Survival of the Dead

And just to be clear, no, this movie did NOT inspire the title of my blog, comic or book. I hadn’t seen it yet and am not a particularly big fan of this one.

The Poster:
Has a nice classic horror movie feel to it, and is still pretty modern. A classic zombie with a scary look on her face reaching out to the viewer. What’s more classic than that? Plus the big full moon rising in the background and a few other zombies hinting at but not showing a crowd. It’s got good color choice with stripped down color saturation that’s almost black and white plus red lettering which I happen to love.

The Good:
The general concept is pretty interesting. Lots of people talk about trying to get to an island if the zombie apocalypse ever comes along. The thinking is that it’s a smaller place and should be easier to control since you won’t have people wandering in from all over creation. Survival follows the lives of two families living on an island when the dead start to rise and the chaos it brings to them. We see this through the eyes of a group of military guys who are mainland survivors and discover the island.

The Bad:
People continue to make the stupidest possible mistakes and do the most idiotic things in the world like watching a gameshow on a PC with the sound up and not wanting to turn it off because it’s funny. Yeah, never mind all the dead people wandering a round or the fact your crappy PC is going to bring them all for dinner.

Speaking of which, how does this movie fit in with the bigger world of Romero’s zombies? Is this the same world that went to shit years ago in the Night of the Living Dead? Are we meant to think that that story took place only a few years ago? Because when it came out, the internet didn’t even exist. Neither did the “cool” iPhone/Pod we see in the movie. Is this a second uprising of the dead? Have these people grown up in this world? Doesn’t seem like it. Some consistency with the other stories might have helped ground the movie.

There are gaps in the story that sort of baffle me. One major point of the story was hoping that the zombies would start eating something other than humans. This is part of Romero’s larger story of how the dead actually develop over time regaining some of their humanity and ability to remember and learn. But it leaves us wondering are they going to eat the animals and leave the humans alone or just eat both? Either way, only a small percentage of zombies are going to figure out how to eat animals and, starving will still try to eat humans. Meaning the world is still filled with zombies and there’s no real point to the conjecture.

The biggest gap for me though came in the ending. The island is finally clear of all the insane Irish hillbillies trying to kill each other, but the survivors leave. Why? If they thought an island was the place to go, they’ve got it. It’s a huge island with a finite number of zombies to take out. Plenty of farm land and a well developed infrastructure. New arrivals could easily be added to the group to strengthen it and rebuild society. Yet they leave. For where? The mainland? Where the challenges are that much harder?

The Ugly:
Some of the effects in this movie are downright awful. The opening is a great example where a soldier gets his head blown off. It’s a straight on shot of his face, a gun comes in from off camera, his head disappears except for the top bit which drops straight down onto his neck before he falls to the ground.

survival of the dead head shot
Throughout the film there are a number of flashy effects that seem more like they are there to surprise or wow us more than add to the story telling or evoke a response from the viewer other than the gross-out effect. The wow factor isn’t unusual particularly for horror movies but the fact that they look so badly staged and unbelievable makes it hard to swallow.

The original Night of the Living Dead has always been championed for its social commentary and inclusion of an African American actor as the lead hero. Yet this movie seems to play into all sorts of ridiculous stereotypes. The Mexican guy who only speaks the simplest of Spanish words and at times when he really doesn’t need to considering he’s speaking English the rest of the time. Begging someone to put him out of his misery and end his life he says “Por favor.” Really? I kind of feel he would maybe say something else. It just doesn’t ring true or realistic to me.

Larger than that is the oversexed lesbian who is written like every guy’s dream lesbian. She sits around masturbating, is totally hot, and she’s just itching to get some. The character feels like she was written by a man who didn’t really know any lesbians.

And to me the most blatantly obvious stereotype that also throws off the tone and feel of the movie is the bizarre Irishmen. We basically have the Hatfields and the McCoys here and with thick Irish accents. All of them living on an island off the east coast of the U.S. Where is this island exactly? Off New Jersey? Because the survivors are in Philadelphia at one point and must have gotten to the coast in record time to get to a boat and then an island that size.

I’m from PA and I can tell you it’s a hell of a drive to the coast from Philly in good conditions. With society in total collapse and zombies roaming the world in one of the most densely populated parts of the U.S. it’s virtually impossible to believe they made it to the coast overnight. Imagine that happening on the Walking Dead. Forget it. Never.


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Mike Kloran

Educational Designer from Brooklyn New York. I'm a teacher, an artist, an athlete and constantly doing, making, drawing, creating! It's a busy life but I'm doing what I love and that's what matters most to me!

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