So, it’s Wednesday & I want to try & do something new. I wanna talk openly about Black Female Horror Icons and their Characters.
A sad thing happened this year. Something that none of us saw coming (okay, we saw it coming but we took the ‘stick our heads in the sand’ approach) SyFy has chosen not to re-new Z-Nation!
The day I heard the news I was heartbroken. I’m living in a post Z-Nation world now and I don’t think I like it. If you’re like me, you’re most likely extremely sad and nostalgic for all the good old times You had with the show. If you have never seen Z-Nation then buckle up and hold on tight, this is your road map to something epic, special and dead!
This is Five Reasons To Watch Z Nation!
Reason One: It’s A Cult Level Dark Comedy
“Dead Alive”, “Drop Dead Fred”, “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “The Princess Bride” & “Z Nation”…What do all these lovely things have in common? A rabid and loyal fan base that discovered them when they premiered or stumbled upon them one lucky late night. These titles are bodies of work that were rejected by the rest of society but given a home in the ever growing nerd/geek community. A community of die hard fans who will re-watch or recommend something that’s 40 years old because it’s a ‘Must Watch!’ and has a nice sweet home in their hearts.
“Z Nation” like most of SyFy’s movies and programming is extremely underrated. It takes the dark concept of the apocalypse & finds a way to have fun with it! Since the first episode fans knew “Z Nation” was different. The fact that fans fought for it every season, tells you there’s some real Cult Level gold under all those dead puppies and kittens.
Much like the “Firefly” fan base, “Z Nation” fans have gone to bat for the show and so far it seems like all the effort is coming up short. I hope that the premiere of “Black Summer” The “Z Nation” spin-off (Update, since writing this there have been a number of interviews with King and the writers of Black Summer where they have stated it is not a spin-off of connected to Z-Nation in any way…I guess the fan base got confused with all those “Z-Nation Spin-off” Post that those involved were making before it aired.) will show the big wigs at Netflix that they have something major in the universe of Z Nation, which could lead to Netflix either picking up the show, combining “Z Nation” & “Black Summer” at some point or give us a “Z Nation” Movie so we can say goodbye the right way.
Reason Two: Creative Zombies/ Zombie Kills
The zombie genre as a whole is pretty basic bitch if you think about it. You have the living who have to travel, for one reason or another, and the dead who eat the traveling living. I love the genre like everyone else, yet I can admit that the formula isn’t too complex. But, every now & then you get some rare gems that take big risk with George A. Romero’s original concept.
“Resident Evil” & “Left 4 Dead” did it in the game industry & “Z Nation” did it for cable TV. Okay, I’ll take this moment to give mercy to the crawling zombie in the room. Yes, The Walking Dead is great and it really did break a lot of new ground when it comes to it’s release in comics, but the show is just a recreation of that magic. Z Nation is it’s own lightening in a bottle, created for TV, and it did it’s best to stand out above every other zombie story you’ve ever heard of.
One way they did that, is with their creative take on zombies and kills. “Z Nation” has given us, you’re neighborhood zombie fans, a smorgasbord of Dead Heads to runaway from:
Zombie Animals: Any animal affected by the virus.
Blasters: A special type of zombie created by the nuclear blast.
Phytos: A special type of zombie created by humans and combined plants.
Radioactive Zombies: A special type of zombie created by highly radioactive areas such the Edgemont Nuclear Power Plant.
Mad Zs: A zombie that is infected by a mutated form of ZN1 this mutation causes the zombie to become more difficult to kill (Head shots won’t save you this time)
Franken Z: A one of a kind zombie. Has multiple limbs and extremely intelligent, created by Dr Edgar Caligari .
Talkers: People effected by the black rainbow fallout, that die and turn into zombies but still have control of their motor skills and overall personality. They are able to talk and live somewhat normal lives as long as they have some form of brain within their day to day diet. Without brains they can regress and turn into full mindless zombies.
This list of Zs isn’t the only things to fear in the world of “Z Nation”, you have cannibals (Which we may see a lot of in Black Summer’s future) Juggalos, The Cartel, The rich psychos from Zona, zombie bears and countless tripy things like Murphy and Lucy being able to control zombies and other people with a bite. All this madness sets the stage for some crazy kills and I’m not just talking killing a pack of zombies with the liberty bell or a town full of zombies hunting down the mail man like some postal “It Stains The Sand Red” No, I’m talking character deaths.
