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Survival of the Dead

tn_survivalofthedead“Hey, I didn’t think SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD was all that terrible. Just not very good.” That’s what I told my buddies who had seen it before me. They were surprised and appalled.

The word was abysmal on George Romero’s latest, especially from the guy I saw DIARY OF THE DEAD with. He agreed with me that although that one was an embarrassing  failure at least it had some good parts. He offered no such mercy for the new one.

mp_survivalofthedeadBut I’m against the grain. I stand by my assessment: not all that terrible. I’m damning it with faint praise, ’cause that’s the best I can offer. Light, almost imperceptible praise. A fluffy little puff of praise, gliding on air like a dandelion seed. And I hate to say it but I’m now convinced that we’ve officially reached the expiration date on the ol’ living dead. It’s time for even Romero to hang up the zombie towel for good. And that makes me sad. Pour some intestines on the curb for my dead zombies.

Tragically, this is a George A. Romero movie with bad zombie effects. That’s not something I expected to see in my lifetime. In the ’70s ‘low budget’ meant Tom Savini and friends work their asses off and do something incredible, now it means just use computers to get something semi-passable. I’m not talking like LAND OF THE DEAD where elaborate makeup effects were spruced up with some digital blood. This is people in shitty Halloween makeup given cartoony digital head explosions. Some of them don’t even deliver good zombie performances, like he’s not even worrying about that aspect of it anymore. Used to be you could count on his zombies all seeming like real ghouls, but not anymore. Maybe he just got sick of explaining it so many times. I mean how many times can you do a little “how to be a Romero zombie” workshop for the extras before you just don’t want to do it anymore?

There’s a part where a guy hands a zombie a stick of dynamite and the thing just hold onto it until it blows up. I’m sure there were other decent zombie gags, but that’s the one I remember.

That would matter more if this was more of an action movie, but it’s really a drama. This one picks up with the soldier (Alan Van Sprang) who robbed the protagonists in DIARY. He and his team find an old Irish guy named Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) who has a boat and says he can bring them to an island. Actually he’s been kicked off the island for the crime of killing zombies. See, the residents of the island (led by his childhood friend Seamus Muldoon [Richard Fitzpatrick], and including his estranged daughter Kathleen Munroe) believe in chaining up the zombies of their relatives and leaving them alive. They think God doesn’t want them dead and besides it’s convenient for Muldoon ’cause he can keep his wife chained up in the kitchen without feeling guilty.

It’s pretty weird to have so many Irish accents in Delaware, but I think Romero is trying to put you in mind of The Troubles. This is a religious disagreement with some personal bitterness and it’s never gonna be resolved. This is about how even with the world staring into Hell spread-eagled like a Penthouse Pet, people won’t unite to solve problems. They’ll just think of new and innovative things to fight about. So I like that about the movie.

The best news: it’s not done fakumentary style. Like DIARY it does have voiceover that hammers you over the head with points you could’ve picked up on anyway, but only at the beginning and end. And the characters, while not among Romero’s best, are much less hatable than the obnoxious kids and their pretentious film professor in that one. But then none of them are real charismatic either, and you’ve got these accents, and lots of dry indoor conversations scenes, it kind of ends up feeling like a pilot for a TV series. (Didn’t Romero almost do a LIVING DEAD TV series? I forgot about it until now but I think he was trying that at one point.)

Like DAY this one deals with zombies getting smarter and the hope that they can be somehow cured or rehabilitated. The only memorable zombie is O’Flynn’s daughter who remembers how to get on her horse so she gets carried around aimlessly, which is a creepy sight. She also has a non-zombie twin sister, and this outraged my buddy for some reason. I thought it made sense, it explained why the living daughter wants to let zombies live. That’s her twin! She can’t kill it.

At first I was worried that the Romero voice was gone. But by the end you can definitely see ol’ Big Glasses George in there, making a movie about gut-munching ghouls where he’s clearly more interested in the politics than the scares. But not in an annoying way like Joe Dante in that one Masters of Horror episode. By the end I was pretty into what was going on, there are some nice ideas and a darkly ironic turn-of-events that’s pure Romero. The problem is George has already said and done so much with zombies, and gotten so elaborate with it:

* NIGHT – still a masterpiece, a revolutionary independent horror movie and the beginning of what people now consider zombies.

* DAWN – even better in my book, though very different. One of my favorite movies of all time.

* DAY – at the very least the best zombie makeup and gore effects of any zombie movie. And some day I gotta write that one up because there’s a whole lot more to it that people don’t give it enough credit for.

* LAND – well, not everybody likes this one. But it takes his zombies in the modern day, and goes further with his post-apocalyptic world (rich people building a gated community, organized scavengers) and his zombie evolution (Big Daddy, the Spartacus of zombies).

So it feels backwards and wrong for him to be working in the same genre but smaller, simpler, and lesser. If George wants to (or has to) do these low budgets I hope he’ll start using other things besides zombies to express his ideas. He’s not a one-trick poney. He’s done guy-who-thinks-he’s-a-vampire. He’s done creative-conflicts-between-honorable-knights-on-motorcycles. He’s done stalker monkey. I think a new subject would go down better than these zombie ones. Not as much to live up to.

I’m not giving up on you, George. I’m just giving up on your zombie movies. What else you got?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 1:46 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

72 Responses to “Survival of the Dead”

  1. what the hell, a Night of the Living Dead 6? This place is slumming it lately.

    Good review Vern. I’m getting more and more frustrated with Romero’s output (I really hated Land of the Dead too). It seems to me, the more I see him, the more I realise that he’s another one of those directors us fanboys (including me, I’m no better than anyone else here) tend to idolise because of their past career, but are actually not as amazingly talented as we like to think.

