Heaven Just Got a Little Bit Smoother: Review for iZombie 301 by A. Zombie
There’s not much of a time gap from the finale to the season opener. A whopping two minutes, actually. That’s so we can continue to watch Stoll wield her impressive skills. Within moments of hundreds dying in an attack, she’s spun a story, added input from Liv, and ordered her people to blow the building to destroy evidence. Wow. I can’t even walk and chew gum without really focusing—decaying brain and all. The new boss in town butts heads with Team Z at a follow-up meeting the next day. But not everyone thinks she’s a tad paranoid to fear D-Day—Discovery Day, when humans learn zombies exist. Major’s turn with zombie hunting left him with a unique perspective on how the average person would handle the news. Considering his path, everyone is doomed. They may as well tell the zombies to invest in those weird cavern homes. Stoll’s plan for the city means there won’t be an army of Majors running around. How far do her preparation plans reach? Well, she’s obtained the only enhancement drug for the undead, has a slew of armed soldiers, and it only takes one second to “breed” a new zombie fighter, compared to the traditional eighteen or so years it takes to make a human soldier. I’d say she’s off to a good start, and knows it. Clive is so not on board with anything he hears in this meeting. He’s still trying to mentally hurdle the Big Z news, let alone the notion that his city is in a turf war, where one side will eat the other side if given too much freedom by their leadership. It’s not all doom for him this day. He sees Wally, a kid who used to live in his building, who just happens to be a zombie. The peeks at Clive without his copface are so quick, one almost misses the chance to see what’s really behind the badge. We may get more of these glimpses, seeing as the zombie haven plans may be what cost Wally’s family their lives later in the episode.
Seeing as the party and ensuing riot were pretty massive, there was bound to be a few slip-ups when cleaning evidence and making sure any survivors were on the right team. There’s two notable mistakes haunting the gang so far—a dead body with brains in the stomach, and the cowardly front gate guard, Billy Cook. The guard finds his way to nutjob talkshow host Chuck Burd’s radio booth. Unfortunately, Clive and Liv are too late to stop him from dropping the z-bomb on live air. Burd has enough proof to become a serious pain in the backside to the zombie-protection movement. He’s one of those who love to incite violence just to have something else to yell about. The second problem for the gang rolls into the morgue, accompanied by Ravi’s old boss, Katty Kupps from the CDC. Talk about tension; none of it sexual. Ravi and Kupps snip at each other pretty much nonstop until he and Liv get the call about Wally’s family. The fighting could get tiresome. Or we could simply enjoy Christina Cox while she’s on the show and hope her character morphs to something more than just Ravi’s antagonist.
There’s turmoil at the mortuary. Don E. is done playing punching bag to people more powerful than him. He’s also one-hundred-percent convinced Blaine is faking amnesia as a power play. With a terse conversation, the band splits. Blaine may not know who he is, but he knows he doesn’t have to take abuse from someone who accidentally admits he’s lied about the business arrangement between them. In a last petulant effort to rob Blaine, Don E. searches the basement. He says one last goodbye to Chief, and checks his pockets for the missing cash. That’s when Don E. strikes gold—Angus DeBeers’ frozen body. Cha-ching. It’s not a couple grand in small, non-sequential bills, but if he can convince Angus to work together, the income will flow like the Mississippi. Judging from their first business meeting, it’s going to be hell for anyone standing in their way.
A missing father may be the last thing on Blaine’s mind. Actually, he’s not on his mind at all since he doesn’t remember having a father, let alone freezing the surly jerk. Nor is he concerned about Stoll, whose husband he blackmailed and she thinks had murdered. No, Blaine’s mind is all about helping Peyton. And boy does she need help. Boss is on the run, tucked in a country which won’t ship him back home for her to punch in the nose. With that major worry taken care of, she should’ve been able to relax. Only, now someone’s harassing her via Twitter. Why not call on Ravi for help? He’s wigging after finding out she slept with Blaine. Because that’s how well-adjusted men earn the trust of their dearest once again.
Damn. My eye rolled under the desk.
The gang is still recovering from the Max Rager party. It won’t be a quick fix, especially since the brain keeping Liv from mourning Drake wore off. Settle in for some head-in-sand determination from Liv as she flails around, coping in her own headache-inducing way. Oh, and next week, Major turns into a teenage girl. So can’t wait for him to, like, finally get some chill, or whatever. I can’t believe I wrote that sentence. Anyway, I wonder how his new boss will take to the weird brain shenanigans from the morgue crew. Stoll doesn’t seem like one to suffer fools lightly.
