Monday, May 9, 2011

Survival of the Dead and Black Butte Porter

Survival of the dead is the sixth of the Romero films.  I read about it at length prior to its release.  It was said to be a sort of zombie western.  I’m not a fan of westerns so before I even bough the DVD was disappointed.  Sergeant Nicotine Crockett (what a name) was a survivor from Diary of the Dead.  He was the head of the National Guard unit that robbed the kids.  He was also in Land of the Dead where he played a soldier in charge of military vehicles and supplies.  He became a zombie in Land of the dead but that didn’t mean Romero couldn’t cast him in the two movies that followed.  I think its proof that George plays favorites.
The beer for tonight will be Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  I just love porters.  I am fascinated by the history of the beer.  The history of porters and stouts are intertwined.  A strong porter was called a “stout porter” later shortened to “Stout”.  Sound familiar?  Porters range widely in bitterness and gravity.  In some cases porters can have more IBU’s and higher alcohol than a stout.  The difference for me is all in the taste.  In all the porters I brew I use chocolate malt for a much of the dark color and roasted flavor.  My stouts use a great deal or roasted barley.  The main difference being that stouts usually have a more assertive flavor weighing heavily towards the dark roasted malts, whereas porters are generally softer and smoother with a subtle chocolaty flavor.  The style was almost lost in the years after prohibition.  It’s back now and more widely brewed than ever.  I’m pushing porter!  Drink it!
Less than two minutes into the movie and we have a zombie attack.  Crockett is making a soldier put down the zombie of another soldier whom he had somehow caused to be infected.  The soldier gets bitten, Crockett pus them both down like a young Mike Tyson.  The CGI of the zombie head exploding when shot with an M16 was not only fake in production but also in theory.  A M16 round would not explode a human skull.  Thus starts the beginning of my rant.
The first scene on the island shows the exile of the O’Flynn crew by the Muldoons.  It’s a classic case of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys.  Those who want to kill the zombies and those who don’t.  The Muldoons are the sympathetic ones who still think that there could be some cure for the undead.  The O’Flynns are more concerned with securing the island for its living inhabitants.  The Muldoons get the upper hand in a confrontation and it’s off the island for the O’Flynns.  One hell of an eviction notice.
Time for some tasting notes.  I grabbed one of Deschutes flag ship beers and poured into my pint glass.  It’s a little low because its 4 ounces less than the glass will hold.  Something that irks me every time.  It’s got a smooth roasted nose with grainy notes, full mouth feel, and big character.  Chocolate and roasted malt pound my tongue as the hop bitterness acts like a football player spiking the ball.  Touchdown my friends, touchdown.  It’s smooth and round flavors show exactly what a porter should taste like.  It’s very easy to drink with only 5.2% abv and 30 IBUs.  This beer is perfect for guests who think they like beer but aren’t ready do dive into the world of excess with Barleywines and IIPAs.
This movie is crystal clear in HD.  The fall colors of this Delaware island are beautiful.  The makeup is the most realistic yet.  It was a nice departure from the almost comical zombies in Land of the Dead and a more graphic version of the ones from Diary of the Dead.  It’s later on in the epidemic and the bodies are decomposed.  Dark veins ripple under pale skin and the wounds are covered in gore and realistic.  I know it’s easy to rip on the acting but parts of this are really bad.  Not all of it is bad mind you but enough to leave the bitterness of disappointment in your heart.
The whole western film and rivalry thing really gets old.  Muldoons are killing anybody that comes to the island in an effort to keep it safe for his family.  I don’t think that during the end of the world people would revert back to ten gallon hats, six shooters, and the semi silly language that goes with it.  I mean come on.  There would be filth, and violence, and guns,  but it would be 2010 filth and Glocks not Smith and Wessens.  But all that aside, the part that really irked me wasn’t the cowboy bullshit it was the horseback riding zombie twin sister.  She comes galloping in and out of the movie at various points in the movie.  Each time I grit my teeth and wonder if I could come up with an equally terrible idea and somehow get $4 million to make a straight to DVD zombie film starring zombie rodeo clowns, or zombie personal trainers.
There have been enough zombie movies made that people should know there is nothing left of the people that used to be inside that zombie shell.  Point in case when the girl walks up to her twin sister (a zombie) because she thinks the zombie recognizes her.  She gets bit in one of the stupidest deaths in zombie movie history.  How many times in the last forty years of zombie cinema has this played out.  I find it easier to count the movies where people are able to kill loved ones.  I did like how they were able to villainize O’Flynn who makes the seemingly logical choice of killing the zombies.  The movie showed that the ideal that each side was fighting for outweighed their concern for the outcome.  O’Flynn puts his own daughter down before she can turn into a zombie.  But it was done in a way that lets you know he didn’t kill her to save her from her fate but rather to prove his point.  To show he was right and sound in his resolve.
I keep watching Romero films hoping to see another Dawn of the Dead but each time I’m let down.  It’s not often that a director get the green light to put together an epic 127 minuet (156 extended cut) zombie film.  Maybe next time George?

The Beer:
Aroma – 6/10
Appearance – 4/5
Taste – 6/10
Palate – 4/5 
   Overall – 15/20
Total = 35/50

The Movie:
Production – 4/5
Plot – 3/5
Gore – 3/5
Zombies – 4/5
  Overall – 3.5/5


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