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05 October, 2014

Trash Palace Dumpster: Z Nation (2014 - SyFy)

Z Nation

Reviewed by: Bobbie Culbertson

It should come as no surprise that in this era of zombie TV programs that dominate the Nation’s sets, that the SyFy channel, in conjunction with distributor The Asylum (Sharknado, Sharknado 2), would give viewers Z Nation.

Z Nation has all the requirements of a zombie program in that it does have zombies.  Hoards of fast moving zombies!  And there’s no shortage of carnage either!  Heads explode, torn limbs fly akimbo and 90% of the time the screen is fairly dripping with blood.  The violence is ridiculously graphic.  It strives to cram into each episode as much gore and violence as possible even if that means it has more guts than brains.

And, as usual, we have survivors trying to get one man, Murphy (Keith Allen), whose blood might cure the hellish apocalypse from New York to California.  A nice bit of action in that it will take lots of time for them to complete the trip and mean more time for lots of action.  However, what Z Nation does not have is a cohesive script.  Plot points come up often but as just as often left to die on the vine.  The audience is left to figure out why getting this one guy to the West Coast is humanity’s only hope after having just having been told there is no cure.  Dialogue meant to be pithy instead seems instead cribbed from other bad films.  And the characters?  The usual rag-tag group consisting of bikers, madmen and phony messiahs, a couple of Zombieland-esque college-aged kids, tough guys and tougher women all going mano-a-mano to show who has the biggest “set.”

This is the show for viewers who abandoned The Walking Dead after season 2 because all that talkin’ hurt their thinkers.  However, there is one shining bit that saves this and that is Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) who, as the last holdout Air Force grunt at an abandoned North Pole Army base, acts as the survivor’s eye-in-the-sky while spinning stacks of wax for their amusement.

Z Nation might do well to have a running banner across the bottom of the screen reading “homage ... homage ... homage” as to not get sued by AMC.  Let’s look at the similarities:

1. Zombie infested prison?  Check!
2. Bus loads of zombie children?  Check!
3. Possibly egomaniacal village leader?  Check!
4. Desperate attempt to deliver the one person capable of ending the apocalypse?  Check!
5. Shooting a child to save the survivors?  Check!
6. Cannibalism?  Check!

However, with a zombie baby in episode 1 “Puppies and Kittens” (yes, the zombies are referred to as that!) and exploding oil tanks filled with zombies in episode 2 “Fracking Zombies, the 13-week run should seem short to those whose zombie needs are met with 2-dimensional FPS video game accuracy.  Z Nation is the best thing that could have happened to The Walking Dead!  And that ain’t bad!

Bobbie







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