Survival of the Dead Review
There once was a zombie from Nantucket…ok not quite, and it’s not that famed island but rather Plum Island off the coast of Delaware that provides the setting for George A. Romero’s sixth outing in his famed zombie series. This is certainly a step up from his previous blunder Diary of the Dead, but just like there are only so many places you can be “of dead” (next up, “Airport of the Dead”) there is only so much Romero can siphon from his creative well before he scrapes rock bottom.
Romero seems to be at his best when his material is revisited by other directors. Zack Snyder’s re-interpretation of Dawn of the Dead was a substantial improvement upon the original and The Crazies was remade earlier this year and is one of my favorite horror films in the past few years. His original, pioneering effort, Night of the Living Dead, remains his very best (although Land of the Dead was a pleasantly gory surprise back in 2006) and while it seems like he still has things to say, it’s time he did so through different means.
Don’t hold me to this, but I’m pretty sure Survival of the Dead is a comedy, and if it isn’t then this is a terrible, terrible horror film. Laughs flow quite freely throughout, thanks to the ample dry deadpan humor and to the performances that are substantially improved from the ghastly acting in Diary of the Dead.
“Survival” launches off to a strong start, moves well to the hour mark, but then the doldrums begin to set in and the lack of creativity in the material begins to seep through the cracks. Not only does this movie draw heavily from zombie films in general, but it also carves an ample portion of the gimmick from Land of the Dead
and even has a direct cameo-style tie-in to Diary of the Dead
On the aforementioned Plum Island there is a bitter feud smouldering between two families: The O’Flynns and the Muldoons. (Imagine and island inhabited exclusively by “Sam Quints” from Jaws.) The former, led by Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Walsh) is perfectly happy blasting the putrefying persons to happy eternity, where as the latter, Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), believes the dead can be taught to eat something besides humans. That, or keep them “living” until a cure is discovered. After Patrick is booted off the island for adhering to his bloody ways, he teams up with a small band of soldiers interested in taking refuge on the island, but only if they can be rid of the Muldoons.
Survival of the Dead is somewhat like what The Wicker Man would have been with walking corpses (tonally at least, although with far less singing). It is by no means an aggressively bad effort, it actually features some intriguing scenes, but it is ultimately forgettable and first and foremost a regurgitation of Romero’s previous efforts. At least he has not lost sight of how to kill the walking dead, whether by flare or shotgun, and always tries to infuse his narratives with an underlying message. Hopefully, this continuing trend will not result with “Career of the Dead."
Survival of the Dead
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by George A. Romero
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Richard Fitzpatrick