Starring: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, and Elen Rhys
Here’s something a tad different, yet the movie somehow follows all the checkpoints of a solidly uninventive plot. I grabbed The Rezort to review primarily because it boasted a complete lack of pointless make-out scenes and nudity. Horror movies don’t need sex to make them interesting. Human emotions go far deeper than that. While there’s nothing horribly surprising about how this film’s plot unfolds, there’s a world of nuance in not only how the characters handle a resurgence of the undead outbreak, but it demonstrates how humanity will always manage to shoot itself in the foot when they attempt to drag war-time normality into post-war life.
Melanie survived the zombie war, but it left her an orphan. The emotional damage from years spent scrambling to survive leaves her with PTSD and an inability to move on thanks to nightmares. Someone at her support group suggests immersion therapy, giving her information about The Rezort—an island off the Australian cost filled with undead, where the rich go to pretend they’re brave and safely shoot zombies. She and her boyfriend Lewis, who fought in the zombie war with no obvious mental repercussions, decide to give immersion therapy a try. They’re tossed in with a group of others and off they go into the park, with naught but a few hidden fences keeping them out of real danger.
You see where the plot goes from there. The fences fail after a zombie activist group sneaks a virus into the resort’s computer system and it’s a race to escape before the island is torched by the government in the Brimstone protocol. The characters are, for the most part, prototypes: The Survivor Girl, Her Boyfriend With A Dark Secret, The Warrior Old Guy, The Mindless Morons, The Employee With A Heart, The Clueless Activist, and The Heartless CEO. We never form attachments to them. Hell, most of their names fly over the audience’s head up until their death scene. As each main character bites the dust, it confirms the unoriginal writing process for this script. The only character with soul is Mel, and she is the survivor girl, so we expect her to be an actual character. To show how little effort goes into the characters, it’s not even that satisfying when Vivian, the CEO, is attacked by the zombies she created and imprisoned. Here’s a character who took refugees and turned them into a profit, but without character depth it’s just a fact tossed out to sound interesting right before a death gag featuring numerous zombies tearing a body apart.
Vivian’s actions do lend to some intriguing discussion about what happens when the rich put everything they have during wartime into one venture, and then must move on once they’re found on the winning side of the war. In this case, the Rezort isn’t formed until right after the war. It comes across as a novel way to contain remaining undead while making a buck from a free resource. But what happens when there’s too many keen to relive the “glory days,” where it was marshal law and everyone walked around armed to the teeth? How does one keep up with that kind of demand when the zombie outbreak is under control? Make more zombies, of course. Just use what you have. No one will miss the refugees—a startling statement, but look at Syria. At the cost of the most fragile, the wealthy can have a weekend vacation in paradise. It’s disgusting, and exactly the same mentality countries like the USA currently adopt.
The message in The Rezort is the real take-away here. It’s not the characters having fun or even Mel mistakenly trying to cure her PTSD by participating in forced slavery. It’s the complete lack of care for the human lives affected by the war which is the story. It’s a corporation looking at people who only want to know when they’ll have a home or a full stomach again and determining their lives count for nothing except a paycheck down the line, which should petrify anyone with any concern for their fellow humans. It also just so happens that this film is shot beautifully—except for the opening shaky-cam footage—and has some rather impressive FX makeup for the zombies. Overall, I’m giving The Rezort four oozing eyeballs out of five. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’ll start a conversation about the state of our world.
Starring: Kris Holden-Ried, Emily Hampshire, Shawn Doyle, and Claudia Bassols
Rated: NR (Adult language, partial nudity, mild drug use) From Filmax International:
Kate (Emily Hampshire) works at the hospital in the Return Unit, helping those who have been infected by the virus that turns people into zombies. Kate’s dedication to her work is absolute, but few people realize that for her it is also a personal matter; Kate’s own husband, Alex (Kris Holden-Ried), has been returned.
