The zombie flick Land of the Dead opens in theaters tomorrow, and the LA Times interviews its maker, George Romero, who made Night of the Living Dead 37 years ago. Land of the Dead is his fourth zombie movie, and like all his movies, it's loaded with social criticism (which, in my opinion, is what zombie movies are all about.)
"Night" evoked Vietnam-era bloodshed and, with its black male lead trapped in a farmhouse, echoed civil rights hysteria. "Dawn" poked fun at soul-deadening consumerism. And "Day" addressed ethics in science. With "Land," Romero tackles issues of safety and boundaries, showing a community fortifying itself against a murderous horde while its wealthiest keep alive class divisions separating them from the powerless.
"It's the folly of saying, 'Everything's OK, don't worry about it,' " says Romero, who wrote "Land" before the events of Sept. 11. Its focus then was about "ignoring social ills, setting up a synthetic sense of comfort."
He says he didn't have to tweak it much to reflect new fears of terrorism. When told that it's hard not to think of Iraq watching an armored car of trigger-happy humans roll through a zombiefied suburb shooting anything they see, Romero smiles. "That's one of the things I put in there afterward."