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George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead (Two-Disc Ultimate Undead Edition)

2009 horror film directed by George A. Romero

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The Man who was King

  • Nov 17, 2010
Rating:
-3
*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 are now the least of his worries when it comes to decaying; his career itself is beginning to show its age. And much like a zombie, it comes without a mind and ferociously lashes out at you, but in the form of blood and style instead of political undertone. I know that it was not in Romero's intention to disappoint, but his ability to do so overshadows any potential goodness in his "films". It's funny, because I envisioned that "Survival of the Dead" would be worse than it actually was. Never did it look like it was going to be particularly good, due to the film's presentation and Romero's decision to continue his ever-dying "Dead" franchise. It's time to put an end to it, Romero. Turn the gun on the series and for the love of god, pull the trigger. If it can get worse than this, then I just don't want to see it. The Zombie/Horror sub-genre is one with promise and full of potential excitement, and you, the man who once re-invented the genre for the good, are doing nothing to help it in its success. In fact, you're doing the opposite. With "Survival of the Dead", you have officially lost all trust that I've ever had for you. After the mediocre "Diary of the Dead", I hoped that there was something bigger or better around the corner. Apparently, you've got your future pretty well planned out. You're going to make more mediocre/awful zombie features, and then you are going to finally give up the gun. I'm sorry to say this, but I can't wait until that day comes.

Romero does little to update his fight-for-survival story-line by adding in generic and uninvolving characters and story-telling as bleak as the apocalypse-to-happen. This particular tale of survival throws in a feud between two men, both of whom supposedly owned a piece of an island which has become dead center, literally. The group of military men from "Diary of the Dead" is basically thrown into the middle of the fight, as they locate one of the owners and descend into the depths of hell itself by venturing to the island. Residing on the island is the man's rival, who is somewhat of a "wild west nut", as some would say. He's just trying to keep things, the "things" primarily being the zombies, under control; and by the looks of it, he's doing a mediocre job. Nobody can truly contain the undead because of their slow-but-vicious natures, although he's doing what few men can do: survive. The problem is that the entire film is wasted on religious references and a general lack of entertainment. There are certainly some amusing scenes, but nothing in the way of a compelling let alone interesting plot. It kind of disappoints me, because Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" was CONSISTENTLY amusing, and "Diary of the Dead" has its share of those moments too. But "Survival of the Dead" might as well take the cake when it comes to almost non-stop boredom and a general lack of focused artistry.

The acting is surprisingly decent, although by no means is any of it particularly entertaining. Alan van Sprang takes the leading role and does decently enough until he becomes subject to formula and predictability. I might as well say that for every decent performance in the movie, there are about half a dozen problems that come with them. Kenneth Welsh is also pretty decent, and stands as the only actor in the film who can, at times, be somewhat entertaining to watch. But...he's the only semi-decent performer. The rest of the cast is perfectly fit for the film, which is saying absolutely nothing. The reason: because this film is bad and if it wants to be so, then it needs a bad cast. If Romero intended for his super-cheesy zombie flick to be...super-cheesy, then he of course succeeded. But if his head was elsewhere, then he had little luck in entertaining me. What this movie needs to do is look at "Land of the Dead" and say, "Hey, look how many cameos that movie had!" If it had the slightest bit more celebrity cameos, then maybe it would have been semi-decent as far as zombie-fare goes. It might as well BE semi-decent on its own. But it misses the mark, as far as I'm concerned. As does the cast, mostly consisting of people you've never heard of. Let's keep it that way.

George Romero used to have a "thing" for artful filmmaking. Now he has a "thing" for making us yawn. "Survival of the Dead" lives up to its name in the worst possible way; it is indeed the survival of the dead, the dead being those who have sat through all of Romero's other near-pathetic attempts at filmmaking (those being his recently made films ONLY). Romero was never one for undead frights; he is without a doubt, a man of humor. He knows how to take an undead horror and make us laugh at it. He can put roller blades on a zombie and let them roll around for our amusement, without literally doing so. That is what Romero used to be, and somehow I think there's still a part of that humor in him today; he just doesn't show it any more. "Survival of the Dead" takes itself seriously to the point where it lacks all fun and potential greatness. There's no fun in watching zombies trudge through the woods, especially when they're all doing the same thing. There is a reason why Romero's past setups were so goddamn fun; because they either took place in a mall or on your front lawn. That's what I've loved about Romero's films in the past; his unfailing ability to impress with the one genre he belongs to. But now, Romero has simply taken a bite out of the genre and rendered it for the worst, leaving all the work up to the likes of directors such as Danny Boyle and British director Edgar Wright. There's style to be found in this independently produced zombie flick, but most of it is squandered by bleak cinematography and a distinct lack in ambition. I think that Romero should shoot for campiness next time, for from what it looks like, that might just be the way to go for one of our most (has-been) influential horror directors.

