Two decades after George A. Romero had last terrified audiences around the globe with his trademark zombie mayhem in 1985’s Day of the Dead, the beloved filmmaker returned to the genre he defined with Land of the Dead. With the biggest budget he ever played with, the film was a winning mix between his indie horror roots and Hollywood blockbuster scares, resulting in a fun and underrated zombie romp that is ripe for reappraisal.
The film takes place in a world where zombies hold dominion over the earth, but the remnants of human civilisation have established protected outposts across the United States. The film takes place in Pittsburgh, where the rich and poor are divided – the wealthy live in a luxury high-rise while the rest of the population live in filth and squalor down below. As a revolution begins to overthrow the city’s leadership, the undead outside are evolving and becoming more advanced…
As is traditional in Romero’s acclaimed series, the film is packed with satire and metaphors for American life and, primarily in the case of Land of the Dead, the class divide. While Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise remains, in my opinion, the definitive portrayal of this subject, Land of the Dead is certainly refreshing in its allegorical study of the rift between the haves and have-nots. This is more than just brain-chomping, undead sods wreaking havoc. The zombies often become secondary to the film’s snapshot of a world out of control and the results that isolation and being controlled by the rich authority can have on the human population – something that is certainly more frightening than ever in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
But for those seeking violence and gore, worry not. This is a Romero film, after all. Land of the Dead certainly delivers on the promise of flesh-eating mayhem, with wonderfully disgusting make-up and effects that will surely delight horror fans. This new 2-disc Blu-ray from Fabulous Films release contains both the theatrical and unrated cut, so there’s certainly plenty of blood and guts to go around. The release (also available on DVD) also packs in a staggering amount of special features including a commentary, interviews and fascinating behind-the-scenes footage.
While Land of the Dead certainly isn’t a genre-defining game-changer like Romero’s earlier entries in the series, it is still a thought-provoking and action-packed zombie romp that certainly deserves this wonderful new release from Fabulous Films. Gory, exciting and above all intelligent, Land of the Dead is Romero doing what he does best with the biggest budget he ever had.