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Land of the Dead
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this zombie movie is relentlessly, though resourcefully, bloody, and not for children. Parents should be aware that it follows in a tradition largely established by director George Romero, aiming for innovative uses of grisly special effects makeup with a focus on loose body parts, vicious dismemberments, and exposed viscera. (Aficionados of the genre will appreciate the outrageousness.) When they aren't killing or eating each other, characters smoke, drink, dress scantily, do drugs, prostitute and pimp, and use foul language.
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What's the story?
In George A. Romero's living-dead franchise, humans turn ruthless and hurt each other when facing dreadful fates. In LAND OF THE DEAD, the zombies have overrun the earth, such that humans' space is limited. The first humans to appear in the movie are the most numerous and least fortunate of the survivors. Others, like the wealthy corporate chief Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), live apart in a luxury fortress city called Fiddler's Green. This upscale-ish community is serviced by scrappy scavengers, including Riley (Simon Baker), Cholo (John Leguizamo), and Charlie (Robert Joy), who venture into areas now populated by zombies to bring back food, liquor, gas, medicine, and other supplies. Some humans use the zombies for entertainment: they chain them up just short enough so they can't bite, and pose for pictures, they shoot them for sport, they set them on humans in cages in order to watch the victims scream and fight until they must be eaten. A crisis arises just as the zombies are coming to a rudimentary consciousness. They're using tools and weapons, working as a team, targeting the mall's inhabitants (approximating revenge), and following a leader, a gas station attendant zombie with an apt name patch on his coveralls: Big Daddy (Eugene Clark).
Is it any good?
The long-awaited fourth film in Romero's zombie series is predictably gory, darkly comic, and grimly class conscious. For all its carnage and brutality then, this movie continues the living-dead legacy, in mounting a political critique of human mass and corporate culture by likening the zombies to us.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this movie's class analysis. Aside from the obvious social and moral problem posed by the greedy rich man in a tower, the film also presents zombies as a class exploited by humans. How do the zombies become analogous to slaves? Why might the underclass humans (locked outside the fortress city and mall) identify with the zombies? How do the heroes triumph by banding together and trusting each other, rather than fighting each other?
- In theaters: June 24, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2005
- Cast: Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Simon Baker
- Director: George A. Romero
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive strong violence and gore, language, brief sexuality and some drug use