Remembering Romero: George Romero’s ‘Land of the Dead’ (2005)


George Romero week begins coming to a close with a look at his underrated zombie flick, 2005’s ‘Land of the Dead.’ Zombies man, they freak me out.

The world is overrun. The zombie genre needs a hero. Before long, both are getting a reckoning.


It’s the mid ’90s and George Romero has a single solo film in the can for the decade. The film, The Dark Half, is good but fails to do business with $10M on a $15M budget. While the legend continues to unsuccessfully sell his fourth “Dead” film, Romero grows tired of producers on repeat. After hearing either “horror is dying and unable to turn profits” or, after Wes Craven’s Scream, “can you bring us a slasher film?”, he loses hope for “Dead Reckoning.”

It’s 2004 and Romero’s career is almost at a stand still. He makes Bruiser in 2000, but the film makes little noise. But when Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead debuts, mixing horror and action beautifully, everything changes. Now there’s an appetite for the living dead. Now the zombie is back on the rise. And suddenly, the time for the land of the fear, home of the dead, is here.


George Romero’s ‘Land of the Dead’ — Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The film is Land of the Dead.  Continuing Day of the Dead’s apocalyptic overrun world, the film is a breath of undead air upon arrival. Taking zombies back to their roots (no runners here), Romero renames his decade old script but doesn’t change the concept — the dead are getting the bloody band back together.

Starring John LeguizamoAsia Argento and Simon Baker, with Robert Joy giving a horror hall of fame performance, Land centers around the high rise “Fiddler’s Green.” After the dead the win the war for the world, the living build a exclusive community to simulate life before, as Riley puts it, “everything changed.” See, only the elite get in, but you can get your own place in the “Green” for the right price. Or can you?


More from George Romero

Honoring the “unholy trilogy,” Land of the Dead is a worth entry in the iconic series and deserves a spot next to Romero’s best. Using his trademark social commentary theme, the film’s about the Bush administration and the disenfranchisement of the middle class. Satire of the increasing one percent in America holding most of the wealth, the movie is as smart as they come. It’s as ingenious as Dawn of the Dead’s focus on mindless consumerism. Only, it doesn’t get near the same undead love.

While some don’t share my sentiments, I adore Land. The 2005 horror picture’s smart, sharply written with engaging character and highly underrated. The film shows Romero is an ingenious legend whose work spans decades and his voice matured with it. Romero’s zombies are the frame in which he tells mature sociological stories — Land of the Dead is proof he never ran out of things to say. Out of things we needed to know. Things we need to fear.

Next: Remembering Romero: ‘Day of the Dead’ (1985)

R.I.P George Romero. Thanks for showing horror can be more than gore. Our creepy community misses you dearly.

Miss George Romero? Fan of ‘Land of the Dead’? Let the other Zombies know what you think in the comment section below.