SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 28, 2010

There is a unique experience in viewing a zombie flick directed by the man that revolutionized the genre, much like it probably felt to watch Picasso paint. Romero broke onto the scene 32 years ago and altered the horror brand forever, making the idea of zombies what it is today. “Survival of the Dead” gives off a radiance that makes you feel at home in the presence of a Romero contrivance, allowing one to confide in the man that set the undead wheel in motion.

Zombie films ride a fine line between tacky and utterly grotesque. The die-hard fans recognize such a line but embrace it, finding the best in each side. However, taking a step back during “Survival of the Dead” to survey the situation, a realization occurred: the thought of undead humans eating other humans has been demoralized to the point that they appear humorous rather than appalling. “Survival of the Dead” comes to the same realization and embraces the notion, yet still uncovers a way to make the film less gaudy.

The idea of “Survival of the Dead” is simple. On a small island, a wealthy local man, Sheamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), has taken it upon himself to capture and train zombies. The sooner zombies are willing to eat non-human flesh; the sooner humans can coincide with zombies. On the island, zombies are chained up, left to continue their menial tasks from before they were killed/deceased. A zombie mailman continuously places the identical mail in the same mailbox; a zombie farmer drives over the same patch of dirt, all while a lady zombie rides her horse around the entire island.

Call in Sarge “Nicotine” Crockett (Alan Van Sprang), the leader and hero of the film. Leading a team of ex-National Guard, the rumor spreads of an unaffected island, sending the team in that direction. On their way, they take on a young boy (Devon Bostick) and a shoot-out with Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh). O’Flynn reveals he is a native to the island, and due to his differing opinion from Muldoon (that they should kill all the zombie men, women, and children), he had to leave. Returning to save the island and kill Muldoon, the showdown begins between the two equally matched opponents.

Chalked up the thrills of the film to that of the “Dead Rising” video games, in which the characters use whatever means necessary to defeat the zombies. That includes shooting the zombies with a flare gun and watching their heads explode in a fireball. Reminiscent of the recent success of “Zombieland,” the hits are relentless and continuous. Take this how you will, but as a zombie-killing enthusiast, I thoroughly approve.

The art of viewing a zombie film is to take each scene in stride. Sure, the flesh-eating undead has somehow become laughable, but at one time, zombies were terrifying. Portions of “Survival of the Dead” continue this, like the scene where a particular cowboy long to be with the one he loves, except his lover is a zombie who, despite their history, still wants to eat his face off. Perhaps it was my respect for Romero or my ability to hone in on the frightening aspects, but “Survival of the Dead” successfully continues the acclaimed line of Romero’s Living Dead films.

RELEASE DATE
March 29, 2013

DIRECTOR
George A. Romero

WRITTEN BY
George A. Romero

STUDIO
Magnet Releasing

R
(for strong zombie violence/gore, language and brief sexuality)

COMEDY
DRAMA
HORROR
THRILLER

90 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Adam Swica

COMPOSER
Robert Carli

EDITOR
Michael Doherty

CAST
Alan van Sprang
Kenneth Welsh
Kathleen Munroe
Richard Fitzpatrick
Athena Karkanis
Stefano Di Matteo
Joris Jarsky
Eric Woolfe
Julian Richings
Wayne Robson

PRODUCED BY
Paula Devonshire

BUDGET
$4 million

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