Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Land of the Dead (2005)

Having fought successfully the hordes of zombies involved in a zombie apocalypse the surviving human race who are a sentient expedient cancer at the best of times keep fighting the anti-social neighbourhood from hell in the zombie population who live just across the river in George A. Romero's, 'Land of the Dead'.

After chasing zombies out of town the humans settle down to rebuild civilisation with the help of a diabolically rich banker type who domineeringly controls them by establishing a market economy reasonably sophisticated in having an organised caste system harshly spring up out of nowhere that creates socio-economic situations where women are no better than prostitutes and the vast majority of humanity labour away in some sort of blatantly obvious Capitalist nightmare.

Social commentary like this has not been witnessed in the whole history of celluloid because hammering blatantly at the same point would normally have been excised onto the cutting room floor but because the film is hung to principles of providing commentary in the tradition of classic Romero the cycle can not be allowed to be deliberately broken and a perfectly good idea about the last desperate foggy whispers of humanity drifting precariously through a post apocalyptic wasteland is allowed to be wasted.

The film is a confusingly befuddled mixture because at heart it is a zombie film endowed with gruesomely unpleasant features that any respecting zombie film should possess - people getting eaten, decapitations, people screaming and so on - but then the vast dirge of plots plunges the film into the murky depths of plot convolution. The number of exigent plot-lines that lead nowhere in this film is really quite astounding.

The plot arc seems to go thusly - a group of mercenary soldiers led by a guy named Riley have been presented with a task of travelling around the dangerous wastelands and coming back with much needed supplies. Various events occur that culminate in Riley being locked up with a travelling companion of his who goes by the name of Charlie but who it seems was deemed to be insulted throughout this film by various different people who keep calling him or describing him as a retard. Riley and Charlie get joined in jail by a prostitute who they just rescued from a cage fight with a zombie who rather disconcertingly is called Slack. Mr Big Boss who is also Glaringly Evil Capitalist Man tells them that several of Riley's old gang have escaped with an all powerful tank/train/caravan thingy, called Dead Reckoning and have threatened to open fire on the city using a very powerful mounted rocket launching firing array, firing it over the river and causing a pain in the ass for the painters and decorators.

Meanwhile, the zombies have begun thinking for themselves as demonstrated by barely sentient grunts that pass for communication and a gradually acquired skill with various tools and weaponry. This film gleefully shows what it would like if a zombie used a gun, a spade, a pneumatic drill and some flaming barrels as explosives. Along with these spectacles we also discover that zombies from some antecedent event not examined in the film are a little afraid of water and require the motivation of lead zombie Big Daddy to enter into the cold water that surrounds the city where the last of humanity live. All this is yet to come in the horrifying denouement but until then the film switches back to Riley and Co who consist of Charlie, Slack, probably the best character in the film because he says very little called Pillsbury, some other guy, some woman and a Jeep they hot-wire. While getting the car random guy gets chewed on and then Slack shoots him in the face. After some rather stilted exposition that goes something like this:

Riley - When was the last time you were out of the city?
Slack - First time. I was born there. In that city.

- they arrive at the spot where Riley has worked out that Dead Reckoning will be, because unbeknownst to the lot who have nicked it there's a GPS device planted somewhere on board. After getting to a suitable place where they can lay in wait and spring an ambush Riley talks his way inside and the rest of them wait in the shadows. While this has been happening Evil Capitalist guy shoots a less evil capitalist guy over the issue of paying up or bailing with the money.

Quite why money is so useful outside of the confines of the city limits is never really made clear and so consequently the whole plot of this film is flawed from the outset and becomes just a Deus Ex Machina that drives this whole daft movie to its equally daft conclusion. While inside and they are preparing to fire, Riley uses a remote control that looks like he found it for a stereo and turns off the weapon array. After literally five seconds of trying to make him turn it back on again the lead thief turns to shoot Riley and gets shot from outside and this causes a terrifically embroiling gunfight that lasts for roughly five seconds. With the leader out on his ass the others immediately surrender and suddenly it's time for the denouement. The zombies now possessed with a bit more nous, wander underneath the waves for a bit and then emerge to find the human race a pretty deserving lot to be eaten as they are all lying around playing with themselves.

Subsequently, there is a horribly violent set of scenes where people get eaten, some guy gets his head pulled off, which is seen in silhouette and which weirdly makes it more disgusting. Well, what do you expect? That's zombies for you. Riley and Co race back but alas too late for most of the populace as they end up being served on the zombie delicatessen counter.

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