I finally got a chance to see George Romero's sixth zombie movie, Survival of the Dead. I was scared to see it, because of all the negative reviews it's gotten. Let's face it: Fans were disappointed and savage in their criticism. People hated this film.
I didn't. Romero is as cynical and pessimistic about humans as ever. And that's an attitude I can get behind. We are the enemies in this movie--we kill each other more than the zombies do and with more malice. The zombies are almost an afterthought, actually. There's some gruesome gore, but it's played for laughs. The characters--even though some of them get bitten and eaten--never seem threatened by or afraid of the living dead, who are slow and stupid and, if you're alert, easy to dispose of. I liked that part of the movie. I'm firmly in the slow-moving zombie camp.
The plot revolves around two stubborn old men who live on Plum Island, which is off the coast of Delaware. Their families have been battling each other for generations and they have different ideas about how to keep themselves safe during the zombie apocalypse. What struck me as odd about that is the patriarchs both have thick Irish brogues. I could have bought it if everyone on the island spoke that way--sort of a linguistic anomaly like New Orleans' Irish Channel--but everyone else talks like an American. This implies that the old guys are recent immigrants. But they're not. Huh. Wha? I was confused.
A group of bad ass military types lands on the island and shakes the order up, all the while fighting zombies and, more importantly, each other. That's the plot in a nutshell.
Like all of Romero's movies, Survival is more about the humans than the zombies. There's almost-hope at the end for survival (get it?), but one of the mean old Irish patriarchs shoots the messenger in the head before she can deliver the good news (which I won't reveal). The moral? Humans suck; zombies eat us; maybe we deserve it.
Overall, this wasn't Romero's strongest offering. But it wasn't kitty litter either. Since he is such a God in zombiedom, the bar is ridiculously high for his work. I just read on ZombiePhiles, for example, that they "pooed themselves" when they heard about the movie. With that kind of expectation, you're pretty much screwed. I'm gonna cut the guy some slack. Why? Because I love him.
Zombies are dead. Long live zombies. I hope Romero makes a seventh film. I will never trash the master.