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The Butcher

Now Playing: Land of the Dead
by yo go re

When SOTA's Land of the Dead-themed Now Playing subline first came out, they were hard to find, and commanded high prices on the secondary market. But that was seven years ago, and now people have forgotten they existed. Bargain time!

George Romero's movies tend to serve as allegories for social issues: Night of the Living Dead deals with race, Dawn of the Dead is about consumerism, Day of the Dead is about, uh... making terrible movies? Whatever. The point is, George Romero and Paul Verhoeven apparently share the same time machine, because just like Starship Troopers was a satire of the War on Terror, Land of the Dead was all about the Occupy movement.

The world is full of zombies and the survivors have barricaded themselves inside a walled city to keep out the living dead. As the wealthy hide out in skyscrapers and chaos rules the streets, the rest of the survivors must find a way to stop the evolving zombies from breaking into the city.

See? Land of the Dead pits the super wealthy against the world they've abandonned and exploited, and all the noteable zombies are blue-collar; there's a biker, a gas station attendant... and the subject of today's review, a butcher. He's wearing a gray work shirt over a black T-shirt, has black pants and shoes, and the entire ensemble is covered by a bloody smock. On this figure, it looks like a cloth piece, but if you look at the movie, the apron appears to be plastic - it should really be a lot glossier to look like the film. We also see him from the back, which is how we know his "shirt" should really be a "jacket."

The Butcher was played by Boyd Banks, a character actor who's had a lot of bit parts, including three in Dead movies: in addition to Land, he was Tucker in the 2004 Dawn remake, and "White Man" in Diary of the Dead. If you recognize his face, then you can definitely make out the likeness under these sunken eyes and dried out skin.

The toy's articulation is poor. Remember, this series came out in 2007 - only SOTA and NECA were making movie toys like this, and neither of them were doing the kind of articulation we expect today. The Butcher has a swivel and a hinge at the neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, and swivel wrists. It's possible he has a waist, but I sure as heck can't get it moving (and if it's not moving, then they really could have sculpted the lower edge of his jacket the way they should have). It seems really weird to not get any kind of joints at all in the legs, but it's the lack of elbows that really hurts the figure. Yes, you can move his arms around, but you can't give them any kind of natural poses when you do.

Before he died, the Butcher was... I don't know, he had some kind of job in the meat-preparation industry, I think. Anyway, in keeping with his origins, he's carrying a bloody cleaver. It's painted silver, rather than vac-metallized, because 2007 SOTA has more sense than 2014 Hasbro. The hatchet is then carefully sprayed with red paint on both sides, for a delightfully gruesome look. The handle is black, and his right hand is molded to clutch it tightly.

SOTA's also jumped on the BAF bandwagon. Buy all three zombies and you can assemble your own victim, basically a bloody corpse that's been torn to shreds. It's an interesting choice, and it suits the movie well. And if you don't want all three figures, don't worry - because the body has been torn apart, whatever parts you do end up with will look fine on their own.

The Butcher comes with three pieces: the left leg, the upper torso, and a pile of loose entrails. The leg has a big chunk of thigh muscle torn away, and a piece of bone poking out the end. The torso is an utter mess of ragged flesh, with a few visible organs and a dangling bit of spine (plus nice details on the shirt, but that's harder to pay attention to). And the guts are, well, a pile of guts. They're dark red and look sticky.

When George Romero was getting ready to make Land of the Dead, he spent a year and a half negotiating with 20th Century Fox, trying to get the thing off the ground. One of the sticking points was the title - Romero wanted to call it Dead Reckoning, while Fox wanted to call it Night of the Living Dead. They kept insisting, and eventually he realized what was going on: Fox was trying to retroactively gain control of the entire franchise by using the unprotected name on a new film. As soon as he figured that out, Romero walked away, and took his film to a different studio. The Butcher may not be an exciting action figure, but you can find it cheaply enough now that it's almost worth getting just for the BAF parts.

-- 10/03/14

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