The last and seemingly people’s least favorite of Romero’s Dead films, Survival of the Dead isn’t actually all that bad. It’s a far better film than its predecessor Diary of the Dead, at least in my opinion. Returning the standard third person perspective and adopting a more humorous approach, Survival isn’t a seemingly endless slog. The film’s tone is probably the lightest of the Dead films, which at times does push over the border of funny, to simply camp pander. Though we also get a slew of like-able, though not often relate-able characters.
Survival quasi picks up where Diary leaves off, though not with the college students. Which I view as an act of mercy on Romero’s part. Instead we follow Sarge (Alan Van Sprang), going AWOL from the National Guard with a few of his fellow soldiers, Francisco (Stefano DiMatteo), Tomboy (Athena Karkanis) and Kenny (Eric Woolfe). He recounts their actions from the first film, as well as the moments leading up to their decision to go AWOL. Meanwhile on Plumb Island, a group of townsfolk lead by Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) has been going around and ensuring that the dead stay dead. Which unfortunately runs counter to plans held by Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), who see’s the walking dead as sick who need to be kept and as his numbers out number those following O’Flynn. He forces O’Flynn off the island, along with a handful of his men that choose to go with him. Back on the mainland after a run in with some other survivors, Sarges crew picks up another member Boy (Devon Bostick). He use’s his phone, which somehow still has internet service, to show the crew a video of O’Flynn. In the video he promises that safety awaits at Plumb Island and gives directions to him. With no better options, the go to investigate and find it to be the trap they expected. They manage to escape by having Francisco swim to a Ferryboat, biting off a zombies finger along the way, which gets them to safety. In the melee O’Flynn’s men become overrun by the walking dead with only O’Flynn escaping to the Ferry Boat. Once on the boat he directs them to Plumb Island, when the arrive they find a shoreline filled with dead bodies of those O’Flynn had sent. This site of barbarism causes Sarge and the others to align to his cause against Muldoon. In O’Flynn’s absence Muldoon has chained the dead up and some he places into a coral trying to get them to eat things that aren’t human. Once Muldoon learns of O’Flynns return he’s none too happy with the old family feud flaring up once more…
I actually like everyone in Sarges crew, with the exception of Boy. A character so bland they never even give him a name. Though my favorite Tomboy also lacks a proper name, she at least has a ton of personality and enough charisma for the performance to stick. Sarge is far more of a like-able character this time around, which is to be expected as he is one of the main characters and not just a random stick up man who shows up for thirty seconds.
The zombie effects are, Ok. The zombies themselves look great, the CGI effects are laughable and not in a good way. They come off as incredibly cheesy and dated, which is weird since Survival only came out in 2009. By and large the effects are abysmal looking incredibly fake and makes you long for the effects from Day of the Dead.
The humor is pretty good though with a good number of humorous moments. More often these are unintentional, created by poor CGI. Though there’s a healthy amount of humor that is intentional, not all of its high brow. But enough for the film to stay constantly entertaining.
Final thoughts, not the best in the series by a long shot. But, by no means the worst. That title goes to Diary pretty handily. What the film lacks in horror, which it does lack, it makes up for in humor and fun characters. Sure there are some bland, forgettable ones that suck up more than their needed screen time. Their memory fades quickly, leaving little to no taste. 6/10