Books and Code · A Miscellany

Stephen King on Land of the Dead


In Stephen King’s Entertainment Weekly column, The Pop of King, he discusses Land of the Dead.

[I]n spite of the strangled budgets (maybe even because of them), there are strangely beautiful images in Land of the Dead. I’m thinking of one in particular, where thousands of zombie heads rise from the moon-drenched river surrounding Dennis Hopper’s citadel city.

What I admire most is that this phase of the series is ending almost 40 years later with Romero’s original creative vision intact. In each succeeding film the arena is larger, but the grim bottom line is the same.

Word up, Steve!

What I love best about Romero’s Dead films (yes, they are films, not movies) is the realism of the storylines (once you accept the initial assumption that the dead can come back, of course). The movies are character-driven, not brainless run-for-your-life crap as the horror genre is so often pigeonholed. The plots are compelling and not simply excuses to spill blood.

Also, Romero makes almost no attempt to explain what has caused this phenomenon, which I love because it is not important. The characters have more pressing matters to think about than why.

The over-explanation mistake is made so frequently in movies. Take Independence Day: remember the scene when the president reads the mind of the captive alien through it’s telepathic ability and learns their ultimate plan for Earth? This cheapened the movie a lot. For starters, as a viewer I have already accepted the fact that aliens have attacked Earth, why must I need a reason? Will having one make the alien invasion seem more realistic? No. Instead, I now have to believe in aliens and their conveniently pointless telepathic abilities.

In short, if you’re not down with the Dead and don’t consider yourself squimish, you have an obligation to yourself to watch them–as if you were watching films, not a movies.