Survival Of The Dead

Survival Of The Dead (2009)
Magnolia Home Entertainment
Cast: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe, Devon Bostick, Richard Fitzpatrick
Extras: Introduction, Commentayr Track, Documentary, Featurettes, Interviews

It is hard to imagine now that there was a time not too long ago when every horror fan wished George A. Romero, the godfather of zombie movies – would return to his filmmaking roots and create another "Dead" movie. Well, times have certainly changed, as Romero is delivering his third new Dead film, this time with the title "Survival of the Dead."

As zombies have swept the world and the people have learned to live with the constant menace of the infectious, man-eating undead, different people have adopted different ways to deal with the issue.

While some decided to simply shoot anything that even remotely resembled a zombie, other people felt more empathetic towards these creatures, in hopes to somehow rehabilitate them. This clash has been part of Romero's work almost throughout all of the Dead movies. This difference in opinions comes to a head on the small, picturesque island of Plum off the Delaware coast, where two Irish families had traditionally feuded long before the undead appeared. As a result, one of the clan leaders, O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh), is banished from the island while the other, Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), begins his undisputed reign over the dead and the living, while the other plots for revenge.

With the help of a small paramilitary group looking for safety, O'Flynn makes his way back to the island and dead-set on revenge, nothing can stop the blood bath that ensues, utterly destroying the sense of isolated peace that had prevailed on Plum island and, naturally, the only ones coming out on top are the dead.

I was a curious to see how "Survival of the Dead" had turned out. I enjoyed Romero's return to the genre in "Land of the Dead," but was no big fan of the follow-up, "Diary of the Dead." Not sure what to expect, I was very happy to see that Romero abandoned the shaky-cam approach of "Diary" and went back to creating a movie with a strong narrative and his usual visual style. Thank you.

Overall I thought the movie was well put together and created some great moments. However, it would appear that sometimes too much is not a good thing. "Survival of the Dead" is filled to the brim with head-shots, exploding skulls and gore to the point that it becomes actually repetitive. While it doesn't distract from the film as a whole, in retrospect I was wondering if maybe it would have been better if some of the gore would have been cloaked in a bit more shadow, just to give the imagination a little room to do its own work.

In addition, the film once again manages to conjure up some new images and themes that had not previously been touched upon in the zombie genre in that fashion. The horse-riding zombie was really a nice touch, I thought.

Magnolia Home Entertainment has put together a wonderful Blu-Ray version of the film, too. The picture is absolutely rock solid, without any blemishes or grain, and the presentation holds an incredible amount of detail throughout, making sure you will miss not the tiniest bit of gore splattering the screen. Even night time shots are perfectly rendered with deep blacks and finely delineated shadows. Colors are bold and strong, popping off the screen like there's no tomorrow – particularly the blood-reds, as you can imagine – while skin tones are always naturally rendered, firmly rooting the image. Add to it the wonderful autumn colored backdrops and you have a horror movie that offers a lot of visual style and candy for the eyes. This juxtaposition of almost cheerful backdrops with the horrors of the undead is one of the uncanny strengths that can be found in virtually all of Romero's movies.

The audio presentation of the film is equally strong, delivering a full-blown DTS 5.1 HD Master audio track that is dynamic and active, with a solid dynamic range. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable, and the mix is nicely balanced to ensure a good viewing experience.

The presentation on this release starts with an introduction by George A. Romero, and it is funny. I mean, it is funny! In this short segment, Romero makes it a point to remind viewers that this film is not all about horror, but contains a healthy sense of humor also, making sure viewers go into the viewing with the right expectations.

Also included is a commentary track as well as the documentary "Walking after Midnight," taking you behind the scenes and on the set of the movie, as documentarian Michael Felsher follows the production of the movie with a fly-on-the-wall approach. A whole bunch of featurettes, covering everything from the creation of zombie bite wounds to interview segments with George Romero, are also included, and help to make sure you get "the whole picture" of what it was like to make this film.

A storyboard gallery, promo featurette and other tidbits round out the release.

"Survival of the Dead" is another one in George A. Romero's staple of zombie films, making it clear that he still has something to say about the genre and that he still has the inventiveness to add nuances and layers to a genre that most would consider sucked-dry. This Blu-Ray version is a solid release, featuring a top notch feature presentation and a solid bunch of extras, so make sure to get your copy and take a shot at these Dead.