There comes a point for everyone when it’s just time to retire. Most of us strive to retire before we hit this point and go out on a high note, but sadly, many just keep going. For George A. Romero, the point to quit making zombie movies has come.
Survival of the Dead just isn’t very good. It’s watchable, yes, but it’s just kind of pointless. It doesn’t bring anything to the table. Each of the of the Dead movies has had purpose and reason for existing. Each covered a specific phase of the zombie apocalypse. Night of the Living Dead covered the very beginning of the outbreak with Dawn of the Dead following up on how society would fall apart after the initial outbreak. Day of the Dead gave us a glimpse into what happens after humans lose control and most all society has fallen apart and Land of the Dead covered man’s attempts at putting small and isolated, but feudalistic pockets of civilization and society back together. These four movies were all very solid and existed along a pretty obvious timeline. Diary of the Dead was decent, but served mostly as a nice look at Romero’s vision of a zombie outbreak in the 21st century amongst the user-generated content generation. The people would be the news source, documenting their personal struggles and experiences. If you take the actual timeframe of when the movies were made and simply apply the overall ideas from each one to a timeline, Diary of the Dead fits in nicely around the Dawn of the Dead phase of the zombie apocalypse. These five movies work great together as a series. They really do. This is what Romero got right.
Now, what Romero got wrong…Survival of the Dead. Where does this fit in? What is the theme here? What’s the point of this movie even existing? Romero tries to give a frame of reference by flashing back to the mercenary National Guardsmen who briefly appeared in Diary of the Dead. This is actually the story of those men, which would place this movie parallel to Diary of the Dead. I do like the connection between the two movies and I get the idea of trying to show another group of people’s experiences, but this movie just doesn’t bring anything to the table at all.
The film is rather boring save for a few decent encounters with the undead, but even the undead in this film are completely unimaginative and boring. These are Romero’s worst undead. They barely even care about the flesh of the living and seem to be about as dangerous as an empty box. The storyline revolves around these National Guardsmen as they get mixed up with two feuding families. Obviously, this doesn’t go terribly well for them, but there is hardly anyone in this movie that you actually care about. As a viewer, there are no characters to make a connection with. Each one either sucks or is just boring.
It seems as though Romero is really stuck on the idea of zombies developing low-level cognitive abilities as this idea has now made its way into half of the Dead movies. At this point, we’ve seen him run with this idea twice. The point has been well received and there is nothing new here, if anything, we’ve taken a step backwards with the idea.
I’m still trying to figure out Survival of the Dead‘s reason for existing. Anyone got anything?