July 21, 2009


The Toronto International Film Festival has released information indicating that George A. Romero's new zombie film will be titled Survival of the Dead, and the film will be premiering as part of TIFF's Midnight Madness this September. The previous link will also take you to the announcement and a whack of new photos from the film.

TIFF has been very good to zombie fans these past few years. In 2007, TIFF premiered Romero's Diary of the Dead and in 2008 it premiered Bruce McDonald's Pontypool. I was there for Pontypool in 2008, and I'm going to do my damned best to be there for Survival of the Dead to bring you a review straight from TIFF!

I'm very excited for Survival of the Dead. I was not at all impressed by Diary of the Dead. In fact, it's not a movie I would ever recommend; however, from what I've been reading about the plot of Survival of the Dead, I can't help but feel Romero is getting back to what he does best. Colin Geddes, the International film programmer at TIFF, sure makes the movie sound interesting from his description:
In a world where the dead rise to menace the living, rogue soldier Crocket (Alan Van Sprang) leads a band of military dropouts to refuge from the endless chaos. As they search for a place "where the shit won ’ t get you," they meet banished patriarch Patrick O’ Flynn (played with zeal by Kenneth Welsh), who promises a new Eden on the fishing and ranching outpost Plum Island. The men arrive, only to find themselves caught in an age-old battle between O’ Flynn’s family and rival clan the Muldoons. It turns out that Patrick was expelled from the isle for believing that the only good zombie is a dead zombie, while the Muldoons think it’s wrong to dispatch afflicted loved ones, attempting to look after their undead kinfolk until a cure is found. But their bid for stability on the homestead has turned perverse: the undead are chained inside their homes, pretending to live normal lives – and the consequences are bloody. A desperate struggle for survival will determine whether the living and the dead can coexist.

Such apocalyptic themes have long haunted George A. Romero, much to the delight of his legions of fans. He now follows Crocket, a minor character from his last film, Diary of the Dead, to present a new doomsday scenario. In that film, Crocket made a brief appearance with his militia to appropriate the heroes’ supplies at gunpoint. For Crocket’s subsequent journey, Romero does something that most horror directors have forgotten in recent years – he uses the genre to address societal issues. As a socially conscious filmmaker, Romero creates a world in which he can wrestle with the human condition while simultaneously finding new and creative ways to exterminate lurching flesh eaters.

George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead is also a sharp subversion of the western. It can be seen as a reflection of William Wyler’s The Big Country, in which stubborn clans feuded as larger troubles raged. We needn’ t look further than today’s news headlines to see examples of such fracture and to understand how it prevents more significant problems from being solved.

Fear not, Romero is still determined to give you gruesome and macabre thrills, but will also serve up a bloody little parable on the side. So who are you going to side with, the living or the dead?