    What the hell man, I’ll keep watching them because of the nostalgia factor, but ultimately as much as we like to collectively wank about how brilliant his metaphors are, even Day of the Dead was not a great film. I mean I love it, subjectively, but objectively it’s just not that good. Sometimes I think we need to take our geek glasses off when talking about movies. Not when watching, you can leave them on while watching (’cause I still prefer to enjoy my movies, no matter how bad they are), just let’s not go around talking about these films like they’re some great artistic statement. That’s not a knock on anyone, it’s just my own thoughts about my own frequent behaviour.

    Can’t even be that disappointed with Romero. I mean even most guys with real genius talent don’t necessarily last that long output-wise. De Palma has been slumming it lately more than Fett’s whining, and for over a decade. Coppola’s Youth Without Youth was a steaming turd. Lucas…I don’t even know if we can go on calling him a genius, maybe he was just an ordinary guy with some degree of talent and a genius idea back when he didn’t need a nurse fingering him to take a shit. As a geek, I need to learn how to put the films I watch into perspective. Cause I agreed with everything you said about Kick Ass and I’d seen it the week before and loved it. But then I realised that the reason I loved it was actually only because there was a little girl cussing and murdering henchmen. That’s not a movie, that’s a videogame. And it’s fine that I loved it, I’ll get the DVD and everything. But I kept recommending it to my friends like it was the best movie since There Will Be Blood.

    Sorry about the rambling Vern, I just sometimes get disappointed when childhood idols are revealed as not being that great anymore, because it indirectly casts shadows on their past achievements. It’s like you always see your dad as a superhero but then when you’re older it turns out he was screwing a twelve year old boy, and this is the same guy who kept telling you not to pick your nose in the restaurant, wtf.

    Great review, as always.


  2. I don’t think the zombie genre is dead (no pun intended), but it could use some fresh ideas

    personally what I would really love to see is a really big budget zombie movie, imagine a zombie movie on the scale of a Roland Emmerich disaster movie or something

    as far as Romero goes, have you ever read his original script for Day of The Dead? the Day of The Dead he made is pretty good, but his original script is much better

    it’s basically a combo of Land of The Dead and Day of The Dead (he reused some of the ideas for Land of The Dead), it involves a missile base in Florida like the final movie, but instead of just a few soldiers and scientists it’s like a mini-civilization with a lot of survivors and the Governor of Florida acting as the dictator

    it overall acts as a much better and definitive ending for the series overall

    if you want to read it you can find it here http://www.script-o-rama.com/snazzy/dircut.html

  3. oh, I forgot to mention that the reason he didn’t make that version was because the studio said they would give him enough money, but he had to tone down the gore, or he could take less money and have all the gore he wanted, he chose option 2

  4. I’ve not seen any of the movies apart from Night and Dawn, although Day’s not supposed to be bad, and I 95% agree with Vern on both of the ones that I’ve seen. (There’s one specific scene in “Dawn of the Dead” that I don’t like, but other than that I love it. Strangely enough, that scene comes at the same place in the movie as the scene in “The Thing” that I don’t like and the scene in the criminally-underrated “28 days later” that I don’t like. What is it about these just-before-the-ending set-pieces that makes them just not work very well for me?) I’ve always wanted to see “Day of the Dead” but I might skip the rest of ’em, although I do love me a good zombie apocalypse or two.

    Shalom, regarding the great directors who aren’t producing that great stuff – I agree unfortunately. Having said that, there’s great movies coming out by younger talent. So I’m happy to enjoy them instead. Also, Spielberg’s still producing good stuff at least (I hated “Munich”, but there was very little wrong with the directing of that movie, and it showed that Spiel can still get an awesome performance out of a leading man.)

  5. Griff – there are always new ways to do zombies. Look at “28 days later” and “Zombieland”, both films that I really liked.

  6. I don’t know how many of you guys are gamers, but the Left 4 Dead games have an interesting take on zombies

    they’re fast zombies like 28 Days Later, but the virus causes some zombies to mutate in ways that seemed specifically designed to ruin your day (which they were)

    there’s Boomers, which puke bile on you that attracts zombies (and explode if you shoot them, covering you with bile if you’re too close)
    Hunters which are vicious zombies that sneak around and have claws
    Smokers, which are zombies with long tongues that grab you from a distance and pull you away from your group
    Tanks, which are large hulking zombies that are really strong

    the second game introduces Spitters, which are zombies that spit acid, Jockeys, which jump onto survivors and can control them and Chargers which are zombies with huge right arms that charge and grab you away from your group

  7. shalom82, thank you for making me gurgle and spit all over my girlfriends mac! …back when he didn’t need a nurse fingering him to take a shit. roflmao and such. didn’t see that coming. I agree that there is a thing as geek glasses – that not necessarily THAT great films become more interesting because of the perspectives/mood/whatever you bring to the film. But that a film is or is not objectively good, that’s not really a solid perspectives on movies I think. Roger Ebert and the likes probably thinks there are films that are great no matter what, films that are truthfully and objectively brilliant throughout time till the end of the earth, but as much as one would like to argue that Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Bob Dylan and The Beatles are the pinnacle of awesome artistry, there really isn’t anything objective about it, because meaning never exists per se in a piece of art, it’s created by the receiver. So if something seems objectively good, really it’s just a large number of people agreeing that it’s good.

