With George A. Romero, it's always about social critique. "Night of the Living Dead," released at the closing of the 1960s, examined the horrors of war - specifically the Cold War and Vietnam - and the harsh reality of racism. "Dawn of the Dead" satirized American consumerism. "Day of the Dead" suggested that man's greatest enemy isn't a world full of zombies, but his fellow man. "Land of the Dead" explored political divisions between classes in a post-apocalyptic community. "Diary of the Dead," structured as a documentary, hinted that the camera can be a weapon just as much as it can be a useful tool. Now we have "Survival of the Dead," a contradiction in terms if ever there was one. What is Romero telling us this time around? The answer, I think, can be found in following quote: "I like small towns, but small towns give birth to small people."
The small town is Plum Island, located somewhere off the coast of Delaware. The small people of Plum Island are two feuding Irish families, who are divided over the treatment of zombies; the O'Flynns believe that they should be killed (or perhaps it's re-killed) on the spot, whereas the Muldoons believe that they should be kept "alive" until a cure can be found. Until then, maybe they can be trained to crave meat other than human. Perhaps I'm flawed in that I have trouble believing such an isolated community could exist, especially one that just happens to populated entirely by the Irish. Regardless, the respective elders of each family, Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Walsh) and Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), are annoyingly stubborn men who go at it like gunslingers that salivate at the word "draw."
Because of his beliefs, Patrick is cast off to the mainland. Flash forward three weeks; we meet four AWOL National Guard soldiers, led by Sergeant "Nicotine" Crockett (Alan van Sprung) and a crafty teenager, who learn of Plum Island through an internet video - filmed by Patrick - and decide to go there. This raises serious logistical questions, since, within the context of a zombie apocalypse, it's reasonable to assume that there would no longer be people around to keep internet service up and running. Or electricity, for that matter. And yet we see a video playing on a properly working iPhone, which is somehow being charged. We also see brief clips of a late-night talk show, where the host cracks a number of dirty zombie jokes. Ah, so we no longer have functional communities, but we still have comedians working in fully operational television studios. This itself begs the question of who amongst the living still has a sense of humor, what with the zombies eating people up and all.
Apparently, the only one with a sense of humor is Romero, who for "Survival of the Dead" finds all sorts of amusing ways for the characters to kill off zombies. As long as I live, I don't think I will ever forget the image of Crockett lighting his cigarette from the flaming head of a zombie he shot with a flare gun. Nor will I soon forget the moment a zombie gets a head full of fire extinguisher foam, causing its eyes to pop right out of the sockets. Too bad Romero didn't make this movie in 3-D - he missed out on the opportunity to have eyeballs fly directly at the audience. Too gimmicky? So is killing a zombie with foam from a fire extinguisher. Watching moments like this, one idly wonders why some zombies are mindless eating machines while others seem capable of more complex activities, such as sitting behind the wheel and hitting the gas pedal or endlessly riding a horse.
Most of the zombies are merely shot in the head, which I guess is only fitting since guns play a major role in the plot. I can't think of a single character who doesn't hold a gun, point a gun, or shoot a gun at some point, if not because of the zombies, then because of the other living people, since apparently no one can be trusted in this alternate universe. Honestly, this movie would be the perfect endorsement for the NRA.
The more I think about "Survival of the Dead," the more I realize that Romero's sermonizing had absolutely no affect on me. All I really got out of it was the hilarity of watching zombies die silly deaths, which is problematic since the basic plot is one of gloomy sincerity. Furthermore, there isn't a single likeable character to be found; this goes double for Patrick and Seamus, which is bad because the tension between them is drastically reduced, pretty much to the point where we no longer care who we think is right and who we think is wrong. Romero has limitless options when it comes to zombie parables, but I'm starting to wonder if they will continue to have the same power they once had. Let's face it - the genre is tired and unoriginal. He should consider other ideas, at least for the time being.
Let’s be honest here; George Romero is certain to have a spot in the “Horror Hall of Fame” since he has indeed given us the best in “undead” entertainment. His fans have always seen that the man can do no wrong, but honestly, his “dead” series has been really inconsistent and some may even say that it is indeed a ‘dead series’. After my disappointments with “Diary of the Dead”, I wonder what in heaven’s name am I doing … more
*1/2 out of **** Isn't it strange how one day, a man is an inspirational director who re-invents a genre, and then the next day he's a generic, forgettable bloke? George A. Romero, King of the Zombies, is without a doubt one of those men. The man has made good to great films before; take the original "Dawn of the Dead" for example. But his zombie career, particularly in the "Dead" series, has gotten worse and worse as time goes on. His zombies … more
Forewarned is fore-armed and perhaps that's the best way to view George Romero's latest zombie flick SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD. One always hopes for another classic of the same stature as NIGHT, DAWN, or even DAY OF THE LIVING DEAD but audiences should cut the guy a little slack and realize that no one can give them what they want every time out of the starting gate. I went into this flick expecting something that was absolutely unwatchable, and what I got was a film that (had … more
THE SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD There have been many things said about George Romero and even more things said about his Dead films post the original three. For the most part people liked "Land" and just excepted it for what it was; people seem divided on "Diary" and as for this one well people kinda disliked it. Now I will say from jump right now that I have enjoyed all of them, honestly I have. I really liked all of them and that … more
Diary of the Dead was Romero's attempt to cash in on the shaky cam craze while putting his own zombie mastermind spin on it. Although technically his fifth film in the living dead series, I never really considered it on the same field as Night, Dawn, Day and Land. It seemed more like a spin off film, an add on, to make a gaming analogy Diary of the Dead was a bonus pack, not a new game in and of itself. For me, and for many, many other long time Romero fans, Diary was a bitter disappointment. It … more
Survival of the Dead follows the exploits of Sarge Crockett, a National Guardsman who was for a brief moment an internet celebrity when he was captured on video robbing the film students from Diary of the Dead and a feud between two clans on a small Atlantic island community. Sarge and his soldiers are now in survival mode and they're looking for a place to hide out from the zombie plague. One of the island's clam leaders has been exiled from his home along with his followers … more
Survival of the Dead: It was ok. The cultural commentary seemed forced. But, movie seemed more like a comedy than a horror movie. There is a reason by Return of the Living Dead is not considered to be up to par to the Dead series. This compares to the recent D zombie movies that have been coming out.
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Writer-director George A. Romero, who invented the modern zombie film with 1968's Night of the Living Dead, returns to the graveyard for Survival of the Dead, the fifth sequel (of sorts) to his landmark movie, with his trademark gore and social commentary intact. Survival picks up shortly after the events of 2008's Diary of the Dead, which offered a revisionist take on the zombie outbreak in Night; here, a minor character from Diary (Alan Van Sprang) takes center stage with his team of fellow mercenary soldiers as they make their way to remote Plum Island, where two feuding Irish families sort out the best way to deal with the living dead. As is often the case with Romero's films, the ideas don't always match the execution--his dialogue and characters remain painfully stock at times, and the CGI elements of the effects look amateurish--but at its core, the picture retains his fascination for entropy in American society, as personified by the twin family patriarchs, who cling stubbornly to their beliefs as their world literally dies around them. Parallels between this story and the conservative movement of the early 21st century are obvious, and while others have made more artful statements about the situation, Romero once again cuts to the bloody heart of the matter. Limited in scope and budget, Survival isn't on par with Night or 1978's Dawn of the Dead, but it's a watchable and intriguing addition to his zombie ...