Sunday, October 23, 2005
An Open Letter to George Romero
Dear Mr. Romero,
I'm sorry, but I did not love Land of the Dead. I wanted to and I tried really hard to, because you are the Zombie King and you have instilled in me an enduring fascination with zombie culture.
Dawn of the Dead (1978) was probably one of the most influential films of my teen years. Of course it was scary and fun, but it also spoke to me in a way that touched me (as a mall zombie myself at the time). DOTD went beyond the gore and the frights and delved into the idea of the mall as a symbol of modern culture.
So I guess I was expecting the same revelations and insights into humanity, along with some great scares, when I rented Land of the Dead last night. Was I expecting too much? I don't think so.
Mr. Romero, you could have made it great. It could have been such a statement on society. You had all the premises there - the walled city inhabited by the wealthy, the outer edges populated by the working class, and out beyond - the undead - making nightly forages to the edges of the city to feed.
Oh you did make statements when you portrayed the tactical teams that would make nightly sweeps of the area, blasting away zombies with heavy artillery, but sadly, the movie was poorly executed. The non-zombie characters were cardboard caricatures, the acting wooden, the story formulaic. I couldn't even tell you any of the human characters' names, and if I don't bother to learn the names of the characters in a movie, it's a sure sign that I don't give a shit what's going on. The zombies were by far the most sympathetic and interesting characters. And I guess that was the point you were trying to make. You obviously wanted us to identify with the zombies as they learned to use rudimentary reasoning, to use objects as tools, to work as a team. That concept came across, particularly in regards to the kingpin zombie. He was good. That Chewbacca-like roar of his was a nice touch.
Sadly, though, it did not save your film.
Mr. Romero, the recent zombie flicks Shaun of the Dead (an homage to you, Mr. Romero) and 28 Days Later were far superior films, both in their originality and in their execution. Maybe it's time to let a new generation of film makers take over the zombie genre. Please don't become the Rolling Stones of the film world.
Thank you for listening,