  8. Epleterte I agree that while almost everything in the world is subjective, there is (imhfo) such a thing as Beauty which is objective because it reaches levels of such truth that it is beyond the mere parameters of subjectivity. Things that have such astounding brilliance and sincerity (Truth I think is the determining factor), and that are such a pure and truthful expression of what the artists involved in it really believed they wanted to do, that they can be qualified as objectively great. Basically I break it down into two factors:

    1) does the work speak to and move a significant portion of viewers/readers etc.
    2) if yes, is it also a sincere statement not necessarily of what the artist felt, but of what he wanted to say, independently of who he thought would be viewing/readin etc.

    If the answer to both is yes, it is possible that we’re talking about something that may be objectively great. Obviously if only point 1 is satisfied, we may be talking about Armageddon or Titanic: moved a whole lot of people, but not a drop of real sincerity or emotion in it, just crass exploitation of gullible over-emotional teenage girls.

    Point 2 is harder to define, because it’s closer to trying to categorise the “artistic” element. It involves the artist believing not only IN what he’s doing, but believing WHAT he’s doing. The work has got to be some form of expression of the artist’s interiority. For instance, I loved Avatar but I wouldn’t consider it objectively great, or a piece of art. All it says about Cameron’s inner-world is “I want to make a movie about blue aliens”. That’s not an artistic expression in my view.
    Plus point 1 isn’t really satisfied either. It’s a fun movie, but the only people I think it “speaks” to are probably severely disfunctional.

    Of course, these is only a rough objective test for defining a “great” piece of work. If both points are satisfied, you still need that extra, undefineable bit that makes it more than just the some of it’s parts.
    And of course a similar test could never work with badass cinema, which can still be great but the badassness itself is based on wholly different factors (maybe Vern should put up a list). I mean Shepherd Patrol is cool, but I’m not sure what Isaac Florentine is trying to say with it.
    Maybe Undisputed 3 will clarify things.

  9. Griff – that’s one of my favorite games, it’s like “Zombieland: the game”.

  10. You know Mr Vern’s site is the place to visit when one discusses nothing less than the Truth in the talk-backs. Pretty fucking awesome.

    I see what you’re saying, and I think the whole Platon thing (or is he called Plato in English?), is a nice and poetic point of view. That somewhere the idea, the perfect form of all kinds of stuff exists, be it beauty, the definition of a horse or a film review or whatever. We all know what a chair is, but how does the chair that encompasses all chairs look like? We know different beautiful thing, but how does Beauty that encompasses all beautiful stuff look like? Track them down in Plato’s idea-world, and you’ll find out. (Actually, me and a friend of mine cracked the mystery of beauty yesterday over a few whiskys and some cigarettes – that Penelope Cruz have in fact, come to earth from Plato’s ideal realm, that she in fact is Beauty per se, which all other beautiful things are inferior to).

    But yeah, I’m inclined too to believe that objectively beauty and greatness exists, together with true moral and all the other big ass philosophical questions. But really, all this is just another theory of thought. You can never know. A huge amount of people agree that Amelie is a great film and Audrey Tautou is the prettyest thing imaginable, but there will still be some dudes and dudettes that thinks otherwise. So who’s wrong? Is Audrey Tautou or Penelope Cruz the pinnacle of beauty, true objectively beauty, and the one’s not seeing that wrong, or is Beauty defined by the fact that everyone sees it and agrees upon it? Maybe it’s like with God. You can really really believe the shit out of it, but at the end of the day, you only know that he’s real because you believe it to be. You can believe like a motherfucker, but you believing it still doesn’t make it true for someone who don’t think God exist.

    But we were talking about art didn’t we? Yeah, I don’t know, I still think any form of art at the end of the day is interpreted by its audience. And it can be perceived in as many ways as there are members in that audience. Regardless of how clear, obvious or hidden the artist put his/hers stuff, thoughts into the work of art.

    But when I actually see a film or a painting or a piece of music or whatever that everyone sees fairly similar, and I really really suspect there is some universal truth and/or beauty in it that resonates in all of us, I’ll rethink my shit and mull it over, that maybe great – objectively – art does in fact exist.

  11. this is a weird conversation to be having in relation to survival of the dead.

  12. But a great one, nonetheless! Badass cinema can easily be the starting point of the truly great discussions of life. What’s the mans views on all of this? (Vern)…

  13. Vern, I’m just curious: why was your buddy outraged with the whole zombie twin thing?

  14. From a story standpoint, Day of the Dead is my favorite but the acting is so horrible in it that it ranks third on my list behind Dawn and Night. I love everything going on in Day of the Dead plotwise. But there isnt a piece of the background left unchewed by the military baddies by the time the zombies overrun the bunker

  15. 28 DAYS LATER’s second half is an almost blow-by-blow lift of DAY OF THE DEAD. There is a scene that is an artistic and thematic replica, complete with *exact same camera placement*.

    Fuck 28 DAYS LATER. Fuck it up its plagiarizing ass.

  16. 28 Days Later might have plagiarised but it was good fun. Ultimately that’s all I need from a zombie movie. And 28 Weeks Later was even more fun. That scene when Carlyle-zombie kills his wife was brutal.

  17. I’m in the minority, I guess, but I really loved Land of the Dead. I see it as Romero’s version of John Carpenter movie. I thought it had some of Romero’s most technically accomplished film-making. And I thought the actors were great: Simon Baker, Asia Argento and Robert Joy are like a trio in a Howard Hawks western, John Leguizamo is good when he’s understated, loved the supporting characters (Pillsbury!). Loved the zombies.

    I don’t think Diary of the Dead is horrible, but it’s kind of like Redacted. The theatricality of the acting seemed off, to me, when mixed with the found footage style of the movie.

  18. SirVince – I’ll have to watch “Day of the Dead” then, because as I said I’ve never actually seen it – just “Night” and “Dawn”. I actually liked 28 Days later, right up until the moment that a certain character was killed and other certain characters were introduced, enough that what you’ve said actually gives me more of an incentive to watch “Day” and see how much better it is!

