Land of the Dead (2005)

Starring Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Robert Joy

Directed by George A. Romero

A preface: This legit review comes in from our good pal, The Hellboy. If you recall, he hails from our days at Creature-Corner; the bastard got himself into a screening of Romero’s fourth ‘Dead’ flick, so here are his thoughts…spoiler free.

If you’re a serious horror fan, the name George A. Romero is synonymous with biting social commentary presented in a horrifying package. He’s a legend – a rare artist who has created a mythology that stands the test of time and continues to influence filmmakers around the world. Yesterday I saw Romero’s latest, Land of the Dead, and it is both a return to form and a homecoming for millions of rabid zombie fans.

I’m not going to go into spoilers here, but the story involves the denizens of Fiddler’s Green, a fictitious luxury community carved out of the debris of Romero’s post- Zombie Apocalyptic world. Fiddler’s Green was founded and continues to be lorded over by Kaufman, played by Dennis Hopper in a great, though slightly restrained, scene-chewing performance. He employs a variety of rough individuals to bring supplies into and take “garbage” out of his elite world. Among these mercenaries we meet Riley Denbo (played with the proper amount of idealism by Simon Baker), his friend Charlie (Robert Joy), and Cholo (John Leguizamo in the film’s best performance).

Cholo wants to make his move “Uptown” to a life he feels he richly deserves, but when he steals the “Dead Reckoning” – an armored assault vehicle designed by Riley – and threatens the city, all hell breaks loose. Literally. The greatest thing about this film is that after a break from his Dead world of twenty years, Romero has gotten everything so RIGHT. He knows the rules he set up, but he’s confident to push the envelope as he did previously with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. I wish I could say that about George Lucas and Revenge of the Sith.

The film has the best acting performances of any of the Dead films, and the cameos have a refreshingly proper feel. Huge kudos to Greg Nicotero and KNB EFX, who lovingly give horror fans what they expect and want from a Dead film, along with a few things we may have never seen before. I can’t recommend this film enough – I can’t wait to see it again when it opens with a suitably crazy crowd. It’s a great movie for the summer.

Oh yeah – Asia Argento? She’s great. I think she may have a future in this business.

5 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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