Cinepub


Zombie Month Repost: Survival Of The Dead by Jamie

Originally posted March 22nd, 2010.

I’m gonna try and not include as many spoilers as possible abut a few things will probably slip out. Also at the end of this review I will be spoiling the ending. I will warn you ahead of it.

George A. Romero is one of my all time cinematic heroes. I’m sure any fan of the zombie genre would say the same. The man essentially created the zombie film genre as we know and love it today when he made ‘Night of the Living Dead’. He followed it up with what may be the pinnacle of the genre, ‘Dawn of the Dead’. The trilogy of the dead was created with the release of ‘Day of the Dead’ and what many thought would be an end to the saga came with ‘Land of the Dead.’ All good movies in their own special ways. Land suffered somewhat from the law of diminishing returns but still, it was a fun entry into the genre.

Then Romero came back with ‘Diary of the Dead’ (You can read my full review of it here) and boy was it disappointing. Fuck, it was far, far more than disappointing. It was fucking atrocious. The acting was terrible, the dialogue was bullshit and the social commentary was way, way over the top. The worst part of the film was that, as much as I love the slow-moving zombies, they don’t work if there aren’t many of them and the characters aren’t holed up in one place. The true fact of the matter is that the slow movers aren’t that big of a threat in small numbers. They are rendered practically pointless.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached ‘Survival of the Dead’, Romero’s latest undead offering. Still, I watched it and the question is what do I have to say about it? Well, I shall answer you question in the form of a haiku:

It is better than
Diary of the Dead but
Still not a good film.

I think that’s a haiku. I’m not entirely sure and I don’t muchly care. If it’s not a haiku then it’s a new form which I’m calling fuku. Yeah, take that. Anyway, that pretty much sums it up. It is markedly better than Diary, though there’s no way that it couldn’t be. The acting is a huge improvement and the story is certainly more interesting. Unfortunately that’s about all the good things that I can really say about it.

Unfortunately this film suffers from one of the major problems that ‘Diary’ also suffered from. The character’s are on the move for the most of the time and there are simply not enough zombies. There is one scene, fairly early in the film, where the characters are all holed up near a dock but it doesn’t last very long and the numbers of zombies that gather could hardly be called a horde.

So what does all that mean? Well, it’s simple. As with ‘Diary‘, the zombies in this film are never really much of a threat and whilst it’s true that the zombies in these films are never the greatest threat, it’s the people you’re stuck with, they should at least provide some kind of genuine danger. This isn’t helped in this film by the fact that most of the zombies are chained up or kept in a stable. It basically neuters the zombie as a monster.

There was another major problem I’d like to get into before I get onto the spoilers. The special effects in this film are fucking atrocious. Sure, there’s some pretty sweet zombie kills but they are ruined by the piss-poor CGI. What the fuck happened to the practical effects that you could revel in and enjoy, knowing that someone had spent hours applying make-up and prosthetics so that they could make it look as realistic as possible? It’s a real fucking shame.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ENDING OF THIS FILM.

Ok, so the main plot of the film focuses on a feud between the heads of two families on an island. One patriarch believes that the zombies should be completely eradicated whilst the other believes that they should be kept ‘alive’ and essentially domesticated in case a cure for zombism is discovered. To this end he tries to train the zombies to eat things other than humans. And what happens at the end of the film after most of the main characters are dead? We see a group of zombies chowing down on a horse! What the fuck is that? You can’t throw something like that into the film that completely rewrites the very essence of what zombies are! I don’t care if it has to happen so that the over-arching point of the film is made and I don’t care that Romero basically set down what future generations would understand zombies as being! You can’t change the game like that this far in. If zombies suddenly switch from human meat to animal meat then all you’ve done is served to further neuter the threat of zombies! No fucking way.

As for the over-arching point of this film, I’m honestly not sure what it was. That maybe we should try and live as one with the zombie? That’s fucking insane. Romero has always been known for layering his ‘Dead’ films with social commentary but I have no idea what it was supposed to be in this film. I can’t help but feel that he heard all of the criticism about how over the top the social commentary was in ‘Diary’, and it was fucking over the top, and just decided that he was gonna try and keep it as light in this film as possible. Well, this was too fucking light. I know how I must sound after complaining about the weight of the social commentary as being too heavy in one film and too light in the next but come on! This is George A. Fucking Romero for fucks sake! This is what he’s supposed to be really fucking good at.

So yeah, all around I was pretty disappointed by this film. I hate to say it but it looks like George A. Romero’s talent as a director may have died with ‘Diary of the Dead’ then it came back to life and started shambling about aimlessly as it produced ‘Survival of the Dead’. Someone really needs to aim for it’s head and put it down for good. Just don’t ask me to do it. I used to love it too much. Two and a half pints out of five.

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