Review: Survival of the Dead DVD

STUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: George Romero | CAST: Alan Van Sprang, Richard Fitzpatrick, Devon Bostick, Kenneth Walsh, Athena Karkanis, Steffano DiMatteo
RELEASE DATE: 8/24/10 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: two commentaries, two featurettes, introduction by director, dual-option menus; Blu-ray adds full-length documentary, Sarge short film, interviews, collection of “A Minute of Your Time” shorts, storyboard comparisons, homemade F/X featurettes, more
SPECS: R | 90 min. | Horror | 1.77:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Following his 2007 digital living dead opus Diary of the Dead, George Romero returns to the zombie well once again with Survival of the Dead, a quasi-sequel that fuses flesh eating with elements as diverse as military mission movies, westerns, the Hatfields and McCoys feud and—meep-meep—Warner Brothers cartoon. The result is a reel mish-mash, but an undeniably entertaining one, especially for lovers of gore and Romero’s zombie legacy.

The setting of Survival of the Dead is an island off the coast of Delaware where, post-zombie invasion, two rival families have had a blood feud for years. This time, however, it’s over how to handle the zombies who have infiltrated the area. As one group, the Survival of the DeadO’Flynns, try to destroy the ghouls, another clan, the Muldoons, think the undead can be rehabilitated by teaching them to eat differently and domesticating them. In the middle of this dispute comes a renegade military group looking for a safe haven on the island.

Romero seems to be having fun riffing on his career here, and one is never sure what to take seriously. The military group is filled with cartoonish stock characters that would fit right in with The A-Team. The slow-moving zombies seem to roam around as target practice for the humans, getting shot, burned and dismembered in rapid succession.

The idea of altering the creatures’ eating habits appears to have come from “Fast Food Zombie Nation.” And there are some genuine re-workings of Looney Tunes sight gags that would make the late animation great Chuck Jones chuckle.

Meanwhile, Romero’s penchant for political undercurrents in the midst of a horror yarn — he has done Vietnam, racism, class struggle, consumerism and more — appears somewhat garbled here, although the red state/blue state battleground is clearly on his mind.

At 70, Romero has gone on record saying that he accepts the fact that zombies are his bread-and-butter, and he will continue his obsession with the living dead on screen if the public wants it and if he can remain independent of studio interference when he makes movies. Good news for fans of decimated heads, bloody entrails and sneaky humor.

And as with his previous zombie opuses, he continues to provide a healthy heaping of supplements for the digital editions.


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