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George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 14-09-2010


Product Description
The newest film from horror master George A. Romero (legendary creator of the Night of the Living Dead franchise) picks up where Diary of the Dead leaves off. On a small island
off the coast of Delaware, live two families locked in a struggle for power and control over the fate of the undead. The O’Flynns approach the zombie plague with a shoot-to-kill attitude. The Muldoons feel that the zombies should be quarantined and kept “alive,” in hopes that a solution wi… More >>

George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

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Comments (5)

I’ve learned from the past not to be too quick to judge a Romero zombie flick. I was pretty unimpressed with my initial viewing of Diary of the Dead. But after another look I realized just how great that film really is. So I watched SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD a couple of times before attempting a review, and it actually did get a little better with repeated viewings. But still, overall this probably is a slight step back for the zombie master.

It does have decent doses of your expected flesh-chomping madness. I wonder if Romero uses some bad CGI just to illustrate how inferior it is to old school bloody effects with makeup and props. Still he includes some solid gory moments as well. One scene that puzzled me was when some hunters beheaded some zombies and but their heads on wooden stakes. Dead heads on a stick. These zombies kept moaning despite the fact their brains were removed from the spinal cord. This scene looked pretty cool, and illustrated the foolishness of the men. But it seems to contradict the very zombie rules that Romero helped establish. I was under the impression that headshots or beheadings are supposed to incapacitate the undead, release their souls from their decaying corpses. Oh well.

The most notable point this movie makes is about the violent, idiotic nature of man. Even in the most desperate, grim situation humanity refuses to unite and work together. Really, people aren’t much smarter than the freakin zombies.

I also enjoyed the conflict of disposing of the walking dead. Killing an infected loved one would be quite a troublesome circumstance. One man takes it upon himself to rid the world of these soulless creatures. Another man sees the zombs as merely having a sickness, and possibly curable. Their obstinate ways proves to be their downfall. Brilliant message.

Overall, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD is a worthy addition to your zombie collection, or to complete your Romero Dead films. I was pleased it kept the comedy and romance to a minimum. Nowhere near Romero’s best by any means, but I’ll rewatch this again before another viewing of Zombieland. That’s just me though.
Rating: 4 / 5

I am really a big Romero fan as well as a zombie genre fan, so I don’t want to come across as a hater. This movie isn’t good. I really wanted to like it, but it is just plain bad. The script is full of Romero’s usual social statements which is fine, but the hack dialog was excruciating. The story was just bad as well. It involved the renegade national guardsmen from Diary finding their way to an island off the coast of Delaware which has two Irish clans fighting each other over what to do with the dead. Strangely, only a handful of people spoke with Irish accents, the rest didn’t even bother. What hurts the movie is the contradictions throughout. One minute the guardsmen say money is worthless, then they are fighting over a million dollars. One of the clans wants to keep the zombies(dead heads in the movie) alive, but later on are shooting them left and right. Also parts of the movie act like the world is completely lawless after 6 days of the dead rising, while other parts have internet and television still being broadcast. I can go on and on. The zombie makeup is fair, but sometimes is looks too much like makeup. The acting runs from fair to poor. The CGI is terrible and really fake looking. The trailers showing the flaming zombie or the fire extinguisher death are good examples of how bad the special effects are. Zombie fans will certainly rent this because of Romero’s name, but I would advise to watch it before you buy it.
Rating: 2 / 5

The shotgun blast of reviews for this film are baffling to me. But then again, it is important to remember that Diary of the Dead was initially trashed, Land of the Dead was moderately reviewed at best and Day of the Dead was initially hated (and is now considered a fan favorite).

With that said, here is my take on it, for what it is worth…

This movie does differ in tone than many of Romero’s other films. Certainly not as heavy or serious as Diary of the Dead intended to be or Land of the Dead mostly was. When a National Guard Soldier blows the head off of a zombie (in, albeit, a pretty cheesy CGI effect) in the first few moments of the film, my brain did not go into “This movie sucks” mode as so many others seemed to. My brain went into, “Ah! Just like Dawn of the Dead! This movie is a romp!” Like most competent Directors (and I consider Romero VERY competent as a film director, not to mention Indie film hero), Romero shows us what HE wants us to see and he always has a reason for doing it. That head-blowing-off scene was there for a reason. Several people, I feel, just didn’t understand the reason.

