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The Prescient Predicament Of George A. Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD, Funky Punk NYC And MORE!
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The Bite #116
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The Prescient Predicament Of George A. Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD, Funky Punk NYC And MORE!

June 30, 2020

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY

The Prescient Predicament Of George A. Romero’s Land Of The Dead

By Meagan Navarro

George A. Romero always found astute ways to wield his zombies as a weaponized metaphor, holding up a mirror to society and reflect the current social climate with every Dead film. His fourth, Land of the Dead, was critically praised during its initial release, but many felt the allegory lacked subtlety and that it fell back on familiar tropes. None could predict, not even the forward-thinking Romero, just how eerily precognitive his film would read precisely fifteen years later.

Set years after Day of the Dead, the remnants of human civilization have retreated behind the walls of a fortified city. The wealthy reside in a luxurious tower while the lower-class citizens carve out a meager living from the scraps. The city’s capitalistic ruler, Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), is so far removed from his people that he can’t and won’t acknowledge their suffering. His sole drive, outside of perpetuating his privilege, is to gain control of the weapon of mass destruction that he funded. In this case, it’s an armored vehicle that cuts through dense zombie populations with ease.

Meanwhile, both the citizens and the living dead are discovering ways to rebel against their ruthless leader. The zombies organize under Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), a Black blue-collar worker turned sympathetic zombie driven to reclaim his right to peacefully exist. He’s visibly enraged that mercenaries keep encroaching and killing off his kind. The human protagonists present a far more sophisticated version of Big Daddy’s goal, with their different morals and motivations creating interpersonal conflict. In all cases, their aim is driven by the desire to exist unencumbered by the constant threat of death.

Take the undead out of the equation, and the lines between fiction and reality blur. A viral outbreak is sweeping the globe, and the death toll in America is rising with alarming swiftness. Leadership mostly falls to local government, while our nuclear power-obsessed president prepares for re-election from behind the walls of the White House. A place that recently erected then dismantled temporary fencings to block out the hordes that descended to protest police brutality against Black citizens. Then there’s the skyrocketing use of fireworks, sparking conspiracy theories of distraction tactics.

In Land of the Dead, police-like enforcers employ fireworks as a means of distracting zombies, keeping them from gathering in numbers. In retaliation to violence, Big Daddy unites the undead and marches them to the gates of the city. Some of the human characters want to flee to Canada, some strive to obtain wealth, and others are content to follow the orders of their self-absorbed leader, who’s fixated on controlling a powerful weapon.

The satirical take on the class divide wasn’t new in 2005, especially not for Romero, but in the outbreak backdrop of 2020, casts it in a whole new light with uncanny similarities. Romero’s zombie movies have never been about the zombies themselves, but rather the uglier impulses of humanity during an apocalypse. The prescient narrative of Land of the Dead shows as much harsh truth as it does hope. Empathy always proves the key to survival. If the living dead can evolve, so can the living.


*Meagan Navarro is a freelance writer and the head critic for Bloody Disgusting. You can also find her work at Consequence of Sound, Fangoria, /Film, and anywhere else that will let her gush about her favorite subject, horror.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image Of The Week #116 - The US Family By Fred Cunningham - The Bite

A Family Portrait

Artist Fred Cunningham makes gorgeous paintings of horror legends, new and old, including this family portrait from Jordan Peele’s Us.


Shudder SHUTIN Promo - The Bite

Bingeing horror, details later. New members can try the platform free for 30 days when they sign up online with promo code: SHUTIN


TINY BITES

SHARKSPLOITATION, WEAR A MASK PSA AND MORE

We got the final trailer for Antebellum last week…

… and Janelle Monae spoke frankly about how triggering the experience of shooting the upcoming horror film was.

USA Today ranked every horror movie released so far this year including Scare PackageSwallow, and Blood Quantum.

Meanwhile, The Film Stage listed what they think are the best films of 2020 so far, including Zombi ChildThe Invisible Man, and Shirley.

Jurassic Park was the #1 movie at the box office thanks to drive-ins across the country.

Well Go USA is hosting a Peninsula and Train To Busan art contest with some wicked prizes.

If you recently watched Horror NoireCollider has a list of ten horror films by Black filmmakers you need to check out.

It seems some folks want more aquatic horror where sharks aren’t the villain.

Experts spoke about what JAWS got right and why sharksploitation isn’t as harmful as some may think.

SyFy Wire’s FanGrrls wrote about the evergreen terror of prom in horror.

Following the resurgence of drive-in theatres in the wake of COVID-19, Japan is now home to a drive-in haunted house.

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is launching archival online classes this summer.

This article explores the different ways that horror cinema draws parallels to being Black in America.

Ogilvie Health and the Chimney Group have partnered to create this Friday The 13th-themed PSA on the profound importance of wearing masks during COVID-19.


THINGS WE LOVE

Things We Love #116 - FunkyPunkNYC Black Punx Exist Tee - The Bite

Funky Punk NYC

This tee from Giselle Bradshaw’s Funky Punk NYC is giving us some killer Return Of The Living Dead vibes, and we are here for it!


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Etheria Film Festival Brings Horror and Fantasy Shorts by Women to Shudder

Ranking Shudder’s Original Movies