Land Of The Dead

3 out of 10

  Bland of the Dead

Parkinson's Law is amply demonstrated by "Land Of The Dead". It states that people rise to one level above their level of competance as ambitious people will keep being promoted until a position is beyond them. Zack Snyder's excellent remake of "Dawn Of The Dead" in 2004 bought fresh attention to George A Romero's 1978 original. Ostensibly about a group of American's trapped in shopping mall beseiged by a world overrun by zombies, this flick, filmed on just $1.5million, was written by Romero as a parody of the evils of consumerism. With Snyder's flashy remake quickly followed by the cruel British parody "Shaun Of The Dead", Romero became the man in the spotlight, proclaimed as a guru ahead of his time, the studios obviously thought "let's give this old dude a wad and he'll do it again", Romero has landed "Land Of The Dead" on our screens...and it stinks!

$15,000,000 may not seem a great deal in today's market, but it should easily be enough tto produce a serviceable horror flick. Sadly, blinded by his own acclamation, Romero has written another social commentary, a parallel of America that is packed full of stereotypes, to be rammed down our throats with the force of all the wads of cash in his pocket can bring. A group of glittering apartment blocks stands free from the zombies who have overrun the rest of the world. Called "Fiddler's Green", a presumed euphamism for illgotten dollars, it is run as a supposed democracy, run by Kaufman and his ruthless, rich white elite. Naturally protected by a river, it also has an army of white trash and black survivors living in the squallor of the streets below who have been given the choice of knuckling under or leave out and die. With the help of "Dead Reconning", a sort of truck-sized armoured vehicle, Fiddler's Green's micro-army mount regular raids to stock up on tinned food, fuel and booze which is then distributed though the city by a system of total corruption.

Two matters upset the apple cart. Firstly, as suggested in Snyder's Dawn of the Dead", zombies can evolve and one, Big Daddy, gains enough resentment to mount the impossible attack and enough intelligence to figure out how to do it. Meanwhile, Cholo, Kaufman's personal henchman discoering that his has been duped out of a chance at the good life, an impossible to obtain apartment in the complex itself, steals Dead Recooning, its primary defence, and the melting pot of political intrigue boils ove into the lap of Riley, the head of Cholo's unit and the last honest man in town.

Complete with the requisite part-time hooker, Slack the Slag, no matter how interesting the plot sounds, its development is truly one dimensional. The obvious always happens. The zombies storming a shopping mall with nice people in designer fashion tripping over coffee house tables before they are torn to shreds is just cheap, low brow entertainment at its worst. Despite John Leguizamo blazing with all his hispanic fire, Simon Baker as Riley, Eugene Clark as the outraged black zombie, Big Daddy and Dennis Hopper, now so old, he too probably qualifies as a real life zombie as Kaufman, the fact is that no-one can escape the stereotyping of the lame lines and the action-filled lack of suspense. All the dry dark humour and brilliance of cinematography that Zack Snyder, an alumni of British TV commercials had brought to the remake of "Dawn Of The Dead" is absent. Instead, Romero is so busy carping on about inequality in the world, he's forgotten the injustice of providing an inferior product to a ticket-buying public who have worked hard for the cash and time to see his flat and dull social commentary, dressed up as a post-apocalyptic flick . So why aren't all the critics up in arms about it? Its just like the fable of "The King's New Clothes". After proclaiming Romero to be a man ahead of his time could they really slam the very next film he directs?

With all the humans killing each other off if the zombies don't do it first, you know there's no need to look at your watch. Not even a zombie could fail to guess what will happen at the end.

A Predictable And Stereotyped Sleep-Inducing Snore

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett