Movie Title: Land of the Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Date Released: June 24th, 2005
Date Seen: July 8th, 2012
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
Ah, I love me a good zombie movie. Outrageous deaths of both humans and zombies, cheesy yet decent budgeted effects…. Greatness. And it’s a George Romero film, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
The movie had a surprisingly developed plot, that was a little bit out of the ordinary but I really liked it. Even though there are zombies everywhere in the world, there is a town surrounded by rivers on 3 sides. In the middle of town is a big glass tower where rich people are living – not concerned at all with the zombies. They have everything they need there. Others live in the town and are poor, hungry, etc. So you really have three classes to deal with in this movie – poor, rich, and zombies.
I really liked it and recommend you watch it, when you’re in the mood for a good fast zombie movie.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review/Synopsis
The movie opens with a shot of some zombies just hanging out. It appears that these zombies aren’t completely mindless – a couple is still holding hands like they’re on a date. Another set of zombies are playing (or attempting to play) music in a gazebo. We see two guys, Riley (Simon Baker) and a 20 something year old, doing a recon type mission to check out a town for supplies. They witness one big black guy zombie come out from a gas station like he’s going to pump gas. Riley sees through his binoculars that his name tag says “Big Daddy.” He notices the two men watching him and zombie-grunts and appears to alert the nearby zombies that the men are there. This is when I knew it’d be a good movie. I love fast zombies/not completely mindless zombies.
Riley and the other guy, who appears to be a newbie to the team, head back to their group. The group is out to get necessities from small towns. They have one awesome weapon/vehicle called “Dead Reckoning” which we later learn Riley built. It’s this super awesome bus/tank thing that has guns out the wazoo. They send out the teams to go actually get supplies now but Riley tells everyone, especially Cholo (John Leguizamo) to be careful because these zombies appear to be a little bit smart. To keep the zombies away they shoot up fireworks, which they call “flowers” which distract the zombies.
Cholo is a douchebag, and rather than getting essential supplies, he goes and gets some liquor and cigars. In the course of this, the rookie gets bitten by a zombie. Riley arrives, and is comforting the kid, but the kid shoots himself rather than become a zombie. They start heading back to their town. Also somewhere in here we get introduced to Charlie (Robert Joy), a man with half his face burnt off, but appears to be best friend to Riley. He’s a little simple-minded but protective. He was my favorite character throughout the movie. On their way back to town, all the zombies are staring up at the fireworks still…. Except for Big Daddy. He starts shaking the others to “snap out of it”. He’s clearly going to be the lead zombie. As one motorcycle drives away, he grabs a gun off of him. He straps it on him, and gets the other zombies to follow him down the road – after the group that was just in town.
I had already decided I was on team zombie at this point – because they were just sad that all their friends got killed and were going to enact revenge on the humans who did this…. In my mind. So I liked them. I liked Riley as well, but still, I felt for the zombies, which in some movies, you don’t at ALL.
The city where they live is called Fiddler’s Green. It’s a city surrounded by rivers on three sides, with a train tunnel running underneath it, and a giant glass tower in the center of town. It’s where all the rich people live, completely unconcerned with what is going on outside. They have everything they need in there – thanks to people like Riley, Charlie and (ugh) Cholo. Riley gets all annoyed at Cholo because it’s his fault that kid dies. Cholo says he doesn’t really care, the kid knew what he was getting into, and tonight he’s going on to bigger and better things – he has enough money to get a place in the big tower. Riley says there’s no way they’ll let him in there because they don’t let their kind of people in there. Cholo storms off, and Riley and Charlie leave. Outside in the city streets are where the “other half”, the poor people, live. We see that Riley is well respected by those outside. Riley has decided that now, he is going to leave Fiddlers Green and go North. He tells Charlie that he bought a car, so they go get it. They discover that it’s not there…. Riley is super pissed and so goes to try and find out what happened to it.
Riley and Charlie go to this underground club where they have some awesome games – like “take a picture with a zombie!” (which I read that two of the zombies are Sean Pegg and Edgar Wright from Shaun of the Dead. I wasn’t paying that much attention so definitely going to go back and look) or “Shoot a zombie (no head shots, please!)” etc. They also have zombie fights. They spray paint one’s face red, and the others black, and then put some food in there for the zombies to fight over. Usually a cat or dog. But today, a hooker gets thrown in there – Slack (Asia Argento). Riley is getting the run around about what happened to his car, and Chihuahua (Phil Fondacaro) is prepared to shoot him if things get confrontational. But, Riley notices what is going on in the ring and shoots the two zombies, which cause chaos. Slack saves Riley from getting shot by Chihuahua, and Charlie shoots Chihuahua. The cops come and arrest the three of them. Why? Because that one rich old guy who olds everything says so – and Chihuahua was his lackey.
