Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2009)
Diary of the Dead was, while not exactly a banner moment in George A. Romero’s career, his best film in nigh on two decades (longer if you were one of the thousands who didn’t like Monkey Shines nearly as much as I did). So, given that, what was his next move? Take a minor character from the movie, who appears very briefly, and make him the star of the next attempt to beat that (un)dead horse for just a little more cash. And I will admit (and I have said this before, specifically about Mr. Romero even) that if this were not a George A. Romero zombie movie, I would probably not have hated it nearly as much as I did. But in this case, I’m not sure that argument applies, because I’m not sure that anyone other than George Romero could have made Survival of the Dead. Which makes it even more painful to say that this movie is, to date, the nadir of Romero’s career—and I say this as someone who sat through both There’s Always Vanilla and Jack’s Wife.
Plot: Nick Crockett (Immortals‘ Alan van Sprang), whom we last saw shaking down the film crew in Diary of the Dead, is leading a ragtag band of ex-military types through the zombified landscape, living off their wits, when they stumble upon a radio transmission straight out of 28 Days Later… advertising a zombie-free island. They decide to check it out and, to make a long story short, find themselves stuck in the middle of a long-standing feud between the island’s two patriarchs, Patrick O’Flynn (The Aviator‘s Kenneth Welsh) and Seamus Muldoon (The Boondock Saints‘ Richard Fitzpatrick), one of whom wants to eradicate the island’s undead inhabitants, the other trying to find a way to restore their humanity.
In short: take everything you loved about Dawn of the Dead and elevate it to parody levels. Thirty-five years ago, Dawn‘s brilliant, hilarious, over-the-top gore sequences were accents that pinned together a story with just enough social consciousness to leave a bitter taste in the mouth, with enough rough edges to abrade without ever cutting. Here, we find that the outrageous gore sequences aren’t accents, they’ve become the entire story, with the social consciousness aspect of the film relegated to one scene at the end that’s just painful to watch. We’ve gone from Ken Foree’s immortal “when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth” to this nonsense?
I hate this movie. I hate that I’ve seen this movie. I hate that this movie got made. (zero)