I personally feel, many fans of any artist (regardless of medium) begin to form a very rigid idea of what that artist’s work is, especially when they come to most of that artist’s work after it had been completed (or are young fans as I was). And when said artist creates something new, sometimes fans struggle with the interpretation.

What is unique about this film despite its lighter overall tone(and I feel most critiques missed) is that here we have multi-layered social commentary with a subtle complexity not normally seen even in most Romero movies. The initial question: Should we keep our loved-ones “alive” as-it-were as zombies, hoping for a cure? Eventually devolves into the nature of humanity and its ability to hold grudges far past rationality, common-sense and sanity. Even one of the last lines in the film and the decisions Sarge makes defy reason but are sadly believable from the frame-work of the human mind. The social commentary Romero is known for is here and more complex than ever!

The more I think and reflect on this film the more I realize this is one of Romero’s very best in what he has to say about humanity and it is VERY relevant to the times. This film, despite its lighter tone, is a tragedy of the human spirit. It is full of potentially good people making bad decisions, even in the final frames, albeit in a fun and entertaining way. Much like our modern world, in that as we are faced with serious issues and many more serious ones on the horizon, we choose look away, not taking it as seriously as we should and continue to make the wrong choices because we are too rooted in our past. So are the characters in this film.

One final note: If you are a Romero fan, to heck with bad reviews!!! At the very least you owe Romero one viewing of this film, love it or not. This artist created an entire sub-genre of horror and he continues to make films outside of the Hollywood system! This fact alone should guarantee a fan’s price of admission. Okay, I’m getting off the soap-box.

I enjoyed this film and when I purchase the Blu-Ray I will continue to enjoy this film. I am grateful Romero is still making movies (especially the zombie ones although I am a huge fan of Bruiser as well) and I hope Romero continues to make more.

Rating: 5 / 5

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 lacked the grit and realism of Day and Land, and its characters were far from the well developed fleshed out human beings of Night and Dawn. Although not a terrible film, if failed utterly to live up to the greatness of Romero’s other titles.

Where Diary failed to live up to the living dead series, Survival not only does that, but pisses on everything Romero ever did right with it. I’ve been pissed off before watching movies by directors I once loved, but never like this. There is absolutely no redeeming quality for Survival of the Dead, nothing that could possibly save it from the dozens and dozens of hate reviews it will receive once the general public gets a hold of this piece of zombie trash. I’ve seen my fair share of bad zombie movies, anyone out there who can say the same knows that most are garbage, so you can understand the full meaning of when I say Survival of the Dead is probably, of its own right and not just compared to the original four movies, THE worst zombie film I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. Never before has such an idiotic film featuring zombies infected my DVD player with its idiocy the way this one has. Fine, think I’m exaggerating? Don’t take my word for it, watch this abomination for yourself and see just how far the former master of living dead horror has fallen.

The story starts out with the old line we know from Dawn of the Dead and reused in Diary of the Dead, “everyone who dies gets up and kills, the people they kill get up and kill.” Its a classic, is it not? Who doesn’t remember those frightened and half panicked newsmen shouting at one another in a crowded room, as the world turns to hell outside their doors? To this day its one of my favorite moments of the entire series. So, in spirit of this great scene, Romero puts these words in the mouth of some emo Snake Pliskin from Escape from New York wana be chain smoking idiotic Army National Guard sergeant played by THE most armature actor imaginable who drolls out his lines like he’d rather be somewhere else, reading some other script that someone with more talent put a little more time and effort into writing. In the first two minutes we get to see zombies sneak into the Army camp, somehow undetected by the guards, and bite the cheek off one hapless victim. Soon after our emo idiot sneaks off into the night with stupid trailer trash fat white guy, a horny sexy tough with a sensitive spot Latino girl, and a womanizer god fearing panzy Mexican. These three amego’s and the token tough girl go AWOL, meeting up briefly with the *cough* ‘hero’s’ of that Diary movie I mentioned earlier, before adding a brooding hotshot thinks he’s all that teenager to the mix and running off in an armored truck to meet an old Scottish white guy who the brooding hotshot thinks he’s all that teenager saw on his iphone who’s promising people a chance to live on an island free of the “dead heads” in his best car salesman voice possible.

