Johnny Gel - Knox
Fred Williamson - Moses
Joseph Scott Anthony - Robert
Tommy Beardmore - Lucas
Jerry Lynch - Rome
Alicia Clark - Sarah
Angelique Sky - Cienfuegos
Genre - Action/Horror/Zombies
Running Time - 101 Minutes
In the year 12 A.Z. [After Zombies], the Zombie Apocalypse Virus has wiped out most of the human population, to the point where zombies outnumber humans 10,000 to 1. An ex-military soldier named John Knox (Johnny Gel) escapes from prison with the help of a fellow inmate. The leader of the prison, Rome (Jerry Lynch), is upset about this and wants Knox dead for treason. While Knox is dying in the desert, he's saved by a group of soldiers before zombies attacked him.
While keeping an eye on him, the leader of this new group, Moses (Fred Williamson), sees that Knox would be a useful member to his army. The other members don't trust Knox as easily, but start to once he proves himself against the prisoners and a hoard of zombies. Eventually during an excursion for supplies, their camp is destroyed by Rome and his forces - even kidnapping several of the members, including Knox's love interest, Sarah (Alicia Clark). This motivates Knox, Moses, and the others to attack Rome's group, while a city of zombies hopes to bite into the scraps of the aftermath.
I watched ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: REDEMPTION for a couple of reasons. One, it was expiring on Netflix Instant. And two, I've been planning on reviewing every zombie movie ever made anyway, so I had to sit myself through this. I honestly had no idea ZA:R was a sequel [to ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, of course], and this film doesn't urge me to seek out the first installment. And although I read and heard really terrible things about this flick, I didn't think it was one of the worst films I had ever seen. It's far from great though, and a part of me wishes I hadn't wasted 101 minutes watching a pretty lame zombie-action film.
- The homages. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: REDEMPTION has an extremely generic and faceless script. It seemed to be focused on ripping off as many films from the 1980s as it could to tie together some sort of story that audiences would want to watch. And while these inspirations look and feel superior to the original copies, at least they were amusing compared to most other things in this film.
Much of the film seems inspired by THE ROAD WARRIOR, with the outfits and action reflecting as such. We also get an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK moment, where a character decides to put an eye patch over his eye before fighting a group of henchmen after he's caught sneaking onto their home turf. And there's even a RETURN OF THE JEDI moment, where Sarah [after being captured] is dressed like slave Princess Leia. I can see both the director and screenwriters [all four of them] were fans of these films. I just chuckled at these acknowledgements, while wishing I was spending time watching those three films instead. But at least something about the story entertained me.
- Certain bits of dialogue. While most of the dialogue is generic as hell and unmemorable, there are a few lines that deserve attention.
"Did I fuck your mother in another life or something?"
"Holy Jesus Christmas shit!"
"When I want your opinion, I'll rape it out of you."
The best part about that last line is that the recipient gave the quoter a blow job right after. Almost SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON level, but not quite.
- The soundtrack. It's not a focus of the film, but I enjoyed the subtle synth score that played in the background. The music fit the mood and tone of the film, which enhanced it somewhat. Too bad the score wasn't meant for a better film, but at least I couldn't complain about the audio.
- The direction for the most part. Ryan Thompson's direction was fine for what it was. Considering the low budget, I thought Thompson handled the visuals better than expected. The action scenes, while not perfect, were shot well enough to understand what was going on. The picture quality looked grainy, but in a good way. It reminded me as if I was watching this on an 80s VHS tape. Some of the audio could have been fixed in post, such as dialogue that was muted for some reason, as well as some off-sync tracking. And I'll talk about the special effects in a later section. But I thought ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: REDEMPTION visually looked better than expected.
Honestly, it's not the worst screenplay ever. It's actually okay. But it's so stale and lacks character. It's just there. We get typical stock characters. The ex-military guy turned hero. The badass boss of the group who chews the scenery. The boss' right-hand man who hates the hero at first, but becomes his best buddy by the end. The hopeful soldier who sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The tough chick who can fight, because she's the only chick in her group that can fight. You also get the creepy, hungry for power villain and his slutty girlfriend. It's a film about two gangs going to war against each other because they're the only humans left in their region. And they want control of it to make sure they survive the zombie apocalypse. It's DAY OF THE DEAD. It's THE ROAD WARRIOR. It's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. It's so many other films I've seen countless times, and seen done better. It gets really old after a while. At least add a new element to the story that makes it stand out. But it just coasts on what's familiar. It's a lazy script that's just competent enough.
And you would notice that I didn't mention any zombies in the above paragraph. That's because they're the guest stars in their own film. For a film called ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: REDEMPTION, there's better any inkling of zombies, an apocalypse, or any sort of redemption on anyone. If you wanted to have a gang vs. gang film, just do that. Why have zombies involved if they're not a focus? You'd be saving money and have a better focus. I admire those involved for being ambitious, but it didn't work for me. Sorry.
- The acting. For the most part, the acting in this movie is pretty terrible. While there are some decent performances, particularly by Johnny Gel, legend Fred Williamson, Alicia Clark, and Joseph Scott Anthony, most of the others were just dreadful. The one that really stood out was Jerry Lynch as Rome. I don't even know what this man was directed to do. But this guy was hamming it up like no other. Was he a vampire? A drama major in college? The villain should be badass, or menacing, or entertaining for all the right reasons. All Lynch did was make me laugh with his silly dialogue and line delivery. I just couldn't take the guy seriously. The film was silly enough. I wish the portrayal was a bit more serious.
- Terrible special effects. I understand the movie is low budget. But man, the CGI and make up for the zombies were terrible. We get CGI blood. There's a fiery explosion at the end that's supposed to destroy parts of a building. But right before it cuts, you can see the building has no damage done to it. The zombies look really fake, but better than the CGI used. It was pretty much SyFy quality, which is a shame. Appreciated the ambition though.
THE FINAL HOWL