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Land Of The Dead (2005)

Full Review

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Land of the Dead was George A Romero's first zombie movie in 20 years and in many ways is what Day of the Dead (1985) should have been. I was lucky enough to attend the European Première of the film in Edinburgh at which Romero was present and answered questions.

Land... is set long after the outbreak. Zombies have taken over most of the world, however there are still isolated pockets of humanity living in heavily guarded fortresses and cities. One of these is Fiddler's Green.

Inside Fiddler's Green humanity has reverted to type in the worst way. The rich and powerful live (literally) at the top and the poor survive in slums. Top of the tree is Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), the de facto city leader. Inside revolution is brewing and outside the zombies are getting stronger... and smarter, with 'Big Daddy' (Eugene Clark) leading the way.

This was Romero's first film with a decent budget (around $15 million) and he makes the most of it. Fiddler's Green is well realised and the anti-zombie tank 'Dead Reckoning' is great fun. Hopper's presence lends mainstream respectability to the film but actually I found him one of the least successful aspects - his scene chewing bad guy is just a little too over the top.

For genre junkies there are a number of little treats. These include small cameos from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright from Shaun of the Dead (2004) as well as an appearance from Romero's daughter Tina.

Land of the Dead is something of a turning point for the Romero zombie canon. Humans have always been almost as bad as the zombies, now for the first time they are close to becoming the heroes. The social commentary is clear with the oppressed rebelling against corporate greed and social exclusion. You really want to see Kaufman getting chomped!

Land of the Dead has its flaws, in particular a rather unbelievable happy ending, however it's a great watch if you don't take it too seriously.