Land of the Dead
So I traveled out of the city to meet a couple high school friends for some long overdue zombie action yesterday. We have a zombie flick tradition that goes pretty far back. I borrowed a car and left Brooklyn at 1PM to get there for a 3PM movie. It's usually about a 35min drive but I slammed into a wall of traffic. Apparently some truck smashed up on the George Washington Bridge and I literally was going like 5MPH for over an hour. Good times. I kept thinking it was going to let up but it didn't. Real horrorshow traffic. I gave my friends the heads up that I was fukt in traffic and gonna be late. I ended up getting to New Roc City around 3:25 (for a 3pm flick!) and found em inside. I devastatingly missed the first 15 minutes. Opening credits are sometimes my favorite part too. Oh well. (For the new Romero I considered bagging the whole thing and seeing it another time but decided to go ahead with it.)
After getting a whispery recap from my friend, I tried to get my head in the game. There's an army of guys. There's civilization with a hard split between rich and poor. The zombies are getting smarter and gathering. There's gonna be a zombie attack war or something. There's a leader zombie who's supersmart too. Sounds good to me! (BTW I can understand how that plotline sounds like anything but 'good' to non-zomb enthusiasts.)
The first disappointment in this flick was the familiar faces. Dennis Hopper slummed in an appearance as the 'rich bad guy'. John Legizombo showed up grinning with his snaggily teeth and doing his weasel tough guy hacky schtick. It takes away from my zombie reality to see people I know! I prefer anonymous faces in zombie movies. Also are Hopper and Legzamo actual draws for anybody? I'd rather see the money spent on good gore. The second disappointment was the civilization was too normal. Too relaxed. People were into actual money. Cash. When we left off, the world seemed to be in chaos. Not sure why green money should factor in so big. Pure power should always be the post-worldwreck grab-at! C'mon! Who cares about millions of dollars? The third disappointment was this movie was not the glorious blood soaked capper I'd hoped woulda coulda shoulda been.
That's not to say this flick was bad. It was actually very watchable and had some decent shockseconds and ripping. One priest zombie in particular came equipped with a yeah!ly great bitey move. But the thing that got in the way was the plot itself. Dennis Hopper had some vague plan. John Leggizombo had some other dopey plan. The main good guy had his own stupid plan. Then there were some side plans. I really could have done without the clutter. It was a mess. And unfortunately light on chaos. The threads of 'life the way it was before' weren't out of reach. The people in this movie were holding onto them tight. And when civilization is that established it interferes with the logic of the plot. Bottom line: If you have weapons and an army and means to get stuff done, a rickity barbed wire fence locked with a rusty chain to keep out tons of zombies just doesn't factor in cleanly. It makes no sense! Wouldn't safety and security be priority #1 if there are horrible things that want to kill us desperately right outside our doorstep and planning an attack!?.... ummm... oh.... uh oh.... oh well... oy... uch.
Anyway, the movie plays out in a normal actiony style. The plot unspools clunkily on both the zombie and human side. Side characters are jammed in to die for us or bomb at comic relieving. None of it got to me in a good way. It didn't click in. But the good news is there's plenty of biting and ripping and shooting and surprised blank bugged eyes when a bullet blasts into a forehead and lots of heads lopped off and arms get ripped off and chewing on bones and smashy smash in the face with large objects and runned over zombs. Blood squirts. Head stabs. Good times! So, I wasn't really bored which was nice. I just wasn't scared or brain tickled or thoroughly grossed out.
And bottom line... the movie didn't stink Romero. I wanted that theater to reek of rotting. I wanted to be able to see the haze of hell wafting off the screen. I'd breath it in deep. I'd love to fill my nostrils with glorious horribleness then gag on the disgustingly yummy stench! SNIFF!!!
In the end, the place just smelled like regular ol' popcorn....so... <sniff>
Three Good Things About This Movie
- Some of the gore and action was good stuff.
- The pacing was good and some of the shots were set up nicely.
- It was nice to get back to shambly slow zombies and action I can actually see clearly.
Three Bad Things About This Movie
- I missed the first 15 minutes so I'm not sure if it was the experience it
may have been.
- I didn't care about any of the characters.
- I felt the ending was soft and eye rolly.
All in all Land of the Dead isn't a bad movie. It's just not a necessary movie. And the weakest of the four.
If I had it my way I would have preferred this plot:
The humans have regained control of the city. It's surrounded by walls and fences and guards with rifles. The zombies are kept outside in the suburbs and wastelands. These areas have been 'Quarantined' and the zombies roam free there. We see zombies in suburban areas trying to remember how to be regular people. Trying to live in houses. Work in stores. Pretending to be real again. Good times!
The structure of society within the city is loose. Prostitution, weird drugs, gambling are all big business- but the biggest business is entertainment. And entertainment is all about zombie fun (in Land of the Dead this was touched on but not a focus). Games like, Shoot a zombie. Hit a zombie on the head with something big. Blow up a zombie. Hunt a zombie. Box with a zombie. Medieval zombie jousting. Zombie bonk. Carnival games. Zombie rodeo. Zombie sex theater? (maybe not that far) Once people regained control they didn't know what to do with themselves so they just incorporated zombies into their society in the only way they know how... the fun, mean way.
But a group of goody goody do-gooder people are aware that the zombies in quarantined areas are 'gathering' and smartening up. In helicopter flyovers they see what looks like meetings. Could they be meeting?? About what? One actually seemed to have figured out how to drive a car. There seems to be some organization. But the powers that be won't listen to the goody goodys warnings about what's happening out there. The powers that be are having too much fun using armless legless toothless zombies as bases in baseball. To be prepared, the goody goodys start stockpiling weapons like those crazy anti-gov't dudes in the hills.
The zombies are getting sick of being used as target practice and games. The 'roundups' (yee-haw dudes in trucks head out to gather up my zombies to bring into the city) are starting to have an effect on the zombies. The zombies start fighting back. Setting weird traps and ambushes. They are planning and plotting. They seem to be able to communicate with each other crudly non-verbally. Eventually the zombs discover the sewer system that leads to under the city. They organize and flood into the pipes and emerge all over the city all at once. Thousands and thousands. Emerging from manhole covers and sewage pipes to sneak attack the city and ruin it. Spilling out like rats. Everyone is caught off guard. Super gory attacks. The group that stockpiled weapons fight their way to the helicopter and fly away.
The final scene shows the zombies in control the city using live humans for entertainment purposes.... while snacking on all the fresh humans they want from zombie vendors.