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Fred Tries Survival of the Dead

Published May 28, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Magnet Releasing
Survival of the Dead Poster Survival of the Dead
Survival of the Dead is another fascinating look at a situation that can arise when the last remnants of humanity try to hole up from the zombie hordes. We’ve seen a house, a mall, a lab, a gated community, a road trip and now, wait for it…. an island!

Review: George A Romero's Survival of the Dead

This time, survivors end up on an island where a family feud continues through the zombie apocalypse. O’Flynn has the traditional approach of just shooting all the zombies, but The Muldoons want to keep them alive, contained but alive in case there’s a cure. If you’re caught in the middle, you can’t even shoot the zombie for fear of repercussions from the Muldoons!

The debate is an interesting one, and can certainly fill in for any current divisive topic on Fox News. The movie isn’t quite so morally ambiguous though because Muldoon is just a dick. He’s not altruistically hoping for a cure. He picks and chooses who he wants to keep alive and for what reasons. He’s sexist and a tyrant of a father too, so really Muldoon is the bad guy. He’s just making it difficult for the O’Flynns which is still a good twist.

There’s another movie to be made about a world where keeping zombies alive has a point, and no one’s right. Although, how right wing do you have to be to protect zombie rights? I mean, what good is keeping alive a zombie? Let’s say you keep it from eating you, what good is some lumbering dead thing? I guess in the zombie holocaust there’s no more abortion or gay marriage so you’ve got to court the zombie-hugger vote.

Romero can still come up with new, intense zombie encounters in his sixth outing. The pier set piece is harrowing and builds on itself to a climax of its own. The set pieces remain contained but that clarifies the objectives and it’s kind of the point of zombie survival. There are so many wild constructions of exploring the zombie concept. It’s like Grindhouse, free to embrace creativity without paying heed to “reality.” That’s what cinema should always be about.

The decision making is the interesting part of zombie survival. The world’s gone crazy and there are no rules for handling it, so what kind of logic would you follow? You just try to choose the best path.

I love all the little touches about what life is like in this world. We see the underground internet shows that people put on in the absence of Hollywood entertainment. Sport fishing is kind of hilarious now too.

Interestingly, Survival gives us actual figures on the zombie death toll. Had they done that before? It sounds like big numbers.

We know the procedure of handling zombies, though we still get to see some characters deal with it for the first time. That’s got to be for new viewers, but it’s still good drama to deal with people realizing they have to put down their family members, even children. That’s really the meat of the genre anyway. Could you do it?

A voiceover in the beginning starts out like a soldier confessional and becomes a basic exposition about the warring island families. Yeah, it’s blatant but what do you want, artful subtle plotting? You really want 20 minutes of demonstrable storytelling to catch us up? This just gets us to the point. Zombies.

The CGI is up to Hollywood movie standards, which means it sucks but on par with sucky blockbusters. At least Romero’s using it to give us heads on sticks. That’s cooler than the Kraken. The stunts barely convey the illusion for a film, but at least they’re being safe and it all cuts together.

Survival of the Dead has its flaws, mostly of the low budget kind that you can easily forgive because the ideas behind them are so ambitious. It delivers on the multiple levels of Romero’s best so if you’re into it, it’s true to form.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Magnet Releasing

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