At the same time, Cholo goes up and sees that old rich man we were just referring to – Kaufman (Dennis Hopper). Cholo appears to have also been his lackey for a while, getting him liquor, cigars, and occasionally taking out people he wanted gone. Cholo says that he now has enough money to get a place in the tower and Kaufman basically gives him a big “ha, yeah right” and makes a security guard escort him out. The guard tries to kill Cholo, but Cholo knocks him out and now is super angry.
ALSO at this same time, the zombies have gotten pretty close to town. At one point, they can’t figure out how to get through a wall. So Big Daddy hits it for a second, then sees the Butcher zombie with his cleaver, and moves him over to the wall, and the Butcher cuts through it. At another part, they are trying to figure out how to cross the river. Big Daddy jumps in…. and doesn’t come up. The other zombies actually have a look of concern on their faces. But they are shown a couple of scenes later surfacing at the other edge of the river. Although we don’t see exactly how they got across, I’d like to think that it was EXACTLY the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, when the pirates walk under the water. So that’s what happened in my head. Underwater zombie walks. So now the zombies are at the train entrance to the town.
Cholo gets his group together and is going to the train entrance – because he’s decided that he is going to take Dead Reckoning, and then hold the town for ransom. At the same time he’s telling his team this and getting ready to go, the zombies are at the fence and break through. So there’s a mediocre zombie fight here. I say mediocre because there are better ones later. Cholo kind of helps, a little bit, but then they leave and call Kaufman and tell him his terms of ransom – 5 million dollars by midnight or he’s going to blow up the tower. He leaves one guy at a port, where the money is to be delivered, and then Cholo and the rest of his buds go hang out on a hill. This poor guy that was left eventually gets ripped apart by a clown and a young boy zombie. It was hilarious. But further point that clowns are terrifying (though this one wasn’t as creepy as Pennywise (“IT”) or as the Zombieland clown).
Kaufman calls up Riley, and tells him that he’ll let him and his friends go if he goes and gets Dead Reckoning back, by midnight. He wants “HIS” vehicle back…. Even though it’s Riley that built it. Riley agrees. Riley, Slack, and Charlie get ready to go, and Kaufman sends three others with him, because he obviously doesn’t entirely trust Riley. They are Manolete (Sasha Roiz), Motown (Krista Bridges), and a giant Samoan named Pillsbury (Pedro Miguel Arce). Motown seems to be the one that will be the biggest problem. They go out and discover the fence torn down and that the zombies have gotten in. They warn Kaufman, who seems unconcerned because they are mindless creatures and could never make it into the tower…. *dun dun dun foreshadowing dun dun dun*. Manolete and Riley go to get some guns, while the others try to start up a jeep by hotwiring it. In here was my favorite Charlie scene. Slack asks why he licks his rifle before he shoots it. He says it’s so he can see it catch the light, and then he turns his gun on Slack. She starts freaking out, and then Charlie shoots it – and hits a zombie right behind her. She is annoyed and he isn’t sure why. A couple of minutes later, basically the same thing happens, but with the roles reversed. Slack says “now we’re even” and Charlie is grabbing his ear saying that “but I didn’t hurt you!!! Ow!!!” It was cute. Loved that whole scene.
Manolete and Riley are getting guns and find tons of zombies in the shed. On their way out, Manolete gets bitten. As they all drive off in the jeep, they discuss what to do in the situation. Riley reveals that his brother got bitten and it took about an hour to turn. Then he shot him. Slack doesn’t want to wait…. So she shoots Manolete.
Riley directs them to where Cholo is (he has a tracker on Dead Reckoning). But first, he stops, and informs everyone that he is just going to take back what is his – Dead Reckoning – and has no plans to return it to Kaufman. He tells anyone who doesn’t like the plan to get out of the jeep. Motown doesn’t look convinced, but after looking at the zombie infested forest, decides to stay. They get to where Cholo is, and Charlie and Riley go up to Dead Reckoning, leaving the others behind as backup. As they walk away, Motown starts freaking out saying they’re just going to leave them and they should take the jeep and….. Pillsbury knocks her out. Nice.
