MOVIE: Survival of the Dead (2010)

Okay, someone needs to say it and that someone might as well be me.

Dear George Romero: I think it’s time to hang it up. Please. Before you embarrass yourself any further. Your Loving Fan (I mean that, I really do), Meg.

This movie, the latest Romero zombie flick to hit the big-screen (coming soon to theaters near you, but available for pre-theatrical streaming at Amazon.com) is absolutely laughable. And though I tried to make myself believe it was doing it on purpose, I KNOW IT WAS NOT. It was not. Don’t try to tell me it was now, either, because you are too late, sirs and madams.

The special effects are terrible — not in a good way, mind you — the story is ridiculous, the acting is completely hammy, and the attempt at social commentary (always a Romero zombie movie element) fails miserably.

To be honest, I loved 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, finding it both entertaining and emotionally satisfying (don’t laugh). I also really enjoyed 2005’s Land of the Dead, which, though not as engaging as Dawn for me, at least had an interesting idea at its root (what if zombies can think? And UNIONIZE? BAM!)

Diary of the Dead (2007), by comparison, took me by surprise, in part because it suddenly dropped Romero back out of the world of big Hollywood budgets and “real” actors into the land of lo-fi, badly-acted B-movies. I figured it was possible that had been done on purpose — it had an endearing quality, a back-to-your-roots sort of thing. But ultimately, I felt it lacked originality (oh, tired, tired faux-documentary format) and felt sort of half-assed. This one, which ties in slightly with Diary, is a further drop in quality all around.

It starts with a group of soldiers (and here’s the tie to Diary — remember when the van of kids shooting the documentary got harassed by a bunch of renegade soldiers? This is those guys) who have split off from their platoon and gone rogue, primarily to save themselves from the hoards of “deadheads” (zombies) swarming around them.  Without going into much detail, they end up teaming up with an old Irish guy, O’Flynn, who takes them to a small island off the coast of Delaware (Plum Island), where the soldiers soon find themselves swept up in a (seriously clichéd) long-standing Irish family feud.

The reason for the most recent round of feuding was that O’Flynn wanted to kill all the zombies on the island and Muldoon wanted to keep them alive until a cure was found. Because they were family, you see. It’s kind of an optimism vs. pessimism thing, and I think we were supposed to have a debate here, along with the characters, over which philosophy was the most noble: sacrificing the zombies to protect the living, or protecting the (un)dead to see if they can’t somehow be saved.

Except the problem is Muldoon is no more a Mister Glass-Half-Full than O’Flynn is, and he starts shooting zombies for the hell of it himself at one point.  (Running Romero theme: People who are afraid often turn into completely animals.)   Plus, there’s this whole subplot with O’Flynn’s twin daughters, one of whom is a zombie who appears to be able to think for herself somewhat. Muldoon’s plan evolves into trying to teach her how to eat something OTHER than humans, in the hopes that if the zombies can’t be saved, perhaps they could at least be trained to like bacon instead of brains and thus be reintegrated into society. Slight twinge of Land of the Dead there, but it’s not pursued at all. And besides, it’s stupid.

This movie is essentially a big offensive piece of crap (I say “offensive” for a variety of reasons, but let me cite one specific example of a cringy moment for you: the only female soldier in the group of Army rogues is introduced to us as she sits in the group’s jeep on patrol, masturbating right in front of her colleagues. Then it turns out she is, of course, a lesbian. Because military women are all lesbians, first of all, and lesbians are also, as we all know, completely sex-crazed. Oh, shut the hell up, George. You’re a moron).

There isn’t a single element of this film that justifies its having been made. Someone spent money on this! And then *I* spent money on this! We’re all idiots, is what I’m saying. Don’t be like us.  USE your brains, don’t eat them.

[Prequeue it at Netflix | Rent/Stream via Amazon.com | View trailer]

Genre: Zombies, Horror
Cast: Alan Van Strang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Athena Karkanis

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “MOVIE: Survival of the Dead (2010)”

  1. Trip Says:

    I heard something about a remake of Day of the Dead, but can’t seem to find anything on IMDB now. If done as reasonably well as the remake of Dawn, I’d see that for a dollar.

    Ah well, guess we just have to wait for the release of World War Z for a new epic zombie romp…

  2. Corey Says:

    this is pretty much exactly how i felt about SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.

    as for the DAY OF THE DEAD remake — it’s even worse than SURVIVAL. avoid at all costs. or, better yet, seek it out… and then you can tell others to avoid it at all costs. :p

  3. megwood Says:

    Sweet! My opinion on Survival has now been officially endorsed by my favorite horror movie blogger!

    Is the Day of the Dead remake you’re talking about the 2008 one? If so, I wholeheartedly second Corey’s opinion. I don’t remember a single thing about it, other than feeling extremely sorry for Ving Rhames. But that’s probably enough description right there.

  4. Trip Says:

    Nope, I heard somewhere recently that there’s another remake project for Day, only now in this new post-Avatar era, it’ll be in 3-D.

    If only there was a push to bring back Smell-O-Vision with that as well.

  5. megwood Says:

    Oh yes, Smell-O-Vision for a zombie movie would be RAD. Though, it might hit the concession stand a bit hard.

  6. TC Says:

    Romero shot his wad in 1985 and hasn’t made a good zombie movie (or any other movie since). The problem with Survival, and his other miss Land of the Dead is that he is obsessed with making the movie he wasn’t allowed to make in 1985.

    He needs to do two things to make a good zombie movie. One he needs to reunite with Tom Savini. Get rid of the crappy CGI and let Savini do what he does best. Two he needs to go back to what made Night, Dawn, and Day so good, which was compelling, conflicted characters and a survival horror storyline.

  7. megwood Says:

    Thanks for all the comments, TC! I’m making my way through thwm not. RIGHT ON about Tom Savini, though. Good points all ’round, sir.

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