|Site locale: United States||
Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Survival of the Dead(2009)
On an isolated island off the coast of North America, the inhabitants discover that their relatives are rising from the dead. The island divides over the debate of whether to ‘kill’ the walking dead or to preserve them and try to find a cure.
For more about Survival of the Dead and the Survival of the Dead Blu-ray release, see the Survival of the Dead Blu-ray Review
Starring: Devon Bostick, Athena Karkanis, Alan Van Sprang, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh
Director: George A. Romero
» See full cast & crew
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray Review
Survival is a Dud
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 26, 2010
Oh how far the mighty have fallen. I don't think it's unfair to say that pioneering horror director George A. Romero's (Fill in the Blank) of the Dead zombie film franchise has gotten incrementally worse from one period to the next. Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) are both veritable horror classics that infuse shocking zombie violence with trenchant social satire. Day of the Dead (1985), however, the third act of Romero's first zombie trilogy, is merely okay, hampered by a slashed budget and cringe- worthy overacting. When the director resurrected the series in 2005 with Land of the Dead, he couldn't quite top his previous successes—despite a bigger-than-ever budget and a relatively star- studded cast—but fans were simply glad that Romero was back to his undead antics. Unfortunately, the franchise then took a turn for the much, much worse when the one-time maestro returned to low-budget independent filmmaking for Diary of the Dead (2007), a poorly conceived attempt at examining "citizen journalism," and now Survival of the Dead, in which Romero scrapes the bottom of the coffin to find new uses for his shuffling "stenches."
In a shocking first for Romero—given how many Dead films he's made—Survival is actually a direct sequel to Diary. Here, we follow four AWOL National Guardsmen, led by Sergeant Crockett (Alan van Sprang), as they try to survive the ongoing zombie apocalypse. When they find out about an island off the coast of Delaware—an isolated place where the deadhead situation is supposedly under control—they decide to steal a ferry and go check it out. By and large, surprisingly, the undead on the island have been contained, but just as in every other Dead film, it's the living who will prove to be the greatest threat to our heroes. Plum Island is home to two warring families, the O'Flynns and the Muldoons, whose respective patriarchs—salty seaman Patrick (Kenneth Welsh) and horse-herding Seamus (Richard Fitzpatrick) —have hated each other for so long that no one even remembers why. The zombie uprising, though, has given them a new cause to squabble. Patrick wants to round up a posse and do a sweep of the island, killing all the undead, while Seamus wants to keep the stenches "alive," chained up or herded into pens, in case a cure is ever found. The two men are diametrically opposed, and nothing can sway them from their opinions.
Oh, and did I mention that everyone on the island, for some reason, has an Irish accent straight out of a Lucky Charms commercial? We're meant to presume that these two immigrant clans have been on Plum Island for a long time, although this only makes me think of inbreeding. It's funny that I can suspend my disbelief of the undead walking the earth, but I can't put up with plot holes and unlikelihoods. Don't even get me started on the grenade that blows up a wooden shed but doesn't even harm any of the people inside.
Romero's earlier Dead efforts are fun, sometimes-scary zombie films first, and social satires second. Around the time of Land of the Dead, however, that formula was reversed. Now that the movies are all about the core "concept," it feels like the man who basically invented the modern zombie mythos has forgotten how to make a good zombie film. For one, there are hardly any zombies in Survival at all. They exist solely to create a cause of contention between the O'Flynns and the Muldoons, and they could've easily been replaced by some other conflict. Two, when the zombies do attack, they often appear out of nowhere, silently, like master ninjas. There's no creeping suspense here, no lingering dread, no moaning at the end of a dark corridor, no overwhelming the hero by sheer numbers. I can't tell you how many times in Survival that zombies just suddenly pop out from behind a wall. Doesn't anyone hear them coming? Where's the build up, the tension? If you're looking for gore or inventive zombie kills, you'll be doubly disappointed. There's one short "feeding" scene at the end, and two good exploding head gags—neither of which can even come close to touching the one in Cronenberg's Scanners—but otherwise, most of the kills are the standard issue bullet to the noggin.
More so than in any of Romero's other Dead movies, Survival is about the people, not the zombies. This wouldn't normally present a problem, except that we don't care about any of the people here. We have no pathos, as we do for Ben, the African-American unjustly slain in Night of the Living Dead. There's no high-five-worthy buddy-type relationship, like the one that develops between the two SWAT cops in Dawn of the Dead. The feud between the O'Flynns and the Muldoons doesn't resonate because their conflict is so allegorical that it begins to seem impersonal. Romero's social criticism here gets totally in the way of his storytelling. His zombies have always been a mode of exploring cultural concerns: Night tackled racism and Dawn turned mall shoppers into literal "consumers," Day exposed the director's mistrust of the military, and Land examined the class conflict between the haves and the have-nots. This was usually handled cleverly in subtext, but in Diary and Survival, Romero has gotten much too obvious, to the point of distraction. Here, he's trying to make a point about the dangers of dialectical opposition between two sides who each refuse to make compromises on their beliefs. Call it Democrats versus Republicans, communism versus capitalism, pro-choice versus pro-life, or any of countless other examples. The stalemate that happens when thesis fails to work with antithesis toward a synthesis, Romero seems to be saying—borrowing from Hegel—is the breeding ground of mutual mistrust and senseless violence. Essentially, no one wins. And with Survival of the Dead, neither do we.