Riley tells Charlie to put on his best Sunday smile and to make friends in there. They don’t want Cholo to immediately know what they’re up to. Inside of Dead Reckoning, Cholo takes control and is threatening Riley. About that time Motown wakes up, heads towards Dead Reckoning and then gets her throat ripped out by a zombie. Riley takes advantage of the screams to take control of the situation. Charlie gets his gun back and turns it on them, and Riley asks “how you doing in there, Charlie?” and he replies “oh, just making friends.” Hilarious. Charlie is the best. I know it all sounds stupid, but god he is awesome. Riley calls Kaufman and tells him he got Dead Reckoning, but has no intention of returning it. About that time, Riley notices that the zombies have gotten to the city and decides to go save the innocent people. So the groups split up. He lets Cholo and one of his friends take the jeep off to wherever they want to go, and everyone else piles in Dead Reckoning.
So during these scenes, they’ve been inter-cut with the zombies reaching the city. First they attack those in the streets. Some zombies get weapons and use them; others just go typical zombie, etc. Then they get to the tower. It’s the best scene. They start banging on the door, and Big Daddy takes a jack hammer and the windows shatter and they get in. Then it’s like a slow motion hilariousness of watching zombies attack the rich people. The scenes were ingeniously shot too. When the zombies were out killing the poor people, it was quick, dirty, and what you expect of a zombie kill. However when they kill the rich people, the scene turns into a showcase of the killings. They’re all emphasized and done in hilarious ways. So now the rich people have become the entertainment. Greatness. Kaufman gets bags of money and escapes with his driver going down the elevator to his car. More to come later on that story.
Now here, I’m just going to go out of plot order but finish the two story lines at once so it’s not a lot of back and forth:
Cholo – Cholo and his friend are about to pull away, when a hand grabs Cholo. He looks up and sees a headless zombie grabbing him… and then a head FLINGS forward and bites him. The head was literally attached by like one tendon and is swinging back and forth. Beautiful. He shoots it, but he’s bit. His friend asks him what he wants to do. Cholo says he “always wanted to see how the other half lived…” and has his friend drive him back to the city. He wants to kill Kaufman. Kaufman is now down in the garage with his driver. Kaufman gets in the car while his driver goes to open the garage door. As he opens it, we see Big Daddy appear next to the car. The driver takes one look at him and runs away. Kaufman is cursing him because he has the keys. Big Daddy bangs on the window for a second and then sees the gas pump next to the car – he grabs it and covers the car in gasoline… then he beats a hole into the windshield and puts it in there – and starts filling the car with gasoline. Then he appears to just walk out of the garage. Kaufman gets out of the car, thinking he is fine, but about that time, Zombie Cholo walks in and starts fighting with Kaufman. Then Big Daddy appears again, rolling a flaming can down and so it ignites the gasoline and blows both Kaufman and Zombie Cholo up. It was a fabulous scene – although I did want more fighting between Kaufman and Zombie Cholo.
Riley and crew: Riley and crew are going to save the people of the town. We see some people have gotten to a stopping point – zombies one direction and an electric fence the other. They don’t know how they’re going to escape. At the same time, Riley and crew get to a draw bridge. Riley gets out to go let it down. While he does that, a horde of zombies get to Dead Reckoning. One lone zombie gets to Riley and he almost gets bit… but he holds the zombies head under the bridge coming down and so it gets cut off. It was fabulous. Riley then has to go in through the roof of Dead Reckoning as the driver mows down the zombies with her machine gun. They drive into the city and start to shoot up some fireworks. For a moment, the zombies, who were just about to the city people, look up at them. The people say “yay! We’re saved!” But about 10 seconds later, all the zombies look back down and resume coming at them. We see Dead Reckoning pull up and all the people there are being eaten. So they blow them up. Some survivors start to appear from the ashes. They are all going to try and rebuild the city. They ask Riley to stay. He doesn’t want to and wants to go north. So do his buds in Dead Reckoning. So they head off to the North. They see some zombies, including Big Daddy, and the woman starts to shoot them. Riley stops her saying that they are just looking for a place of their own… like they, themselves are. So they drive off. The end.
Fabulous zombie movie, great kills, it’s exactly what you’re looking for when you’re in the mood for a good zombie movie. And it’s also a little different than the standard evil stupid slow zombie plot which makes it even better!