Look at that, it’s time for another round of torture the zombie. I know. Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. I could be lying on the cold ground with a machete in my skull, yada, yada, yada . . . . But could the ZSC gift horse stop dredging up SyFy films for me to review? Obviously they didn’t learn their lesson after I reviewed 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. As a matter of fact, the plots for the two films were so similar, I stopped to make sure I hadn’t watched the first one again by mistake. So, what is Rise of the Zombies about?
Starring:Mariel Hemingway, Chad Lindberg, LeVar Burton, Heather Hemmens, and Danny Trejo. Rated: TV-14 (Violence, gore)
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, a ragtag group of people finds save haven in Alcatraz, until the undead manage to swim to the island and put them all in danger. Driven from the prison, the survivors of the attack hunt down a scientist who is working on a vaccine for the zombie virus. He may be their only hope to survive in a zombie-filled San Francisco.
I had to write that synopsis myself. SyFy assumed the fans didn’t need to know what the film was about beyond “zombie” being in the title. Because in their world, there is only one zombie film. They just rotate out locations and actors. Gotta say, the casting for Rise of the Zombies caught me by surprise. In a good way. If the cast hadn’t been so wonderful, the awful cheesy dialog would’ve been completely unbearable. How many times did they honestly need to shout, “There’s another zombie!” Yes, we see the zombies. They aren’t exactly ninjas. And there were a lot of them. Over an hour of the film was pure zombie attack scenes with little or no dialog. Which may be why, by the end of the film, I had no clue who the characters were. They had no history. No back story. We catch up with them at the prison and as far as viewers are concerned, every single character had been born there from two rocks rubbing together vigorously.
The blood and gore for the zombies themselves was pretty good, aside from a few understated background zombies who got too close to the camera and looked like Cousin Joey who happened to be in town that day and sneaked onto the movie set. Again, SyFy abused the hell out of computer-generated blood splatter. Why does anyone go that route for easy-to-rig FX gags? CG blood looks cheap and only really works as filler. Not the entire effect. Then it looks like someone handed a kid frames of the film on MS Paint and let them use the spray paint brush on it willy-nilly. All of the FX makeup budget went on to the zombies. The gags rigged for humans were seriously lacking, downright laughable at points. Apparently they were an afterthought.
SyFy tried to make Rise of the Zombies edgy. They even ripped off some of the philosophical issues brought up on The Walking Dead —Suicide, children born in the apocalypse, and what God thought about them killing zombies. The problem is, the script sucks. So while the writers thought they were being deep, the actors had nothing to deliver other than a hazy conviction that they were right. We get no emotional attachment to the characters. When they die, oh well. What’s the point of watching a post-apocalyptic film when you’re watching the clock so you can move on to something else? The film is not engaging for fans.
I’m going to give Rise of the Zombies two ruptured eyeballs out of five. Like all SyFy original movies, this is best viewed while surrounded by friends and a keg of beer. Maybe two kegs.
Sushi Girl Starring: Tony Todd, Noah Hathaway, James Duval, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamill, and Cortney Palm. Rated: R (strong bloody violence, torture, language, nudity, and drug use)
My guardian angel came in the middle of the night and dropped off a stack of films to review. Sitting on top was Sushi Girl, starring Zombie Survival Crew First Lieutenant Tony Todd. While it isn’t one of the usual zombie flicks the ZSC asks me to review, I gladly took the opportunity to support one of our own.
Fish has spent six years in jail. Six years alone. Six years keeping his mouth shut about the robbery, about the other men involved. The night he is released, the four men he protected with silence celebrate his freedom with a congratulatory dinner. The meal is a lavish array of sushi, served off the naked body of a beautiful young woman. The sushi girl seems catatonic, trained to ignore everything in the room, even if things become dangerous. Sure enough, the four unwieldy thieves can’t help but open old wounds in an attempt to find their missing loot.
Sushi Girl kicks off slowly, easing into a noir vibe — complete with flashbacks, intrigue, and mood-building soundtrack. In typical noir fashion, the film takes a few twists and turns, at one point hitting levels of gore on par with Japanese horror movies. The detail in the FX makeup is unsettling at times, giving viewers an eyeball-full of blood that’s sure to linger for a while. But the gore isn’t gratuitous. It is there to make the viewers uncomfortable, to drive home the idea that these characters will do anything to discover the truth about their missing loot.
The true beauty of the film comes from the cast, including a couple great cameos during one of the flashbacks. Tony Todd reigns as head badass in the motley crew of thieves. It’s a role we’re used to seeing Todd portray, but he does it so well, it is difficult to consider anyone else filling the slimy shoes of his character, Duke. Mark Hamill is completely unrecognizable in the role of the sociopath, Fish—with a few hat tips here and there to his great voice acting work as The Joker. His performance is the hardest to stomach, witnessing how far he delves into the joys of torturing a man.