After various brutal and prolific attacks at the hands of Anti-Return groups and rumours that the “Protein” stock is running dangerously low, Kate fears for Alex´s safety. Suspicious of the government’s order that all the returned should report to a secure medical facility ‘for their own safety’, the couple decides to flee, taking with them all the doses of “Return Protein” they have. At no point does the couple imagine that the real threat is a lot closer than they think…
The Returned came from the same house as the [Rec] series, and the quality shows. I went into the film expecting one of the random, low-budget films that are usually slid under my cell door. Boy was I in for a surprise. While The Returned isn’t a blockbuster, it’s not something to snub at a glance.
Let’s get down to it. The film starts with what feels like a random, bouncy flashback scene. It isn’t entirely clear why we’re seeing this scene until the final minutes where it becomes clear this is a pivotal moment in Kate’s life, one that shapes how she deals with the fallout of so many harsh decisions from those around her. The importance could’ve been made clearer. Possibly by cutting some of the post-production additions—all the “noise” added to make the footage feel old—and pushing the credits until the following scene set in the present time.
As for the characters, I’ve found a rare film in that none of them are, as I call it, Too Stupid To Live. Every decision made throughout the movie is thought out, or when done impulsively there’s decent character-driven reasons, as is the case for Jacob and Amber when they ultimately are forced to make a hard decision that may put them at odds with their friends, Alex and Kate.
There’s not a lot of zombie action on screen. The film instead focuses on society’s inability to adapt to change and accept a new species of people. Because, that’s what the Returned are, something new and unpredictable. Forced to rely on a daily dosage of drugs, the Returned are given the same treatment as homosexual AIDS patients by the media. What happens when they stop taking their treatments? What will they do to others without treatment? How fast will this disease spread if the government doesn’t step in and micromanage their lives? Wouldn’t it be better if they were all just killed—gunned down while idiots seek to coddle the monsters? We recoil at the truth of it—anything new and uncertain is automatically handed a death sentence. That’s the way humanity is hard-wired. Kill the unknown to spare the larger population. Never mind who is traumatized in the process.
The Returned is a slow-burner. The plot pushes steadily forward, forced along by the characters, their decisions and reactions, and not the evil undead waiting to tear them limb from limb. This is not an action film. It’s a statement on a society that cannot change without first destroying itself. If you want hack-and-slash, keep moving. However, if you’d like to think about the implications of how zombies would change everyday life, give The Returned a chance. I’m giving it 3.5 bloody scalps out of five.
Z Nation starts three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America.
Does that plot sound vaguely familiar? Some guy is tasked with dragging another guy across the country who may just have a cure for the zombie virus and therefore heralds the end of the nightmare these people have lived in for the last three years. The answer is on the tip of my tongue . . . and now my tongue is on the ground. Rotten luck, that.
Don’t plan to go into the 13-episode season and expect brilliance. Remember, the people responsible for this show gave us Sharknado and its sequel, on top of many other poorly executed horror movies. Straight off the bat, this show is all cheese. The typical “news clip” introduction laying down the essentials—government is in shambles after three years fighting the zombie infestation and there’s still no cure. Computer-generated wounds on the zombies that look like a kid with Movie Maker painted them in while bingeing on Hot Cheetos. Horrible dialog that’s spelling out everything we’re already seeing on the screen. Beyond basic practical zombie makeup, save for one or two rather neat effects—which were computer graphics.
We jump into the story head-first. No time to know any of the characters. No time to develop a bond with them so the zombie attack in the first five minutes has any impact. It’s an attack just to film an attack and push the very thin plot forward. Once we’re sure Murphy (Keith Allan), the unwilling guinea pig, and Lt. Hammond (Harold Perrineau) are out of the overrun prison, there’s a time jump. Moving forward a year, suddenly we’re at what feels like a funeral. Filled with characters we haven’t met yet. And, oh yeah, the 64 year old woman being mourned isn’t dead yet. Society has established what’s called “the 8th”, an act that boils down to assisted suicide for terminally ill people or the elderly who fear they’ll die soon. It is supposed to prevent the ill from dying and turning zombie inside the ramshackle towns that have popped up.
