"Survival of the Dead" is the very worst George Romero zombie film. That said, it's still a George Romero zombie film -- and that's at least something.
The negatives around the film basically stem from its incredibly low budget. Romero simply couldn't afford enough zombies -- and the ones he has don't have very impressive makeup. So the film is way too talky and most of the drama revolves around man-against-man tension. There's lots of talk and precious little zombie action.
But when there is zombie action, the film is pretty good, and Romero came up with some interesting set pieces, including one memorable scene where severed, still moving zombie heads are stuck on spits.
The film is a sequel to Romero's way superior "Diary of the Dead," and may be the first Romero zombie sequel to feature the same character in two films -- in this case a corrupt national guardsmen (played by Alan Van Sprang) that appeared stealing goods from the main characters in "Diary." He's back here with a group of guardsmen who head to the island of Plum looking for safe haven after the zombie apocalypse.
Now, Plum is an odd little island. It's kind a backwoods place, with two feuding farm families. Weirdest thing about it, is everyone there has a thick Irish accent. Pretty odd considering it's supposed to be off the U.S.
Way too much of the film is spent on the drama between the two competing families, with one patriarch demanding that the living dead be kept alive and imprisoned, and another calling for the standard gunshot-to-the-brain exterminations that have been happening in these Romero movies since 1968. The handful of National Guardsmen that land on the island get caught up in the family feud. Adding to the drama is a horseback riding zombie that offers hope that maybe the ghouls can be domesticated -- a la Bub in "Day of the Dead."
The film is basically slow, direct-to-video fodder, during its overlong dialogue scenes -- but it always delivers the goods when zombies show up, with effects that are serviceable but less spectacular than what we've seen from previous Romero living dead films.
As I mentioned before, "Diary of the Dead" was much, much better than this. So if you didn't at least like that film, you'd be wise to steer clear of this one. I ultimately thought this was a decent zombie film and give it a lukewarm thumbs up. Hopefully Romero will be back with another living dead film someday -- and be given the budget to do it right.