Survival of the Dead (2009)

Survival of the Dead was Mr. George A Romero’s last film he directed before passing in 2017. The man is an absolute legend in the horror genre, effectively creating the zombie subgenre as we know it today. Night of the Living Dead will most likely forever be looked at as a classic. As for all his other movies? Wildly varying quality with Survival being one of his worst. Whoops.

Hey, remember that passing moment I mentioned in Diary of the Dead where the kids got robbed by the National Guard? No? I mean, you could go back and look… Anyway, I bring it up because the guy in charge of those thieves is our main character. He mentions that the clip going online made him infamous, but not a single character recognizes him, so… sure, whatever. He and his squad hear about Plum Island supposedly being a safe place, but they all walk into a Hatfields and McCoys style feud. See, O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) was a rival of Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) and the two disagreed on what to do with zombies. O’Flynn wanted to shoot them all but Muldoon believed that if they had a different source of food than humans, they’d be entirely manageable. O’Flynn got exiled from the island and spurned by his daughter, so as petty revenge he’s been telling survivors that Plum Island is a great place to visit. Turns out all the people he sent got killed by Muldoon, which is… exactly what he should’ve assumed would happen? I honestly don’t know what he expected.

So now that the military assholes and the townie assholes are on the island, they see a bunch of zombies chained up and going through the motions of what they did in life. A similar case is O’Flynn’s daughter, who is a zombie riding a living horse. One soldier gets zombie blood in his mouth begs to be shot before he turns, another gets shot or something and just dies seemingly out of nowhere, and the token lesbian gets captured by Muldoon. That’s when we find out O’Flynn’s daughter was a twin, which literally came out of nowhere and barely makes sense that she was never mentioned before. Once the rival clans are reunited, Muldoon explains that if he can get the zombie daughter to eat her horse instead of only craving human flesh, it’ll be a sign that the zombies don’t need to eat the living. I would take it as a sign that they’ll eat anything and could become more of a problem, but whatever. Zombie twin bites living twin, but during the ensuing shootout living twin is the only one who sees her sister take a single bite out of the horse. She tries to tell everyone, but gets shot by her dad who was mortally wounded by Muldoon. The soldiers fuck off, and everyone on the island is dead, either eating horses or in the case of O’Flynn and Muldoon, forever shambling in a mockery of a duel.

This movie sucked. The entire time I was just baffled by the decisions it continued to make. It was also kind of a black comedy? There were a few moments that were I guess intended to be darkly funny, but none of it landed. Just about every character was detestable to one degree or another except the lesbian, who says she’s gay and then this is never brought up again. But at least the main leads weren’t exceedingly racist! No, that honor this time was given to a pack of hunters who had a bunch of zombie heads on sticks for fun or something, and it just so happened that every head belonged to a black person. Out of that group a kid joins the soldiers, but he’s just awful on almost every level and only drives the plot along because he has access to a lot of money, a resource the movie points out is borderline useless in this apocalypse.

And thus, the official Living Dead franchise is over. But some of you may be wondering, why didn’t any of the movies I’ve talked about so far involved zombies craving brains? Well lucky for you, next week I’ll be talking about Return of the Living Dead and how that largely forgotten unofficial spin-off franchise has also shaped zombie media.

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