A Wide, Wild, Well-Remembered TV Series That Still Holds Up
TV / After the Apocaypse / Shamblers
The big debate at ZGG International HQ is whether ZNation is a tragedy/thriller or a comedy/thriller or just a mishy-moshy combo that doesn’t know its own mind. And the generally agreed-upon answer: it don’t matter. There is some great zombie-action and some bizarre, “Did they really just do that?” laughs to be had in its five seasons and 68 episodes. And unlike its spin-off/prequel, Black Summer, it can still be purchased.
The “government experiment gone wrong” trope that’s at the center of ZNation gets a fun little twist here, in that the one escapee of the guv’s experimental zom-vax project slowly turns into an icky and fascinating hybrid of both human and dead-guy over the course of the series. And that’s only the beginning of things getting weird. It’s a shame that SyFy ended it when they did, but with a large and vocal fan base, the possibility that the series could return in some form or another is very real. Until then, enjoy its rich and wild legacy.
Native Americans vs. Zombies in a Grim, Effective Film
Movie / Post-Apocalypse / Underrated
With so many low-budget zombie movies sneaking in through streaming services or film festivals, it’s easy to miss unexpected quality and creativity when it appears. Here’s an example.
Blood Quantum (sorry, kind of an awful and pretty much inexplicable name) has your standard virus-based flesh-eaters, and the opening scenes that establish it are deceptively familiar. But the truly intriguing part comes after a timeshift, as we focus on the stories that rotate around the effect of the zombie apocalypse on the First Nations and an already devastated Mi’kmaq reservation – a reservation that survives because Native Americans seem to be immune to the zombie virus, maybe because of their connection to the Earth itself.
Virtually all the principle players here are Native Americans, and many of them came from and went on to fascinating careers. Elle-Maija Tailfeathersis a multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer and director; her co-star Michael Greyeyes paid his zombie-dues in multiple episodes of Fear the Walking Dead,showed up after Blood Quantum, in the not-wonderful V Wars, and was excellent in the underrated mystery series Home Before Dark. He also has the dubious distinction of playing Rainbird in the otherwise awful remake if Firestarterin 2022. No George C. Scott, maybe, but at least the part was played, more than passably well, by an actual member of the First Nations as Stephen King meant it to be. The writer and director, Jeff Barnaby, is a member of the Mi’kmaq himself, and continues his work on projects based on the realities and fantasies of native Americans, past present and future.
It’s a bleak and brutal plot and worldview, but not without good reason, and probably one of the best – and most overlooked – ‘serious’ zombie movies of the decade.