Land of the Dead was a very big deal when it was originally announced back in 2005. It marked the return of George A. Romero to his Dead universe. A mere 20 years had passed since we zombie fans were last treated to Romero’s unique vision of an ever increasing apocalypse. An apocalypse of the flesh-eating hordes of the undead. I can certainly say Land of the Dead had quite a bit of expectation tied to it.
I was so excited in fact that I took off work when it opened on June 24th. Furthermore judging by the size of the audience for the first matinee I wasn’t the only one. It was absolutely packed. I can remember how friends and complete strangers alike were busily chatting away with each other. Discussing their favorite Dead film, memorable scenes and how the movies ranked as well. Then the lights dimmed and an absolute hush washed over the audience.
Land of the Dead marked the first film that Romero made that had studio support. In this case it was Universal Studios. Which probably helped to nab the talents of the likes of Dennis Hopper and of course John Leguizamo.
So what kind of story did Land of the Dead bring us? In short a corrupt business man named Kaufman (Hopper) has created possibly the last sanctuary for humanity. A towering beacon of hope…false hope, for the huddled masses. If you happen to be filthy rich and align with Kaufman’s agenda you are safe and comfortable in the Green. However if you are one of the many poor – you earn your living in other ways. As a soldier guarding the fenced perimeter of the Green to keep out the Dead. Or as in the case of Cholo (Leguizamo) a lackey who is forced to get his hands dirty.
Our main protagonist in Land of the Dead is Riley Denbo, played by the Mentalist’s Simon Baker. A man who has all but been ground down by the world of the Dead. Not to mention having to go out constantly on raids to nearby cities and towns to scavenge for food and supplies for the people of the Green.
On Riley’s last night out before retirement he notices something odd about the Dead they are contending with. At least in the case of one, Big Daddy, played by Eugene Clark. They seem to be getting smarter or remembering how to act like they did when living. At the very least they appear to be able to communicate with one another now…like forming a mob to repel and hunt down their attackers!
Which is something I might add that Romero has clued us fans to from the start with Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Things go sour for Riley’s retirement plans as well as Cholo’s. In the case of the latter however it means retribution against Kaufman and the people of Fiddler’s Green. If his ransom demand of 5 million dollars are not met he will unleash the fury of Dead Reckoning on the city.
Dead Reckoning is Land of the Dead‘s massive anti-dead vehicle. A modified Semi truck, designed by Riley in fact. Equipped to the teeth with all manner of weapons to punch it’s way through large mobs of the Dead. More importantly it has a deadly rocket launcher system that Cholo threatens to use on Fiddler’s Green.
So Riley is forced to go out beyond the safety of the city. To hunt down Cholo and reclaim Dead Reckoning before Kaufman’s empire is destroyed. Thankfully Riley can count on his friend Charlie (Robert Joy) as well as Slack, played by the bad ass Asia Argento. But as with all Romero Dead films…the true threat isn’t the hordes of walking dead…but our fellow man. The real question of Land of the Dead becomes whether humanity even deserves to be saved.
Now back in 2005 as the credits rolled on Land of the Dead I took a big breath. I walked out of the theater and got in my car. I then sat there for a few minutes. George A. Romero’s return had left me incredibly disappointed.
Perhaps I had put too much expectation on the film and what I thought it was going to be about. I will certainly admit that I thought we would be seeing humanity waging an all out war on the Dead after watching the trailer.
[Via] Scream Factory TV
Over the years I at least was wise enough to see how good Land of the Dead actually was. Will it ever by my favorite? No, I am afraid that goes to 1985’s Day of the Dead. A film I should add that when I originally watched it on VHS I wasn’t that impressed with either.
Now the good news is that Scream Factory is delivering a Blu-Ray collector’s Edition of the film. On this Tuesday, Halloween itself no less! This 2-disc edition also contains a horde of special features. Including an absolutely stunning 2K scan of the movie on both the theatrical cut as well as uncut version!
- Theatrical Cut
- Cholo’s Reckoning – An Interview With Actor John Leguizamo
- Charlie’s Story – An Interview With Actor Robert Joy
- The Pillsbury Factor – An Interview With Actor Pedro Miguel Arce
- Four Of The Apocalypse – An Interview With Actors Eugene Clark, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks, And Jasmin Geljo
- Dream Of The Dead: The Director’s Cut With Optional Commentary By Director Roy Frumkes
- Deleted Footage From Dream Of The Dead
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Uncut version
- Audio Commentary With Zombie Performers Matt Blazi, Glena Chao, Michael Felsher, And Rob Mayr
- Audio Commentary With Writer/Director George A. Romero, Producer Peter Grunwald, And Editor Michael Doherty
- Undead Again: The Making Of Land Of The Dead
- Bringing The Dead To Life
- Scenes Of Carnage
- Zombie Effects: From Green Screen To Finished Scene
- Scream Test – CGI Test
- Bringing The Storyboards To Life
- A Day With The Living Dead Hosted By John Leguizamo
- When Shaun Met George (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)
So before you head out to enjoy your Halloween festivities. Make sure to pick up the Land of the Dead Collector’s Edition. Or of course you can hop on over to Scream Factory and pre-order your copy today.
Did you know that Land of the Dead received a tie-in video game? It certainly did! Check out the trailer for Road to Fiddler’s Green!
[Via] Archives of the Dead