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Film / Land of the Dead

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Mike: They're pretending to be alive...
Riley: Isn't that what we're doing? Pretending to be alive?

Land of the Dead (2005) is the fourth movie in the Living Dead Series written and directed by George A. Romero and starring Dennis Hopper, Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Eugene Clark, and Robert Joy.

Set After the End (and years after the original Night of the Living Dead (1968)), Pittsburgh — through geographic blessing and a corporate leader's ambitious mobilization — has remained standing in the post-apocalypse. The rich get to live out their lives much like before, and the less fortunate at least avoid being attacked by the walking dead.

The movie focuses on a group of survivors that go out into zombie infested lands to retrieve supplies (sometimes vital, sometimes not) for a city that can no longer produce anything of any worth. Zombies following on from Romero's Day of the Dead (1985) have become smarter, aping their old lives remarkably well; led by a zombie known as "Big Daddy", a large group of the living dead attack the city en-masse, leading to the destruction of the civilised world as the very walls that kept the zombies away becomes their prison.


Had a Video Game tie in called Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green.


  • A-Team Firing: For trained soldiers and scavengers, they sure do waste a lot of ammo firing at the Stenches when one well aimed shot at the head would do the job fine.
    • Defied by Charlie, who turns down a submachine gun, said to fire 14 rounds per second, because he doesn't "normally need that many".
  • Action Girl: Asia Argento's character, Slack.
  • Anti-Villain: This film features perhaps the most likable and sympathetic zombies you'll ever see.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: Luxury commodities desired by the tower's upper classes are still available, and even still marketable, despite the complete breakdown of all means of production. High-end alcohol and jewelry still fetch a higher price than canned food, even though they're scrounged in exactly the same way and the former aren't necessary for survival.
  • Attractive Zombie: "Number 9"...somewhat.
  • Badass Boast: Charlie has one after one of Riley's group nearly mistakes him for a Zombie and pulls a gun on him. He makes good on his boast later on.
    Charlie: Are you any good with that, kid? 'Cause I'm real good with mine.
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  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Charlie pulls this against a zombie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Riley and his crew pull one off at the end.
  • Big Fun: The heroes are accompanied by several of Kaufman's soldiers, one of which is a fat Samoan named Pillsbury. He's just there as comic relief, basically.
  • Cool Car: Dead Reckoning. A mobile train/rig hybrid with rocket launchers, machine guns, gatling guns and even countermeasures. Also its well armored like a tank on wheels.
  • Cool Gun: Big Daddy picks up a Steyr AUG and figures out how to shoot it. Charlie uses a WWII-era M1 carbine. Slack picks up an HK G-36K from the armory, which indicates that Germany's firearms industry is still alive, well, and exporting long after the zombie apocalypse.
    • Kaufman's pistol is a Walther PPK, the same gun favored by James Bond and, more notably, Adolf Hitler.
  • Death by Sex:
    • A lesbian couple is killed by the invading zombies when they're distracted while making out with each other.
    • In a deleted scene, while a soldier is making out with his girlfriend in an alley way, they get distracted by the appearance of Big Daddy that they don't pay attention to the zombies surrounding them. Ironically, one of the intelligent zombies, the female that is holding hands with her lover, bit the soldier's lip off.
  • Death by Materialism: Kaufman could have gotten away much sooner if he hadn't stopped to fleece the joint on the way out. Especially considering there was little-to-nothing outside of Fiddler's Green that would have made his plundered riches worth anything.
  • Death by Racism: Kaufman repeatedly refers to John Leguizamo's character as a "Spic," which seems unnecessary given that his accepted handle is "Cholo."
  • Death from Above: After Kaufman refuses Cholo entry into the more affluent areas of Fiddler's Green, the latter steals the Dead Reckoning and threatens to lob rockets at the town unless Kaufman gives him a lot of money. Kaufman instead sends Riley and some others to either talk him out of it, or kill him.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Chihuahua, who attempts to have Riley killed after he threatens him over his car being gone. Gets killed in the ensuing shootout instead.
  • Devoured by the Horde:
    • While Mouse is waiting for the money drop-off, a group of zombies that Big Daddy is leading towards the city happens to be in the area and Mouse gets surrounded and devoured by them.
    • When the citizens are trapped trying to leave the city due to the electric fence, a huge crowd of zombies heads towards them. While fireworks were used to distract the zombies, the zombies no longer pay attention to the fireworks and they continue heading towards the citizens. By the time Riley and his crew arrives at the fence, they were too late to save the citizens as the zombies were already devouring them.
