Saturday, 2 July 2011

Survival of the Dead - review

Survival of the dead is the latest installment in the Romero Zombie cannon.  It falls in line with Night, Dawn, Day, Land and Diary.  Of his most recent movies, it's had the worst reviews.  Personally I really enjoyed Land of the Dead (they said the Z word), Diary of the Dead I thought was terrible.  Survival is Romero's chance to impress me.

Warning this be a spoiler based review

I'm going to admit something that might get me shot.  I'm not a huge fan of Romero's Zombie movies.  When I was a kid I saw Night of the living Dead, then instead of Dawn & Day, I saw Return of the living Dead and the sequels that followed that.  I didn't see Dawn & Day till I was an adult and I preferred the Return branch.  I thought that Dawn had really poor effects & was badly paced, but I enjoyed Day and thought it was overall a better movie.

When the remake of Dawn came out, I loved it.  I completely disagree with Romero when it comes to fast vs slow.  One fast zombie can be terrifying, you need a large amount of slow zombies before they become a threat.  I'm not here though to debate fast vs slow, I just wanted to give my take on it.

So yes, loved the Dawn of the Dead remake, really enjoyed Land of the Dead so when Diary came out I thought I might enjoy it as I'd enjoyed Land.  Diary was terrible (as anyone who has seen it will tell you) the most grating aspect was the sideline bits in which we the audience are lectured as to how horror clichés happen and why zombies should only move slowly.  Hey, if I can suspend my disbelief for the dead to get up & move, I can have them running.  Saying 'they're dead, they'd break their ankle' does not make slow zombies more realistic.

Spoilers follow

Survival of the Dead opens with the asshat soldier from Diary explaining where the world is at the moment, apparently the internet is still working at this point.  (So the internet is still around with no one to maintain it, but a dead guy who feels no pain couldn't possibly break into a trot?)

Then we cut to Plum Island, 6 days after the dead have begun to walk the Earth.  I wonder briefly if this is the island that Clarice tried to sell to Dr Lector in Silence of the Lambs.  We meet a group of Irish Rednecks who are killing zombies.  We see a girl who may or may not be the zombie from the box cover, a bloke who plays 'creepy guy' in everything (Urban Legend, first victim in Cube) and a genre savvy dude.

Genre savvy dude takes his crew to some guy's house to ask if his kids are zombies.  Some Guy avoids answering, his wife comes out and takes a pot shot, so they shoot her in self defence and make Some Guy shoot her in the head.  Genre savvy dude looks in a room and see's both kids are in fact zombies, he asks if the others if someone else is willing to shoot them, because they are kids, but he will do it if no one else will because they are zombies and need to die.  Girl from cover lectures him that they are children, girl from cover is so going to be a zombie soon.

A dude who looks like 'JR' Jim Ross from the WWF turns up and says there will be no shooting cos someone might find a cure and sure most of the boys head is missing, but he is a child.  Genre savvy dude and crew are told unless they stop shooting zombies, they will be killed.  Jim Ross is a fucking idiot.

Jim Ross tells girl from cover he's going to shoot Genre Savvy dude, but she asks him to spare him because he's her dad.  Jim Ross agrees to put him on a boat.  A few very smart guys get in the boat with Genre Savvy dude, the rest, including girl from cover, decide to stay on the island.

Three weeks later in Pennsylvania.

A dude is watching a talk show on a lap top referencing zombies so I'm guessing Romero thinks that the internet is a magical place which can survive on it's own and electricity doesn't need the plants to be maintained.  Aaaaand a woman soldier is masturbating....  ok.

We're back with the soldiers, it doesn't seem like they are many of them left, it could be because they are idiots because they go to investigate a strange noise in the woods.  The run into some hunters, who in one of the poorest CGI effects I've seen in a while, have put some zombie heads on sticks and they are still talking.  Evil Soldier wastes a shit load of bullets shooting them, because he's a fuckwit.

