I will be completely honest here. I am kind of drawing a blank on how to introduce today’s movie. I think part of that is because I honestly didn’t know about it until several years after it came out. I mean, there have been a lot of zombie movies to come out since the turn of the century so I could probably be forgiven for that. Still, it is a Romero movie and I feel like I should have heard about it sooner. Oh well, that is in the past and I corrected the problem pretty quickly when I bought today’s movie, Survival Of The Dead.
The plot: Sergeant “Nicotine” Crockett (Sarge) is smoking a cigarette as he watches a fellow member of the National Guard become a zombie. As the zombie soldier gets to it’s feet, Sarge has another soldier brought over and, blaming him for the dead man, hands a gun to the man so he can shoot the zombie himself. When the man refuses, Sarge kills the zombie, then points the gun at the man, who backs away and ends up getting bit by another zombie, forcing Sarge to shoot him while another soldier shoots the zombie. Sarge, along with Kenny, Francisco, and Tomboy, decides to go AWOL and ends up robbing people on the road for supplies, including the people from the previous film. Meanwhile, on Plum Island, a man named Patrick O’Flynn has gathered a posse together to kill all of the zombies on the island but his daughter Janet doesn’t agree with what they are doing. When the posse arrives at the home of Matthew and Beth Muldoon, Patrick asks about their children, who had been in accidents recently, and Beth tries to prevent them from being shot but ends up being shot. Matthew is given a gun to shoot Beth and Patrick and the others head upstairs to kill the children but when he goes in there, he is unable to do it. Seamus Muldoon shows up and forces Patrick and the others to surrender. Seamus plans on killing Patrick and the others but Janet pleads with him to spare his life so they end up banishing them from the island. Three weeks later, Sarge and his crew come across some hunters in the woods and after a brief fire fight, they kill the hunters and are joined by Boy, a young man that was travelling with the hunters. Taking the hunters’ armored car, they start heading for the highway and Boy tells them about a video ad he saw of Patrick O’Flynn, calling himself Captain Courageous, advertising to take people to Plum Island so Sarge reluctantly agrees to go. When they get there, they find Patrick and his men offer to sell them a boat in exchange for everything they have and are unable to leave because they have the road mined with dynamite. Not wanting to give up the armored car or their weapons, Sarge sees a ferry nearby and plans on using that to get to the island. Francisco swims out towards the ferry and is shot at by Patrick’s men but Sarge manages to kill one of them. When zombies that are standing on the bottom of the water start grabbing at Francisco, he bites the finger off of one and makes it onto the ferry. As he makes his way down to the wheelhouse he encounters some zombies and is saved by Tomboy, who had followed him onto the ferry. As they head to pick up the others, Sarge uses a grenade he had to blow a hole in the wall of Patrick’s shack, attracting the zombies attention towards them so that they can drive away. As the zombies start attacking and killing his men, Patrick lights a bundle of dynamite and gives it to a zombie before making a run for the ferry himself. Patrick directs them towards Plum Island and when they get close to the island, he tells them to stop the ferry and use the dingy to head to shore. Patrick leads them towards his property and they find some zombies chained up and acting like they are doing their normal jobs. They suddenly come under fire and Tomboy kills the shooter but not before Sarge and Kenny are shot. Sarge’s wound isn’t serious but Kenny dies from his wound and Patrick shoots him in the head so he won’t turn. When Sarge attacks Patrick, they notice a zombie girl go by on a horse and Patrick tells them that it is his daughter. Seeing some of the people he sent to the island lying dead in a nearby stream, Patrick decides to go kill Seamus and when Sarge agrees to help, Patrick sends the group to a nearby meeting hall while he goes to get some of his relatives to help. At Seamus’s ranch, his ranch foreman Chuck tells him that Seamus’s plan to teach zombies to eat something other than people wasn’t working but Seamus says it’s the only way they will survive and tells Chuck to grab Janet, saying she might be their best hope. Sarge and the others reach the meeting hall but Francisco disappears and Tomboy goes to find him, unaware that she is being watched. Tomboy finds Francisco, who realizes he is infected when he bit the zombie’s finger off and is planning on killing himself, but she stops him from committing suicide and kills him herself but she is then captured by Chuck and another of Seamus’s worker. Back at the meeting hall, Sarge asks Boy to tend to his wound and ends up passing out so Boy goes to get some water and runs into someone. Meanwhile, Seamus has Tomboy eat with him and explains how his family has always kept their dead close to them and he plans on continuing to do that as Tomboy notices his wife is a zombie who is chained in the kitchen. Back at the meeting hall, Sarge comes too and finds his wound has been tended to by Janet, who explains that her twin sister Jane is the one who is a zombie. When Patrick and his family show up, they tell Sarge that Seamus has Tomboy and probably Francisco as well, and they head to Seamus’s but when they get to the bridge, they are met by Seamus and his men. Sarge tells Boy to run and then joins Seamus as he surrenders his weapon in order to keep Tomboy from being killed. The group is taken to Seamus’s ranch, where he shows them Jane in a corral with a horse, where Seamus hopes to prove Patrick wrong by making her eat the horse. Boy runs into Janet and they bring Sarge and the others their weapons and Janet tries to get them all to end the fighting. Chuck decides to join Janet and Seamus shoots him in the leg. Jane seems to recognize Janet and when Janet heads over to the corral, she ends up being bit, causing Patrick to start shooting at Seamus. Chuck shoots the lock off the stable, releasing all of the zombies that Seamus kept there and the zombies start attacking everyone. As the people and zombies are killed, Seamus ends up shooting Patrick but when he goes to check the body, Patrick kills Seamus with his hidden pistol. When the fighting ends, Sarge, Tomboy, and Boy go to leave and Janet notices Jane biting the horse but when she goes to tell them, she is shot in the head by Patrick, who didn’t want her to turn into a zombie. Sarge, Tomboy, and Boy leave in the barge while on the island, the zombies are seen attacking and killing a horse and eating it while a zombie Patrick and Seamus are seen trying to kill each other with empty guns.
Survival Of The Dead was the lowest rated movie in Romero’s Dead franchise, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Survival of the Dead offers glimmers of Romero’s savage wit, but not nearly enough to make up for his unusually uninspired directing and a lack of new ideas” The movie was filmed in Ontario and was inspired by the Western film The Big Country. The movie was given a limited release in theaters and only earned a little over $386,000 off of a $4 million budget but in spite of the poor performance, Romero has expressed a desire to film two more sequels.
This was definitely one of the weirder entries in Romero’s series but personally, I found it to be a pretty boring movie. The acting was decent, with some people doing better jobs than others but some times it felt like some of the actors were simply going through the motions. The story was interesting and you could definitely see the Western influence in it, especially in the weapons that the Muldoons and O’Flynns used as they looked like they were from the Old West. The plot line with the family feud Patrick and Seamus was good but I wish that they had actually explained what started the feud in the first place, as they seemed to indicate it had been ongoing since they were kids. The special effects were pretty good but there was nothing really new or groundbreaking with them. A good story and some decent zombie scenes towards the end but otherwise it is just another zombie movie.
Rating: 3 out of 5