What was so refreshing about Diary of the Dead was the intriguing new style that George Romero took his “Dead” series. With the series heading in this direction, I was actually excited to see what he had up his sleeves for Survival of the Dead. Half way through the movie I realized that there was nothing in this movie was going to shock, wow, impress, or thrill me. Five out of six ain’t bad though, right?
While Diary of the Dead take place during the events of Night of the Living Dead, this film takes place around the time that Dawn of the Dead takes place. Plum Island, a small island off the coast of Delaware, is the home of the warring O’Flynn and Muldoon families. After being banished from the island, Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh), returns with a group of national guardsmen led by Sgt. Crockett (Alan van Sprang). Crockett and his men have a hard time figuring out who the real enemy is once on the island, the Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) or the undead.
Perhaps I should start with what I liked about the movie because I can cover this rather quickly. I like how the story line of this movie follows that of a character who appeared in Diary of the Dead briefly. Sgt. Crockett and his team robs the film making group from the previous film, and it was really cool to make this almost a direct sequel to that movie. I think this idea is especially cool because Sgt. Crockett was such a minor character in Diary of the Dead.
Now what I didn’t like about it. Well, pretty much everything else. The thing that bothered me the most was that there was nothing new or interesting brought to the table. I like to think that the movies in this series are very discernible from each other. When I think Dawn of the Dead, I think of a mall and satire on consumerism. When I think Land of the Dead, I think of a wasteland with jabs at capitalism. There is nothing here that makes it stand out from the rest. The satire is almost non existent, and what is there is the same. Pretty much that humans are as, if not more, dangerous than the zombies. Big surprise.
The acting and the characters are pretty laughable. I understand having a movie with unlikable characters as long as they are properly developed and three dimensional. The characters here are just obnoxious and cold hearted for no reason that I can find that seems concrete enough. There are two characters in the movie that I felt were developed and used properly. Not a very good amount at all.
Finally, the setting. Everything looks nice and it’s a very pretty environment, but I never felt danger. Everything was wide open with lots of room to maneuver and escape. What made Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead so good was the tight spaces that forced the characters to really have to dodge the undead in order to survive. Also, there are scenes that say they take place in Philadelphia, as do most movies in this series. As a person who lives in Philadelphia, I really think they could have done a better job at scouting locations, because the Canadian area they used looks absolutely nothing like Philadelphia.
I really wish I could say that every movie in this series was good, but Survival of the Dead had to ruin Romero’s winning streak. It seems to be about time for the master of the undead to find something else to work on. Still five out of six movies isn’t bad, just don’t be concerned if you miss Survival of the Dead.
I really enjoyed taking a look at these movies again so I could review them. This is one of my favorite film series to be released, especially as someone who is in love with the horror genre. They were groundbreaking, satirical, and smart. Hats off to you, Mr. Romero.