The soldiers get into an argument with the hunters and they kill them for basically no reason.  A teenager emerges from the woods and asks them not to shoot, then because one of the hunters is still alive, he quickly rips a gun from a soldier and shoots the hunter in the head before retrieving his things from the bodies and the soldiers agree to bring him with them, they decide to take the hunters armoured car instead of the jeep instead of siphoning off their petrol.

Also the van has money in it, the world is ending, who cares about money?  The kid pretends to swallow the key and pockets it in a blatant palm.  The kid suggests that they find an island and mentions Genre Savvy dude who is famous on the internet.  ugh....

The kid plays a video of Genre Savvy dude advertising the island, which is fishy because we know he's been kicked off the island and by now we know it's probably full of zombies.  Asshat soldier breaks a window for no reason in the van.

We see a little guy fishing on the roof of a shack for Zombies, he pulls one of the water and shoots him, then accidentally hooks one over the roof which kills him, which is odd because Genre Savvy dude is inside the shack.  The soliders are told if they want a boat to the island they have to pay (methinks I smells shenanigans), but about 8 very slow zombies turn up and Grnre Savvy guy tells them they have to give him all their money, his buddy starts shooting the van and apparently the road is lined with tnt (lucky they missed all that when they drove in.)  The zombies are approaching so the soldiers need to think of a decision in this increasingly silly situation fast.

Spanish soldier jumps into the water in order to swim out to a ferry and steal it so they can drive the van onto it, the Genre savvy crew start shooting at Spanish soldier as he starts being attacked by swimming Zombies.

Many more Zombies are approaching but Spanish soldier makes it to the ferry which is filled with cars and probably zombies.  Lotsa zombies.  In the most ridiculous death scene ever in a Zombie movie, Spanish soldier convinces a zombie to bit on a fire extinguisher, which he then squirts and five seconds later the zombies head fills with foam and his eyeballs pop out, despite human anatomy not working like that.  I need to mention at this point that the zombie extras are some of the worst  actors I've ever seen.  Female soldier turns up and they start it across the water.

Asshat soldier throws a grenade at the Genre Savvy crew and it literally only blows the wooden doors off the shack.  Genre Savvy crew are quickly eaten by Zombies, so the Genre Savvy guy blows up the shack with a big stick of dynamite and cleverly sneaks past the zombies.  He's by far the best character in the film.  He jumps onto the boat but his feet dangle in the water, suspiciously like he's been bit.

Asshat soldier confronts Genre Savvy guy, who has one of those cool sleeve gun thingys, I officially love him and feel bad that he's probably not going to survive this movie.  Genre Savvy guy saves Asshat from a zombie right behind him, considering the kid did this earlier, I think Asshat soldier probably has the worst spacial awareness ever.  Spanish Soldier reveals he bit a zombie, but as long as he makes them to the island, I think they'll probably be ok.

The soldiers finally decide to look for zombies.  Fucking idiots.  One zombie tries to run them over which is quite funny.

They see the island and decide to anchor off shore and take the dingy into the island, but before they leave one guy sets a zombie on fire with bad CGI.  They make it to the island, where everything looks abandoned, and surprise surprise, zombies are everywhere.  Asshat gets shot and a random soldier dies so asshat freaks out and then again when Genre Savvy guy kills the zombie.  Girl from cover turns up riding a horsey and of course, she is a zombie now.

They find that all the people Genre Savvy guy has sent to the island have been shot on the head as they arrived.  Genre Savvy guy swears to kill Jim Ross.  He tottles off killing stray zombies on his way.

Jim Ross as it turns out has been keeping the zombies in the stables for some reason, which seems pretty dumb as they keep escaping and trying to eat everything, but as previously established, Jim Ross is an idiot.  Jim Ross's assistant is played by ZOMG Joris Jarsky!  Yeah, I know you don't know who that is, but he was a guy in the short lived series, Vampire High and for a time I exchanged messages with him on myspace, he was pretty cool.

So Jim Ross is trying to conduct some sort of experiment with zombies, though he keeps killing the zombies because he keeps losing his temper with them, they decide to capture Girl from Cover becayse she can ride a horse and therefore must be smart.

