Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

While The Asylum and the Sci-Fi Channel collaborating once again, for a Zombie Flick no less, is always cause for celebration at our home… Battle of Los AngelesMega Fault… come on now… one of our interests in this movie was to see if Ving Rhames would actually survive this zombie movie. He got eaten in Day of the Dead, and you could argue that he survived ‘Dawn of the Dead’ but considering that movie ended with him surrounded by a thousand hungry zombies, we would challenge that argument. Plus he’s like the biggest star in this movie so we’re liking his chances. Foolishness? Perhaps. A good collab from The Asylum and the Sci-Fi Channel? Well… it’s better than Battle Los Angeles and Mega fault combined. Which, if you have seen both of those, doesn’t mean a damn thing.

The wicked VM2 virus has pretty much eradicated life as we know it. When our film begins we are hanging out with Ramona (Taryn Manning) and her boys Billy (Eddie Steeples) and Kevin (Gerald Webb) who were hiding out, but hunger has gotten the best of them so it’s time to search for some grub. What they find, of course, are hungry zombies. And it would’ve been all over… for Billy and Ramona that is since we won’t be worrying ourselves with Kevin no more… if the mad marauding crew of Zombie Freedom Fighters didn’t save that ass. This crew of zombie killers consists of Henry (Rhames) who carries a sledgehammer, and don’t think that the John Henry reference is lost on us, then there’s the samurai sword wielding Cassie (Leslie-Ann Brandt), and while this has nothing to do with anything in regards to this movie, the way that Ms. Brandt fills up a pair jeans should probably be against the law. I’m just saying is all. We also have Mack (Gary Weeks) who appears to be the defacto leader of this group and rounding out the crew is Julian (Johnny Pacar) who is so funny and cute and charming that his impending death is almost a rock solid guarantee.

Now that we’ve met our particulars we can get on with things, which really has no plot, so to speak. Similar to the television show ‘The Walking Dead’ our heroes are simply trying to survive the zombie menace while snaking their way to a place which may… or may not exist that is zombie free. In this Zombie Reality, it is the island of Catalina of the coast of Cali which is alleged to be zombie free.

There are a few things that this zombie movie throws into the soup to mix things up a bit. For starters, for reasons I’m not sure I completely understood, the government has hit the world with EMP bombs which has disabled all electronics. I guess this was supposed to stop the zombie encroachment, but considering zombies don’t drive cars and use cell phones and stuff, I don’t know if I’m completely down with this strategy. Basically what the means for our heroes is that they have to walk everywhere. Also, our heroes have classified the zombies, such as stragglers, or runners, or flamers. The flamer zombie, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see, sounds pretty damned awesome. If you set a zombie on fire, it just becomes a man eating monster that’s on fire now. That would really suck. What also sucks is that these zombies seem to be acquiring the ability to learn. Worst still, it looks like animals can be infected with VM2 as well. These folks can’t catch a break.

There is still the promise of Catalina however, and they have hooked up with some lethal archers who are also on their way to this island haven. And as bad as it’s been to this point, and as many people as they have lost on this journey… it’s about to get a lot worse. Good luck Ving, but my hope for your survival is getting a little low. Remember what happened to John Henry.

‘Zombie Apocalypse’, just like the VM2 virus itself, just kind of grows on you. For starters this movie is directed by go to Sci-Fi Channel director Nick Lyon, and while we won’t call the man the second coming of Martin Scorcese or anything, in the couple of sci-fi flicks of his we have seen, he seems to know his way around this kind of stuff. The film was also consistently tense since a chaotic zombie attack was usually just turned corner away, but what really sets ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ apart are the quality actors that Asylum producers Latt and Rimawi have assembled for this movie. There’s no real ‘star’ in this movie since most of the dialog and action is spread out fairly equally through the ensemble cast, Ving Rhames is the biggest name, and the biggest dude on set, but he probably had the least lines as he was taking the whole John Henry thing pretty serious. The interaction between the cast was well done and felt genuine, there was even a little character development which made you care about the characters a little bit, particularly when we knew they were doomed. Yeah… Taryn Manning’s unique vocal intonations may grate on a nerve a little, but then we have Leslie-Ann Brandt in motion to offset all of that.

But again, as per usual, the special effects are awful. Just awful. The zombie effects are decent enough, and we did kind of like the zombie Zulu Warrior, but then you have the CGI head explosions, the CGI decapitations, the CGI dismemberments and none of the CGI effects look remotely authentic. And we’re going to attempt to sidestep the zombiefied CGI Tiger. I love the ambition, and I’m sure it seemed like a good idea on paper, but if you’re not going to invest in it so it will look halfway decent, then maybe just substitute the CGI Zombie Tiger for an even bigger zombie Zulu Warrior as a boss battle. Just a suggestion.

But as we said before, ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ grew on me. Like a fungus. George Romero would probably roll around in his grave once he saw the Zombie Tiger and stuff… if he were dead… which he isn’t… but we were entertained by ‘Zombie Apocalypse’. You… I don’t know.

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