Dating the Dead pt. 4: LAND

by guest reviewer Diana Taibi

Continuing our look at Romero’s genre-defining zombie films that began here , we find ourselves landing in the fourth installment…(review includes spoilers)

Land of the Dead

Society has reformed to resume a semblance of normal life despite the surrounding zombie threat.  The wealthy live inside a safe haven called Fiddler’s Green with the amenities they were used to before the zombies.  The disadvantaged live in a ghetto outside the city and make do the best they can.  A group of mercenaries scavenge abandoned areas for goods that support the Green.  The group leader, Riley, is a reserved and just man and who uses his power to help those outside the city.

When a corrupt mercenary who wants to live in Fiddler’s Green is turned down, he attacks, setting in motion a series of events that result in the zombies overrunning the city.  The dead start to organize, first attacking the poor area, then attacking the Green. Riley and his crew save many in the city, but eventually decline to destroy the group of zombies, with Riley saying:

“They’re just looking for a place to go. Same as us.”

I was surprised by the mostly positive reviews this movie received, since it was my least favorite of the four films reviewed here.  The film seems more oriented toward achieving commercial success than being edgy and subversive as the previous films in the series (it was the only film in the series that was rated and used recognizable stars).  Still, the film raises interesting questions of social justice.  Land draws more direct comparisons between zombies and people than the other films of the series. Riley’s last comment draws the parallel between the zombies and the lower class masses; the zombie siege upon the upper class is more or less a social revolution.

The most immediate question that arises from this film in comparison to the previous films is: at what price do we find our comfort?  In Dawn the characters find a hiding place and a little peace from the chaos outside.  In Day, the civilian pilots create a full-blown illusion that they are on a Caribbean island though in an underground bunker.  This escapism is taken to an extreme in Land where the elite prosper in a comfortable existence, clearly at the expense of others.  It reminds me of Egypt in Exodus, built upon the labor of slaves.  The genre gives us another Biblical reversal in which the exiled return to overthrow Egypt.  The dead, realizing they will not drown, do not need the waters parted.  These cursed persons walk under the river surrounding Fiddler’s Green to attack those whose comfort they seek to destroy. Are we among these?

  • Are we the comfortable, ignoring the needs of the suffering masses?

  • Or are we the dead, murdering others in our hearts through envy?

  • Or are we like Riley, doing our best to do good for others?

I hope these brief reviews were useful, and that you may be encouraged that some horror movies have interesting spiritual themes to examine. So, I encourage you to bite into a zombie flick and grapple with the interesting ideas about humans offered in these films.

He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6: 8


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