Wednesday, October 7, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 06: Land of the Dead

I really enjoy cinema. I love it as an art form. When a writer creates a piece of work and you then read it you and the writer have shared something; the writer had one thing in mind and you interpreted what was written in your mind into something similar but different. If two writers contribute to a piece a new interpretation is thrown into the mix. Now keep adding people up to the number you get on a film crew, from the director, actors, camera crew, sound people, script doctors, and so on, and the resulting film is the interpretation of possibly hundreds of people, and truly becomes a piece of art far greater than the sum of its parts.

My love of cinema drives me to really fucking hate bad movies. When a movie comes along that has a big plot hole or similar failing, I feel that the film makers were either lazy or didn't care, and if they didn't care it's because they feel the audience won't care because they're stupid. I'm not keen on being treated like a dullard, unless I'm shitfaced - I can be pretty dumb in that situation!

My attitude to movies does not exclude the fact that some films are made as mindless entertainment and I only get really wound up over films that are dressed up as something more then that. When a piece of pure silly entertainment comes along I can enjoy it just like anyone - be me drunk or be me sober.

Land of the Dead (2005) is set in a large urban outpost after an outbreak of zombies. In this world, the dead rise from the grave (no virus's here, thank you very much) and anyone who dies becomes a zombie, no matter the cause of death, though a bite from a zombie makes you one in about an hour or so. Riley is a commander of a small group who forage for food and other supplies in the towns and villages in the areas surrounding the outpost. Riley's had enough of his current situation and plans to quit his job and escape to the north in a car he's bought.

Riley has a subordinate, Cholo, who dreams of a better quality of life in the outpost with the wealthy citizens who all live in a tower block complex called Fiddlers Green. When Cholo's plans to move in are blocked by the de facto ruler of the outpost, Kaufman (who's also Riley and Cholo's boss), Cholo flips his lid and steals the armoured truck the lads use when out looking for fodder. About this time Riley discovers his plans have been buggered up too, as his car is gone from the garage. Down amongst the plebs he makes to drown his sorrows but instead saves a prostitute from being fed to two zombies as an entertainment for piss-heads.

Kaufman then sends Riley out after Cholo to retrieve the truck, just as a bunch of filthy murdering zombies invade the outpost.

Even Zombies can have it their way at Burger King!

The fact that Land of the Dead makes bugger all sense is no real surprise. The fact that all the characters are underdeveloped, one dimensional, and not worth caring about is no surprise. What is surprising is that despite the numerous problems with the film, Land of the Dead is actually quite good, though firmly in the Mindless Entertainment category.

Trying to analyse a film like Land of the Dead and look for a B plot, or subtexts, or hidden meaning is a waste of time. It's just mad, gory fun. Characters you dislike get their comeuppance, the heros win out, and there are no explanations for anything. Just loads of blood!

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Land of the Dead - fun, entertaining, but basically mental.

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