Undead and Loving It

Columbus Alive | June 23, 2005
Twenty years after the disappointing trilogy capper Day of the Dead, George Romero returns to the genre he pretty much created to show up some of the whippersnappers who’ve been riding his coattails and re-cement his “master of horror” title. Romero’s continuation of the zombie saga that began with the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead makes the most of the filmmaker’s signature strengths and keeps his failings in check.

The dead have taken over the planet as the story begins, and the few survivors that remain exist in heavily protected cities with a strictly imposed class system. Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) are near the bottom, working as scavengers who invade towns outside the walls for supplies to maintain a comfort level for their city’s rich, who live in a pristine condo tower owned by Dennis Hopper’s power-mad Kaufman.

When Cholo’s attempts to rise above his station are rebuffed by Kaufman, he steals the tank-like truck used in the scavenger runs and threatens to destroy the tower. Riley is recruited to return the car and either restrain or kill its thief. At about the same time, he notices that some of the zombies seem to be thinking and working as a team, and they’re headed for the city’s perimeter.

Romero delivers the requisite thrills and gore at a propulsive rhythm. But unlike the other comers, the director continues to inject social commentary into the situation, with Kaufman’s terrorist talk and the sharp divide between the haves and have-nots. Even his usually uninspired dialogue is livened up by an Oscar Wilde quote.

And like no one else, Romero nails the absurdity of the whole zombie scenario, starting the film with a full-screen shot of a roadside sign that reads “Eats” and a brass band of the dead in a small town gazebo. Both genre fans and general moviegoers should leave satiated.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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