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Survival of the Dead (SE)
DVD disk
09.13.2010 By: Jason Adams
Survival of the Dead (SE) order download
Director:
George Romero

Actors:
Alan Van Sprang
Kenneth Welsh
Kathleen Monroe

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A group of ex-military survivors of the zombie apocalypse travel to an island thatís supposed to be a safe haven, but instead find themselves in the middle of a dangerous family feudÖand more zombies.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Has George Romero lost it? Thatís not something horror fans ever thought theyíd have to consider. While weíre all glad to have the godfather of the zombie genre back in the game, it just hasnít been the same. I liked LAND OF THE DEAD, but it wasnít on the same level as NIGHT, DAWN or DAY. DIARY OF THE DEAD was an interesting experiment, but not much more than that. And now thereís SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, which feels more like a straight to DVD knockoff of a Romero zombie movie than an actual Romero movie.

Let me tell you what this movie is about. A group of National Guard soldiers decide to go to an island thatís advertised as undead free. There they discover two different groups; one who wants to kill all the zombies, and the other who wants to keep them alive to possibly cure them. Thereís a big fight and then a zombie eats a horse. The end.

I just donít know why this is a story Romero felt like he needed to tell. None of the characters are memorable or interesting, the acting is atrocious, the plot goes nowhere new and the filmmakerís usual undercurrent of bleak humor barely registers. Thereís not much worthwhile in SURVIVAL aside from the suggested idea that the dead might be able to survive without eating humans in the Romeroverse and a few decent kills. And even with that, most of the film uses CG gore which feels like betrayal at the hands of a man famous for so many memorable practical effects.

The original Romero zombie movies each had their own refreshing take on the undead, using them as a means for various social or political messages. SURVIVAL has nothing to offer of the sort, itís just a modern zombie movie with a little western flair and some seriously dumb ideas. Like fishing for zombies, making zombie heads explode with fire extinguishers and flare guns, and zombies driving cars to run over people. None of this sounds like the George Romero I know or love.
THE EXTRAS
Intro by George A Romero (1:27): A bizarrely wacky intro with Romero cutting it up with zombies and engaging in some slapstick humor. Nice to see heís having fun, but a good gage of the mess thatís about to come.

Commentary by George Romero, producer Peter Grunwald, producer/editor Michael Doherty, star Kenneth Welsh, and actor/stunt coordinator Matt Birman: The whole crew clearly has fun watching the film, which is nice, but a lot of the track is everybody laughing and enjoying the movie. Not interesting for the listener. Romero makes a loving case for this new direction but not enough to change my mind.

Walking After Midnight (1:16:02): A great feature length documentary about the making of the movie and Romero himself, by filmmaker and zombie fanatic Michael Felsher. Felsher also covered the set of DIARY OF THE DEAD, so he already has an establish rapport with Romero, who gives him unfettered access to the filming. Even though I felt SURVIVAL was subpar, this feature is still highly watchable for fans, with behind the scenes looks at pretty much every aspect of the production, including make up, effects, acting, post-production and more. There's also some great interviews with Romero, who is very forthcoming (even about the trouble they had with naming the movie).

Time With George: (9:14): If you didn't want to watch the previous documentary, you can watch some of the highlights of the Romero interviews here.

HDNet: A Look at Survival of the Dead (4:34): A typical quick EPK feature for the masses.

SARGE: Short Film (4:11): Felsher (who made the Walking After Midnight doc on this disc directs this quick mini movie, which is pretty much a monologue by Alan Van Sprang's character after the end of the movie.

A Minute of Your Time (19:53): 13 short featurettes that cover a range of material from bloody special effects to a public zombie walk.

How To Create Your Own Zombie Bite (10:03): Some nerd shows you how to use a little latex to make a semi-realistic looking zombie bite.

Storyboard Comparisons and Trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
With a fantastic full length doc and some other nice features, this Two-Disc Undead Edition DVD is a great set that's unfortunately not worth the movie it's built around. I love George Romero and his classic zombie works, but SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD was just a mess all around. Here's to hoping the man is able to recapture the magic with his next undead attempt.

Extra Tidbit: SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD takes place after DIARY but before LAND OF THE DEAD. Alan Van Sprang plays the same character in each of these movies.
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