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted. Cholo briefly contemplates killing himself to avoid zombification, but decides against it so that, one way or another, he can still kill Kauffman.
  • Eat the Rich: Invoked. George A. Romero's zombie flicks tend to have an underlying social message, and in the case of this film, it concerns how the wealthy poorly treat the lower classes. When the flesh-eating undead horde siege the Fiddler's Green colony, although both rich and poor die in the onslaught, the more intelligent zombies' main targets are the upper-class establishment(Aka "the ones living in the big shiny tower at the horizon"). Once they're wiped out the zombies withdraw, and the class system ceases to exist. It's revealed afterward that the majority of Fiddler's Green other residents have survived the zombie attack.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Happens with some spirit of the trope Face-Revealing Turn mixed in. Late in the movie, an infected Cholo heads back to the city so he can kill Kaufman before he turns. When the two encounter each other, Cholo's face is hidden by shadows. After Kaufman shoots him a few times, Cholo finally steps into the light, and reveals that he's already turned into a zombie.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Continuing with the recurring theme of the series that humans are more of a threat to themselves than the Zombies, we have Kaufman, a racist, elitist Corrupt Corporate Executive, vs Cholo, a former lackey of Kaufman who steals the cities strongest means of defense, the Dead Reckoning and threatens to turn its heavy firepower on them (and by proxy, devastate the city and its economy and certainly kill many bystanders in the process) all because Kaufman refused to allow him into the more prosperous parts of Fiddler's Green.
  • Eye Scream: One of the soldiers is unfortunate enough to have his right eye BITTEN OUT by the zombie invasion when the fence goes down.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Cholo, declining a Mercy Kill, quipping that he's always wanted to see how the other half lives.
  • Fan Disservice: Slack's introduction. She's wearing a Stripperiffic outfit, but she has to fight for her life from two zombies trying to eat her in an arena, and is clearly panicked out of her mind.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Worn by several characters throughout the film.
  • Fingore: Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter. Some examples:
    • Two zombies grab the fingers of a soldiers hand and pull in opposite directions tearing apart both his hand and his forearm up to the elbow.
    • A zombie claws at the outer shell of the Dead Reckoning so hard that its fingernails are torn from the nail beds.
  • Friendly Sniper: Charlie and his trusty M1 Carbine.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Kaufman at the end when Big Daddy gets his payback.
    • The soldier who prepares to toss a grenade at a cleaver-wielding zombie, only to have his hand chopped off and then fall on top of it so the grenade blows him apart.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Slack, who is (at the start) a prostitute.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: Big Daddy gets his name from the patch on his distinctive denim outfit; there's also a clown, a cheerleader, an undead marching band (with instruments), and a young boy in an upper-class school uniform. An almost-headless zombie has a priest's collar around its nearly-severed neck.
  • Ironic Echo: After being bitten, Cholo briefly contemplates suicide, but decides against it. He says, "Fuck it. Always wanted to see how the other half lives."
  • It Can Think: The zombies are shown to have somehow become sentient enough to form a coherent group and fight against the human survivors. Big Daddy in particular becomes smart enough to do things like set fires and even fire an assault rifle. The ending also seems to imply that Big Daddy and his followers are smart enough to ignore humans who aren't an immediate threat.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: The massive truck Dead Reckoning graphically dispenses with plenty of zombies.
  • Look Behind You: "Watch Out! Get Down! Quick!" as Kaufman executes the poor bastard trying to question why Kaufman is running off with all their money.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Chihuahua gets shot in the chest by Riley, but his only complaint is that his purple suit is now ruined.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Paul Kaufman. The Kaufmann family is very prominent in Pittsburgh where the first Kaufmann's Department Store was before expanding into a long running chain and eventually being absorbed by Macy's. The name Kaufman literally means "merchant" in German.
    • There is a mentally challenged man named Charlie
    • Fiddler's Green, which is described in myth as an afterlife that has earthly pleasures, but isn't heaven. One poem places it "halfway down the trail to hell."
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Big Daddy performs two: First on a zombie that has been reduced to a severed head (he smashes it), and then on a flaming zombie, who he shoots with a rifle.
