Be prepared or prepare to die
Director/writer Turner Clay is most notably known for his 2011, low-budget zombie flick State of Emergency. Though the film was only fairly received, it did show Clay knew how to develop characters. Here again with his latest zombie horror, Disaster L.A.: The Last Zombie Apocalypse Begins Here, we once again see the story more about the characters and the personalities, and what they are experiencing and going through emotionally, than about the zombies. But this time Turner Clay has crafted a much better film.
After a meteor shower strikes Los Angeles, toxic smoke is released across the city causing people to physically change and become violent, and ultimately turning into flesh-eating zombies. A small group of friends begin to panic as news reports go from bad to worst, declaring that residents should remain inside, stay out of the toxic smoke, and not have interactions with anyone from outside.
Realizing they’re in SHTF situation, they decide to vacate the city and head up the coast where the toxic smoke will have diluted. Of course this group of friends has no clue about survival tactics nor have any of them prepared in anyway for any kind of disaster. With barely a bottle of water between them the six survivors head out into a hostile environment without weapons and without immediate transportation.
As they attempt to supply themselves along the way, they discover a portable citizen’s band radio that brings them more disturbing news. The military is unable to stem the tide of the zombie uprising and has decided to make a strategic chemical air strike on the city at dawn.
Securing transportation they attempt to flee, but with every decision our inept group makes only leads to one disaster and tragedy after another, until only two are left who struggle to get out of LA before the military begins the bombing.
Disaster LA is not a film about survivors fleeing hordes of zombies, for there are no zombie masses and barely more than three undead seen together at anytime. This is about the characters and their interactions with one another in a survival situation, who must not only fight the undead to survive but their own personal demons and differences in order to work as a team to make it out alive.
However, this is also a story about ordinary people who are not prepared for a catastrophic disaster, the bad choices made in a high stress survival situation, and the consequences of their decisions and unpreparedness. And in here lies the reason why I like the film.
Sure Disaster L.A.: The Last Zombie Apocalypse Begins Here is not without its flaws, like why is it if the group knows the smoke is toxic but they never put a handkerchief over their mouths to protect themselves or how easily a car’s safety glass shatters when you strike it with your elbow. Flaws aside this is a film with a lesson in disaster preparedness and the message is simple: be prepared or prepare to die.
With a decent script, strong character development and a solid, though fairly unknown cast, Clayton Turner shows he has sharpened his skills as a storyteller and director, and has done a fine job within the financial limitation of his budget.
If you like character driven zombie horror over survivors being chased by hordes of the living dean, then you’ll want to check out Clayton Turner’s Disaster L.A.: The Last Zombie Apocalypse Begins Here. Out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Disaster LA: The Last Zombie Apocalypse Begins Here
Directed by Clay Turner
Screenplay by Clay Turnser
Cast: Justin Ray, Ali Williams, Stefanie Estes, Ron Hanks, Tasha Dixon, Michael Taber and Jerod Meagher
Run Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: September 16, 2014