Land of the Dead – Review (Scream Factory Blu-ray)
I love all of George Romero’s work in some manner, even if the movie turns out to not be the best he has produced. Land of the Dead is one of those movies, where I can enjoy it, but I know it’s just not that great. It’s hard to pinpoint precisely where Land of the Dead misses the mark. Are the intelligent zombies the problem? They indeed aren’t popular with a lot of people, and I tend to lament Romero’s idea, and instead, find myself wishing he stuck with a more tried and tested zombie story. I do realise that Dawn of the Dead hints at the zombies remembering their un-undead lives, and we can’t forget Day of the Dead’s Bub, who Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) has a lot in common with. Still, there is just something off with the smart zombies in this movie and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe you can help me in the comments section.
Another issue with Land that sticks in my craw is the idea of money. We see John Leguizamo’s character being rejected by the high-class society of Fiddler’s Green, ran by the evil Kaufman (Dennis Hopper). Because of this rejection, he steals the community’s biggest safety net from the zombies, Dead Reckoning, a massive vehicle armed to the teeth. He then proceeds to demand money, or he’ll blow up Fiddler’s Green. In a time where society has crumbled, and zombies are eating people, why is money even a commodity? It’s utterly useless. It makes no sense, yet the story revolves entirely around that dumb idea.
The next issue (I swear this is really my last issue with the movie) is the concept of this being a continuing series, connected to the past three zombie films. If that is to be the case, then who exactly is building new buildings, roads, vehicles, weapons, clothing and so on. The film just feels too modern to be considered a continuation of the original three Dead films. I do understand that the same could be said for Dawn compared to Night, but that felt more like the zombie outbreak was still developing, allowing people to still have time to try to live a normal life, whereas Land of the Dead is years down the road, way after the zombie outbreak. Also, why are the zombies less rotten looking compared to Day’s zombies?
Those are the three major faults I have with Land of the Dead. Intelligent zombies, money, and the feeling of it not being a proper continuation. Now, what do I like about the movie? Well, there is some classic Romero zombie kills happening, which will please gorehounds. Asia Argento, albeit a wasted character, is hot in this film. I enjoyed the idea of the different class societies, with the underground gambling zombie fighting rings being a highlight. Also, Tom Savini’s machete character coming back from Dawn of the Dead all zombiefied is a neat throwback. Umm, that’s about it.
Land of the Dead was more disappointment than success for many people who patiently waited the astounding 20 years since Day of the Dead came out. Obviously, no matter what zombie film Romero produced, it would not have lived up to that feverish hype. Nevertheless, the possibility of a worthier sequel was doable, but sadly Romero missed the mark, and that happened over and over again with the next films in the series. It’s a damn shame.
Okay, so who cares if I didn’t like the film, maybe you love it and just want to know if Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is worth picking up. I think you can already guess what I’m about to say. No, it isn’t.
Ha, kidding. The release from Scream is definitely worth buying. The package contains two versions of the film, the theatrical and unrated version. I do find it weird that the theatrical release is the one being marketed first, coming on disc one with all the new features. Why anyone would choose to watch the cut version over the unrated is something I wouldn’t understand. As for the new features, you get some enjoyable interviews with various cast and crew. The only new feature on the second disc is an audio commentary with a few zombie performers.
As for video and audio, given the fact that the film was shot and released in 2005, the 2K scan of the interpositive is looking fantastic, and it sounds just as great. Crystal clear, super loud and no distortion. Comparing the original Universal release, along with the HD-DVD release against the Scream Factory version, the Scream looks to be close to the same as the HD-DVD release, retaining the grain. Honestly, they all look very similar.
The Scream Factory Blu-ray release of Land of the Dead is going to please the fans of the film and purists who just want to own all the Dead movies. I’m glad to have it in my collection, but I don’t see myself watching the movie over and over again. I will, however, get plenty of enjoyment out of the special features.
DISC ONE: Theatrical Cut
NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
NEW Cholo’s Reckoning – An Interview With Actor John Leguizamo
NEW Charlie’s Story – An Interview With Actor Robert Joy
NEW The Pillsbury Factor – An Interview With Actor Pedro Miguel Arce
NEW 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
DISC TWO: Uncut Version
NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive With HD Inserts
NEW 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
RUN-TIME: 93 / 97 min
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1
PRODUCTION DATE: 2005