Rated R for strong zombie violence/gore, language and brief sexuality, 86 minutes
Romero's "Survival of the Dead" redundant
George A. Romero single-handedly invented the zombie horror genre with "Night of the Living Dead" in 1968. He's been through several reiventions of the genre over the last 40 years, and he's still riding the current wave of zombie popularity with the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" a few years ago. Romero's latest entry, "Survival of the Dead," will no doubt please his loyal fanbase, but it's his weakest film. Badly acted, it also seems redundant and even a little boring by now, though it's always fun seeing those zombies get blown to bits.
"Survival" takes place in a desperate, nightmarish world where the dead walk the earth, relentlessly attacking the living. It is the story of Plum Island - a beautiful refuge whose isolation allows two powerful families to maintain a semblance of order in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. But as the inhabitants slowly die off, the two clans become sharply divided: The O'Flynns believe that the undead must be destroyed without exception, while the Muldoons insist that afflicted loved ones be kept "alive" until a cure is found. Into this situation wander a small group of National Guard soldiers who, after robbing the protagonists in "Diary of the Dead," have decided to strike out on their own in an effort to survive.
"Survival of the Dead" isn't Romero's best effort, a half-hearted, sloppy and unscary effort at high-camp and zombie soap opera that borders on the ridiculous, even for something like this. Romero and his zombies are the real star instead of the no-name actors that are mostly wasted in the film. "Survival's" super low-budget only reveals that most of it was spent on the makeup and gun props. But the zombies seem to be better actors than the real humans. The climax is fun when zombies come out en masse, but you have to suffer through an otherwise banal story to get there.
Sure, Romero's zombie movies shouldn't be taken that seriously, particularly for their production elements and acting, but it shouldn't rob the audience of having fun, which "Survival" does from start to finish. For real zombie action, watch some of Romero's better, earlier efforts, including "Night of the Living Dead" and the 1970's version of "Dawn of the Dead." For Romero fans only.