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Overall Rating
2.92

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look36%
Average: 28%
Pretty Bad: 28%
Total Crap: 8%

3 reviews, 7 user ratings


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George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The father of modern zombies returns for more."
4 stars

When George A. Romero makes a zombie movie, it’s never just about zombies.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) was about racial and generational tension. Dawn of the Dead (1978) was about consumerism. Day of the Dead (1985) was about the clash between science and the military. Land of the Dead (2005) was about haves vs. have-nots. Diary of the Dead (2007) was about post-Katrina cynicism and the age of YouTube. Survival of the Dead, Romero’s latest zombie effort, seems to be about the Troubles in Ireland — or, at least, it uses them as a symptom of how certain people will always irrationally hate certain other people. It might as plausibly be about divided America in the era of Obama, Palin, and tea parties.

Don’t you worry, though: flesh is still eaten, and zombies still get plugged in the head (the only way to kill them). I note with some surprise that Survival is rated R, but is about as gruesome as Dawn of the Dead, whose head-splattering and gut-munching so offended the MPAA in 1978 that it had to go out unrated. Times have changed, I guess. The addition of computer-generated effects also gives us such images as a row of still-gnashing zombie heads on pikes, as well as death by fire extinguisher. Romero certainly hasn’t lost his appetite for destruction.

In Diary of the Dead, a few rogue National Guard soldiers flagged down the protagonists and stole their supplies; they got just a few minutes of screen time, but here they graduate to protagonists themselves. Led by the bitter Sarge “Nicotine” Crocket (Alan van Sprang), they decide to head for an island off of Delaware that promises safety from the zombie hordes. Turns out they’ve been lured there by Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh), who’s been exiled from the island. O’Flynn believes there’s no cure for a zombie except a bullet in the brain. His adversary, Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), believes God will send a cure someday, and in the meantime it’s best to keep one’s undead family close to home, albeit in chains.

Actually, this could also be a pro-choice vs. pro-life allegory. Or one about the death-penalty debate, or, really, any intractable issue that boils down to faith vs. reason. The O’Flynn and Muldoon clans have feuded for decades, and here their antagonism is based in ideology, not blood. Romero also turns the film into a western, with men in cowboy hats facing off, while the military (including a lesbian and a teenager along for the ride) do their best to stay in one piece. A horse represents possible civilization: Muldoon thinks that if zombies can develop a taste for something other than human flesh — such as a stallion trapped in a pen with a shambling zombie who used to ride it — the nightmare may end.

Except it never does. Diary of the Dead ended with a final shot that seemed to bring the entire movie into relevant focus, and so does Survival; it’s as if Romero came up with these images and then wrote the scripts just to preface them. Romero isn’t limited to a couple of shaky-cams this time the way he was in Diary, so the movie benefits from his usual whiplash editing (by Michael Doherty), and for the second time (after Land of the Dead) he shoots in crisp, super-wide ‘scope.

I’ve enjoyed each of Romero’s "Dead" films — even the problematic "Day of the Dead" has its charms — and "Survival" proves again that Romero hasn’t lost his touch and hasn’t run out of things to say.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19452&reviewer=416
originally posted: 04/26/10 07:00:54
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2009 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Venice International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Venice International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Texas Frightmare Film Festival For more in the 2010 Texas Frightmare Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/03/15 Chilly Dong Thornton Pretty fun movie 4 stars
11/15/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Light weight film from zombie master Romero. 2 stars
6/22/10 Pim The film that Mr. Romero puts his heart and soul into. Not original, but enjoyable! 4 stars
6/05/10 Ronald Holst Here we go agin another boring horro flick 3 stars
5/28/10 mr.mike Enjoyed it as a genre fan , but it adds absolutely nothing new to the formula. 4 stars
5/02/10 John Valdez skip this film 1 stars
10/29/09 PAUL SHORTT SEEMINGLY ENDLESS HORROR COMIC 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-May-2010 (R)
  DVD: 24-Aug-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  28-May-2010
  DVD: 24-Aug-2010




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