This is how we meet Roberta Warren (Kellita Smith), our lead female character, as she’s shooting a kindly old woman in the head. Shortly after, we meet her partner in leading the people in this town, Charles Garnett (Tom Everett Scott). And with him come the bad pennies, Murphy and Hammond—who’ve somehow stumbled across the town while canoeing down the river on their way to a rendezvous for Operation Bitemark. Yes, that’s right. The most obvious name for the operation is, indeed, what the NSA chose before most of their command structure died in a random plane accident, leaving behind P.F.C. Simon Cruller (DJ Qualls) a.k.a. Citizen Z. It’s like the writer’s didn’t even try to hide how ridiculous this show will be.
Hammond commandeers the town’s truck, along with Warren and Garnett. Before they make it ten minutes out of town, a ton of zombies float down the river and attack the town. There’s no survivors, save a handful of folks—Doc, Mack, and Addy—who weren’t in the town’s walls during the attack. Everyone is now along for the ride, because, why not? Right? Sure. You guys know how this will go . . . they arrive at the designated spot to find it in ruins. The NSA men are dead. Civilian zombies litter the ground.
Then there’s the baby.
A baby which Warren cannot fathom handling. Why? Because she’s written to be the cold, hard-as-nails female zombie slayer. Obviously that means she has not one maternal bone in her body. It’s either guns or diapers—never both. The world would come to an end. Oh, wait. Too late.
You guys get the gist. Z Nation will end up being a 13 episode series of bad dialog, poor character development, and maybe, just maybe, a couple decent horror moments—similar to the prisoner-turned-zombie during the opening scene. Like The Asylum’s movies, your best bet to survive this show is to grab a couple friends to torture and watch/heckle as a group. Tell them to bring drinks. You will need it.
Mason Jones is a good, strong character, and as the story progresses, we learn a little here and there about the Army Ranger. His development is paced nicely, and the story has enough action to keep one reading. When all hell breaks loose in the zombie testing facility, the action is non-stop, edge of your seat to the end.
Though I did the copy edit on this novella, I am always about giving honest reviews, and Better Hero Army asked if I would do so. I would definitely recommend this novella and its prequel if you’re into action-packed zombie stories. I look forward to working with Better Hero Army again and to see where he takes this story line. Even though I received this story as work, I did purchase the novella.
I give this novella 5 Jinxes (stars) per my star rating system: 1=hated it, 2=disliked it, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, and 5=loved it.
You can grab a copy of the book by clicking on the cover photo above or by clicking HERE.
Successful novelist and mom by day; bada** zombie-killing machine by night—when it comes to the Infected, Serena Rouge knows what it takes to make the killing blow. When the FBI forces her into a Special Ops, Serena’s all well and fine with the mission . . . until her targets kidnap her children. Then, all bets are off and she’s looking to kill.
“I’ve trained for years to learn how to take down the zombies–and avoid them the rest of the time. Now the FBI wants a writer to go undercover and get information? My gut says something isn’t right, and the rest of me will pay for not listening to that instinct.”
Getting kidnapped by the FBI is pretty low on my list of things I want to do. It’s right up there with meeting terrorist groups and writing their side of the story. Why a successful novelist like me? Turns out I’m a scapegoat for someone with some serious health issues—they’ve contracted the zombie virus.
I’m a zombie killer, killing them as quickly as I can. But I’m only one woman. You’d think being an Immune was great, but no. Ever since the government purposely tried to infect me with the zombie virus, they watch me closely to see if I turn. Not happening.
The FBI wants me to accomplish something big two thousand miles from home. When I arrive in El Paso, Texas after my strenuous drive from Washington, my contact agent, Joseph Connelly, isn’t available. Being tortured by a zombie for two days is an excuse I can accept after saving his ass. These aren’t your Hollywood zombies; not right away. They never get sick, their IQ triples, and their sex appeal? Off the charts. Until they die and resurrect as true horror flick zombies, with brains. Trouble is, some of them have developed a taste for meat—human meat—before they die.
Problem with governments screwing around with our DNA is things never go as planned. When terrorists kidnap my kids, all bets are off, and Agent Connelly agrees. If we don’t save my kids and steal the antivirus without getting killed, the whole world is going to have a really bad day.
Mayhem in Mexico will be available on Amazon, All Romance eBooks, iBookstore, and Nook on Halloween for $4.99. Click HERE for more details.
