Survival Of The Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Alan Van Spang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This is a review that I really don’t want to write. Why? Because I am a George Romero fan, and a zombie movie fan, but especially a Romero zombie movie fan. At least I was, but ever since he finished his original …Of The Dead trilogy, the quality of Romero’s cavorting corpse cinema has been in steady decline. Yet while both land and Diary Of The Dead had some good things to balance out the bad, Survival is an unredeemable disaster from start to finish. I never thought I’d say that about any Romero movie, other than Bruiser, and especially not one of his zombie flicks, but that is the long and short of it. However if you want some reasons as to why this movie makes me so sad, read on.
The story, such as it is, is about a small island off the coast of Pennsylvania oddly populated by a bunch of Irish people living the simple country life when the undead plague hits. Half the residents of the island belong to one clan who want to do the sensible thing and kill the zombies as they pop up. The other half, also belong to a single clan, want to keep the zombies locked up, or chained up doing really stupid stuff like delivering the mail, mowing the lawn, and chopping wood (yeah, great idea, give the zombie an axe), until a cure can be discovered. This leads to a civil war of sorts between the living. Into this clan war comes a group of soldiers, the same soldiers last seen robbing the “heroes” of Diary Of The Dead. Now all this, while a bit silly, doesn’t sound all that bad, so why do I cry every time I think of this movie? Wow, where to begin?
The acting is atrocious. Not one actor looks like they have any business being in front of a camera, or hell even on the stage of the local community college. I’m not just trying to be snarky, but I cannot stress enough how bad the acting is. Yet I can’t blame these hapless thespians for ruining this movie alone, I can’t even place all the blame on them for the incredibly cheesy characters they are portraying. No, sadly the script has a lot to do with that too. The dialog is laughably bad, the situations thoroughly unbelievable, and worst of all, the zombie gags fall completely flat.
What’s a “zombie gag?” That’s a memorable bit of gory good fun where a zombie either kills someone, or is killed, in a spectacular way. Previous Romero zombie movies had tons of these, but Survival has not a single one. Oh, you will remember plenty of gore scenes from this movie, but for all the wrong reasons. Namely the special effects are HORRIBLE! The makeup, what little is used, looks like what you would see in your neighborhood haunted house at Halloween, but the biggest offender is the completely phony looking CGI effects. There are not words enough to describe how bad the Grade-Z computer effects look, so I’m not going to even try.
Ha, who am I kidding?
I live to piss all over bad CGI, so let me say that the computer animation in The Last Starfighter looked more believable than the splat effects in Survival, and have you seen that 1984 classic recently? Yeah, that looks better than what they’ve got here. And hey, did I mention the zombie chick riding a horse? Yes, you read that right, there’s a horse riding zombie. Man the questions that brings up are legion. How does the zombie girl get up on the horse? Does she just stay up there forever? Did she die on the horse? Why does the horse allow some rotting dead thing to ride it all around? Most importantly, who the hell thought it was a good idea to have a zombie on horseback in this movie?
Now despite this deeply flawed film, Magnolia Home Entertainment did a good job bring this move out on disc. There are three options to choose from, a rather bare bones DVD, a two disc Ultimate Edition DVD loaded with extras, and a nice looking Blu-ray with even more goodies. But does it really matter what extras a specific edition has when the movie they’re all about is this bad? No, it doesn’t so moving on…
I can not recommend this movie, not even a little bit. It is the one Romero zombie movie I will not be keeping in my movie library and honestly, I’m going to try like hell to forget that I ever saw this movie. I never thought I’d say this, but I do hope that George never makes another zombie movie, because if the declining quality trend continues, I can’t even begin to image how bad the next …Of The Dead movie will be. Whatever, consider this movie thoroughly drenched in Skip It sauce.