John Carpenter did not take the knife away from Michael. Wes Craven did not take the claws off of Freddy. Sam Raimi did not take the blood out of "The Evil Dead". Thank god. That leaves Romero to take one hell of a bite out of his career, and he takes one big chomp indeed. What bothers me the most about the movie he has made is its own ability to suck as much as it does. It feels so unnecessary and leaves even more room for even more "Dead" films. Oh, goody. As if "Land of the Dead" wasn't enough, it's getting even MORE sequels. The hardcore Romero fans may be jumping for joy, but other people, such as me, cannot help but irk the possibility. This is quite possibly Romero's worst film to date, lacking the potential to earn him any "Worst Director" Awards, but certainly preventing him from getting any of the like on a more positive note. Romero has proven that he needs to step far away from his favorite genre and try doing something else. For the better or for the much worse, it will be something moderately different than the typical zombie-fare from the legendary horror director. I no longer admire the man. It would be nice if there was one guy aside from Sam Raimi who could have made a good horror classic in the past, make a film now, and still make it riveting. No other director can seem to do what Raimi does. I was kind of hoping that Romero would be that much-needed "other one". But in the end, he simply was not. Good day to you Romero. Good day.

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December 05, 2010
Not his best but the 2 Disc set is excellent, loved all the features on it.
December 06, 2010
That's cool.
 
December 05, 2010
I didn't like this one that much either, but it was better than some other zombie movies that graced the Sy Fy channel. Thanks for sharing!
December 06, 2010
Oh yeah. Syfy flicks are horrible.
 
December 05, 2010
Oh dear God in Heaven, don't tell me that you're saying that DRAG ME TO HELL was riveting! I love Raimi but I was nearly as disappointed in that flick as you are in this one. It was nothing but loud unimaginative derivative crap that offered absolutely nothing new--I almost laughed (but for the wrong reason) when Raimi even referenced himself with that double barreled eyeball gag. We wait almost 30 years and that's the best he can do? I'd rather see another Romero zombie flick. At least he's moving his zombies in a different direction, which is probably why everyone resents the last couple of flix so much--they want the same old thing time after time. You know the one complaint about horror flix that bothers me every time? Bad acting. Take a serious look at NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and tell me how much good acting you see going on there. It doesn't matter though because everything else is working. Almost all genre flix are filled to the brim with bad acting but people only point it out when they hate the flick they're reviewing. We're all entitled to our own opinion of course, but cut the man some slack he's been at it for a long tie. Zombie flix are probably the only thing he even get financial backing for and he has a very difficult time even doing that.
December 06, 2010
Drag Me To Hell was not riveting. How could it be? But it matched Raimi's vision perfectly, and I actually enjoyed myself a lot while watching it. I laughed at it for the right reasons, and at times you could even call it "scary". It's more of a horror film than THIS will ever be, I know that much.
December 07, 2010
Check out my review of Raimi's film.
 
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review by . August 25, 2010
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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 …
review by . October 04, 2010
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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 …
review by . November 01, 2010
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EXCELLENT 2-DISC SET
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review by . April 18, 2010
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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 …
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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," …
review by . August 08, 2010
The story continues...
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 …
Quick Tip by . November 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
Great 2-Disc set full of wonderful extras, the special features alone are worth it.
Quick Tip by . October 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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.
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Sequel to Diary of the Dead.

Poster art for "George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead."

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 ...
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Details

Director: George A. Romero
Genre: Horror
Release Date: September 9, 2009 (Venice Film Festival)
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: George A. Romero
DVD Release Date: August 24, 2010
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Blank of the Dead Productions, Magnolia Home Entertainment
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