  19. I like George Romero but he’s probably the most overrated genre director of all time. At least with Wes Craven we can all admit what his shitty ones are and which are his great ones. With George so many people won’t admit which ones are his shitty ones. Like The Crazies for example. That movie sucks.

  20. Lawrence, it’s geek goggles man. Wes Craven doesn’t get the same special treatment because his movies were way more successful. Scream? Fuhgeddaboudit. Us geeks we like our idols to be unknown to the masses so we can sniff with disdain at all the mainstreamers. In return for this right to act like snobbish cunts, we are more lenient in judging their movies saying stuff that basically amounts to “yes it’s shit, but that’s part of its genius!”. Romero made a couple of highly original movies with a great concept, great scares and great music and makeup. Because I’m a geek, I’ve been giving him a pass ever since, but that doesn’t stop me from recognising that this is what’s going on.

  21. Vern really needs to create a message board so we can post things like the new Machete trailer at AICN.


  22. Wait, THE CRAZIES sucks? When did that happen?

  23. Damn I was really looking forward to this one Vern, I even linked the trailer in a talkback a few months ago when it first came out. I will still see it no doubt to keep my geek credentials in order though.

    The original Crazies has a nice concept but the budget and effects are horrible, as is most of the acting. I think the remake with my man Tim “he drew first” Olyphant is one of the best remakes or a horror film that anyone has done yet. Along with Last House and The Hills Have Eyes it was a great concept without the production values to really sell it for me with the originals. Sometimes remakes can be better as far as I’m concerned.

    And to the Left 4 Dead players on here throw me on your buddy list if you want to simultaneously melee hunters off me and talk about Hard To Kill or some shit. D13selboy on Xbox live.

  24. Even Romero admits that “Crazies” was hurt by it’s ultra-low budget and too-short shooting schedule, but it’s not a bad film, and it has an unnerving, disturbing power that the remake, with it’s bigger budget and real effects, can’t touch. The very cheapness of it gives it a documentary realism that really gets under your skin.

    Still, I had high hopes for a big-budget, big studio remake, mainly because as good as I think the original Crazies is, it’s still a flawed film, not a classic like “Dawn Of The Dead”, and I was looking forward to seeing the same idea done on a bigger scale. Had they hired Romero himself to do the remake (which, given his dissatisfaction with the original, he might’ve wanted too) they could have really had something. But it just came off like more typical studio corporate, made by committee modern horror fare. Brett Eisner’s not a BAD director, but you put them side by side, you can really see the differance between a competent film made by a journeyman for hire, and a flawed film made by an artist with a distinct voice and vision.

  25. “I’m in the minority, I guess, but I really loved Land of the Dead. I see it as Romero’s version of John Carpenter movie.”

    I’m right there with you, WS. There’s so much I like about that movie, it’s ridiculous. And its Carpenteriness is a huge part of that.

    I also think it’s miraculous that, thoughts on quality aside, each of Romero’s zombie films features a wildly different style and tone.

    Night is like a verite documentary.

    Dawn feels like some sort of bleak-yet-hopeful European surrealist thing (kinda like King of Hearts maybe?).

    Day (which I love–that’s the nice thing about these wild tonal shifts, I don’t feel the compulsion to mope about the fact that they’re not living up to the first one) has kind of an eighties action flick thing going on. (Though leaving it at that I think cheapens how unique this film might be. This one and Land almost remind me of the Lynch of Lost Highway and Wild at Heart, in that the characters and situations seem as if they were dreamt up by some sort of living embodiment of the Archetypes of Popular Cinematic Culture. Probably could be tied in with the Platonic ideal discussion going on up there.)

    Land is…yeah. WS nailed it. It’s a Carpenter movie.

    Diary is…a mess I couldn’t sit through. But a different-from-the-others kind of mess!

    And this new one sounds like something completely different from all of the above.

    Can anyone think of any other long-running single-filmmaker series that feature a new style and tone with each film? (I’m sure there are some, right?)

    So that’s something.

    I should really mow the lawn.

  26. Jareth Cutestory

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Paul: I actually like DAY OF THE DEAD more than DAWN OF THE DEAD.

    Epleterte: I think the “geek glasses” thing has a social component as well. Grown men who were probably wedgied within an inch of their lives in grade school for liking Batman have reclaimed the “geek” insult as a tool of empowerment. Whenever this sort of thing happens, the importance of a few shitty movies and directors will always be over-determined in order to serve as banners for the Cause.

    Having said that, I think that DAY OF THE DEAD is a better constructed, better acted, more watchable film than THE STING.

    Mr. Majestyk: I never got the memo about THE CRAZIES sucking. We must not be on the distribution list.

    Griff: I’ve dated women who pretty much conform to your definitions of both Spitters and Chargers.

    shalom82: Sorry to hear about your dad. One day at a time, pal, one day at a time.

  27. Wait, how do you compare The Sting to Day of the Dead? Where did that come from?

    There is no memo. Just me saying that I think it’s a terrible film. Great idea. Terrible film. I mean, they’re experimenting a cure right next door to a gymnasium full of infected? How did they expect that not to end well? I sometimes wonder what the hell George is thinking. Sure it’s not as confusing as the guy deciding to check his blood pressure but it’s up there.

  28. Jareth Cutestory

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Lawrence: My comparison of DAY OF THE DEAD to THE STING was an attempt to draw a distinction between mainstream films and geek films of a similar era – everyone loves THE STING and it made heaps of money, but, out on the margins, stigmatized films like DAY OF THE DEAD were being made, many of which were better than the beloved classics.

    I probably could have come up with a better example.

