Survival of the Dead (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Survival of the Dead (2010)

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Andrew INDIFFERENTGeorge Romero's zombie movies have never quite been my cup of tea.  There are a few exceptions to that.  Night of the Living Dead is still terrifying and has wonderful social implications, as does his sequel Dawn of the Dead.  But it's been 42 years since Night, 32 years since Dawn, and not a single indication that Romero has opted to grow as a filmmaker.  His latest stab at the zombie mythos comes in the form of Survival of the Dead, a lazy title for a lazy movie.

Survival is a direct sequel to his last film, Diary of the Dead.  The mercenaries that showed up at the conclusion of Diary have gone off to try and find a place to call home.  Their efforts lead them to Plum Island, a place that seems frozen in a moment in time not belonging to this film.

There are two families at war in the fields of Plum Island, the O'Flynn's and the Muldoon's.  They've been a fuedin' for some time over what to do with the zombie's.  The O'Flynn's believe that all zombies should be eradicated while the Muldoon's seem to think that they could be "turned" and used as a reliable source of labor.  This leads to a sequence of images that Marx would find interesting as the various zombies are chained up and trying to do the tasks they did in their former lives (plow, ride horses, garden, etc).

There were moments I thought I put in the wrong movie.

That's a premise that I will now generously describe as hard to swallow.  Romero continues to strain what little credibility his zombie film has by making both families speak in psuedo-Irish accents, providing them names like "Shamus", and situating their island as if it's the last bastion of the Amish.  Pretty much all movies require a certain sense of disbelief in order to buy into their premise, but this one almost requires a full frontal lobotomy.

There's still a bit of Romero's heavy-handed social messages in the film.  Two families, both utilizing the weak and defeated, trying to use them to get the upper hand on the other.  Hrm...sounds like our two party political system in action!  In case you don't get that correlation, there are opening and closing monologues that use the broadest metaphors possible to get that point across.

The acting is uniformly bad, the special effects for the zombies and zombie-related kills are bland, there's not a single memorable line of dialogue in the film and the whole project feels like it was thrown together on a bad weekend.  I imagine that his creative process involves assembling a collection of zombie deaths then filming the movie.  But there's still a certain charm to all this that saves it from being completely wretched.

Darwin would hang his head at the decisions these people make.

Despite Romero's complete disinterest in making sense of this mess, he knows how to shoot an entertaining zombie kill.  In fact, if you decide to view the film as a comedy it almost succeeds.  Anytime the zombies start dropping Survival switches into a Looney Tunes kind of zany atmosphere.  A grilling fork (with hotdog still attached) is used as an improvised brain surgery tool, another zombie is tricked to putting an air compressor hose into it's mouth, and a set of zombies are killed because the characters fail at killing them directly.  They're fun, and while the film isn't funny enough to work in the comedy scale, they came frequently enough to keep me from being bored.

But it wasn't enough for me to still warn folks away from this.  It's not scary, obvious in it's messages, lazy in the delivery, and not entertaining enough in the long run.  Maybe it's horrible box office gross will be enough to convince Romero to finally retire.  Or at least think up different ways for Bugs Bunny to off a zombie.

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Survival of the Dead (2010)

Written and directed by George Romero.
Starring Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, and Devon Bostick.

Posted by Andrew

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