Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Land of the Dead

In an attempt at getting out of the humid mess that has been the weather in Southern New England, I went to the movies. I went to the movies with a friend over the weekend, and I wanted to see Land of the Dead, but it was already gone from Boston area theaters. So we went to see Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. I thought the special effects of War was excellent. I particularly liked it when the 'thing' came out of the concrete. The fact that Tom Cruise was starring only got the box office numbers up, because I think any half way decent actor could have done just as well. Poor New York. Its been the center of so many disaster flicks, including real life. It was frozen over in The Day After Tomorrow, crushed by Godzilla and made a monkey out of in King Kong.

So, since it was so hot and humid here, I went to the local mall to see Land of the Dead. I love horror movies, and zombie movies mainline the system with reckless, mindless mayhem. In George Romero's Living Dead series, there isn't even a plot. They are just there. I'm not sure if this latest zombie flick is a Romero progeny, but it will satisity the craving for blood lust.

The original Dead installment, Night of the Living... is a cult classic. Black and white, low budget and enough gore to make it a Halloween standard. It is to Halloween what Miracle on 34th Street is to Christmas. At least in that movie, you have a clue as to how the zombies came to be. Apparently, a satellite was sent to Venus which came back toEarth bearing a strange radioactivity which appears to be the cause of the undoing of the dead.

Subsequent sequels are ususally never as good as the originals, with the exception of last year's remake of Day of the Dead which was good enough for me to go out and buy the DVD of the Director's Cut of the movie.

In the latest deadfest, the world is already taken over by zombies, and of course, there is no clue as to why or when. But this is a zombie flick with a twist. The zombies are beginning to develop intelligence and communications skills. Somebody must have been teaching them flash cards.

The world is loaded with zombies, called 'stenchies' now, and here is an enclave of the living, clustered in a Donald Trump-like luxury tower, with an upscale mall on the ground floor and the common folk are kept complacent with drugs, booze and gambling. The enclave is surrounded by an electric fence and is cut off from the rest of the former city by a river.

But early in the movie, the stenchies know how to use an axe, as they use one to cut through wooden barricades. Their leader decides to lead them to the Tower. When they get to the river there are thousands of zombies at the bridge, frozen and powerless. Then the leader figures out, "Hey, were zombies, dammit! We call only be killed by decapitation or burning, so he jumps in the water, only to re-emerge on the other side, as do the zombie horde.

They make their way to the tower, where they disable the electrical system (these zombies are pretty mad) and the barbarians break through the gate. A bunch of construction workers flee, leaving their tools behind, which the zombies quickly learn how to use. The lead mogul, a Donald Trump like financier tries to escape with cellphone, chauffeur-driven car and cash. What good is cash in a world full of dead people?

If the metaphor for Dawn of the Dead is reckless consumerism, the metaphor for this movie seems to be the growing gap between the rich and poor. The rich live in an articifically created paradise, surrounded by a moat and an electric fence to keep the rest of us poor and lower class folks out. Sounds a lot like Haiti or the downtowns of many of America's most popular cities.

But I see another trend in the works and another sequel. Smarter and smarter dead people. What's next? Zombie terrorists? Will the zombies go nuclear? This movie was good, no where as good as Dawn of, or the original, but just wait, they are coming to get YOU. Its only a matter of time before they're in out schools...


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