  29. OUT OF AFRICA, maybe?

  30. Lots of good points here everybody. I don’t see people blindly worshiping every single Romero movie, though. For one thing alot of people don’t like DAY OF THE DEAD, although some day we’ll convert them. Another thing, you can’t assume that every movie fan has seen KNIGHTRIDERS or will believe you when you tell them how great it is. And I don’t see anybody going around talking up THERE’S ALWAYS VANILLA or SEASON OF THE WITCH. Also, his studio movies like THE DARK HALF and MONKEY SHINES are underrated in my opinion. And even *I* dislike one of the popular ones, which is CREEPSHOW. Not my bag I guess. He’s never been perfect, but when I guy has created as many brilliant movies as he has he’s proven himself worth giving a shot I think. I’ll keep watching. Same with Craven.

    I wanted to say by the way that the current Fangoria (with Descent Part 2 on the cover) has a great little 2 page feature where they go through Romero’s entire filmography and he says a paragraph or so about each one. He’s very humble and realistic about it, admitting to not being happy with a bunch of them or that only he was happy with them. Part of what he says for LAND OF THE DEAD is, “I know the fans don’t really like it. I tried to make something that was muscular, an action film. Maybe time will be kind to it, I don’t know.”

  31. Thanks jareth.
    The worst thing about it was that the 12 year old boy was my mother.

  32. ArmageddonUnlimited

    May 5th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I made it a goal this year to see every zombie film ever made and I’m doing ok – starting at about 150 I’ve chased down a good 80 or so more since Jan so I’m closing in on the halfway mark. I really enjoyed Survival of the Dead and have to say – compared to most, it’s a fucking goddammed masterpiece of modern cinema, it really is. The acting, the characters, the quirky story – there is no question that each is sitting in the 90 percentile band against its peers, so I think everyone’s being a little harsh on Romero.

    … here – list is currently at … lol 603 dammit, the genre is accelerating. that’s over 50 new one’s this year already since I started (vs only 66 zombie flicks released last year), they are being made as fast as I can watch them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_films

    Mebbe prep your friend next time by watching a couple randomly selected zombie films at home before you go see Romero’s next zombie film so he’s not comparing it to 28 Days or Zombieland or something.

  33. I agree that George has more in him than just zombies, but I think it is hard enough for him to even get the money for zombies–a genre his is internationally famous for. His excursions from the living dead series have nearly all fell flat in terms of box office and Survival couldn’t even get distribution…

  34. Great chat guys. Actually almost fully agree with Shalom with, well, everything. Subjectively, objectively, you know these words exist for a reason.
    To Zombie related matters, I have to say I’m happy Vern has chose to review this film and open the door on such a discussion. Having been in attendence for an hour long Romero interview at the Edinburgh film festival, I got to learn a lot about the man and his views. Most will be surprised to hear that “Dawn” was really just an inspiration when a rich friend took him a tour of his new shopping mall. Romero thought, and I roughly quote “this would be a really cool place to film a Zombie movie”. The metaphors came after. He doesn’t appreciate the remake which I have to say I thouroghly enjoyed. I with many other of the hardcore cried “WHY REMAKE A CLASSIC!”.

    What he really detests is running zombies. An actual quote: “My zombies don’t run.” There is maybe an irony there somewhere. A man who arguably created the genre still plodding along at his own pace and in the case of his last couple of efforts, that pace is a slow one.

    So subjectively and objectively “Night” and “Dawn” are pretty much classic, landmark films. Sure, there are ropey moments but in comparison to “Day” are masterpieces. I have time for Day, the effects are great, ideas are there and even the atmosphere of the film you can feel in places, but budgetry reasons forced him to compromise a lot and it shows. I did enjoy “Land”, seen more than a few times but can understand it’s criticism. “Diary” I paid good money to see and at the time fell for it. I just wanted my Zombie thrills. For me, this is where being objective kicks in. It was better than Cloverfield though. So that leaves me to “Survival”. Haven’t seen it. Want to. And will. But fuck…it really sounds like Romero skirt has been pulled up in this one. Having heard his views on CGI zombies and effects (he admitted usage for Land. “Necessity”) I’m almost appalled at what I’ve read in Verns review. Who knows, maybe he’ll sell out on his own views completely and bring in runners (my word for athletic zombies) for his next effort.

    Honorable mentions to Left 4 Dead and it’s sequal, Return of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters, The “28” films and in particular the opening scene of the second one, Zombieland, the British show Dead Set and that other video game which in no way resembles either Dawn film, Dead Rising. Sorry for the ramble guys but I’m Solo and I’m a Zombieholic. Haven’t viewed Dead Snow yet. Any opinions?

  35. sorry for typos! (sic)

  36. I’m glad I’ve seen this so I can comment on the movie with you guys . Usually I’m forced to skip the spoilers parts of the review or to wait altogether . I don’t know , maybe is Romero making movies that I like , shooting in a way that I like , maybe he’s making movies specifically for me , maybe is nostalgia or geek-glasses , but I always find something to like in every one of his movies ( well , his zombies movies) , even Diary . I liked this one and the old-school atmosphere of it , I don’t know if it is for the way he’s shooting or for the low budget , but every time I see one of his ..of the Dead movies , I get that feeling of classic filmaking in action , that “they don’t make them like this one anymore”. Sure , the special effects are constantly deteriorating , but I still think that they’re pretty good ( but , admittedly , this may be the effect of the constant lowering of my standards ) , and they’re better than most DTV special effects . Sure , with the years the social commentary is

  37. Jareth Cutestory

    May 5th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    solo: My biggest problem with DEAD SNOW is that you have this cool idea – nazi zombies – but they steadfastly refuse to develop the possibilities inherent in the idea. The nazi aspect is little more than costumes. On the positive side, there’s something about the Norwegian language than makes the terrified dialogue of people fleeing the zombie carnage sound more cool than English.

