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The Zombie Survival Guide:
Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Do you know who's creeping up on you right now...?

. "Land of the Dead" (aka, "Dead Reckoning", its working title)

I don't know how George A. Romero sleeps at night. I can only speculate that images like this floating around in his brain are the source of his inspiration--the thing that has made him the world's foremost authority on zombies. What Bram Stoker is to vampires, Romero is to the walking dead.

In his latest installment, zombies don't reawaken from slumber under the ground, no chemical revives them, no creepy maggots greet them. In this oddball universe, they exist outside the boundaries of a city that has been walled, fenced and moated to keep them out. The man who takes credit for the protective design (as well as its financier) is super-magnate Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) who resides atop his Hearstian skyscraper that dominates the cityscape and houses the well-heeled generation that presumably supports the enterprise with human consumerism while lording over the street riff-raff.

Kaufman's investments include a tanker sized deathmobile, aptly named "Dead Reckoning," which takes nightly excursions through the zombie populated badlands for ever more distantly located supplies, making the trips ever more dangerous. Riley (Simon Baker), is in charge of these operations and he's a smart enough lad to observe that one zombie in particular is re-learning what he knew when he was among the living. Dubbed "Big Daddy" (Eugene Clark), this Frankensteinian prodigy gives the zombie "movement" an identity as he leads his marauding brethren in all their nameless diversity.

There's always a troublemaker in the crowd and on Riley's team, Cholo (John Leguizamo) plays that bad boy. With big plans of his own, he's just not a team player. He's been doing personal favors for Kaufman and his ambitions don't include taking orders from anyone.

Despite the lethality of Dead Reckoning, the extras... er, the zombies, keep coming. 50-rounds-per-second machine guns simply don't do the job any better than they would if they were used to kill algae in a sea of red tide. They spread out and spring up at the slightest whim of the filmmaker, who seems intent on thrilling his fans with fresh ideas that add new meaning to the term, "human consumption."

These eviscerating fits of genius are held mercifully brief, sometimes to just a few frames, and produce the most rousing acclaim among zombie fans every time they flash on the screen. It's what they come for. Score one for the goremeister.

Romero knows his audience, and this big-budgeted, high concept production does its best to satisfy expectations. The design is to keep the human beings in the struggle as uncomplicated as possible and to push the endless horde toward close human contact.

Luscious Asia Argento ("XXX") shows up as Slack, a lady of loose morality and tight muscle who, for some reason, needed rescue from a cage with two zombies, providing Riley his opportunity for a cute meet. She arouses vibes of sexual suggestiveness with her abundant sensuality but, for this crowd of zombie-lovers, is never permitted to get closer to Riley than the length of a gun--though her looks to the guy are hot enough to melt a Glock. Even at the end, when she might have at least thrown her arms around her hero, Romero keeps her locked in prim immobility, not chancing a moment of smoochy romance that his audience might find disgusting. Entrails is the key to formulaic success here and Romero can't be accused of pandering to an adult sensibility.

At least he chose the right actress for an injection of titillation. With this recycled variant of the idea he may have enhanced the scale of his production, but not his iconic status in the zombie-making hierarchy.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review

this was a great movie.im a big romero fan.

                                                           ~~ Len 
Very well written
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 10

I think this was Romero's worst film ever!! What the hell was he thinking when he made this? Every aspect of this film was horrible. Personaly I feel Romero is done with making great zombie films.

                                                           ~~ E-BUZ 
Well written, off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 8

"who, for some reason, needed rescue from a cage with two zombies," - It was stated in the Jail scene why she was there when she was asked. if you are going to write a review for a movie, please pay attention to it. thank you.

                                                           ~~ alex f.
[Ed. note: Well, if you're going to be literal about it! This reader faults the entire review over what he considers a too general reference. Give me a break.]

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Asia Argento and Simon Baker
Not a biter in sight

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