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, Video Quality
Survival of the Dead shuffles onto Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that should satiate flesh-hungry zombiephiles and eagle-eyed videophiles alike. The film was shot using the RED high definition video camera--which can produce a very film-like image--and most of the usual problematic quirks of shooting digitally are entirely absent here. Some of the darker scenes do exhibit a good deal of video noise, but I'd rather have this than an image that has been awkwardly smeared over with DNR techniques. Most of the film, especially the daytime sequences, is fantastically sharp and detailed, with only a few soft shots creeping in occasionally. Lines are crisp and textures refined without showing signs of edge enhancement. One of the few things that I liked about Survival is that it stays away from the characteristically bleak color scheme employed by most zombie movies. The film is surprisingly colorful, using rich autumnal hues, creamy Technicolor-like sky blues, and, of course, saturated crimson viscera. Aside from the video noise that's inherent in the source footage, I didn't spot any distracting compression artifacts or other problems.
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, I have no qualms at all about the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which makes the most out of Survival's limited zombie mayhem. One of the first things you'll notice is that the LFE channel is activated frequently, underscoring the action with throbbing pulses of subwoofer output. Granted, this attempt to sonically manufacture dread just shows how lacking the film is in the tension department, but the room-quaking LFE response is at least objectively impressive. The surround channels are also often put to use for ambience and action, with immersive outdoorsy sounds, gunshots pinging between speakers, and vehicles making well-implemented cross- channel movements. The score is pretty typical for this kind of movie--dissonance, tinkling piano keys, etc.--but it's dynamically sound and complements the film nicely. Finally, dialogue rides comfortably at the top of the mix and is always easy to understand. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available in clean, easy-to-read white lettering.
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Audio Commentary with George A. Romero, Executive Producers Peter Grunwald and Michael Doherty, and Actors Kenneth Welsh and Matt Birman
I actually enjoyed the film more while listening to this congenial commentary track, which isn't particularly laden with profound insights but makes for an entertaining listen.
Walking After Midnight Documentary (1080p, 1:16:10)
A completely comprehensive making-of documentary that takes us on set for loads of cast and crew interviews, a look at some of the special effects, and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.
"Sarge" Short Film (1080p, 4:06)
A monologue by Sergeant Crockett on the the "us versus them" motif.
A Minute of Your Time Shorts (1080p, 19:27)
Thirteen brief featurettes—a mix of cast and crew interviews, festival footage, and behind the scenes material.
Time With George (1080p, 9:16)
An interview with Romero, who discusses everything from CGI and the business side of filmmaking, to his wish that he could create a cohesive fictional universe like Stephen King's Castle Rock.
Storyboard Comparison (1080p, 1:48)
Storyboards and final footage from the "heads on sticks" scene.
How to Create Your Own Zombie Bite (1080p, 10:03)
Eric Beck from Indy Mogul shows shows independent filmmakers how to create an on-the-cheap zombie bite effect.
Fangoria Interview with George A. Romero (SD, 22:37)
Another interview with George, who covers the origins of the film and talks about the possibility of making a "zombie noir."
HDNet: A Look at Survival of the Dead (1080i, 4:34)
A standard issue HDNet promo that gives a synopsis of the film and a few words from Romero.
Introduction from George A. Romero (1080i, 1:26)
A really goofy introduction to the film.
Also From Magnolia Home Entertainment Blu-ray (1080p/i)
Includes trailers for Rubber, Centurion, and The Oxford Murders, along with promos for HDNet and AMC's upcoming series, The Walking Dead.
When you boot up the disc, after the obligatory trailers and promos, you can choose between two menu backgrounds, one for "The Living" and one for "The Dead."
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Survival of the Dead is a disappointment. Not exactly an unexpected disappointment, but a disappointment nonetheless. It's marginally better than Diary, but that really isn't saying much. I'd like to see Romero concentrate his efforts on making a non-zombie movie, something more classically scary and not so focused on trying to make a social point. Survival, ironically enough, is the film that proves the Dead franchise has finally gone into rigor mortis. Lifelong Romero fans will probably want to pick this one up, if only to complete their collections, so if you must buy it, do know that it features a solid audio/video presentation and comes fully loaded with extras. For the less fanatical, Survival is definitely a rent it situation.
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Survival of the Dead Blu-ray Gets BD-Live Commentary - August 27, 2010
Magnolia Home Entertainment has announced the first feature audio commentary created exclusively for BD-Live, as part of Survival of the Dead, released on Blu-ray on August 24. In it, longtime friends George A. Romero and Dread Central contributor Steve 'Uncle ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - August 24-30 - August 24, 2010
It had to end. With today's Blu-ray release of Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season, Disney officially turns the last page in the television drama that took the country by storm, and was able to keep viewers engaged like few shows before it. Those of you who ...
• Survival of the Dead Announced on Blu-ray - June 1, 2010
Magnolia Home Entertainment has announced Survival of the Dead: Ultimate Undead Edition, the latest zombie film by George A. Romero (which picks up right where Diary of the Dead left off), for release on Blu-ray on August 24. The Blu-ray edition will come in "specialty ...
» Show more related news posts for Survival of the Dead Blu-ray
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Survival of the Dead Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Survival of the Dead Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2013 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.