    • Slack also does this to Motown, one of Kaufman's officers, shooting her in the head while she's being bitten to spare her either being eaten alive or reviving as a zombie.
    • Subverted with Cholo. He refuses to be killed before becoming a zombie because he, "always wanted to see how the other half lives."
  • Monster Clown: Randomly shows up when killing Mouse.
  • New Meat: One of the soldiers accompanying Riley and the others on the opening mission is clearly this, also possessing shades of The Watson. He doesn't make it home.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Zombies are referred to as "Stenches." The series tradition for this trope is, however, pointedly subverted by Kaufman, who uses the word while picking his nose. The photo booth also averts it, having a sign that says, “Get your picture taken with a zombie.”
  • Older Sidekick: Charlie to Riley, although his facial burns help obscure this.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: Everybody becomes a zombie when they die (unless they're shot in the head), so one of Cholo's jobs is to dispose of the recently-deceased; in the director's cut a man who hanged himself turns into a zombie, and Cholo is sent to deal with it.
  • Rape as Backstory: Slack makes clear that she was forced into prostitution and that she has other careres in mind.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The zombie attack on the city is essentially Big Daddy avenging the scavengers killing several zombies at the beginning of the movie.
  • Scary Black Man: Again Big Daddy. Literally...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Kaufman's butler abandons him during the zombie attack.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Although he's more of a fighter than a scientist, Riley Denbro created a zombie-killing APC that provides a lot of security to his community. Riley has become disillusioned with the Fantastic Caste System around him and wants to strike out on his own, but his skills are too valuable and his group's leader won't let him go.
  • Storming the Castle: The zombies attack on Fiddler's Green.
  • Stab the Scorpion: While in the countryside, accomplished sharpshooter Charlie starts to menacingly point his rifle at Slack, but fires just past her ear. Then we see the zombie that was standing behind her fall to the ground. Then humorously returned when Slack fires at a zombie just past Charlie's ear, nicking him in the process.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Pretty much everybody when outside of Fiddler's Green. You'd think that, years after the zombie invasion, people would have gotten more skilled at fighting them, even if only through sheer selection pressure. People still spray small-caliber rounds in the general direction of zombies that are only stopped by head shots, fail to properly clear out infested buildings, split up the gang etc.
    • Of particular note is the military guarding the Green. One of whom takes a clip and a half to kill an immobilized zombie. Another is in a guard tower when the zombie invasion occurs. He looks down, and sees his tower is completely surrounded by a mob of zombies. None of those zombies are even trying to climb up and get him. So what does he do? He fastropes down to the ground, and is immediately eaten.
    • Or Mouse for that matter. He's out on his own with absolutely no idea what might be near him and what does he do? He rolls around on his skateboard (not exactly the most practical vehicle when having to get away) while blasting heavy metal into his ears (because that will help him notice zombies).
  • Took a Level in Badass: As a human, Big Daddy was nothing but a gas station attendant. After turning, he becomes the zombie equivalent of General Patton.
  • Undying Loyalty: Charlie has towards Riley and Foxy towards Cholo to the point of being willing to join in returning to Fiddler's Green despite knowing that Cholo will become a zombie after being bit. For their parts Riley and Cholo return this with Riley including Charlie in his plan to leave Fiddler's Green behind him, and Cholo encouraging Foxy to leave him behind and find his own path.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kaufman begins losing it when he sees that the army of zombies have carved their way into the city and coming straight for him.
    Kaufman: "You have no right. No right".
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Nigh-unstoppable zombie hordes will stop in their tracks to watch "skyflowers" (fireworks). Subverted once the ability to learn starts spreading among Big Daddy's group.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: some of the residents of Fiddler's Green, such as the soldiers last seen saying that they're falling back on the radio.
  • A World Half Full: Interestingly, humanity and civilization survive in this zombie film.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Other than what's obviously happened from Night of the Living Dead (1968).
  • Zombie Infectee: One of the Dead Reckoning Scavengers is quick to put a gun to his own head after he gets bitten. Cholo, after getting bitten, asks his subordinate to drive him to Fiddler's Green so he can take some zombie vengeance on Kaufman.


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