Survival of the Dead continues the alternative timeline set-up in Diary of the Dead & follows a group of national guardsmen who have abandoned their post & gone AWOL.
If you recognise the soldiers at first it’s because they briefly appeared in Diary of the Dead as the group who robs the film crew on the road. Yep, our introduction to our heroes is a reminder that they are a bunch of assholes.
Meanwhile on a small island (Plum Island) 2 feuding Irish families have reached a critical point with their issues. The O’Flynns are taking out the undead across the island but the Muldoon’s want to protect their dead loved ones until a cure can be found. They clash & it results in the O’Flynns being exiled from the island.
The leader Patrick O’Flynn doesn’t plan to just disappear quietly though & at the mainland he makes a video message encouraging people to meet up with him & come to Plum Island.
Our rag-tag group of soldiers alongside a young man they rescue find the message & promptly head to the docks. There they get into a shootout with O’Flynn & his group after they attempt to rob them. The soldiers escape on a ferry headed to Plum Island alongside Patrick O’Flynn.
They arrive at the island & see that the Muldoon’s are attempting to domesticate zombies & are unwilling to co-operate. The soldiers are looking for somewhere to be safe but O’Flynn has his own objectives.
What occurs is a below par zombie movie with a paper thin story that hints at potential zombie control in the future. The cast are a group of unlikeable stereo-types with very little redeeming features. Take Tomboy as an example…she is called such because she is rough & abrasive but is also gay. It’s lazy & I expect better from Romero.
It doesn’t feel like a Romero zombie movie…none of his trademark humour & insights are really present. The feuding Irish families are extremely weak & un-interesting & the story never really takes off.
Zombies take a major back-seat throughout, which in a film with such a weak story & cast becomes a real problem. It is just so boring & any moments that might seem to elevate it are wasted by poor dialogue & moments of nonsense. Even I scoffed at the image of a zombie riding a horse…
So what does it get right? Gore…when the zombies get going it gets messy & they still have that air of threat that exists in all Romero zombie movies. One of the soldiers bites off the finger of a zombie trying to attack him…it’s early days so he clearly isn’t that aware that it’s a death sentence. He naturally gets sick & it becomes obvious he is going to die & re-animate.
It’s a exciting way of spreading the virus to him but sadly results into a badly thought out death scene that might have invoked more emotion had the characters been even slightly interesting.
A massive let-down considering the legacy of Romero. Coming off a fairly strong return with Diary of the Dead it doesn’t hold up & lacks many things that makes Romero zombie movies unique.
Survival of the Dead