    But then I’m not a fan of the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake either, so maybe you’ll like DEAD SNOW.

    shalom82: Best comeback ever. I have been humbled.

  38. ( continued ) more heavy-handed , but at leats it’s there and the movie has something to say ( in this one I liked the idea of letting go of , abandonig outdated traditions , like those photos of the recently deceased ) . Today most horror movies are torture shock-fests or remakes with nothing at all to say and with no ideas , I’m sick of the Hostel-clones and of Platinum Dunes. And I liked the mix of elements in the action scenes of Survival , some scenes in a urban environment , some in open spaces , zombies on a boat scenes and even underwater zombie battles !

    P.S.: The Crazies sucks ? I didn’t get that memo either , but hey , this is the Old Continent over here , we are really slow with some of these new-wave , revolutionary ideas , like the Boondock Saints being a must-see cult movie phenomenon and the Crazies sucking .

  39. Jareth Cutestory

    May 5th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    CallMeKermiT: If you’re talking about the same Old Continent that produced MARTYRS, I figure you’ve got no shortage of new wave ideas.

  40. Jareth : I said with some revolutionary ideas like the two mentioned above . And , of course , I was being sarcastic .

    And for the Left for Dead lovers : I played the first “movie” ( episode ) of the first game , completely in cooperative and it’s like living your own zombie apocalypse movie . It’s so good that I’m not playing it by myself , I wait to share the experience with another player ! In my mind Bill , from Left for Dead 1 , is actually a good representation of how I imagine Vern :


    ( Bill is the old guy ).

  41. Just wanted to throw my hat in with the LAND OF THE DEAD fans. Good action, good cast, good satire, great gore… I never understood why it was so underrated.

    I will most definitely see SURVIVAL at some point, but it’s way disappointing to read that Vern thinks this one had bad zombie effects. The only thing that kept DIARY from being a total waste of time were a handful of standout zombie moments (like the Mennonite guy killing himself and the zombie with a pickaxe.) So a spinoff movie minus cool effects does not sound very appealing.

  42. DAY OF THE DEAD is actually my favorite of the original dead trilogy. I wouldn’t argue it’s the best or the most influential, but it’s the one I like watching the most.

    As for SURVIVAL, it made me very sad. So sad that I don’t want to type about it.

  43. Definitely another vote for LAND from me. It has a very different feel to it than the previous DEAD films, so maybe people weren’t ready for it. The first three have such a odd, grimy ametuer aesthetic that LAND feels almost antiseptic by comparison, with its real actors and big setpieces. For some reason the world feels less plausible and realistic than the previous ones (what with the tanks and fenced-off skyscrapers), and even though the acting is better the fact that its full of recognizable faces makes it feel more like a movie in some ways.

    So to me, it doesn’t feel exactly like a sequel to the first three, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great in its own right. Lots of fun ideas and performances throughout, but I especially love the complicated, unique character played by Leguizamo. It’s a real interesting role, and I think one which comes across with subtlety and compassion, while still not exactly being sympathetic. Plus, you know. Solid Zombie action and evolution — but by then it was almost beside the point. Im still hoping SURVIVAL will be good, but it sort of seems like Romero has lost most of his interest in Zombies and would be better off pursuing something else; maybe even collaborating and developing a script for other directors. Romero can craft a great scene, but I think everyone would probably argue he’s inconsistent and that his greatest gift is in his ideas and sharp understanding of subtext. Finding the new CRAZIES pretty darn good, I think it might be worth having him pursue his gifts in a more freeing way by being an ideas man rather than an autuer.

  44. Shit! Trejo vs Seagal in the trailer for Machete at AICN !

  45. I have been told firsthand by an impeccable source that Michael Powell was a huge fan of CREEPSHOW. Supposedly, Romero’s buddy Martin Scorsese (yes, Romero is good friends with Stephen King AND Martin Scorsese–how awesome is that?) set up dinner with Romero and Powell in the early 80s. Romero arrived with Scorsese, expecting to talk about Powell’s movies and instead Powell wouldn’t stop raving about CREEPSHOW, saying how terrific it was. “It was even better then THE SECRET OF N.I.H.M!”, Powell supposedly exclaimed.

    And y’know, when you think about it, CREEPSHOW truly is one of the most Powell-esque of modern films. That really makes perfect sense…

  46. Dude, if you stacked all of the eyeglass lenses in that room one on top of the other, it would be about a foot and half tall.

    Not mocking these dudes. Just saying they wear some thick-ass glasses.

  47. I really enjoyed Land. Especially how the film is pretty much TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT but with zombies and evil Dennis Hopper.

  48. CrustaceanHate

    May 5th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Yep, I really liked LAND as well. When it came out I heard a lot of people complaining that the political stuff was too heavy-handed, but it didn’t bother me. I mean, DAWN isn’t exactly subtle and it’s my favourite horror film ever. I thought the original CRAZIES was pretty flawed, so I thought a remake was potentially a good idea. Haven’t seen it yet, though.

    Anyone else excited about the WALKING DEAD tv series? It’s probably a few years too late (I expect it will be met with yawning indifference by a zombie-fatigued public) but the comic is great and I like Frank Darabont. Has a lot of potential so long as they focus on the characters and not the zombies.

  49. CrustaceanHate – and DAY was pretty political too. I didn’t catch it at the time, but Romero did say the military/scientist conflict came from the Reagan years. I think I can see that.

