Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Survival Of The Dead

Survival Of The Dead (2009)                                                                         
Dir. George A. Romero

     Director George A. Romero wrote the book on the zombie movie genre and despite superficial flaws his films are beloved by all horror fans, especially Night of the Living Dead (1968) and it’s next two sequels Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). As with most films in the horror genre, their flaws are part of their charm and at least with his first three films Romero is no exception. His social allegory for zombies as a reflection on society has been stated and discussed numerous times. Whether it be commentary on race, consumerism, voyeurism etc his points are made and absorbed while also allowing us, the audience, to enjoy these intestine-tearing gore fests without getting too serious about the whole debacle.

     Survival of the Dead is the sixth film in Romero’s seemingly never-ending franchise.  I won’t go too far into the fourth and fifth installments but I will say that Land of the Dead  (2005) features Dennis Hopper as a crazed zombie-proof-skyscraper landlord. Which means you should probably see it.   Similarly, Diary of the Dead (2007) is actually fairly decent. It creates tension using the hand-held camera technique that other movies like The Blair With Project and Paranormal Activity were not quite able to pull off.  Two characters worth watching for: a university film professor who turns out to be English Rambo and a deaf, dynamite-chucking Amish man named Samuel. Need I say more?
     Let me begin with Survival by addressing a character that should have been killed even before he got screen time. I’m talking about that kid with the mopey haircut and an unhealthy taste for finger jewelry. In a survival situation this person would most likely die faster than you can say Pitchfork. If not at the hands of the “dead heads”, as the zombies are referred to in this film, then by the sweet mercy of his fellow comrades’ blazing machine gun fire. The fact that he is coolly adept with a sidearm is entirely ludicrous.  As a matter of fact, the only official name he is credited as is simply “Boy”. Not Ted, or Corey or some other bullshit like that; just “Boy”. Cut your losses and shoot Boy.
     Survival is a direct follow-up from Diary, picking up with minor characters from the latter. The fractured remains of a military unit find themselves on Plum Island and in the middle of what appears to be a decades long family rivalry. The islanders have some kind of Irish sounding accent and we’re never quite sure where exactly this place might be. It's off the coast of Delaware I think. Up until now the inhabitants of America’s east coast were blissfully unaware of an island nearby that was populated by, I’m assuming, highly inbred Irish people. According to the film, there are really only two families that live there. In any case Kenneth Welsh, Canada’s go-to crazy drunk old man, plays Patrick O’Flynn who was exiled for wanting to kill all the “dead heads” while his rival Seamus Muldoon wishes to find a cure, or simply just use them as bad-smelling appliances.
     As the movie progresses there is a lot of gunfire, a few zombies, fake Irish accents performed by Canadian television actors, and one lesbian. The only truly creepy image from the film is O’Flynn’s zombified daughter riding on horseback through the farmlands. The atmospheric greyness and her dark hair flowing in the wind brings to mind Wuthering Heights, as the image would not be out of place in Emily Brontë’s book.
     Whether they should be executing the re-animated corpses of their loved ones is a moot point. Kill them all. It’s been proven time and time again that if you don’t take care of them now they’ll get you later. Also human beings are ass-holes. I guess Plum Island doesn’t have television. If they did, they would have watched The Walking Dead and realized they were out of their league and should find a vocation other than zombie killing altogether.

     This is by far the worst entry in the series and should definitely NOT be chained in the backyard as a passing amusement.

Just shoot it in the head.


-Malcolm Jamison

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