On an island off the coast of North America, local residents simultaneously fight a zombie epidemic while hoping for a cure to return their un-dead relatives back to their human state. The master George A. Romero returns with a new entry in the greatest horror series of all time. Combining black humor with his trademark zombie gore and apocalyptic vision.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Alan Van Sprang … Sarge ‘Nicotine’ Crocket
Kenneth Welsh … Patrick O’Flynn
Kathleen Munroe … Janet / Jane O’Flynn
Devon Bostick … Boy
Richard Fitzpatrick … Seamus Muldoon
Athena Karkanis … Tomboy
Stefano DiMatteo … Francisco (as Stefano Di Matteo)
Joris Jarsky … Chuck
Eric Woolfe … Kenny
Julian Richings … James O’Flynn
Wayne Robson … Tawdry O’Flynn
Joshua Peace … D.J. (as Josh Peace)
Hardee T. Lineham … Lieutenant Vaughn
Shawn Roberts … Tony Ravello (archive footage)
Scott Wentworth … Professor Andrew Maxwell (archive footage)
Amy Ciupak Lalonde … Tracy Thurman (archive footage) (as Amy Lalonde)
Michelle Morgan … Debra Moynihan (archive footage)
Joshua Close … Jason Creed (archive footage)
Mitch Risman … Drooling Zombie
John Healey … Matthew
Philippa Domville … Beth Muldoon
Miranda Millar … Zombie Girl
George Stroumboulopoulos … Talk Show Host
Pete Zedlacher … Talk Show Stooge
Michael Rhoades … Hot-Headed Good Old Boy
Brian Frank … Gut Shot Good Old Boy
Ho Chow … Fisherman
Dan Belley … Harbor Zombie
Angela Brown … Tawdry Biter
Marqus Bobesich … Dynamite Zombie
Jerry Schaefer … Fire Extinguisher Zombie
James Dunn … Hot Dog Zombie
Chad Camilleri … Flaming Zombie
Matt Birman … Lem Muldoon
Zeljko Kecojevic … Pitchfork Zombie
Kevin Rushton … Hat Zombie
Curtis Parker … Scanlon Boy
Heather Allin … Sally Muldoon
Rick Parker … Horse-eating Zombie
George A. Romero’s career can be divided into two standards. The first is the standard he made in the wake of Night of the Living Dead and which was solidified after Dawn of the Dead. This was a benchmark to which other horror films, especially those featuring the living dead, and filmmakers had to at least meet in order to be taken seriously. The other standard was ushered in by Romero’s 2005 Land of the Dead. This was a much different and much more personal standard, because it applied directly to Romero’s future projects. That standard? How much less would those films suck compared to Land of the Dead.
This is important because it was a conflict between those two standards that I was faced with when I first saw the trailers for Survival of the Dead. Would this finally be a successor to the last good Romero “Blank of the Dead” movie, Day of the Dead? Or could this at least not be as outclassed, hackneyed and generally boring as Land of the Dead was? My hopes were riding tenuously on the first, while my fears were preying on the second.
So, which movie was Survival of the Dead? One that stood in front of the George A. Romero name, as the first few did, or one that shielded itself behind that name? In honesty, it was neither. Survival of the Dead is a movie that finally stood beside its director, neither choking on unrealistic expectations nor striving to push the boundaries of the genre. The result is not mediocrity, but a truly watchable flick.
Romero still writes some of the smartest zombie films, broaching topics broader than simply apocalypse and the eventuality of mankind shitting the proverbial bed. Some of the nuance is missing, but the scene where the protagonists interact with hillbilly zombie hunters injects some of the social commentary inherent in all of Romero’s films. It provides visceral images that make an obvious point, but is brief enough to avoid the pitfall of being overly didactic, as Land of the Dead fell into on more than one occasion.
