Land of the Dead (2005) - Unrated Director's Cut

Genre(s): Action / Horror / Thriller
Universal || Unrated - 97 minutes - $29.98 || October 18, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-10-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer(s): George A. Romero (written by)
Cast: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy


Theatrical Release Date: June 24, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director, Producer & Editor Commentary
  • Undead Again: Making of Land of the Dead
  • A Day with the Living Dead
  • The Remaining Bits: Deleted Scenes
  • When Shaun Met George
  • Bringing the Dead to Life*
  • Scenes of Carnage*
  • Zombie Effects*
  • Bringing the Storyboards to Life*
  • Scream Tests*


  • * Exclusive to the Unrated DVD


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Although I've probably mentioned this in another review, I'll say it again: My stance comes from the non-horror fan. While I can enjoy a slasher flick, or a zombie-fest, I am nowhere near the bloodthirsty fellow as a good portion of the population out there who thrive on this genre (and I'm not saying this as a negative, it's just not my cup of tea most of the time). However, lately after viewing other horror films like The Evil Dead and the Dawn of the Dead remake, I have found myself both disgusted, but entertained by it none-the-less.

Each zombie-horror movie has many things in common including a plethora of characters from all different backgrounds (the more characters, the more gory deaths) and a paper-thin plot that doesn't bother explaining where they came from or how they became zombies. For instance, at the center of Land of the Dead is evil, manipulative businessman (and obvious portrayal of the Bush administration) Kaufman (Hopper). During the change over where the zombies have taken control of certain parts, Kaufman managed to take over the city's central building and allows only those who can afford it to stay there, safe and sound, while those less fortunate suffer in the street slums.

Working for him is a group of military personnel with the task of retrieving supplies from zombie-infested areas (and having some fun shooting the undead). However, unlike in the past, these zombies begin to have some sort of a mind of their own. Sure, they still walk and talk like zombies, but this time around it actually looks like they have purpose... to a certain extent. They still find pleasure in hiding in dark spaces waiting for their next victim to stop by and pounce them and knaw on their legs or necks (yum yum). The members of this crew are Riley (Baker; The Ring Two), Cholo (Leguizamo; Assault on Precinct 13) and Charlie (Joy). When Cholo goes loco after being yanked around by Kaufman for not getting him into the complex (called Fiddler's Green, which where I'm from is a golf course...). Well, you know what comes next. Mixed in is sexy vixen Asia Argento (xXx) as a prostitute saved from the zombie pitt (literally) by Riley. I'll leave the rest of the plot for you to find out for yourselves, but you won't find any surprises (plot-wise, that is).

As a non-horror fan, I liked Land of the Dead for the most part. Because a lot of it gets somewhat sluggish, I can't say it hit a homerun for me, but definitely those who enjoy people getting dismembered, this will certainly entertain you.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Like Universal's own Dawn of the Dead remake, this DVD has a good amount of special features that should satisfy both the zombies and non-zombies amongst us. While not overly impressive, I still found some of them to be quite good and worthwhile. First up are the special features available on both the unrated and theatrical versions:

Undead Again is your typical 'making of' featurette. Running at a respectable 12 and a half minutes, this featurette covers all the ground of the filming. During one part, the actors talk about why they wanted to make this film (because of Romero primarily) and how much fun it was to be on the set. Interestingly, since Asia Argento's father is a horror filmmaker himself, while making the movie and smelling the fake blood or the glue; she remembers some of her childhood. On that same line, George Romero himself remembers Asia when she was a youngster (when he and her father, Dario, were making Night of the Living Dead). So, not only do you get a peak at LotD, but you do get a quick history lesson (for those like myself who don't know much about the series/franchise).

John Leguizamo takes us on a quick-ish (7-minute+) tour of the sets of Land of the Dead in A Day with the Living Dead. Out of the featurettes, this is probably my favorite as Leguizamo has a certain sarcastic attitude that I found funny as hell (and made me wishing they had included him in the feature film more). He takes us around the sets and "bumps" into producers, cast members and even Romero himself. There's a light-heartedness to it, making it very fun to watch.

The Remaining Bits are the deleted scenes and despite what the packaging says ("...definitely not your average movie leftovers"), well they are just as "average" as any of the other deleted stuff I've seen before. If these scenes weren't included in the unrated version (at least I didn't notice any that made it in), then how could they be any good?

The feature commentary by director George A. Romero, producer Mark Canton and editor Michael Doherty is pretty bland. Sure, the trio offer up some goodie tid bits about what's CGI, what parts of the movie were added back in (which is helpful for people who have not seen the theatrical version; many of the scenes were just extended with shots lingering on bone chewing zombies or more CGI blood). Anyways, the track is fairly mundane but the fans of Romero might appreciate more than someone like me.

Co-writers/stars of the cult hit Shaun of the Dead Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright get their own mini-featurette, When Shaun Met George, showing their trip to Toronto for a cameo appearance in the film. The two are so full of make-up that you wouldn't recognize them unless you knew where they were before hand. However, it's fun to the see the two and how much of a joy it was for them to meet George Romero (who liked Shaun of the Dead).

The next set of features are only available on the unrated director's cut:

Bringing the Dead to Life takes a look at how Greg Nicotero goes into putting the makeup on the army of zombies (and making them distinguishable) as well as the various ways of killing them. This featurette shows the magic that goes into the zombies eating human limbs, skulls exploding, etc. More gory fun for the family to watch ;). This featurette runs just over 9 minutes.

Speaking of blood and guts, if you want to re-live those gory moments, then check out Scenes of Carnage. This relays many gruesome moments from the film with classical orchestra playing over it. All I can say is it's one hell of a montage.

Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene is a montage of several scenes, taking how it was originally filmed and overlaying it with the special effects to what was finally seen in the finished product. Although a commentary from a special effects supervisor would've been perhaps needless as what we see is explanation enough, it would've been nice to hear some tid-bits about how long it took to get the shots finished and such.

Like the previous feature, Bringing the Storyboards to Life is a montage of scenes slit on the screen with the storyboards for the viewer to compare. Without anybody talking over (just some creepy music from the movie), this just wasn't all that interesting to me (par for one scene where Baker and Joy walk up from a subway that was actually all green screen).

At first I thought the Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call was going to be some sort of cattle call for the hundreds of extras needed to play the zombies. Instead it was a pre-visualization of zombies doing some dance routines. Next to the Leguizamo featurette, this was actually very funny.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

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Land of the Dead, like many true horror flicks, usually are dark and dank, and this one is no different. Now, coming over the TV screen, some parts are a bit hard to see but I presume that is how the director wanted it. In any case, because it's so dark, it also emphasizes some other details from the rotten city streets and the such. In regards to the sound, once again Universal provides the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that sounds just fine and those without a surround system should be satisfied as they hear the zombies eating bones, or the shrieks from their victims. But, there is also the lovely DTS, further exemplifying those blood-curdling moans. Excellent stuff.



.::OVERALL::.

Because of the dark nature and the massive amounts of carnage, zombie or not, this is a DVD only for those who enjoy this genre. For everyone else, a rental would be worthwhile, of course, hopefully you've seen a zombie movie before so you know and accept the plot devices they entail.