If you’ve paid attention to the low-to-no-budget movie scene in the past few years, you've probably noticed production company The Asylum’s name has come up time and again, attached to some truly abysmal flicks, most of which are developed to ape larger theatrical releases. (They put out Atlantic Rim right around the time Pacific Rim came out.) Their biggest “successes” have come through their creature-mashing Syfy Originals, including the social media monster Sharknado, and that relationship is going to the next level as the two will team up for the zombie-killing series Z Nation, which received a full 13-episode order. I’m trying to think of a hyperbolic joke to tell, but a zombie series from The Asylum is about as extreme as it gets.
Luckily, Z Nation has a strong showrunner in Karl Shaefer, who created the oddball cult 1990s series Eerie, Indiana and Strange Luck, as well as writing and producing for shows like Eureka and Stephen King’s Dead Zone. In a press release, he says that the series will add “a sense of hope to the horror of the apocalypse,” and that it’s “an epic journey unlike anything you’ve seen before.” There’s the hyperbole I was looking for, only he’s serious about it. To give him credit, the story may actually be a refreshing addition to the watered-down sub-genre, if it actually does what they say it will.
Z Nation will take place three years after a zombie virus has wiped out most of the country’s population. A team of heroic people head out on a trip from New York to California to transport the only plague survivor in existence to the only functional viral lab left in the country. Little do they know the survivor holds a dark secret inside, as well as those oh-so-important antibodies they hope to create a vaccine from.
Unlike other zombie stories, such as AMC’s ratings champion The Walking Dead, Z Nation will turn the humans from prey to predators as they bring the fight to the zombies on their cross-country quest. But of course the characters’ “flaws, idiosyncrasies and moral dilemmas will ultimately become the heart of the show,” according to the announcement. Can't anything just be about carnage anymore?
We’re assuming the casting and production will come together fairly quickly, as Syfy is planning on premiering Z Nation this Fall (2014). My money is on Casper Van Dien or Richard Grieco leading this human crew.
For a quick look at what The Asylum has done with the undead in the past, here’s a preview for 2011’s Zombie Apocalypse.