Survival of the Dead opened this weekend, marking filmmaker George A. Romero’s sixth turn at the troft of the almost unstoppable undead (from a box office standpoint, they are unstoppable). From the original Night to Survival, a film that finds secondary characters from Diary and Land front-and-center, Romero has given film-goers a hell of a lot to chew on.
And if you take all six films as pieces of a larger puzzle, he’s also given us a recurring theme (zombies might bite, but people suck!) and a big arc for the whole series: zombies, like primates, can learn.
This was hinted at it his Dawn, and in Day became the driving narrative. He revisited it in Land, with a roving mob of zombies riled into a frenzied cooperation by a mean-ass Mike Tyson-looking zombie king, and featuring another instance of a zombie learning to use a tool. The tool in Day was a handgun (who needs to eat somebody’s face off when you can just pull a trigger?). The tool in Land was a meat clever wielded by a zombie fresh from the butcher’s shop. We also saw an evolution of Romero’s sly often visual humor (making one of Land’s main characters look like, but not actually be, a zombie, for instance). And we got an evolution of gore too, with the third film, Day, in my opinion, reaching a gruesome high. Romero has yet to top the zombie make-up and general bloody disgustingness of that film. continue »