The Red Right Hand
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LAND OF THE DEAD
The Ultimate Zombie Masterpiece

Director
George A.Romero
Starring
Simon Baker
John Leguizamo
Dennis Hopper
Asia Argento

I'm a rather large fan of Romero's original Zombie Trilogy: Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead & Day Of The Dead, I even like the remakes of the first two and now Mr. Romero has gone back to finish his little saga. I have to say, in order of preference I enjoy the original the most, then the second and the third I didn't really like all that much (6-7/10). The third one dealt with notions of teaching zombies to think, attempting to contact the inner-person as it were; this is all very interesting but not something I actually enjoyed as the outcome seemed blindingly inevitable: train zombie, zombie escapes, kills everyone. In a respect this new film treads the same path, supposing that zombies are not only intelligent but are learning to communicate. Luckily Romero has written this with his usual flare and focused on characters and how they deal with the stress and trauma of the situation they're put in, as opposed to the Resident Evil 2 scenario of random monster encounters.

Land Of The Dead shows us one city in particular that is still thriving, with controlled borders and an active police/military presence. The only problem is that there is a very clear class divide in the form of slums & a large centralised sky-scraper, controlled by the unscrupulous Kaufman [Hopper]. The population is also running out of supplies, so teams of men and women are sent out in armoured vehicles to raid small towns, this is a dangerous but necessary job, one of the main teams is headed up by Riley [Baker] with his second in command, Cholo [Leguizamo]. This film deals with two leads and as such two lead plots, running parallel. The first is Riley's struggle for freedom from his newly-found prison - all he wants is to get away from everyone and everything to start a new life. Unfortunately his dreams to get out on his own are crushed by Kaufman. At the same time Cholo wants to be promoted and brought up to 'Fiddler's Green' but whose dreams are also destroyed under the weight of Kaufman's boot.

If you thought Cholo was the parallel plot that I was referring to, you were wrong. The other story line follows 'Big Daddy.' Big Daddy is a zombie. Not dissimilar to Bub from Day Of The Dead, this zombie is smart (which is interesting seeing as the height of his career is a gas station attendant - a possible slap at academics by Mr. Romero? ....maybe). He may not be intellectual but he can the difference between his own and his enemies, outraged by one of the raids he sets off with a machine gun that he nicks in search of vengeance..... well, I think. I don't really know if a zombie has cause for revenge.

It's a very interesting and cleverly done film and considering it's just been announced that Day Of The Dead is up for a remake sometime next year it wouldn't surprise me to see this being redone sometime in the near future. Unlike the first two remakes -which neither surpass nor reach a par with the originals but provide some bloody good entertainment- there are many little things that could be repaired to both the plot and film as a whole. I really like the fact that the zombies aren't just gunned down all the time, that they are actually part and partial to the plot and provide a social satire for the film. Another thing I would like to know is about the people in Fiddler's Green, do they have any sense of safety in that huge building? Does there own past not frighten them, in that an uprising is possible? Are their conscience's clean or do they cry themselves to sleep at night? Again, Romero's little social commentary on the still apparent social and class divides in modern society.

 Release Date:
23rd September 2005

The Scene To Look Out For:
Big Daddy realising what the gas pump does and getting a slight kick out of the memory - he gives a sort of primal laugh... before smashing it through a front window of a car.

Notable Characters:
Big Daddy. I know, I know, but he was great! Everything he said was hilarious: Argggh! etc. His actions were no different from that of any other leader of social reform - except that he feasted on the bodies of the living..... which has happened before with reform.

Highlighted Quote:
MOTOWN: "What the fuck does a Samoan know about hot-wiring a fucking car?"
PILLSBURY: "50,000 cars stolen in Samoa every year."
MOTOWN: "Yeah? Well, a million in Detroit."
PILLSBURY: "Detroit has 50 million cars. Samoa, 50,000. Every one stolen."

In A Few Words:
Think Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.. but remove Tina Turner and add zombies - altogether better!

Total Score:
6/10

Matthew Stogdon