Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Survival of the Dead - Excited or Apathetic?


The red band trailer for Romero's latest zombie flick, Survival of the Dead, exclusively hit IGN today and I gotta say, I am not in the least bit excited about the movie. I never thought i'd say that the idea of a new zombie tale from the guy who brought us the best zombie movies ever made would do nothing for me and in fact, I hate to say it, but it's the truth. I also hate to say the next thing i'm about to say, but again, it's just the way I feel at this point - I have pretty much given up on George Romero as a filmmaker. I think the above poster says it all - "Death isn't what it used to be".

Before you cry sacrilege, believe me, I have and always will have the utmost respect and love for George Romero, and not only for his zombie movies but for flicks like Monkey Shines, Martin, and Creepshow too. At one time, he was THE horror filmmaker, but the times they are a changin'. I don't know if he's just losing his ability to make a great horror movie in his old age or if the times have eclipsed him, but the George Romero making movies today is not the same George Romero that was making movies in decades past.

I kinda dug Land of the Dead, even though it wasn't all that special, but it was Diary of the Dead that really made me feel this way. That movie is pure trash and there's just no way in hell that the same guy who made Night, Dawn, and Day made that. It's just not the same filmmaker and while I can't pinpoint exactly what has changed, there is one element that's definitely partially to blame, and that's the use, or overuse, of new technology, in the form of CGI - and by the looks of the above trailer, particularly the flaming zombie at the end, this next installment is gonna be as CGI laden as the last couple.

Now obviously a good story and a good movie would ultimately overcome a couple moments of bad CGI, but CGI in a Romero zombie flick seems like something of extreme sacrilege to me and it has definitely contributed, in my opinion at least, to the downfall of Romero. One of the big reasons we as horror fans love Romero's early zombie efforts is because of the extreme and realistic gore, done by Tom Savini in Dawn and Day. Take out that gore, replace it with bad CGI, and even those movies would take a bit of a hurting. Throw that bad CGI into lesser quality movies, i.e. Land/Diary, and you've got a complete dud on your hands. I know that Romero has been using CGI lately because it's easier and quicker to get things done, but in my opinion there's just no excuse for it. If there's one place CGI does not belong and stands out like an incredibly sore thumb, it's in a George Romero zombie movie, and that's the problem here - the two just don't mix. Why not just bring back Savini to do the gore effects and give all of us fans what we really want?

Again, that's obviously just one reason why i've lost a majority of interest in Romero's films but I think it goes to show that the times have changed him as a filmmaker, and not in a good way. Perhaps it was the lack of technology and that young independent spirit that drove Romero to make great films in the past, perhaps he just needs to stop with the whole zombie thing, or perhaps he needs to step aside and pass the baton to a new generation. But that's just my two cents. Who knows, maybe i'm speaking too soon and maybe, just maybe, Survival of the Dead will be more of a return to form than Diary and Land were. Survival of the Dead comes to Video on Demand, X-Box Live, Playstation 3, and Amazon on April 30th and select theatres on May 28th. I will reserve judgement on the film itself until then. Believe me, i'm hoping Romero makes me eat my words. If anyone's pullin' for a Romero comeback, it's me.

I turn the tables over to you now. Are you excited about Survival of the Dead or uninterested? And if you're uninterested, what do you think George Romero has lost as a filmmaker over the years?


The Film Reel said...

I really enjoyed Survival but I also enjoyed Diary which seems to be the one that everyone hates. Land was the really terrible one. If you didn't like Diary I'm not sure Survival will do it for you either.

I'll agree that the CG is pretty terrible although it's done better in Survival than it was in Diary.

Is this one as good as his original trilogy? No, but I still think it's much better than Land. Romero loves zombies and zombies love him. I guess that's why he'll keep coming back.

CRwM said...

I'm with you. Could not care less.

inSain9876 said...

Unfortunately, I saw Survival Of The Dead. I have honestly seen better low budget straight-to-DVD films in a $5 bin at Wal Mart. I love Romero. His movies are amazing. THe originals are legendary. Land was pretty cool...I actually liked Diary. This movie is horrible story, horrible acting, and you will be ashamed at the atrocious CGI in this movie. The only cool kills are CGI...and they are fuckin BAD BAD CGI!! 2 families...one wantes to kill the zombies and one wants to teach them to eat other things...like fuckin horses. I have a very hard time believing George was in the same country when this turd was made...let along behind the camera. I know your gonna check it out regardless...but this movie is fucking terrible.

the jaded viewer said...

