Wednesday, April 20, 2011

George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead

Starring: Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Monroe, Richard Fitzpatrick, and Athena Karkanis

Directed by: George Romero

Written by: George Romero

Production Companies Blank of the Dead Productions, Devonshire Productions, New Romero, and Sudden Storm Productions

Release Date: September 9, 2009

Let's face it...When we think zombie, we think George Romero. Even if someone doesn't think the name, the modern zombie exists because of Romero. He took it away from Haiti voodoo and made it something unique and beloved as horror movie monsters go. He also broke the monster mold by avoiding explaining how the whole thing began. No Haitian voodoo, no curse, no science, no evolution, no punishment from God, and while some have tried there own explanations in their own zombie tales, Romero zombies just are the reason for their existence is less important than what we do when the dead start walking. So it was with anticipation that I started Survival of the Dead.

And it was with disappointment that I turned off my DVD player at the end of the movie. I wasn't disappointed that the movie was over. I mean, I wanted the thing to be over about half way through. I was disappointed because I felt let down. Granted, I know that movie writers and directors aren't exactly concerned with my expectations and often times movies are ruined because of over consideration of what the fans want...but I think Romero went far off the mark on this one.

Survival of the Dead is about the family rivalry between the O'Flynn's and the Muldoon's. The fact that there is a zombie outbreak is pretty inconsequential. Seamus Muldoon wants to keep the living dead like pets, though it's out of sentimentality that they are not that different from the living, ignoring the fact that they have to be tied to keep them from killing everyone. Patrick O'Flynn wants to kill all of the zombies, so the ages old family rivalry continues on.

Meanwhile, Sarge Crockett and his men try, detached from an organized army, to survive and are drawn to Plum Island, where Muldoon has entrenched himself killing strangers brought to Plum Island by O'Flynn's broadcasts. Then the debate continues on about whether the zombies can be trained to eat something other than humans, with Muldoon's daughter Janet siding with O'Flynn.

A good zombie film is more about how people react than the actual zombies, but long stretches of movie went without any danger from zombies. In fact, it wasn't even a long stretch; it was the vast majority of the film where zombies were just background detail. The most endearing portion of the film was the relationship between Athena Karkanis's Tomboy and Cisco, with Cisco trying vainly to seduce the lesbian Tomboy.

An odd detail in this post-apocalyptic zombie film which made it difficult for me to really see things as dire was a scene where one of the soldiers is watching on his laptop a late night program with a host telling zombie jokes. Things can't be too bad if we can still get wifi in the middle of nowhere and we can watch streaming television shows.

My inability to sympathize with Muldoon's plan and the limited threat of zombies on Plum Island made this film seem pretty boring. Through in what looked like low cost film production and I felt like I was watching a B-Movie without the humor (often an element to Romero's zombie films) or tits.

I hate to give a Romero zombie film a bad review, but there wasn't much here that I saw as positive. Here's looking toward Romero's next one where hopefully we get back on track.

Related Trailers

Land of the Dead - Alan van Sprang's first venture with Romero and his zombies was 2005's Land of the Dead . Humans have lost the battle against the flesh eaters, and are barricaded in a walled city ruled by ruthless despots. When the zombies develop advanced military tactics, it's up to a group of mercenaries to save the living.

The Fog - Kenneth Welsh was on another small island with horrible things happening in The Fog. Selma Blair, Tom Welling and Maggie Grace star in this creepy thriller about an island town off the coast of Oregon that's forced to contend with some unwelcome visitors from its past: the spirits of lepers and sailors aboard a ship that the hamlet's forefathers had steered astray on purpose. Those aboard the doomed vessel all wound up lost in the fog forever. Now, they're back from the mist, eager to exact revenge on the descendants of their murderers.

The White Dog Sacrifice - Kathleen Monroe found herself trying to survive in the woods in The White Dog Sacrifice. Five young campers discover that a fifty year old legend of sacrificial killings is becoming their present day reality.

Bottom Feeder - Richard Fitzpatrick deals with rat creatures rather than zombies in Bottom Feeder. Vince (Tom Sizemore) heads a maintenance team sent underground to fix a mechanical snafu but discovers a much more dangerous problem when a mysterious creature starts hunting them down. As the terrified group searches for a way out, they learn that the bloodthirsty monster is the result of a military experiment gone bad. Seemingly impervious to all their attacks, the beast locks Vince in a desperate battle to save his crew from a gruesome fate.

Saw IV - Athena Karkanis dealt with the all too living killer Jigsaw in Saw IV. Picking up where its grisly predecessor left off, this Saw finds Jeff Reinhart (Angus Macfadyen) searching for his missing daughter, but a videotape from the dead serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is Jeff's only lead in his frantic hunt. The film switches back and forth in time throughout previous Saw films and ties up some lingering -- and bloody -- loose ends.

George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead - George Romero wrote and directed George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. While filming a low-budget horror film, Jason (Joshua Close) and his film school friends hear news reports of zombie sightings. As the living dead close in on the film crew, Jason seizes the opportunity to add real blood and guts to his movie. Meanwhile the American government promises to stop the violent uprising, but the relentless zombies gain an advantage by wiping out all forms of communication with the outside world.

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