Diary of the Dead was Romero's attempt to cash in on the shaky cam craze while putting his own zombie mastermind spin on it. Although technically his fifth film in the living dead series, I never really considered it on the same field as Night, Dawn, Day and Land. It seemed more like a spin off film, an add on, to make a gaming analogy Diary of the Dead was a bonus pack, not a new game in and of itself. For me, and for many, many other long time Romero fans, Diary was a bitter disappointment. It lacked the grit and realism of Day and Land, and its characters were far from the well developed fleshed out human beings of Night and Dawn. Although not a terrible film, if failed utterly to live up to the greatness of Romero's other titles.
Where Diary failed to live up to the living dead series, Survival not only does that, but pisses on everything Romero ever did right with it. I've been pissed off before watching movies by directors I once loved, but never like this. There is absolutely no redeeming quality for Survival of the Dead, nothing that could possibly save it from the dozens and dozens of hate reviews it will receive once the general public gets a hold of this piece of zombie trash. I've seen my fair share of bad zombie movies, anyone out there who can say the same knows that most are garbage, so you can understand the full meaning of when I say Survival of the Dead is probably, of its own right and not just compared to the original four movies, THE worst zombie film I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. Never before has such an idiotic film featuring zombies infected my DVD player with its idiocy the way this one has. Fine, think I'm exaggerating? Don't take my word for it, watch this abomination for yourself and see just how far the former master of living dead horror has fallen.
The story starts out with the old line we know from Dawn of the Dead and reused in Diary of the Dead, "everyone who dies gets up and kills, the people they kill get up and kill." Its a classic, is it not? Who doesn't remember those frightened and half panicked newsmen shouting at one another in a crowded room, as the world turns to hell outside their doors? To this day its one of my favorite moments of the entire series. So, in spirit of this great scene, Romero puts these words in the mouth of some emo Snake Pliskin from Escape from New York wana be chain smoking idiotic Army National Guard sergeant played by THE most armature actor imaginable who drolls out his lines like he'd rather be somewhere else, reading some other script that someone with more talent put a little more time and effort into writing. In the first two minutes we get to see zombies sneak into the Army camp, somehow undetected by the guards, and bite the cheek off one hapless victim. Soon after our emo idiot sneaks off into the night with stupid trailer trash fat white guy, a horny sexy tough with a sensitive spot Latino girl, and a womanizer god fearing panzy Mexican. These three amego's and the token tough girl go AWOL, meeting up briefly with the *cough* 'hero's' of that Diary movie I mentioned earlier, before adding a brooding hotshot thinks he's all that teenager to the mix and running off in an armored truck to meet an old Scottish white guy who the brooding hotshot thinks he's all that teenager saw on his iphone who's promising people a chance to live on an island free of the "dead heads" in his best car salesman voice possible.
It only gets worse from there on, but I digress. The biggest strengths of the original four movies were their focus on strong characters who's survival and interactions with one another were the real drama of the movies and NOT the zombies, and an underlying political or social message that tackled issues like racism and consumerism. Sure, the gore in Day was fun, and the comedy in Dawn was appreciated, but they aren't the focus of the films. With survival Romero presents us with a group of characters who are not only badly acted (VERY badly acted) but uninteresting, boring, and cliché. There is not a single character in this film, NOT A SINGLE ONE, that could get me to feel anything but hatred for them. I sighed with relief every time one of them bit the dust, relished their moments of demise since I wouldn't have to suffer through their idiocy any longer. If only ALL the characters had died... early in the movie... before saying a word... yeah, it would have been good had this film not been made in the first place. As for underlying political messages, Survival has one I guess, but its so heavy handed and indescribably mixed in with the convoluted story line that I couldn't make heads or tails about what it's really about. Is it about family feuds? Is it about respecting the dead? Is it about never killing? Is it about, oh gosh, I don't really care; the movie is terrible so any message it was trying to get out was lost in translation.
Quick question; how hard is it to outrun a Romero zombie? I know he seems to do this in all his films, where people are running from zombies and are somehow caught, but it just gets absurd in this film. Everyone just sort of sits there and waits for the zombies to surround them before trying to get away, and then there's always that ONE zombie they didn't seem coming from behind who grabs them by the neck and takes a bite out of it. I yearn for the days when this was funny. It was in Dawn of the Dead when that Mexican guy in the hat got eaten up in the blood pressure machine, not so much in this film.
But I'm rambling; I'll end my review with this. George A. Romero is no longer a great film maker. Land of the Dead was great, Diary of the Dead mediocre, but Survival is just plain terrible beyond belief. I never thought I'd be giving the title of best zombie movie (Day of the Dead) and worst zombie movie (Survival of the Dead) I've ever seen to the same man, but that seems to have happened here fellow Romero fans. Despair, for the king is now dead.
Replay value, VERY low.