everybody he comes across. Should have been called 'Night of the Living Smart Arse'.

Bringing the Dead to Life ( 9 minutes 30 seconds). Interviews with Greg Nicotero and others associated with the design and production of the zombie and flesh-eating effects. A bit of a fluff piece with no real substance to it, but seeing the zombies make-ups close up and how some of the effects were done is always of some interest.

The Remaining Bits (2 minutes 55 seconds). A few completely unnecessary deleted scenes and establishing shots that didn't even make the director's cut. The only one I thought was a pity to leave out was a particularly nasty lip-biting.

The Director's Commentary is with George Romero himself, producer Peter Grunwald and Editor Michael Doherty. A fairly sporadic commentary but with some points of interest, especially Romero reminding us, on several occasions that none of his 'Dead' series are connected. They also comment on the scenes that were removed from the theatrical version of the film.

When Shaun Met George (13 minutes ) This is an amusing documentary showing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, of Shaun of the Dead fame, as they travel to the Toronto to meet George Romero and have cameo appearances as zombies in the bar room/ casino scene. This is a funny little doco as the two spend most of their time giggling like school girls at their opportunity at being in a Romero zombie flick, and who of us wouldn't.

Scenes of Carnage (1 minute 39 seconds). A vignette of gore scenes set to some nice classical music…classy!

Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene (3 minutes 17 seconds) This is a fascinating look at how much of this film was done green screen, with a comparison done between the scene both before and after the effects were put in. Most will be shocked at the amount of scenes that were effectively green screened.

Bringing the Storyboards to Life (7 minutes 53 seconds). Shows a comparison from the storyboards to the eventual filmed production, which is always interesting to those that are curious about the pre production side of filmmaking.

Scream Test: Zombie Casting Call (1 minute 2 seconds). Really bad CGI zombies dancing in Michael Jackson's Thriller style to some Hillbilly rock'n' roll! Why? I don't know.

King Kong Trailer (2 minutes 20 second)

Skeleton Key Trailer (2 minutes 17 seconds)
The Verdict
I know could be the last in the series, but like Oliver: I want more. Land of the Dead is a great rollicking funhouse of fear. Buy it…NOW!!
Movie Score
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