Which is good, since the cast of characters, even if not especially, the protagonists are no angels. There’s the trigger happy, short fused Sarge and his group of deserters: a Latin lothario whose prophecy of being able to change a woman’s world in five minutes is fulfilled, one way or another, the catty lesbian member with the apt callsign of “Tomboy” who still manages to be the most compassionate of this Bad Company and the obligatory voice of reason in a world gone mad, which comes the form of Kenny. Toss in a half-thief, half-brat with sniper accuracy and the saltiest of old salts and you have a band of heroes that are as despicable as they are worth rooting for.
Speaking of the old salt, Kenneth Welsh as the exiled and bitter bastard Patrick O’Flynn makes this film. He is easily the most interesting character in the film, with a charisma that absolutely justifies the ridiculous lengths people go for this cantankerous Irish shitkicker. Additionally, it is through him that the storyline progresses, even if he isn’t meant to be the major protagonist. He’s the one who has goals and it is his rival, the equally intriguing Seamus Muldoon (played as equally to the hilt by Richard Fitzpatrick) that ultimately becomes the film’s antagonist, moreso than even the teeming masses of the undead.
In fact, the feud between O’Flynn and Muldoon is easily where the meat of the film is, everything else is simply trying to gnaw through it. This is a feud that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like whiny bitches by comparison. What struck me as odd was how easily comparable this rivalry was to that between the Rojos and Baxters in Leone’s classic A Fistful of Dollars. Somehow Romero managed to capture the best part of one of the better spaghetti westerns in film history, toss it into his zombie film and managed not to have it come out as the shitacular Dead Noon.
So far, I’ve neglected the elephant in the room: the zombies. Hopefully that speaks for how much this film has going for it beyond trotting out the undead. There is no lack of the walking dead in Survival and they are obviously the heirs to the zeds of Romero’s past flicks. Expect shuffling, not the Usain Bolt on coke zombies from Snyder’s Dead remake, and expect at least one scene of somebody’s insides being tugged out in ropes of viscera. The special effects may be much improved, but as they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and most of the “smart zombie” bullshit gets brutally refuted. Most.
In a final summation, Survival of the Dead is not going to be for this decade what Night of the Living Dead was for the 60s. Fortunately, it doesn’t need nor want to be that kind of a movie. If anything, this film can be summed up by its own title. This is proof that the “Blank of the Dead” series can survive in this era. Not thrive, mind, but survive. In a period where it seems movies have to be “Blockbuster or Bust,” Survival of the Dead dares to be decent.
Dr. Zombie’s Review:
I’m not sure what to say about Survival of the Dead. It was a decent film. I would definitely recommend watching it. i just don’t know how I would rate it. When compared to zombie movies in general I would give a great review, because there is a lot of zombie crap out there and this is not crap.
However, shouldn’t i expect more from the father of the genre. I just feel that other people; Zack Snyder, Ruben Fleischer, DannyBoyle, have done a better job on zombie films then Romero has lately. Perhaps the zombie movie I have been craving from Romero, just isn’t his style. don’t get me wrong I like Romero’s work I just want to see him do a nail-biting, action-adventure, gorefest, explosion-packed zombie movie. Just once. Fuck the commentary on humanity, fuck the allegories, just give me a Romero Zombie Gore-gasm.
And perhaps, that means I am missing the point of the movie. Just like the character Seamus Muldoon in this I am wishing for Romero to be something he is not. Just like the Seamus’ zombie kin are not his family, Romero is not the over the top suspense filled zombie movie maker. I should just accept it and move on.
The movie itself was pretty good. Some survivors of the zombie apocalypse have managed to find some amount of safety on an island. However, there are feuding families on the island, that have two opposing views on how to handle the zombie plague. There are some very interesting “how to kill a zombie” scenes showing new ways to dispatch a zombie, and of course some good ole fashion zombie stringing the guts out of some poor bastard that should make most zombie fans happy.
Go see the movie if your a zombie fanatic, it’s a great movie. Just don’t expect to be sitting at the edge of your seat or see anything that pushes the envelope or expands the genre.