Directed by: George A. Romero
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Walsh, Richard Fitzpatrick

After the terrible LAND OF THE DEAD and then the abysmal DIARY OF THE DEAD I guess you could say I was a little worried going in to watch George Romero's latest zombie offering. It turns out I had good reason to worry.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD concerns itself with Plum Island and the residents which have lived upon it for generations. Two families which have inhabited the island since forever (the O'Flynns and the Muldoons) can't seem to see eye to eye on what to do about the recent zombie outbreak. Patrick O'Flynn (Walsh) gathers up a posse and decides to go around putting the dead to rest or 'extending the island's cemetery' as he puts it. Seamus Muldoon (Fitzpatrick) however is against the idea and wants to keep the zombies around until they show signs of improvement or until somebody comes up with a 'cure'. Since the Muldoons outnumber the O'Flynns this disagreement ends with Patrick being forced to leave the island at gunpoint.

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to Sarge 'Nicotine' Crockett who you may remember from his brief appearance in DIARY OF THE DEAD. It seems he and a few of his soldier pals have decided to go AWOL and fend for themselves. To survive they become highwaymen, stealing from anybody they come across. After a shootout they come across the young character known only as 'Boy' and he tags along with them. He shows them a video broadcast of a man calling himself Captain Courageous who announces that people looking for a safe haven should make their way to Plum Island. Even though it is most likely a trap the soldiers decide that at this point anything is worth a try so they head to the location given by Captain Courageous (who is actually Patrick O'Flynn), but upon their arrival they discover that if they want a boat to Plum Island they will have to trade everything they own. Another shootout leaves O'Flynn and the soldiers on a ferry making their way to the island. After they arrive O'Flynn and Muldoon resume their bitter rivalry but this time they are determined to end it once and for all.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD isn't really a zombie movie, let me just get that out of the way first. The zombies are really just background noise, something added in perhaps to help the movie fit in with the rest of the DEAD franchise. The main focus of the film is upon the rivalry between the two island dwelling families, so much in fact that you almost forget that the movie even has zombies in it at all. At no point are the zombies presented as a serious threat like they were in Romero's previous movies. And the notion that killing zombies has become some kind of moral dilemma is laughable, and only makes the movie seem less serious and more ridiculous. Romero combined the undead with social commentary perfectly in his original trilogy but lately he seems to have been taking shots in the dark and missing every time.
The acting in SURVIVAL is pretty average across the board and the characters are all too one-dimensional to even care about. The pace is all over the place but mostly slow, and serious scenes shift into horribly out of place slapstick comedy. And don't get me started on the CGI. The practical effects look great so why add the CGI? It looks horrible.

George A. Romero is and always will be a legend when it comes to horror cinema. He perfected the modern zombie film, but honestly I think after DAY OF THE DEAD was released he should have just put the franchise to rest and tried his hand at something different. Its easy to forget that he used to make movies without zombies in them. The Dark Half, Martin, Monkey Shines and Creepshow are all fine movies and a hell of a lot better than his last few DEAD offerings. Hell, I'd even prefer to watch Bruiser than see SURVIVAL again. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

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