“Z Nation” gave us unbelievable deaths from the very first episode. We got a lot of bait and switches when it came to who would be leading our pack of survivors. I won’t go into who dies and how, but unlike other shows, no one is safe in Z Nation, remember that.
Reason Three: Strong Female Leads
I want to focus on “Z Nation” as a stand alone amazing series, but for me to fully showcase that we have to look at other shows and what makes “Z Nation” different.
While the entertainment business is changing for the better now, “Z Nation” was ahead of the curve when it came to making progressive decisions in terms of casting and storytelling. While female leads are nothing new to prime time TV, “Z Nation” doesn’t focus on romantic interest or female vs. female conflicts. No, “Z Nation” takes its viewers on a whirl wind ride with epic strong female leads, that I like to call the ultimate final girls! When I say ultimate final girls, I mean women that tap into their inner T2 Sarah Conner. Women who look at the enemy and scream ‘You’re Next’ like Sharni Vinson in…well “You’re Next”
“Z Nation” has an epic line up when it comes to strong female characters:
Kellita Smith plays LT Roberta Warren, a US army reservist who has lost everything to the apocalyspe but still finds it in her to lead a rag tag team of survivors, and pull one last mission off for her country.
Warren is the defination of a badass, she doesn’t show weakness and she always seems to have a game plan, but that’s just the surface of the character. Smith’s proteral of Warren’s dark moments allowed us to see the broken hero who is battling through a dying world alone. She lost her husband, her best friend and when she was ready to give up on it all, she rose for another round with the apocalypse. Warren shows us the many complex traits that women have, from fighter to protector. Add on top of all that, she is a woman of color in a full on lead of a horror show, while “The Walking Dead” does have an epic hero in Danai Gurira’s Michonne, she wasn’t present from the very beginning and she didn’t take on a lead role in the program up until this most resent season.
Kellita Smith on the other hand has been a powerful force in the Z-Nation universe since the start of the show and took over the lead role after one of the shows most surprising deaths.
Anastasia Baranova plays Addison Carver, who zombie fans have labled the female Negan due to her weapon of choice, a spiked baseball bat. Anastasia character much like Kellita’s character grows and shows many different versions of herself throughout the series. She’s a protective lover, who finds herself without her partner and starts to explore relationships with other women, be it in a family sense with Lucy and that tribe of women or in a romantic sense with a survivor in that one hotel episode. Addison allows us to see the inner workings of a young woman, who is used to caring for a family but now feels lost without one. Many of Addison’s key moments are centered on being seperated from the group and finding her way back to them, mirroring her need to find her way back to the family she lost.
There are many great actresses who play key roles in each season of Z-Nation from Pisay Pao’s Cassandra to Ramona Young’s Kaya and most recently we had Katy M. O’ Brian who played George a strong female political leader in the apocalyspe who is trying to keep two different races from killing one another. There is so much going on in each episode of the show, but for me seeing these strong women from all these different backgrounds, seems empowering. “Z-Nation” is most diffenetly a show I would want my future daughter to watch.
Reason Four: Amazingly Diverse Casting
Which brings me to one aspect of the show that makes it standout above all other Horror/Fantasy programming, “Z-Nation” is packed with diversity. We have powerful women at every corner, people of color playing both heroes and villians. The cast has some of the best portayals of women and people of color in the horror tv genre, but this extends out to the writing and directing side of the series. We had writers like Eric Wallace (Teen Wolf, The Flash, Eureka) and a number of female hands that shaped the series like Jodi Binstock (Social Nightmare, Black Summer) and Jennifer Derwingson (And Soon The Darkness, Black Summer)
There has been a major shift in the entertainment industry as of late. Audiances are showing us they want to see stories being told from different points of views, the success of movies like '“Crazy Rich Asians” “Black Panther” “Get Out” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is proof that there is a market out there that hasn’t be given the products that they are demanding. “Z-Nation” was a great attempt at feeding that market on television. If you’re looking to dive into the mind of complex, emotional and funny characters then “Z-Nation” is the show for you.
