Land of the Dead - Cover

Scream Factory: Land Of The Dead Collector’s Edition!

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.
Land of the Dead - Poster

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.

[Via] W3reW0lfje

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.
Land of the Dead - Dennis Hopper

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.
Land of the Dead - John Leguizamo

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.
Land of the Dead - Simon Baker

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!
Land of the Dead - Big Daddy

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.
Land of the Dead - Dead Reckoning

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!

Disc One:

  • 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

Disc Two

  • 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

There Is Nothing To Fear With Fear The Walking Dead: Special Edition On Blu-Ray!

Many times on the site I’ve discussed my love and rabid fascination with the zombie films of George A. Romero, I’ve shared that magical Halloween night when I was first able to see Night of the Living Dead. Getting hooked by the slowly escalating thrills of our “heroes” being trapped in that infamous farm house scared me enough that I ended up stretching a cable down the hall so I could be a little closer to my family while I got my first taste of what a zombie apocalypse might look like.

Behind The Scenes - Night of the Living Dead B - Quint - Ain't It Cool News

Throughout the years I’ve always loved the zombie genre, sadly I found there were more bad zombie films than great ones…but I remained a true fan. Then slowly, like the steady march of the hordes of the undead the zombie genre itself began to be accepted, more so it began to thrive. Thanks in no small part to the Resident Evil series of games but it really seemed to blast off when Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s The Walking Dead comic series debuted back in 2003 but even that popularity was small compared to the fans that would flock to the television series adaptation of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Now I will always be totally honest and I’ve mentioned it elsewhere but for my own personal tastes the Walking Dead TV series and I had to part ways after the third season. That doesn’t mean I didn’t check in on episode recaps from time to time to see how the survivors were faring as the series progressed, which is how I was clued into the prequel television series last year entitled Fear the Walking Dead.

Fear the Walking Dead Logo

I was lucky enough to catch the first episode and I was immediately hooked. Fear the Walking Dead which was created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy) was what I desired in my zombie television series, just normal people with mostly everyday problems finding themselves thrust step by step into the realization they are living through a zombie apocalypse. That tension I remembered and loved from Night of the Living Dead was echoed in this new series, methodically ratcheting up as complete strangers are forced to band together but these people also demonstrate the very best in Human nature…well…most of the time.

Fear the Walking Dead introduces us to the Clark family who live in Los Angeles, with Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), a high school guidance counselor that is struggling along with her boyfriend, Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and Daughter, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), with the spiraling chaos that is left behind by Madison’s Son, Nick (Frank Dillane) who is a heroin addict. Nick is in fact one of the first people to encounter the zombie outbreak up close and personal, waking up from a drug-fuled stupor, he is taken to a hospitial after fleeing from a safehouse and he is struck by a car. To the shows credit the writing for the characters is fantastic, these people aren’t cardboard cutouts…they are..believable.

Fear the Walking Dead 1 - AMC

The show doesn’t focus only on the Clarks as we also get to know Travis’ ex-wife Liza and their Son, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), they have an obvious rocky relationship made worse when the young man attends a rally against what is seen by most as Police shootings against unarmed people…the populace isn’t clued in on the the zombie outbreak at this point. That rally becomes a full on riot, with Liza and Travis barely able to keep Chris out of an even worse situation. Which is how we meet the Salazar family, Daniel (Ruben Blades!) and his Wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spindola) and their Daughter Ofeila (Mercedes Mason) who begrudgingly give them shelter from the angry looters outside the Salazar barber shop.

Images courtesy of AMC.

Images courtesy of AMC.

There are supporting characters but the show’s main focus is on these three families and how they must come together if they want to have any hope of of finding refuge from the evident outbreak of the Walking Dead and the absolute collapse of civilization.

Fear the Walking Dead 3 - AMC

The series unlike with the Walking Dead doesn’t just drop us in the middle of everything having already gone down with the zombie uprising but frequently gives us a bird’s eye view of not just our main protagonists glimpse of the unfolding zombie chaos but how the media reacts and the Military…taking a page from Romero’s book, reminding us that most of the time the zombies aren’t the most dangerous thing to contend with.

