What popular zombie series features the dregs of law and order intruding in an idyllic farming community led by a stalwart patriarch holding a terrible undead secret in his barn? Before The Walking Dead did it, George A. Romero's "Survival of the Dead" did it first.
Our crew of formerly upstanding citizens includes Sergeant Nicotine Crockett (Alan van Sprang), Kenny (Eric Woolfe), Francisco (Stefano Colacitti) and Tomboy (Athena Karkanis). The farmstead is led by two rival patriarchs: Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) who believes all zombies should be killed and Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) who believes all zombies should be protected until a cure is found. SPOILER OF THE DEAD: There's also Patrick's twin daughters, Janet (Kathleen Munroe) and Jane (played by, uh, Kathleen Munroe).
Our ragtag band of warriors are less interested in politics and more in survival, but it's not long before they are caught up in the conflict between the O'Flynns and Muldoons. Characters die, zombies bite, and the two rival families continue their civil war despite the apocalypse raging on around them. Depending on your perspective, this either makes their hatred of each other truly spectacular or spotlights just how petty their rivalry really is.
Romero, who at this point seems to be shambling through his own zombie films, adds a few new touches to the genre he helped invent. But mostly this is a film about two Irish guys acting like anachronistic Hatfields and McCoys, pursuing some vendetta that no longer makes any sense to anybody, including the audience. It all feels a little pointless, and Romero is only too happy to leave things that way.
As the latest chapter in Romero's zombie series it's a bit more effective -- everyone seems to think escaping to an Island is the ideal way to restart humanity, but as "Survival of the Dead" makes clear, humanity's biggest problem is itself. It's too bad Romero had to resort to stereotypes to make his point.
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