Reason Five: Episodic Stories Encased In A Serial Season
The one down fall of “The Walking Dead” (TWD) also happens to be its strongest attribute in the beginning. “TWD” was a Serial Season in a sea of Episodic Stories, which means it’s main plot is the whole season, episodes can’t be watched out of order or enjoyed for what it is within it’s 45 to 60 minute time frame. But as the show continued on, we started to see filler episodes, stories that had nothing to do with the main plot of the season but was just there to meet the networks episode count. This caused for long drawn out seasons, where the main plot became less and less important in th viewers minds.
“Z-Nation” not only took a different stab at the zombie tv genre by adding comedy into the program but they also went about airing their program differently as well. They used Episodic Stories within a serial season. This means there was a key story being told within the season, that every episode added to, but beyond that, very episode had it’s own, stand alone story that was being told. You can pick up an episode from any Z-Nation series and while you might not understand the overall plot of that season you can still enjoy the episode for the condensed story that it is telling. This form of story telling allows for many moments to stand out in a persons mind and helps make the series something that is rewatchable even if it’s just to see the evil mailman get his in the end.
All in all, “Z-Nation” is an amazing show that I feel ended too soon. I loved every second of it and while it lives on in “Black Summer” (or not really according to this interview with star Jaime King) and it’s episodes on Netflix, I wish it got a proper send off, with a great final season or an epic movie.
Well these were my thoughts on why you should be watching Z-Nation. If you have never seen it, stop what you’re doing right now and watch it on Netflix!
Be Sure To Like, Share, And Sucribe For More Horror Gems.
Hey Survivor or opening scene victim, whatever you feel like today. I am so pumped to be back writing these blogs. I really hope to start putting out way more content than I was before, but forget about all that. I want to talk about our 2019 Scream Queens & how excited I am for all of these movies!
Taylor Russell- Escape Room
Escape Rooms are all the craze lately. You & a couple of friends get locked in a room (most likely themed, zombies is the one I wanna do.) & with the help of clues, you have to figure out all the puzzles and riddles to get out. Sounds fun right? Now take that concept, throw in mystery that is “Nine Dead” and the traps that gives “Saw” life & now you have “Escape Room” an off the wall mystery, thriller staring Taylor Russell.
Why I Wanna See This:
A few of the reasons I want to see this movie is because of the cast:
Jay Ellis from HBO’s “Insecure” & BET’s “The Game”
Tyler Labine from “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil”, “Reaper”, “Deadbeat” & way more awesomeness than I can list.
Deborah Ann Woll from HBO’s “Trueblood” & Netflix’s “Daredevil”
Taylor Russell from “Fallen Skies” & Netflix’s “Lost In Space”
All these young actors have been in things that I’ve enjoyed for years now. So, when I saw they were all gonna be in a movie together, I was hyped!
Throw in that it’s a horror movie with a newish concept (a room full of people, who have to fight to avoid death, brought by an unknown force for reasons yet to be explained… isn’t new but doing it in an escape room setting is 😝)
It seems from the promotions that Taylor Russell might be our lead & all around final girl, which is epic. It’s not common to have a young woman of color as a final girl. Jada & Brandy are the two big ones that stand out to me and much like Jada in Demon Knight, Taylor is gonna have to use her wits to make it out alive. I’m hoping this leads to more movie roles for these actors.
Jessica Rothe- Happy Death Day 2 U
If you haven’t seen Happy Death Day, stop reading this and find that movie! It was an amazing ride and it showed the awesomeness that is Jessica Rothe. In part one Jessica played Tree, a self centered college girl, who has to keep reliving her birthday after a mask killer murders her. That concept was cool, but it was Jessica’s portrayal of Tree that made that movie. Tree evolved from a selfish sorority girl who cared about no one (not even her dad)into an epic finale girl that you couldn’t help but root for.
Why I Wanna See This:
Part one was amazing but it left me with one major question, why? Why is this happening to Tree? What makes her so special to experience coming back from the dead and why did finding her killer end it? I’m hoping they answer all these questions in part two.
This time the Babyface Killer is after Tree and her frinends but if she wants to save them, she has to die and die until she figures out this new mystery. I really want them to dive into what it is that makes Tree so special and why does so many people want her dead 😂.