*Warning: strong language and graphic violence
Leona Bushman goes by many names, but the most common one is Superhero. She earned this name from saving a kangaroo from a tree—and yes, that is as hard as it sounds. The dragons taught their queen how to write, and Queen Leona hasn’t looked back. Even when her muse tries to muck things up.
She can be found goofing off and loving dragons and other creatures of the supernatural at the following sites:
Heads up! We’ve got a tasty treat for you today for Lt. Blue Brigade, with some down home cooking from Iowa! In other words….DESSERT!
Grandma Corabelle’s Fudge Brownies
1 cup butter
12 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 large fresh eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if ya like
Mix together butter and cocoa in dutch oven (or saucepan) and heat slowly till the butter is melted. Let it cool till it’s lukewarm. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Beat the eggs in, one at a time. Stir in flour and salt just till it’s mixed, and fold in nuts.
Bake in dutch oven with low fire/coals for about 25 minutes, and the top has lost its shine. Use a knife to scrape the sides for easier removal, or just scoop it out into bowls!
Thanks to fellow ZSC member Beth of Orange Brigade for offering up this wonderful family recipe!
You’ll need a pot to cook over a fire, tongs, gloves, a bowl and an instrument to mash like a potato masher.
Pick fruit with gloves and tongs. You don’t want to prick yourself with those needles! There’s a reason it’s called Prickly Pear.
While holding the fruit under running water with the tongs, brush off the needles with a wire brush. Yes, a wire brush.
Place them in a pot. Cover with water and boil until tender (about 1 hour). Cut them in half after cooking, as they will mash easier. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Strain with double thickness cheesecloth (juice should be clear, no needles, etc.). Put pulp in garbage, not disposal (if indoors).
Measure 2 cups prickly pear juice with 1 ¾ oz. pkg. pectin, assuming you’ve got some with you. If not, raid a local grocery store because let’s face it, no one’s going to be yanking pectin off the shelves during an apocalypse. Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Add 3 ½ cups sugar and 3 Tbsp. lemon juice. Boil—rolling boil—for 3 minutes . . . stir constantly.
Remove from heat and skim off foam.
Pour into glass jars and seal.
Mmm mmm good! Now you have jelly to go with whatever your apocalypse breakfast will be!
PS: Jinxie would like to thank her wonderful Aunt Pat for this recipe! =)
Plagued: The MidAmerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment
When Tom, the son of a powerful Senator, becomes stranded in the Plagued States of America while searching for his lost sister, his only hope of survival rests in the hands of a few grizzled veteran zombie hunters and a mysterious half-breed zombie woman he thinks may know where to find his sister.
I was asked to review this book, and chose to purchase it myself rather than receive a review copy.
One can’t say this book by Better Hero Army lacks action. In fact, it’s full of enough action and detail to really keep you reading. The first three chapters move quickly and are very well-written. Beginning with chapter four, however, the editing errors creep in and take over, though the action and detail never stop.
I was impressed with the detail throughout the novella. Better Hero Army does an excellent job in describing the people and surroundings, giving a good layout of the land, enough to give the reader a good visual. Logistically, I had a few issues, but other than that, it was well done.
Tom is the main character, of course, and I’d consider Penelope—the half-breed zombie—the other main character, as Tom grows quite attached to her and the story centers around the two of them. The only part that bothers me with Penelope is that a certain thing I can’t discuss here because it’ll be a spoiler doesn’t get explained in the end. Cliffhangers are one thing; leaving the reader hanging without an explanation is another.
Tom is desperately trying to find his sister for penance, for the mistake of a scared twelve-year-old boy. There is a good plot to this story, background is well thought out, but it doesn’t wrap up everything at the end. I know there will be other books to follow, so I’m hoping this isn’t one of those ‘let’s split one book up into five’ deals. As much as I enjoyed the story—though not totally enthusiastic about it—it drives me bonkers when an author splits a story like that.
Plagued is in need of a good copy edit by an experienced editor. I’m rating the book 3 stars (my star rating system: 1=hated it, 2=disliked it, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, and 5=loved it) because while I enjoyed the story overall, there were a lot of distractions with misspelled words, lack of punctuation, passive voice, and formatting, etc.
I wish Better Hero Army the best of luck with the series and future endeavors.