    Yeah I liked LAND too. Weakest of the “real” DEAD series (SURVIVAL and DIARY are seperate) but got a surprisingly strong star-value terrific cast with Hopper, Argento, Leguizamo, and of course The Mentalist. Also it’s a fun ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK/ROAD WARRIOR post-apocalyptic production design and art direction which is absolutely fun when its done right.

    Also who else didn’t dig the zombie “avenger” leading his army on that long march to that emerald tower?

    Also well-directed with some filmatic professional vision touches we usually don’t get, if only because way too many work the genre on such “trash” in the mainstream major studios without giving a shit.

    See, effort does pay off.

  50. I never intended to see this one but now that I know it is possibly some kind of hamfisted comment on Northern Ireland, where I grew up, I’m oddly curious. I love Dawn and I actually think Land is pretty good but I’m not a fan of Day and couldn’t watch all of Diary, dreadful.

  51. Fine, I’ll rephrase with “I hate The Crazies” instead of “The Crazies sucks”.

    I sometimes like Land of the Dead. I just don’t really buy the notion that we should be sympathetic towards zombies. I understand before they died they were human beings but now all they wanna do is eat me. Why should I feel pity for it?

  52. what the hell, Vern doesn’t like CREEPSHOW?

    what’s wrong with you man? why don’t you like it? (perhaps you should post a full review Vern)

    now I admit that I’m a huge Stephen King fan and the combination of King and Romero is in my opinion a match made in heaven, plus Creepshow almost single handily brought back the popularity of EC Horror style comics, leading to other things like Tales From The Crypt etc

    anyway on a side note I really liked Land too, I was surprised to learn a lot of fans didn’t like it

  53. I agree with Vern’s general assessment of the original films. NIGHT is a true nightmare, pure horror. It’s somewhat dated and stiff, sure, but it can still creep you out — try watching it alone at night. It also created an entire genre.

    DAWN brings satire into the mix, expands the scale and the effects, and has great characters and performances, with Scott Reiniger as the standout. It’s the SEVEN SAMURAI of zombie films. Drives me nuts when modern viewers can’t see past the blue face paint and synth score.

    DAY is a bit redundant, and villain Rhodes is kind of a bore with his one-note ranting. (Does anyone else kinda hate it when they have to shoehorn a human villain into horror films?) It’s also the beginning of the end with the introduction of the “nice zombie,” paving the way for the even cuddlier Big Daddy. But it has a truly grim, festering atmosphere of total despair– you can almost smell this one. And, as stated, some of the best physical effects ever, maybe only surpassed by Bottin’s work in THE THING. If you’re any kind of horror fan at all, it’s worth seeing for this alone.

    Leguizamo was definitely the most interesting thing in LAND. It’s fairly entertaining as an action/horror film, and Hopper is uncharacteristically low-key. But it already felt to me like at least one film too many.

    I haven’t seen DIARY, and am in no hurry to — which means it could be a long time before I even contemplate getting around to SURVIVAL.

  54. I don’t think there really is no shame in remaking something that wasn’t good to begin with.

  55. CrustaceanHate

    May 6th, 2010 at 12:19 am

    RRA – There’s some political stuff in DAY, but Romero toned it down after DAWN and was bummed when the audience didn’t really pick up on it (which is why he made the stuff in LAND so explicit).

    A remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a pretty terrible idea. Why bother if you’re going to take out the 30 minute rape scene and whole grimy 70s-ness of the thing? But get a load of those one-liners. “Forgive me father for I will sin.” “It’s date night”. Barf!

  56. If they can sanction a remake of Robocop then the powers that be can remake anything. Sorry: “RE-IMAGINE”.

  57. Jareth Cutestory

    May 6th, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I hear you, CrustaceanHate. The significance of some films is derived from what the film has to say about the specific era in which it was produced; they don’t transcend their era in the same way that a “timeless classic” is supposed to, but offer us an intriguing glimpse into it.

    When a film like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is constructed around a brutal shock to the senses, audiences can’t really ever go back to that place where they were capable of being shocked in the same way again. Film language as a whole changes afterward, and we experience films a bit differently from then on. I just don’t see how a remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE can be true to the intent of the original.

    A film like THRILLER (ie. not the Michael Jackson video) is structured more classically than I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and would probably hold up better to sequels or remakes. You could cut much of the porn from THRILLER and still go through the motions of a decent training-for-revenge story. And the hero of THRILLER is much more in the mold of the familiar outlaw figure, sort of a proto-Plisskin.

    But of course I wouldn’t want to see THRILLER remade either.

  58. Lawrence – I think the ONLY films that should be remade are the ones with interesting concepts but bad execution. (This is why I wanted to see the remake of “My Bloody Valentine”. Boy, did I regret that one. I’ve written my thoughts on it in the “MBD 3D” review thread, but basically, if you ever had any plans to see it, for the love of God, DON’T.) Some films are frustrating because they COULD have been great, if only this had been done differently, or that had been done differently… Those are the ones that I want to see remade, and they’re the only ones that really have any reason to be. Leave the classics alone.

  59. Hmm, found DIARY on a site called MyVideo*. In German. From what I’ve read about the quality of the dialogue and acting, it might be better that way. (Apparently, the German for “hey dude” is “hey dude.”)

    I liked the Amish guy. –“I’m Samuel hello” is a great moment. But he’s not around for long, and his exit is ridiculous even by zombie movie standards. (Well, I guess it isn’t much sillier than human bodies coming apart like warm croissants in DAY. But that looked a lot cooler.)

