Land of the Dead
Making one movie about flesh-eating undead only qualifies you to do one thing: make other movies about flesh-eating undead.
At the end of this movie, the hero of the film, a zombie hunter of sorts named Riley (Simon Baker), takes a look at the lead zombie (Eugene Clark) and says something to the effect of "Let him be, he's just trying to find his place."
Now, I don't want to be skeptical of the sort of social class love that's being played out here, but if I've got a shot to take out the zombie who appears to be learning not only how to communicate with the other zombies, but also learning how to fire weapons and teach other zombies how to do the same, I shoot the bastard. Furthermore, isn't it the purpose of zombies to seek out the living and eat them? Or is it just a reaction to living things that zombies attack them and eat them? See, what I want to know is what happens to the zombies when they've gone days and days without eating. Sure, they're undead, but it appears to me that they need to consume the flesh of the living to remain animated.
Details aside, I don't care that much about all this, but it's precisely the sort of thing one starts thinking about when the works of directors such as George Romero start being equated with art because there's a sudden revival in zombie films and they're considered cool. People start assuming George must be a genius because he invented the genre or whatever.
Making one movie about flesh-eating undead only qualifies you to do one thing: make other movies about flesh-eating undead. So what qualifies as social commentary in Romero's world is represented in the movie as a class system between zombies, the underclass that includes the zombie hunter types like Riley and Cholo (John Leguizamo) and the balance of people who don't live with the upper class, the third class, who are housed in a massive country club-like installation run by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper). To be fair, I'm probably mislabeling the zombie hunters as what they actually do is provide goods that are mostly consumed by the upper classes while protecting the upper class from harm by existing as something of a shield between the upper classes and the zombies.
As a consequence of all this, Romero has the working class identify with what might be called the terrorist class. Sound familiar? Sound vaguely liberal? Sound kind of repulsive? Ah, it is. But this is exactly what we get from Hollywood, a place that turns zombie movie-makers into intellectual giants with one, quick catch phrase. It's fine to enjoy a zombie film; it's quite another to start attaching meaning to one. Start thinking what Hollywood wants you to think and zombification is no longer simply the thing of fantasy.
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