Fear the Walking Dead 4 - AMC

Now thanks to our friends from Anchor Bay Entertainment starting tomorrow you can pick up the Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Special Edition on Blu-Ray and DVD! It includes all six episodes that make up the first season but also features:
Pilot Episode: The Widescreen Version
Deleted Scenes
Featurettes:
Inside “Fear the Walking Dead”
FEAR: The Beginning
Five Things You Need To Survive
Locations: LA and Vancouver
Quarantined
Stunts and Anarchy
The Faces of Fear – The Infected

But the Special Edition also includes Audio Commentaries on all six episodes:
Episodes 101 & 102: Co-Creator/Executive Producer Dave Erickson, Co-Executive Producer/Director Adam Davidson and Actor Kim Dickens
Episode 103: Co-Executive Producer David Wiener and Actor Alycia Debnam-Carey
Episode 104: Executive Producer David Alpert and Co-Executive Producer David Wiener
Episode 105: Executive Producer David Alpert and Co-Executive Producer/Writer David Wiener
Episode 106: Co-Creator/Executive Producer Dave Erickson and Actors Kim Dickens and Elizabeth Rodriguez

You can hop on over to Anchor Bay Entertainment or visit Amazon by clicking here to pre-order your copy of Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete First Season. If you consider yourself a fan of the Romero films that started it all I think you will find that Fear the Walking Dead will help sate that ravenous hunger for quality zombie entertainment.

Saturday Frights Presents – Skeletons in the Closet with Craig Singer!

skeletons in the closet

Greetings creeps and ghouls! Normally at this time I would be ushering you into a world of drive-in cinema’s greatest fright flicks and pushing concessions that more than likely expired around the time your parents went on their first date…but this week I am offering you something a little different! That’s right fiends, this is the inaugural edition of Saturday Frights Presents: Skeletons in the Closet; a new series where we will talk to legendary creators to discover what horror films from the past inspired them to be the leaders in the field today!

To kick thing’s off, this week’s guest is famed horror director Craig Singer (Dark Ride, Perkins 14)!

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Craig: The Horror film that influenced me the most by far was Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. My parents took me to see the film at a Drive-In Theater in the middle of the woods when I was 6 years old. (What were they thinking?)

I was so terrified that I began to have reoccurring nightmares over the next few decades – in the dreams the dead would come to life one night a year and I would find myself in various locations – my house, school, mall defending myself and whoever I was with from the flesh eating ghouls. The impact the film had on me lasted and was meaningful – the power and impact of what cinema could achieve was seared into my young mind.

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Years later while at the Cannes Film Festival I was approached by two Lions Gate executives after my film A Good Night to Die screened – they congratulated me on my work and asked me what I wanted to do next – I replied “A horror film” … “We want to be your partner” was the reply and that’s how DARK RIDE came to be. It was such a privilege to be able to shoot that film at Universal Studios. The old Universal back lot was our primary set. Actually the guts of the New York street facades were where we built most of the interiors in large part because the guts of the building strongly represented what the inside of an actual Dark Ride looks like.

My last film Perkins 14 (Also released theatrically via Lions Gate) was shot in Romania and while many people think it’s a Zombie film, it’s actually a bit of a hybrid. Perkins 14, along with my love of all things “Zombie”,was directly responsible for my current creation Ollie Mongo SZ. The “SZ” stands for Skateboarding Zombie, which is a wonderful collaboration with Arlene Klasky, the principal of Klasky Csupo animation studio. Arlene has created and produced a number of TV series for Nickelodeon, a few being “Rugrats”, “Wild Thornberrys” and “Rocket Power” as well as produced 4 feature films for Paramount.

“Ollie Mongo Adventures in the Apocalypse,is the story of a 16 year old skateboarding zombie with supernatural powers, that lives 200 years in the future in Asbury Park, NJ. There are 2 issues of an “Ollie Mongo” comic book and a music video – We are currently in the process of developing Ollie as a feature film.

Hopefully you’ll be reading a lot more about Ollie, our little Rebel Without A Pulse shortly. In the meantime I would invite folks to “LIKE” and “SHARE” Ollie on Facebook, and check out the Ollie Mongo comic!

Behind The Scenes: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead is hands down one of my favorite films of all time. I’ve stated before how I watched this for the first time on my little black and white television and was so scared and fascinated by it all that I had to stretch the cable into the hallway of my Grandparent’s house so I didn’t have to watch it alone. It was and still is such a captivating experience. It was also the start of my lifelong love of the Zombie genre.

The always impressive Quint over at Ain’t It Cool News has delivered two fantastic behind the scenes photos of the classic horror film. The reason he did so was due to the sad news that on February 5th, Bill Hinzman, the first zombie we see in the film passed away.

[Via] The Y Fighter on YouTube.


[Photos Via] Quint at Ain’t It Cool News