Survival of the Dead (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 13, 2010  | 
Optimum | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 89 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Richard Fitzpatrick
Screenplay: George A. Romero
Country: USA
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Romero's back, the dead have returned to life, and to this reviewer, for the first time ever, all have failed to live up to their flesh munching expectations!

Our story starts about a week after the dead have risen, and we are presented with two storylines that eventually converge. The first is that of the warring families of Plum Island, a small farming community off the coast of Delaware whose feud, now that the dead have risen, is one of attitudes towards them. One family, the Muldoons, claim the dead can be put to use, and perhaps be trained to eat something other than humans, whilst the other, the O'Flynns, believe they should just be put down. The feud results in the leader of the 'extermination' clan Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) and a few of his cronies being set adrift in a boat by opposing clan leader, Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick).

Meanwhile, army hard-ass 'Sarge' (Alan Van Sprang) and his crew have gone AWOL so they can try to find somewhere safe to reside while the zombie situation takes place, and via YouTube they discover Patrick O'Flynn inviting people to Plum Island. What they don't realize is O'Flynn is just trying to piss off Muldoon by sending people there. Sarge and his gang venture to the dock and get in a gunfight with the O'Flynn's, eventually overcoming them with the help of their stolen armoured car and the intervention of some hungry deceased folk. They manage to take a car ferry - and O'Flynn - along to Plum Island after his family members are eaten, but their apparent siding with O'Flynn will lead them to be part of the feud, and to perhaps realizing that O'Flynn's extermination model may not be the best one…

Essentially, what Romero has done is a version of the old wild west story of the Hatfield's and McCoy's fighting over an ideal, and utilizing the plot device of an island has given him the opportunity to do so, with the seclusion allowing new technology to be kept at a minimum, though it is made quite clear that the interlopers, Sarge and his crew, are tech savvy, with ham-fisted looks at their weapons, laptops and iPhones.

Romero does add some new ideas into this film. His concept of the dead instinctively wanting to return to some semblance of their lives is used again here, but he also adds some deeper ideals to his story. The concept of how religion would cope with the dead returning, and how traditional methods of dealing with the passing of a loved one can be adapted to the zombie problem. He also suggests, with the results of one characters actions, that perhaps the dead are somehow infective… to explain why would be to reveal the plot point of a major character, so I shall have to not elaborate on that point.

These new ideas are the only redeeming features of this film.

It seems to me that Romero has run out of characters, and is just using archetypes. They are archetypes he created, but they reveal an idea well that perhaps may be a little dry. For example, the character of Sarge is seemingly a soft version of Rhodes from Day of the Dead and Tomboy a more fleshed out version of Pretty Boy from Land of the Dead. Perhaps thematically Romero has become a bit void as well, as essentially the feud between the O'Flynn's and the Muldoon's is almost exactly the same as that of the afore mentioned Captain Rhodes and the Doctor, except this time we are seeing the 'hero' as the exterminator, rather than the educator.

The real tragedy of this film is the reliance on CGI. I am no opponent of computer effects, when they are done well, but here, they are not. Romero's practical effects in Dawn of the Dead were far superior to these terrible, cut rate effects. Land of the Dead's CGI was much much better, but the budget was obviously a lot higher.

One interesting thing about this film is that it is the first time that Romero has used a character from a previous film, being the Sarge from Diary of the Dead. That is, unless you choose to count Savini's appearance as a zombie in Land of the Dead.
The AVC encoded 2.35:1 presentation is rich and detailed, but there is also room for improvement with with colours looking muted at times.
The sound is fantastic, and presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio.
Extra Features
Nothing, which in my opinion is a crappy effort on this UK release from Optimum Home Entertainment.
The Verdict
Disappointing. I love Romero's dead films, but this is not good at all. This film is rife with ill-conceived, badly acted, unlikable characters destroying sub-par zombies with bad CGI.

Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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