Soldiers make it to safe house, Asshat is injured badly, Spanish soldier seems to be slowly turning into a zombie and disappears, female soldier follows him for some reason whilst Girl from Cover watches from her horse.  Spanish soldier decides he is dying, for some reason female soldier wants to stop him, but finally shoots him in the head and then is captured by Joris Jarsky who takes her to meet Jim Ross.

Asshat passes out from blood loss, leaving the kid to try and sort him out, the kid decides the best way to do this is by getting some lake water, no doubt contaminated by zombies, to wash off the wounds.

Jim Ross treats the female soldier to dinner, whilst telling her that women and children belong in the kitchen, his wife is no doubt a zombie.  Which is confirmed a few moments later when she shows up, I suspect Jim Ross only kept her around because he can't cook.  Joris Jarsky captures Girl from cover and tries to kiss her as she tries to bite him, aw romantic.

It's time for a plot twist!

Zombie girl from cover wakes up Asshat, then it turns out, she's her twin sister.  CONVENIENT!  Genre Savvy guy and new crew turn up and they decide to pack up their guns and go kill JR.  Alive girl from cover tells Genre Savvy guy not to kill Jim Ross because he spared him and put him on a boat.  Then she tries to work out her Daddy issues.

They continue on and Asshat tells the kid to return to the boat and take the money.  Jim Ross has femake soldier tied to something under threat of zombies.  Genre Savvy guy decides to sacrifice himself first and walk across the bridge and it doesn't even blow up, amateurs.  Jim Ross takes the people to see Zombie girl from cover and they try to feed her a horse, they let out the zombies from the stable in with her.   

Alive girl from cover turns up and brings guns and everyone gets their cocks out to see who has the biggest.  Joris Jarsky has had enough of Jim Ross and decides to join the others, but Jim Ross shoots him.  Zombie girl, bites alive girl so she's fucked.  Then the horse escapes and everyone starts shooting and of course the zombies escape.  Joris Jarksy decides to get eaten so that Jim Ross will be run upon by zombies.

Did I mention the terrible effects, because they really are terrible.

All of Jim Ross's gang starts getting eaten by the escaped zombies and the shoot out continues whilst Jim Ross hides behind a tree.  He eventually comes out and Jim Ross and Genre Savvy guy start to argue about who was right and who was wrong.  Jim Ross shoots Genre Savvy girl in the back and Alive Girl from cover fails to look even vaguely sad about it. Genre savvy guy shoots Jim Ross.   Zombie girl from cover starts eating her horse and apparently this is a good thing, Genre Savvy guy grabs his gun and kills Alive girl from cover, killing her, apparently he's totally fine.

The soldiers decide to stay on the island, Genre Savvy guy dies, soldiers change their minds and take the ferry and money and leave.  We see some of the island zombies chomping on a horse, then Genre Savvy guy as a zombie, having fisticuffs with Jim Ross as a zombie.  End of Movie.

Well overall the Genre Savvy guy was the best character, the soldiers were mostly pointless, you could replace all of them with any armed person to drive a boat and deliver a shit load of guns and you wouldn't miss them.  None of them or the kid contribute to the plot all that much, not that there's that much of a plot, most of it revolves around these two old guys arguing with each other a lot.

Basically, I think it was a pretty bad movie with bad effects, bad acting and a bad plot, but it was still better than Diary of the Dead.  If the movie had been all about Genre Savvy guy and Joris Jarsky teaming up to take down Jim Ross, it might have been awesome, it's only because of them the film gets a generous score.  5 out of 10.
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  1. I’m a huge fan of George Romero’s films but this one sucks. I in fact thought this movie would be pretty good too. The storyline is totally lam and cheesy.

  2. You are TRIPPIN'. Diary Of The Dead was decent and Land Of The Dead was dumb as hell..

  3. Rewatch the scene with the zombie heads on a stick. Notice anything? Every one of those zombies is off African American descent. If you listen to the dialogue between the hunters before they are aware they're being watched, it's class these people were possibly alive. He kills these hunters because something as stupid as racism continues and only serves to hinder the human race.

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