George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead Review

I can certainly imagine that Night of the Living Dead has scared the crap out of people decades after it was released back in 1968. It was over twenty years ago that I woke up earlier than usual waiting for cartoons to air and was flipping through the channels when I came upon a black and white movie on A&E, pre-Dog the Bounty Hunter if you can imagine such a time. It looked rather ominous and maybe even scary. Having always been told not to watch scary movies, I delighted in the fact that my parents would never find out about my defiance. Moments after seeing strange creatures tear open a person and yanked his innards out, I turned off the TV and ran back into my room. It would be many years before I returned to finish this film, or even start it. George A. Romero somehow, in a mere twenty seconds or so, planted a seed that would take many years to grow but my love of the zombie must’ve began back then and has continued unabated since.

Years down the road, the stars must’ve aligned properly. With a wallet full of money not yet spent on bills and a small company named Anchor Bay releasing old horror movies, I managed to grab both Dawn and Day of the Dead and Romero’s Dead trilogy had become my favorite movies to watch. It wasn’t just the bloodlust that got to me, it was also Romero’s way of telling stories and creating characters while surrounded by these ghoulish creatures that got my attention. To this day Dawn of the Dead is often on the tip of my tongue when asked what my favorite movies are. The man is forever immortalized in the minds of horror fans everywhere for creating the new zombie archetype (until recently when people figured running zombies were scarier) and is now immortalized with us here on this silly blog by naming our podcast after the most quoted line in the film. Romero has been honored many times over for his accomplishments and will be soon on a forthcoming podcast, but now here’s where the tide turns….his latest zombie opus is one of the worst movies of his career.

I put the DVD in player and noticed on the menu that there was the option to view an introduction by Romero prior to viewing the movie. Of course I wanted to see what the man had to say, would he pour his heart out, would he welcome us and discuss why he made this movie? Well…it wound up being a series of fake takes about him introducing the movie while zombies interrupted him. Slightly funny but a strange introduction if I’ve ever seen one. I didn’t see the point right then and there, but if I were to take anything from what I saw, it was that this introduction should’ve been taken as a taste of things to come.

The main plot of the movie concerns two fighting families, the Muldoons and the O’Flynn’s on Plum Island. The current feud is over whether or not they should kill their own who have turned into zombies. The Muldoons choose not to harm their loved ones, even in living death, while the O’Flynn’s try to get a posse together to kill off the brain eaters. Meanwhile, a group of army deserters (seen in the previous film, Diary of the Dead, meeting up with the protagonists of that film) find a YouTube video of Patrick O’Flynn, the eldest of the family, inviting people to Plum Island and telling them just how great the place is. Once they get there, they realize everything’s just as wrong there as it is everywhere else. As they go around the island, they see that zombies are still around, and alive, only chained to certain spots, like the mailman chained near a mailbox. Muldoon has an idea where he tries to get the zombies to eat something other than humans…like horses! This mad man must be stopped…

The basic idea behind the movie is fine, but the entire movie is littered with silly scenes and dialogue along with terrible CG gore its unbearable to watch. It’s hard to take the movie seriously after seeing someone stick the hose of a fire extinguisher into the mouth of a zombie and squirting until CG foam comes out of the zombie’s ears and pops his CG eyes out. Yes, there’s a ton of CG splatter effects and it’s very disappointing to see after seeing some great effects made that are over 30 years old now, seems a giant step backward. It may be cheaper to do this way, but that’s how it looks too.

The conflict of “should we kill them/we won’t kill them” is often brought up for dramatic purposes and the intention may be there but if your idea is not to kill the undead but to chain them up and repeat the same motions every ten seconds, it’s quite ridiculous. Teaching them to eat something else is an interesting idea that’s brought up much too late and becomes just another ridiculous notion on top of several others. By the time I saw the ending, (SPOILER: O’Flynn and Muldoon, as zombies, shoot each other over and over waiting for the other to fall over dead) I had the idea that Romero was trying to make a parody of sorts with his beloved zombie series. If this had been called “Zombie Movie” I would’ve had a clearer idea of what I’d be getting into.

In the end, this movie is a huge step backward for Romero compared to what he’s given the world. I look forward to his next venture in the series and hope this is just a misstep and not a glimpse into the future.

Story: 4 – Giving it more than its’ due, what good ideas are brought up are buried under ridiculous ideas.

Boobs: 0 – None that I can remember, though I was passing in and out towards the end.

Blood: 3 – Some decent stuff takes a huge backseat to some awful CG gore.

Overall: 2 – A huge disappointment and unfortunately not worth seeing even for fans.

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