Well, if there is one thing that came out of "Survival Of The Dead" its the fact that I tried. I lowered my expectations significantly. I even tried to not really think about the film while watching it and just go with it instead. None of it worked. "Survival Of The Dead" truly was a disappointment in so many ways. This is George A. Romero we are talking about here. He is the zombie fucking king of zombie kings. Even though "Diary Of The Dead" had some awful moments, it had its redemption moments too. But this one. No. This one falls flat in the most utterly shocking ways imaginable.
Following a group of military rogues led by Sarge (Sprang) that were introduced in "Diary Of The Dead", the world has become an utter shit hole of zombies and people of questionable taste (no pun intended) with their morals. Our group of soldiers, who live like nomads, find out about an island where they might find shelter and peace finally from the walking hordes of the undead. What they find on this island are two warring families that have been brought to full on killing each other due to a disagreement with how the dead should be treated. One side believes they should be put down as plague ridden pests whilst the other believes they can be trained to eat more than just people. Now the soldiers find themselves trying to survive the mindless remains of humanity along with the mindless zombies themselves.
Romero was always able to subtly slide in all of these great social commentaries into his films whether it be about religion, military, money, or even racism. "Survival Of The Dead" never goes about it subtlety and tries to force the damn 'lesson' here straight down the viewers throat. This, in turn, creates a rather preachy film whose lesson feels rather irrelevant to those that this great filmmaker has touched on before. As the film's foundation, this is a greatly flawed part of why "Survival Of The Dead" fails in most concerns.
So if the meaning of the film doesn't make the cut, then surely a seasoned writer and director like Romero can uphold the execution of the film, right? Not really. This is by far the Horror icon's worst script writing and hit or miss visual work. The dialogue is damn awkward half the time, the characters are rather half wits with no connection to the audience (perhaps Sarge at times but even that's lacking majorly), and some of the scenes are downright idiotic. Half the time I'm not sure if I'm watching a purposefully poor comedic scene or a purposefully poor dramatic scene. The entire sequence at the dock is rather eye-twitchingly mock like (the man who goes fishing for zombies on the roof for example) and the finale showdown seems like a poorly staged western. The comedy is so poorly done most of the time (I do give it to Sarge when he lights his cigarette on the flaming zombie as pretty funny) that I wanted to cry rather than laugh. Oh how far the great fall.
It must also be stated that when compared to the amounts of zombie trash that is out there nowadays that "Survival Of The Dead" probably isn't all that bad. At least it tries. The fact that Romero was behind it is what actually makes it as bad as it is. We, as a Horror community, expect more than what was contained in "Survival Of The Dead". Unfortunately, with the direction that his films seem to be moving, I wouldn't expect too much more from the legendary writer/director in terms of quality. "Survival Of The Dead" comes out dead in the water itself.
BONUS RANT: When I go to see a zombie film, particularly one from someone who is as seasoned as Romero is, I want to see some legit gore. Oh, this film has plenty of gore....CGI GORE! Come on, man. The few scenes of special effects were awesome, but I wanted less of the digital red, red kroovy and more of legit done on scene stuff.
Written By Matt Reifschneider