Review

Shaun vs. Survival of the Dead (2009)

On a small island off the coast of Delaware, two warring families disagree on how their zombified family members should be treated as one side wants to keep them safe in case of a cure while the other family wants them dead.


Judging a Book by its Cover

In 2009, every zombie movie cover essentially looked like this.  The only thing that’s different is that f’n George A. Romero’s name is on this one.


Survival isn’t just for the living!

Directed by George A. Romero

Starring Alan Van Sprang, Joshua Peace and Hardee T. Lineham

I can certainly imagine that Night of the Living Dead has scared the crap out of people decades after it was released back in 1968.  It was over twenty years ago that I woke up earlier than usual waiting for cartoons to air and was flipping through the channels when I came upon a black and white movie on A&E, back when they were a real channel and not full of reality shows.  It looked rather ominous and maybe even scary.  Having always been told by my parents not to watch scary movies, I delighted in the fact that my parents would never find out about my defiance.  Moments after seeing these strange creatures tear open a person’s stomach and yanked his innards out, I turned off the TV and ran back into my room.  It would be many years before I returned to finish this film, or even start it.  George A. Romero somehow, in a mere twenty seconds or so, planted a seed that would take many years to grow but my love of the zombie surely started back then and has continued unabated since.

Years down the road, a small company named Anchor Bay was in the business of releasing old horror movies and I managed to grab both Dawn and Day of the Dead and they quickly became some of my favorite movies to watch.  It wasn’t just the bloodlust that got to me, it was also Romero’s way of creating characters and telling stories all the while surrounded by these ghoulish creatures that got my attention. To this day Dawn of the Dead is often on the tip of my tongue when asked what my favorite movies are. The man is forever immortalized in the minds of horror fans everywhere from changing the zombie archetype from voodoo-controlled living people to undead ghouls who slowly lumber towards their meals (until the early 00s when people figured running zombies were scarier.)

When I put the DVD in the player and noticed on the menu that there was the option to view an introduction by Romero prior to viewing the movie. Of course I wanted to see what the man had to say.  Would he pour his heart out, would he welcome us and discuss why he made this movie? It wound up being a series of fake takes about him introducing the movie while zombies interrupted him. Slightly funny but a strange introduction if I’ve ever seen one. I didn’t see the point right then and there, but if I were to take anything from what I saw, it was that this introduction should’ve been taken as a taste of things to come.

The main plot of the movie concerns two fighting families, the Muldoons and the O’Flynn’s on Plum Island. The current feud is over whether or not they should kill their own who have turned into zombies. The Muldoons choose not to harm their loved ones, even in living death, while the O’Flynn’s try to get a posse together to kill off the brain eaters. Meanwhile, a group of army deserters (seen in the previous film, Diary of the Dead, meeting up with the protagonists of that film) find a YouTube video of Patrick O’Flynn, the eldest of the family, inviting people to Plum Island and telling them just how great the place is. Once they get there, they realize everything’s just as wrong there as it is everywhere else. As they go around the island, they see that zombies are still around, and alive, only chained to certain spots, like the mailman chained near a mailbox. Muldoon has an idea where he tries to get the zombies to eat something other than humans…like horses! This mad man must be stopped…

The basic idea behind the movie is fine, there are much worse to roll your eyes at, but the entire movie is littered with silly scenes and dialogue along with terrible CG gore.  All together this makes the film unbearable to watch. It’s hard to take the movie seriously after seeing someone stick the hose of a fire extinguisher into the mouth of a zombie and squirting until CG foam comes out of the zombie’s ears and pops his CG eyes out. Yes, there’s a ton of CG splatter and it’s very disappointing to see after seeing some great effects made that are over 30 years old now.  These effects seems a giant step backward and make the film look cheap.

The conflict of “should we kill them/we won’t kill them” is often brought up ad nauseum for dramatic purposes in zombie films and while I’d like to give the film points for trying something different, it’s just more silliness in a film still trying to be taken seriously. Teaching the ghouls to eat something else is an interesting idea that’s brought up much too late and becomes just another ridiculous notion on top of several others. By the time I got to the conclusion of the film, I felt that Romero was trying more to make a parody with his beloved zombie series.  If this had been called Zombie Movie I would’ve had a clearer idea of what I’d be getting into.

TL;DR

Story: 4 – A family feud on a remote island takes a strange turn when one family tries to keep their undead loved ones alive until a cure is found while the other family feels that dead should be dead.

Blood: 3 – Some decent kills take a huge backseat to awful CG gore which left a bad taste in my mouth.

Boobs: 0 – Nathing!

Overall: 2 – A huge disappointment in all departments, even fans should steer clear of this one.

Trivia

To cut the budget down, the film is entirely a Canadian production.

Supposedly the next film in the series was to be called Road of the Dead, this is Romero’s final zombie film before his death on July 16, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.