It only gets worse from there on, but I digress. The biggest strengths of the original four movies were their focus on strong characters who’s survival and interactions with one another were the real drama of the movies and NOT the zombies, and an underlying political or social message that tackled issues like racism and consumerism. Sure, the gore in Day was fun, and the comedy in Dawn was appreciated, but they aren’t the focus of the films. With survival Romero presents us with a group of characters who are not only badly acted (VERY badly acted) but uninteresting, boring, and cliché. There is not a single character in this film, NOT A SINGLE ONE, that could get me to feel anything but hatred for them. I sighed with relief every time one of them bit the dust, relished their moments of demise since I wouldn’t have to suffer through their idiocy any longer. If only ALL the characters had died… early in the movie… before saying a word… yeah, it would have been good had this film not been made in the first place. As for underlying political messages, Survival has one I guess, but its so heavy handed and indescribably mixed in with the convoluted story line that I couldn’t make heads or tails about what it’s really about. Is it about family feuds? Is it about respecting the dead? Is it about never killing? Is it about, oh gosh, I don’t really care; the movie is terrible so any message it was trying to get out was lost in translation.

Quick question; how hard is it to outrun a Romero zombie? I know he seems to do this in all his films, where people are running from zombies and are somehow caught, but it just gets absurd in this film. Everyone just sort of sits there and waits for the zombies to surround them before trying to get away, and then there’s always that ONE zombie they didn’t seem coming from behind who grabs them by the neck and takes a bite out of it. I yearn for the days when this was funny. It was in Dawn of the Dead when that Mexican guy in the hat got eaten up in the blood pressure machine, not so much in this film.

But I’m rambling; I’ll end my review with this. George A. Romero is no longer a great film maker. Land of the Dead was great, Diary of the Dead mediocre, but Survival is just plain terrible beyond belief. I never thought I’d be giving the title of best zombie movie (Day of the Dead) and worst zombie movie (Survival of the Dead) I’ve ever seen to the same man, but that seems to have happened here fellow Romero fans. Despair, for the king is now dead.

Replay value, VERY low.

Rating: 1 / 5

There are a few storylines twining their way through this movie. First, there’s the Diary of the Dead reference in which we see some people that we could have assumed were soldiers in Diary. We are given a background on this character, have a few stops and see a few people drop like rocks, and then figure their group at no more than five. Then the focus switches to a small island with two families on it: each familiy is different in their approach, with one monarch in one family calling for “putting the dead to sleep” and the other “allowing the dead to survive to see if there is a cure.” The first doesn’t have a nice go, ends up doing some oddities, and becomes the lynchpin in this Romero movie.

In Survival of the Dead, there were some things I really took to and some things I didn’t. One of the things I really had a problem with was the progession of the zombies; we’ve seen the zombies throughout the years but, in six days, a zombie is shown with the ability to start and to put a car in forward and reverse. Others do lesser actions, but one zombie actually does something I really don’t know if I can see a zombie doing. At the same time, this movie had more of a Land of the Dead feel when it came to budget, knocking Diary of the Dead over the skull when it came to effects. True, the thing had zombies simply pop upquite a bit and take out people when I was thinking, “and how did that happen.”

But those things are crafty – gotta give the dead that.

The people themselvves; some were good and some were not so good. i liked something the people saw: the zombies and the water – a lot of books have been focusing on that so they should meet that as well. The reaction to it – that left a lot to be desired. Still, there were some kind of funny people in the ranks. i liked the army-turned-rogue unit and some of the bickering we see coming from their side of the fence. True, i did not like other people and, sometimes, it was a thing revolving around the way they presented themselves.

Basically, some were just baddies in the acting gig.

There were other things as well; some of the people ran across are simply there to get the storyline going but have no real point, some things happen that shouldn’t happen, and s on. BUT this is not some Oscar platform – though I wish horror could be – it is horror. You have to judge it on different places and especially if it has Night, Dawn, Day, Land, Diary, and Survival going in the Dead selection.

Fans – great stuff. Newer people – average stuff. If you are looking you might be looking to buy and I thought that worked. Personally i liked it – I liked it enough to round it up to a 4. Others would disagree so watch some clips and judge for yourself. ALSO, the ultimate dis selection has one extra disc with everything on it. The extras from the regular are the first discs stuff, and you get a little more for buying the second disc. Still, you might as well get the bigger one because the difference is sooo small.
Rating: 4 / 5

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