Your right Johnny. Diary made me sick to my stomach. I dug Land but Diary seemed to be directed in a hipster, music video director sorta way rather than the great and mythic Romero.

I gotta admit, Survival looks ehhhh. I'm not too hyped but maybe it will surprise me.

R.D. Penning said...

I already watched the movie over at http://www.movies-links.tv/, and I didn't much care for it. It had potential, but didn't own up to it. I might go watch it in the theater, and hope for a different experience, but we will see.

oducerproducer said...

I am looking forward to it, just because it's a Romero film, however, none of the trailers have me excited, I love his first 3 Dead films, i highly enjoy all his other films(save maybe Bruiser) Land was soso, as for Diary, it goes like this. I hated it the first tiem i saw it, forced a second viewing and it was even worse. For some reason i watched it again about 3 months ago, and well i enjoyed it. Not sure why, but i did. Survival looks shitty but my expectations are low, so perhaps i'll come out pleased.

Too Many Zombies said...

I've seen it - the blu-ray is out here - and I really enjoyed it. Yes, Diary was a big ol' pile of crap. I was embarrassed watching that.

In my opinion, this is much, much better.

There is plenty to criticise - the godawful CG effects being a big problem. You're right, he should totally get Savini or even a young, enthusiastic modern Savini equivalent to get real practical effects (I watched Bava's Demons last night and that has some great practical effect moments).

And one of the big criticisms I hear from people about Survival is the lack of threat from the zombies. That's certainly true, though they seem to cause much more damage than the 'zombies' of Zombieland.

But, in spite of those things, I found loads to enjoy here. Unlike Diary, one of the big things that worked for me here were the characters. Not all, but enough of them were likeable to the point where I cared what happened to them. O'Flynn in particular. I thought he would just be a joke in the movie from the trailers, with his terrible accent, but I really felt for the guy.

And perhaps that's where Romero got it right after getting it so wrong in Diary. In Diary, he attempted to write kids and a YouTube culture and it's clear he had no clue about people like that. But an old curmudgeon? That's someone he can relate to.

The island story, two warring families, really worked for me. It's a simple story and a simple, small movie. And, in ways (laptop and iPod Touch aside), it felt classic. Like it could have come from the late 70s, early 80s.

And I enjoyed it.

I wrote more thoughts (no spoilers) on one end of my blog (the Companion end) if anyone is curious.

Don't go expecting the genius of Dawn. Or tense undead scares. But see it anyway and you may just find you enjoy it.

Strange Kid said...

My admiration for the franchise ended with Land of the Dead which, while a decent film, just stretched Romero's zombie universe as thin as it could go. Then of course there was Diary of the Dead that crushed any further interest altogether.

I'd like to see Romero return to a different kind of monster like he did with vampires in Martin. You can't tell me that a Creature from the Black Lagoon Romero film wouldn't at least raise a few furrowed brows.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Im afraid I really couldnt care less any more.. I did enjoy Land, but theres just no enthusiasm left in me for the series.

Johnny said...

Strange Kid - I too would love to see Romero do another non zombie flick sometime in the future.

Carl - That about sums it up. Sad but so so true.

mickel5555 said...

Yo, I'm with you. I saw Survival Of The Dead. TURRIBLE! The lead guy is such a shitty actor. I could out-act that motherfucker and the last time I acted was when I played Joseph in the church Christmas play in 8th grade.

ANYway, I have the utmost respect for the man. He just got 'lucky' with the timing of NOTLD and MLK and has been riding the socio-political commentary wave ever since.

Still, I made it a point to say hello at Horrorhound this past weekend. It was amazing. Sid Haig shot a pilot for a cooking show. I shit you not.

CLarochelle said...

I saw Survival at the film festival here, last year. Gotta say I was not impressed. The zombies become a secondary plot point to the family feud, which is just ridiculous. The zombies are basically the comic relief. Definitely my least favorite of the series.