Halloween songs no. 24: Misfits – “Land of the Dead”

The Devil's RainAfter the 1990s Misfits lineup disintegrated, bassist Jerry Only took over singing duties and became the frontman of the band. Recruiting drummer Marky Ramone and ex-Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena, he did Project 1950, an album of cover tunes. Ramone was only in the band temporarily and was eventually replaced by Robo, who had actually been in the Misfits during their original run, playing on Earth A.D./Wolfsblood, and, prior to that, Black Flag. Being a Colombian national, Robo sometimes had visa issues that inhibited touring, and that eventually got him sacked (it’s also why he was dropped from Black Flag back in the early ’80s). He was replaced by Eric “Chupacabra” Arce (Ex-Murphy’s Law) to form the current lineup, who released The Devil’s Rain in 2011. It was the first album of new, original Misfits tunes since 1999’s Famous Monsters.

As previously mentioned, under Jerry’s leadership the Misfits have become increasingly family-friendly compared to the Glenn Danzig era, trending toward topics like zombies and spooks and away from the old songs about rape and murder. The Devil’s Rain exemplifies this, with almost every song an homage to, or recounting of, an old B-grade horror movie or TV show (cf. the title track, “The Black Hole”, “Ghost of Frankenstein”, “Dark Shadows”, etc.). “Land of the Dead” is maybe the best of the bunch, based on George A. Romero’s 2005 film of the same name, the fourth in his Living Dead series. The YouTube clip below uses footage from the film.

Nearly every Misfits lineup has had a song based on a Living Dead film: The original Misfits had “Night of the Living Dead”, the ’90s lineup had “Day of the Dead”, and the current trio has both “Land of the Dead” and “Twilight of the Dead” (Twilight of the Dead was Land of the Dead‘s working title). Even post-Misfits, the members can’t stop writing odes to Romero’s films: former Misfits singer Michale Graves has “Dawn of the Dead” and his own “Night of the Living Dead”, and former guitarist Doyle has his own “Land of the Dead” with his current project. We’ll get into Doyle’s post-Misfits stuff tomorrow.

A fortress in the sky
What’s left of life it holds
We live on borrowed time

Along a glowing moonlit pier
Their armies still advance
From the murky depths they rise

From their rotting bones
Their souls they scream
For the flesh they need

Tonight, tonight
Zombies walk upon the earth
Land of the dead

Massive flames arise
They burn out of control
In the slums it’s genocide

Evolved to find a way inside
Those who could escape
Have no chance to survive


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