Saturday, November 21

Some quick thoughts on Land of Death (2003)

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A group of commandos and an indigenous peoples expert are sent into the jungle to recover a general's daughter that went missing on expedition along with her accompanying group. The commandos and their guide soon run into problems as the tribes inhabiting the area are cannibalistic.

Bruno Mattei strikes again with ninety-three minutes of trash that unabashedly lifts direct elements (and footage) from several vastly superior films. After 2003's Snuff Trap, this return to the Italian cannibal subgenre as known as Nella terra dei cannibali heralded the start of director Mattei's swan song before his passing in 2007. In short, this giant rip-off patchwork is Predator (1987) jumbled up in order with the Predator replaced with cannibals with a liberal dash of Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Martino's Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978).

Land of Death begins with the commando squad's helicopter intro with each member slowly stepping out in shades and snazzy civilian duds just like the opener of Predator. Then we get the 'copter ride over the jungle and rope drop-off in the bush with the help of footage stolen from the McTiernan/Arnold classic. Classy. After a short trek into the depths of a supposed "jungle", we get our first Cannibal Holocaust riff with the guide tripping into a pop-up corpse on the ground.

This theft from Deodato's masterpiece really kicks up when the tribe appears with stone female genitalia maiming/murder, warring tribes, and a trust issue between the tribe and outsiders. There's loads more and critics of Cannibal Holocaust who condemn it as amateurish will have no ammunition after witnessing Mattei do the same thing cheaply with zero impact.

The Predator ripped scenes, footage, and even the way certain shots are framed then return with force. Seemingly every memorable sequence and nifty touch is re-processed here without any of the finesse and might of McTiernan and cast. If one thought Mattei's own Robowar (review here) was a major insult to rumblin' junglin' Arnie just wait until you see LoD. Finally, Mountain of the Cannibal God is molested as the kidnapped daughter turns out to be the painted-up sex goddess worshiped by the tribe a la Andress.

Aside from all the you've already seen this, commando lieutenant Wilson, played by Lou Randall, is a spitting image of a shaven head Phil Anselmo of Pantera lead fame. You wouldn't believe how hilarious I found this. Every time he'd appear which was often I half expected him to bust into 5 Minutes Alone despite his dubbing not sounding anything like the singer. The gore quota is lacking for a cannibal outing. The savages seem to only grab a cereal bowl amount of bloody body filler at a time. Surprisingly, a few bits of animal cruelty involving the killing of a pig, snake, and spider is tossed into the 21st century. Also you'll probably recognize the guide's dubbed voice as Italian genre English dub vet Ted Rusoff's young Wilford Brimley-esqe voice.

I didn't really care for this trip with Bruno nearly as much as his other later efforts Island of the Living Dead and Zombies: The Beginning. Even with several Yuengling on the liver, the even-heavy-for-Mattei litany of wholesale movie hijacks seemed too much. Other features in his catalog are just much funnier and aren't nearly as offense in their stupidity or thieving ways as Land of Death.

Edit (11/22): Here's the Japanese trailer that's much better than the actual flick, also forgot to mention how surprising it was to see "real" gunfire, I guess even that level of DIY CG was too expensive! If only the entire flick's editing was this snappy.



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1 comment:

Rob Talbot said...

Someone gave me a copy of this - mut admit I only managed about ten minutes thanks to the whole shot on video thing!

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