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Keyboard Cuts: Romero is still King

A look at the King of all Zombies, George A. Romero.

Keyboard Cuts: Romero is still King

In my review for "Survival of the Dead," I mused if Romero has lost touch with society or if society has lost touch with George Romero. And after viewing 2010′s "Survival of the Dead" for the first time and reading reactions to it from numerous fans and movie critics around the internet I’ve concluded that society has simply lost touch of Romero. We’re a nation of horror goons who simply don’t know what we want anymore and unfortunately Romero seems to be paying for that. We complain about fast running zombies and mock the shambling zombies. We complain there’s no actual munching scenes in the latest zombie flicks but mock Romero for his gore sequences. We want some original horror movies but moan about Romero who is one of the few amazing directors out there making movies for himself and his fans. And we continue complaining about the sheer overkill of remakes from studios out there, but we refuse to outright support the likes of Romero whose film has been slumming it on DVD/Blu-Ray for almost a year and a half enduring a very brief theatrical release while "Nightmare on Bore Street" with meatball head Jackie Earl Haley continues to rake in the bucks.

 

We’re just not sure what in the world we want and yet here is Romero still making movies for the fans, still continuing his socially relevant and brilliant horror movies that have characters and rich stories and subtext and we’re sitting down griping about a man whose limited budget prohibits him from continuing on the path of greatness. In a year that nearly everyone across the board has admitted to being a weak one for films in general "Survival of the Dead" continues to stand out among the mediocrity and abysmal for its sheer down to Earth storytelling in the saga of the Dead where Romero is completing a second chapter in his Dead franchise. We had "Night," "Dawn," "Day," and "Land," and now to fit in with modern society, Romero has restarted the whole premise and entire sensibility with "Diary," "Survival" and soon two more movies showing the downfall of a world dependent on technology and the internet.

 

"Diary" is a movie that continues to be misunderstood, a brilliant and utterly horrifying look at the end of the world through the digital lens where film students take it upon themselves to provide the masses with a scope of the zombie apocalypse through film and the internet, all of which comes to an astounding finisher as we see the dead looming outside out comfort zones through grainy surveillance cameras and monitors inside a panic room at a character’s mansion in the middle of nowhere. In it Romero takes away everything from our wide scope, our near sightedness, our perception of reality, and our peripheral vision. Zombies creep around hospitals and hallways and even creep in and out of camera shot by surprise (i.e. a lone patient zombie in a hospital who sneaks up on a character taking us by surprise before them). Following on that tangent, a seemingly unimportant story element is given relevance as we learn about the journey of Crocket, a man depicted as a villainous goon in "Diary" who steals food and supplies from our characters in their RV at gunpoint to which he begins to mock himself at the opening of "Survival" and asks us to see his point of view.

 

We learn he’s just as horrified and desperate as everyone else, a conflicted and mad Sarge for a dwindling unit desperate for sanctuary in a dying society. They are just like everyone else. They’re sexually starved, physically exhausted, mentally dismayed, and retreat to cheesy internet programs for their escapism that revolves around the zombie apocalypse. Happening upon a small island in the sea, he and his small band of soldiers watch as two families go to war on a small island which acts as a metaphor for the pro-life and pro-choice movement. One family is rooting for the dead insisting they’re still alive and are not above killing actual humans to keep a lark alive (a la pro-life fanatics), while a majority of the family insists there’s simply nothing there anymore and snuffing them out has nothing to do with religion or god, but just a matter of common sense (a la the pro-choice supporters). This battle ensues between the groups of Irish villagers all of whom have split loyalties and forced Crocket and his group to watch helplessly hoping for someone to put down their guns and focus on the truly important task at hand: fixing the damn world up.

 


Romero, as always, has used his zombies as a podium to reflect upon humanity and how we’re so focused on the small things that we can’t focus on the bigger threats at hand, except these people are more concerned with their petty indifferences while the greater populace here are distracted by the media. While we bitch and moan about the evils of homosexuality, illegal immigrants and video games, we’re forgetting the bigger pictures like over population, global warming, and the destruction of our ecosystem–currently being drowned in a sea of oil. The Sarge and his friends "Boy," and "Tomboy" are absolutely despondent and when they seek safety and comfort from the rising dead, they discover that this place with the capability for survival and answers on how to deal with the walking dead, they can do nothing but sit around watching this family do nothing but argue over the walking dead and destroy one another thanks to bickering about what to do with these walking corpses.

 

There’s not a single moment of sanity and rationality here as every character who seems like they have their head on straight inevitably does something so utterly absurd we soon begin to realize that the answer for survival may never actually be revealed because we can’t put down our guns long enough to figure out who the true enemy is. Romero outdoes himself here channeling "Dawn of the Dead" with his dark humor, "Day of the Dead" broaching the topic of adapting the zombies to new conditions and likely giving them a substitute for human meat and even does something modern horror filmmakers can never. He submits us to a gruesome scene of sheer animal cruelty as we learn the answer for survival as a horse is laid to slaughter in front of our very eyes by the hands of the dead. Maybe horses can be a substitute for humans.

 

Or maybe these things will eat just about everything. Who knows? Maybe we if stopped arguing about the trivial issues we could save the world. It’s a sheer injustice in film when a man like Romero continues churning out such a sharp morality tale and is raked over the coals by his "fanbase" who just continue to not see eye to eye with Romero and what he’s doing for horror cinema that will be appreciated years after he’s taken the sweet slumber revealing how much he’s contributed to the horror genre that proves to be a creative wasteland time and time again. Long live Romero.