George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead


George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead

Hellllllllloooooooooo handsome!

(2009) Horror (Magnet) Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Devon Bostick, Richard Fitzpatrick, Stefano Colacitti, Athena Karkanis, Steano DiMatteo, Joris Jarsky, Eric Woolfe, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Josh Pearce, Michelle Morgan. Directed by George A. Romero

And in the end of days, the dead shall rise and walk the Earth. We just didn’t think that was meant literally. However, George A. Romero took it one step further yet.

Eight days after the dead begin to walk, the army quickly realizes they are fighting a losing battle. There are far more dead than living and the living may be turned dead not just by dying but by getting bitten. One company led by Sarge Nicotine Crockett (van Sprang) sees that this is a hopeless cause and determines to head somewhere remote where the people are few and the dead are fewer. Fewer people means fewer reanimated corpses to kill…again.

Sarge and his guys Tomboy (Karkanis), Kenny (Wolfe) and Francisco (Colacitti) as well as young Boy (Bostick) make their way to a dock which, Boy informs them, has a boat that can take them to Plum Island, just off the coast of Delaware. This land is inhabited by two families only – the Muldoons and the O’Flynns who have been feuding ever since anybody could remember. These days it’s about how to deal with the zombies. The O’Flynns think the zombies should be destroyed, since their animating spirits are departed. The Muldoons believe the dead are merely diseased and should be treated with compassion and chained someplace meaningful so they can go through their lives…er, afterlives with some sort of comfort until a cure can be found.

In the middle are caught Sarge and his crew and it won’t be long before the crossfire starts creating more problems than it solves; after all, every new corpse creates another zombie for them to deal with.

Romero is one of those directors who is legendary among the demographic he serves – to wit, zombie lovers. Most of the mythology of zombies in general in modern literature both graphic and traditional was evolved by Romero in Night of the Living Dead and its succeeding films. Romero’s contribution to the horror genre in particular and film in general cannot be understated.

This is not Romero at the top of his game. The story is pedestrian and a bit disjointed. Romero is known for making social commentary thinly veiled as a horror film and this could easily be construed as a parody of the two party system. However, the characterizations are so cliché and the plot so thin and quite frankly, the acting so uninspiring that if Romero’s name wasn’t on this you might easily be persuaded to give up on the movie early on.

But this being Romero, he knows how to kill zombies and the zombie kills are at least interesting but at this stage of the game you really need more. It is kind of sad that the real innovating in the zombie genre is being done on cable (although Zombieland introduced a nice comedy element into it).

Still, it’s George Romero and watching even the weakest work by a master of that magnitude beats the best days of thousand of lesser talents out there. This isn’t his most entertaining work by any stretch of the imagination and there are plenty of zombie films that are better than this one. There are also better films to start with if you are unfamiliar with Mr. Romero’s talents. While the score it’s getting is poor, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a watching – it’s just you probably won’t want to give it any more than that. And that is not normal for the film catalogue of George Romero.

WHY RENT THIS: It’s George. Effin. Romero.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: It simply doesn’t measure up to his previous work.

FAMILY VALUES: It is a George Romero zombie film, so it comes as no surprise that there’s a surfeit of gore. There’s also no shortage of bad words, a smattering of sexuality and yes, all the violent zombie goodness that only Romero can deliver.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the first film that Romero has used major characters from a preceding film as leading characters.

NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: There are a couple of interviews with Romero as well as a fascinating featurette on how to create your own zombie bites on a reasonable budget.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $143,191 on a $4M production budget; a certain box office disappointment.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: “The Walking Dead”

FINAL RATING: 4.5/10

NEXT: Day 2 of the Six Days of Darkness 2012