The sushi laid out on the living platter didn’t seem quite as appetizing after watching the guys play their torture games. I felt like Rudolph, left to sit and watch the fun.
I’m going to give Sushi Girl 3 ¾ severed fingers out of 5. The story is well-written, with plenty of twists in what appears to be a straight-forward plot. Watch this one through to the end. You do not want to miss the final ten minutes and Cortney Palm’s moment to shine.
Starring: Ving Rhames, Taryn Manning, and Johnny Pacar.
Is there a complaint form available for an undead guy being tortured by a group of slayers? Honestly, forcing me to watch a Syfy movie and then retain enough of my decomposing brain cells in order to review it is cruel and unusual punishment. Governments have laws against this sort of treatment. It isn’t fair that those laws only extend to the living. I want to call my senator!
I still have to review the movie, don’t I? Let’s get this over with.
2012: Zombie Apocalypse (2011) was the Syfy channel’s answer to the current trend in zombie-related movies and television shows. Essentially, they took every single genre stereotype and crammed it into a ninety-minute film.
A virus sweeps over the globe and infects over 90% of the population in a matter of weeks, turning them into ravenous corpses. In an effort to contain the zombies, the United States government wipes out all modes of transport and communication.
After being holed up in a cabin during the beginning of the outbreak, a trio of survivors is forced out of hiding to find supplies. As they gather food, they are attacked and nearly-simultaneously saved. The survivors band together with their rescuers to stay alive. The group decides to head west—where there’s been a rumor of a safe haven on Catalina Island off the coast of California.
The dialog is predictable, as are the frequency of zombie attacks and the method of their demise. Half of the cast didn’t seem to know the hell to hold the weapon they’d been given, let alone how to swing it in a way that’d believably kill anything more threatening than a dust bunny. And can we stop with the computer-generated blood splatter, already? It never looks right. Use the extra money from that to buy backup wardrobe pieces and use real fake blood.
While I’m on makeup effects…there are typically a few “layers” from camera to background as far as extras are concerned. The zombies closer to the camera are “hero” zombies, extras or stunt persons who have extensive work done on their makeup for close-up shots. Back from them are main zombies, who are made up to be on camera a good amount of time, but not with enough detail for close ups. Behind those are “filler”—extras with minimal makeup, a lot of blood, and never get close to camera. Sometimes when a makeup department is small, they will make up masks similar to the zombie look needed for the film and put those on the filler extras. You shouldn’t be able to count seven of these masked extras in frame. It looked awful, watching them run right up to the camera and seeing the latex masks jiggle.
My final word on 2012: Zombie Apocalypse—Zombie Tigers. That is when I quit the movie.
I’m giving this film two-and-a-half partially-eaten brains out of five. If you want to torture yourself or friends, go ahead. Grab some popcorn and adult beverages; you’re going to need them to get through the whole thing unscathed.
Starring: Kesun Loder, Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss
Just when I was certain that the ZSC commanders would allow me to rot in my cell, they slid a DVD case under my door. Will it never end? Some idiot once said that death brought around ultimate peace, like going to sleep for the rest of eternity. That idiot lied. But at least this time around, my captors weren’t too horrible about my review assignment.
In Fido (2006) filmmakers answer the burning question on everyone’s mind—Do 1950’s housewives need zombie pets? The answer is, of course, yes. What self-respecting zombie doesn’t want to belong to the cute mother next door? Sign me up for an afterlife of subjugation and humiliation.
Zombies in the movie are created by radiation from space. When anyone drops dead, they’re back on their feet in minutes as the undead. That kind of turn-around makes for business for Zomcom, a government-funded business dealing in zombie security issues. They are the ones that ensure the undead behave themselves by placing specialized collars around the zombie’s neck that curb their craving for flesh and then placing them in private homes or factories to work.
Weight Watchers has nothing on these guys.
The film is centered on Timmy and his pet zombie, Fido. There are the usual boy-and-his-dog sort of moments. The guys playing fetch, washing the father’s car, beating the snot out of a couple of snot-nosed bullies, etc. Oh and let’s not forget starting a zombie outbreak in the middle of town.
Fido doesn’t have the best zombie makeup effects I’ve seen on film, but they are far from the worst. What makes the movie is a smart script and actors that play it straight. That’s a pet peeve of mine, a hilarious script that’s butchered by actors trying to be funny. Just let it happen. That is exactly what they do here. With a few minor exceptions, like the neighbor with an unhealthy lust for his pet zombie. That one pushed it right up to the line.
I’m going to give Fido four dangling eyeballs out of five. It isn’t a huge-budget film, but that is part of the fun of it. Seeing what can be done with little funding and pure talent at the wheel. Pick this one up for your collection. What are you waiting for? And while you’re at it, someone bring me a snack—just an arm or something. I’m on a diet.