Amy Seimetz- Pet Sematary
Up until last year my only experience with Pet Sematary was from watching Pet Sematary 2 (Which I love By the way) I remember not being too pulled into part one when I was younger, so I never gave it a try. Well, last year those awesome people over at Shudder put up a ton of Stephen King movies and I decided to have a mini marathon. I have to say that I loved the original and it made me so excited to see this remake.
Why I Wanna See This:
While I loved the original, I know in this day and age they are able to take this movie to another level. If you don’t believe me look at “IT” the made for TV movie still gave us all nightmares but it didn’t deliver the level of terror that the remake has. There are a few scenes that I can’t wait to see and a lot of them involve Amy Seimetz who is playing Rachel Creed, wife to Louis Creed. While Rachel didn’t play a major role in the original movie, she did produce one of the scariest moments of that old gem. Yes, I’m talking about Zelda! I am so pumped and ready to see how Zelda is portrayed and I really hope we get a longer and more developed flashback in this one.
Octavia Spencer- MA
This sh!t right here 😳 I did not see coming. I also did not notice that Octavia Spencer has been playing around in the horror sandbox for years! She’s been in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, Drag Me To Hell, & A Time To Kill (that is a damn horror movie, I don’t care what you think)
This go around, Octavia is playing umm 🤔 I’m not even sure what she is. From the trailer it seems that Ma is a loner who lives outside a small town and she allows the teens to party there but slowly they start to question Ma’s real intentions.
Why I Wanna See This:
I have two reasons why I want to see this movie, one is the pure fact that the villain is a black woman, that in itself is enough to take my money.
When it comes to horror, the black community is overlooked at times, slowly things are starting to change but for the Black woman the path seems even harder. They are never the ones to be feared or to solve a problem. The most you’ll ever see a strong black woman in horror is if magic or voodoo comes into play (I kind of feel like there is some black magic in this) so to get an award winning actress as the lead antagonist is an amazing step forward for the genre, half this list is an amazing step forward.
My second reason for wanting to see this movie? I have to know what the hell they did to Ma to make her so crazy and vengeful. I’m dying to see it all unfold.
Lupita Nyong'o- US
Lipita went from fighting to save the kingdom of Wakanda to fighting for her life in Jordan Peele’s New Horror Mystery “US” where a family on vacation are confronted in the middle of the night by a twisted psychotic version of themselves.
Why I Wanna See This Movie:
Because I’m Rooting For Everyone Black! Okay, now that that is out of the way, lets talk facts. Jordan Peele and Blumhouse gave us the genre shattering 2018 movie “Get Out” where a horror story was focused on the fears and views of the black community. It was about Us Vs. Them, but in this latest dive into social unrest it has the Black Community take on their inner demons. So, I am hyped to see what Peele & Nyong’O have in store for us. I always like family based final girls, to know that they aren’t only fighting for their lives but the lives of others, takes the tension to another level.
I saw “US” on it’s opening weekend and even recorded a podcast about it. My initial reaction was:
This is NOT! A horror movie!
I didn’t feel like it fit in my horror box but the horror genre is far to vast to be sealed in a box and as I’ve taken these days to think about the movie and peel back its many layers, I know for a fact, I love this movie. I liked “Get Out” more but this movie really got me thinking and made me want to create! That is the best thing about this movie for me, that it stayed with me. Go see “US” it’s already had the highest opening weekend for an original horror movie! Let’s keep it going strong!
Well that’s it, time to get back to writing horror and watching it. Let me know in the comments what 2019 horror movies you’re excited for.
If You need Some More Final Girl Magic Check Out Chapter One Of My Novel Planet Dead!
Planet Dead is the indie horror sleeping giant written by horror author & veteran, Sylvester Barzey. It takes the zombie genre and turns it on it’s ear with page turning action all while giving it a much needed dose of reality by Spotlighting strong diverse characters. This ain’t your daddy’s apocalypse!
Find out what everyone is talking about!
Jessica got into it with her husband Kevin, the horrifying lose of their child coupled with the guilt of abandoning a woman in need caused their relationship to come to a quick halt, well that and the horde that took over the road. Jessica awakens hours later with a strange man hovering over her and Kevin is no where to be found and he’s not the only thing that’s missing. Welcome To Chapter Two (Reread Chapter One Now, Click Here)