Review Written by: Will Penley
Directed by: George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Produced by: Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann and Peter Grunwald
Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark, Joanne Bolard
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Rent it
"Zombies, man. They creep me out."
It's been twenty years since cult horror director George A. Romero made Day of the Dead
, the last and possibly final installment in his Dead
series. No announcements had been made for another sequel. For some time, it seemed that the series was, well...dead. It wasn't until early in the new millennium when fresh, new zombie films like Resident Evil
, 28 Days Later
, Shaun of the Dead
and even a remake of Romeo's own Dawn of the Dead
began popping up all over the place, breathing new life in the genre. And with that, Romero was given the money to make his fourth zombie opus.
Land of the Dead takes place an undisclosed number of years after the dead began to rise and at this point, the human race has begun to rebuild itself. The setting of the film is an unnamed, completely fortified city that is surrounded by electric fences and armed guards that keep zombies from entering. In this city, it's almost as if nothing had happened. There are still the upper-class rich people, who live in Fiddler's Green, a high-rise apartment building, and there are still the lower-class poor people who try to make their way up the ladder to wealth.
Outside this city, however, something else is going on. The zombies that were once bumbling messes are now becoming something more, evolving into more advanced zombies that can think and reason like anyone else could. Some of the firsts to realize this are a team of mercenaries sent to gather up supplies outside the city that includes Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo), one calm and quiet, the other loud and rebellious. These men work for a man called Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), who controls all of the city, even down to the gambling, drugs and prostitution on the streets.
This may not be Romero's best Dead
film, but it's pretty good for what it is. There are some good, genuinely creepy zombie moments and, as per Romero's usual, loads and loads of gore. This review is for the unrated director's cut edition of the film, which includes much more gore than the original theatrical cut did, plus a brand-new scene with star John Leguizamo. It's nice to have the definitive, complete version of Romero's latest available on DVD for the first time.
Speaking of the DVD, it's time to move on to the video and audio on the disc. The film is presented with an anamorphic widescreen transfer, preserving the original theatrical aspect ratio of the film. This transfer is a bit dark in some places, most notably in the opening scene, but this doesn't go on for very long. The English Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio tracks are very well done. These are very solid tracks providing all the good atmospheric sounds of a Romero film.
Now on to the supplements. The first and most notable extra on the disc is the feature commentary by director Romero, producer Peter Grunwald and editor Michael Doherty. Even though there are some slow places and brief gaps of silence in the track, it never fails to provide interesting anecdotes and insight into the making of the film. Up next is "Undead Again: The Making of Land of the Dead
", which gives a very interesting look into the making of the film along with several interviews with the cast and crew.
A selection of deleted scenes have been included, but quite honestly, they're not worth your time. It's obvious why these were cut and there is nothing of real value here, so let's move on. "Zombies blow up real good," is the first thing you'll hear in "Bringing the Dead to Life", a behind-the-scenes featurette about makeup artist Greg Nicotero and an inside look on the zombies' makeup and gory effects of the film. "Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene" is a brief feature that shows scenes being filmed against a green screen, and then showing the final product. It's interesting in its own right, but it's nothing special.
"A Day with the Living Dead" brings us John Leguizamo giving us a tour of the set sharing several anecdotes along the way. "When Shaun Met George" brings us Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the creators of Shaun of the Dead
, having a wild time on set with the cast and crew. Both of these featurettes are humorous, with a few laughs to each one, but still, there's nothing of real value here. "Bringing the Storyboards to Life" shows us comparisons of storyboards to finished scenes, which is not interesting in the least.
That brings us to two of the most pointless extras in the history of DVD. The first is "Scenes of Carnage", which is a montage of gory moments from the film with very strange music played over them. The last is the hilarious "Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call", which is about sixty seconds of bad CGI zombies dancing in some strange computer world, very reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. I'm wondering why these were even included in the first place. There's already too much studio fluff on this disc! Why do we need more? This DVD is a great presentation of the complete cut of the film, but there's not much to offer in the way of extras (anything of value at least). It's really only a DVD for the die-hard fans and the average consumer just might want to make this one a rental.