    * I don’t see a difference between renting a film from Neflix and watching it online. I’ll occasionally watch older films — like DEATH WISH sequels — in chunks on YouTube. I’m not paying anyone for a pirated copy, and I assume the creators don’t see a dime either way. (For that matter, how about buying used copies? No royalties.) Not to start up a new discussion about ethics, but if anyone disagrees with this, I’d be interested in hearing your viewpoint.

    Also — does everybody under a certain age download films and music as casually as their parents turned on the TV? It sure seems that way sometimes.

  60. CrustaceanHate

    May 6th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Well, I’m not the biggest fan of the rape/revenge genre and really, could you call yourself a fan without seeming like a psycho? MS 45 is probably my favourite. The I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake looks, at least from the trailer, like it’s going to be torture porn. THRILLER fits more easily into the DEATH WISH mold, which I think would appeal more to the kind of people who follow this blog. Of course, the awesomeness of a badass woman in an eyepatch blowing chumps away with a shotgun transcends all decades and genres. Even if it is in absurdly exaggerated slow motion.

    frankbooth: If you rent from Netflix (or a brick-and-mortar store) they still have to purchase the films. I’d consider that a step up from getting a pirated copy. If it’s a movie that’s VHS-only or long since out of print then I’m less conflicted about downloading it. It’s not like the creator sees any money if I score a second hand VHS tape off eBay.

  61. Jareth Cutestory

    May 6th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    CrustaceanHate: I agree; those black and white photographs of Christina Lindberg wearing the eyepatch and leather jacket look just as badass today as they did 30 years ago. Even when she’s not holding a gun (or pointing it at the camera) she looks awesome; it’s the badass juxtaposition between her girlish face and that cold, dead stare.

  62. @Frankbooth : As I understand it, Netflix buys the rights to stream the film online for a predetermined amount of time. These streaming rights are not very expensive for independent films, but it is up to the film owners whether or not they want to sell them that right.

  63. The guy whose head slowly dissolved after being splashed with acid was kinda cool. So that’s two good parts.

    You guys say SURVIVAL is worse? Wow. Think I’ll go watch another episode of JUSTIFIED.

  64. http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/20168

    There goes that Monkey Shines sequel I’ve been dreaming about…

  65. hey great site very helpfull stuff there is a lot of blokes who enjoy cool horse game all the time. They enjoy plaing with their friends trying to enjoy the hours of free time that is available throughout the day. Horses are very popular amongst girls who love to learn to ride them at a young age, Horse Games allow young girls not yet old enough to fully enjoy riding horses a chance to play with these animals.

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  68. “And I hate to say it but I’m now convinced that we’ve officially reached the expiration date on the ol’ living dead.”

    This is awfully ironic Vern, considering this came out the same year THE WALKING DEAD premiered, little did we know the zombie genre was just beginning.

  69. Random zombie observation (Since Griff brought it up): Yesterday the 2nd season of the brillant Disney cartoon show GRAVITY FALLS started over here and shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, season 1 must have been a HUGE success, if Disney let the people behind it just run with that amount of Zombie violence in a kids show. Granted, no human got murdered on screen (although two got dragged into the woods and I wonder if they will ever appear again) but I never expected to see so many exploding heads on the Disney Channel!

  70. lol I’ve been meaning to watch GRAVITY FALLS.

    Anyway I fucked up by saying “just beginning”, I meant to say “just getting started” but ya know, we can’t edit here, the thing is obviously the zombie genre began long ago, but though the 2000’s is when the genre started to gain traction it still remained for the most part an underground nerd thing, until WALING DEAD shot it into overdrive and made it mainstream and it’s now at this point even I’m pretty sick of zombies, the genre just doesn’t excite me like it used to anymore.

    The funny thing is I’ve not seen not a one episode of WALKING DEAD because I hear it’s not actually any good, I almost watched when it premiered but for some reason I could sense that it would be a waste of time.

  71. This is solidly Romero in “playing the hits” mode, which makes me feel ungracious for not liking it. I’m sure there were mobs of fans at ComicCon begging for this every time he cleaned his thick-as-deepdish glasses, but that’s not a reason for it to exist.

    1. Wasn’t the whole “can we domesticate the zombies?” thing done in Day of the Dead? Because I recall there, right off the bat you could tell that it was a fool’s errand and the scientists were as crazy as Rhodes for trying to do it, because it wouldn’t accomplish anything to be able to take one zombie and train him to salute for six months. It was the Meta of the zombie apocalypse. So it feels a bit weird to be brought up here as a fresh idea and shades of gray conflict when, obviously, the guy who wants to kill zombies is totally in the right. They even make Muldoon an out-and-out monster who slaughters refugees. Making this a very odd story to end with “well, both sides have a point.” No! They absolutely do not!

    2. Having villain protagonists IS a fresh idea, but Romero didn’t do anything with that. As soon as they get to the island, the deserters act like complete good guys. Only we’ve already seen them kill people for the ‘crime’ of being mean to zombies (who. the hell. cares?), so we end up with just unlikable heroes instead of interesting antiheroes. Hell, in the very first scene, they’re out in the open, surrounded by zombies, and they’re actually masturbating, loudly listening to late-night talk shows… was Romero just daring someone to tell him no?

    3. It’s the zombie apocalypse. Who cares about a million dollars? I’d almost say this is meant as a parody of those chowerheads that think they’re going to be able to buy stuff with gold after everything goes Mad Max, but I think we’re meant to agree that, yes, cash is a valuable commodity after civilization has collapsed.

    4. Okay, so I guess they just leave the perfectly good island at the end instead of killing, like, ten zombies and being set for life. Sure.

    5. So how many weeks of riding a horse does a zombie get before the horse just dies? Is the zombie feeding the horse? Is the zombie taking the saddle off the horse and tending to it? Is the zombie letting the horse sleep at night?

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