Exclusive: Craig Engler Talks Z Nation and What's Ahead in Season 2 - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Craig Engler Talks Z Nation and What’s Ahead in Season 2

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Z Nation

One of the most surprising things on TV last year was Syfy and The Asylum’s “Z Nation.” In the end the show was a lot of fun and home to some of the finest zombie carnage found on TV (and yes, that includes “The Walking Dead”). Bold statement I know, but when you have set-pieces like the Liberty Bell rolling over re-animated corpses or full-on death-by-blender, it’s kind of hard to not appreciate the creativity and awesomeness.

With the show now on DVD, we took the time to talk with one of its creators, Craig Engler, about what came to pass as well as what’s to come.

It’s super-important for us to come up with new zombies and zombie deaths,” says Engler of the series’ main attraction. “We talk about it a lot. We talk about what kinds of zombies there can be. Our show has introduced several different kinds of the living dead, my favorite being the nuclear zombies. In Season 2 we have some really cool things planned. Stuff people haven’t seen before. It’s very important for us to have good and fun zombie kills. That’s what people look forward to. If you just kill the zombies the same way every time, it gets a little boring. We’re always thinking like, ‘Okay, what’s in the environment? If you have an unarmed character in a particular environment, what’s he gonna grab?’ We go into things like what would be around and what would be fun?!?

He adds, “Syfy keeps pushing us to do more and go farther [in terms of the show’s gore]. I’m not going to use the word ‘tasteful’ because I don’t think that’s really applicable to our show, but as long as it’s done well and in the spirit of the show, they’re totally happy. In fact, one of my friends is the network executive who we deal with; he literally just sent me an e-mail yesterday which read, ‘Keep pushing it! We want cool, big, crazy stuff.’ What other studio would tell you to keep pushing the envelope? I was like, ‘Yes! We will do that!

I see people online all the time who say things along the lines of ‘I don’t know what this is, but now it’s my favorite show’ or ‘I thought this was gonna be terrible, but now I can’t wait for every episode,’” Engler said of the public reaction to “Z Nation.” “I always felt that if we could get people to tune in, they would really like it. I love ‘The Walking Dead,’ and our show does share a few things with it, but I wanted to make a show with more action and humor. I’m really gratified to learn that people are enjoying it as I thought that they would. There’s this crazy statistic that there were 330 new dramas or dramas with new episodes that either debuted or returned on TV, so trying to get people to find your show among literally 100s of others is very tricky.

I can’t talk too much about it, but there’s an idea that’s come up for Season 2 that we definitely haven’t seen before in the zombie world,” Engler continues, “and I’m a HUGE zombie fan thanks to the Romero movies and the dawn of the modern zombie as we know it. Whenever we can do something that is new and innovative that we know people are going to like, we jump at the chance. We have several moments like that coming up.

So, beyond Season 2 we were wondering of there was an endgame for the show or if they were working from a specific timetable. “[Showrunner and co-creator] Karl Schaefer and I have talked a little bit about a possible ending. He has a vision for the show’s end which matches the one that I had in mind when I came up with the idea of ‘Z Nation.’ He even has the final scene in mind. We can either take our time getting there, or we can rush depending on what’s going on with the show. It’s an ending which you could see in 5 seasons, you could see it in 7 seasons… or… if something went drastically wrong, we could probably wrap it up quicker. There’s definitely an endgame in mind, but there’s definitely a lot of ground to cover between now and when we get there. What’s really exciting to me about that is I don’t think anyone has any idea where the show is gonna go. I don’t even think this season is gonna go where they think it’s gonna go… in a good way.

“Z Nation” Season 1 stars Tom Everett Scott (“Southland”), DJ Qualls (“Supernatural”), Michael Welch, Kellita Smith, Anastasia Baranova, Russell Hodgkinson, Keith Allan, and Harold Perrineau (“Lost,” “Oz”). The show is executive produced by Karl Schaefer (“Eerie Indiana”, “The Dead Zone”), who is also the showrunner.

Synopsis:
“Z Nation” starts three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country. A team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America.

Z Nation

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Several Muppets Were Run Through The Walking Dead’s Zombie App and It’s Kind of Amazing

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For many people, a big part of their childhood were the Muppets from “Sesame Street”. The lessons they learned from characters such as Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Big Bird, and more, were invaluable and set a foundation of how to live ones life. On top of educational lessons, they were taught compassion, sharing, decency, and other traits that form the basis of a civilized society. Then zombies came along and botched everything.

Using an app from “The Walking Dead”, several characters from “Sesame Street” have been zombified, resulting in images that will no doubt make some of you laugh while others might be horrified at what their childhood characters have gone through. It’s kinda hard to deny that Count von Count doesn’t look gruesome as hell with a dislocated and dangling jaw…

Below is a gallery of these images and, just for fun, underneath that is “The Walking Gingerbread”, an actual parody of “The Walking Dead” done by “Sesame Street” for Halloween!

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Josh Millican’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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It may just be that my love of horror grows every year, but it honestly feels as though 2017 has been a red-letter year for the genre. Not only are films like Andy Muschietti’s IT and Jordan Peele’s Get Out generating Oscar buzz but we’ve seen horror elements seep into mainstream movies and TV shows, from Logan to “Stranger Things”.

And this hasn’t merely been an amazing year for mainstream horror, with powerful indies emerging as some 2017’s best; it’s further proof that many of the most compelling and important genre flicks are being produced outside the traditional Hollywood system. Below, in no particular order, are my selections for the Best Horror Films of 2017. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!


Brawl in Cell Block 99

Though the subject matter is completely different, S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 has many parallels to his first film, 2015’s Bone Tomahawk. Both movies build slowly and are anchored by compelling characters and engrossing dialogue; furthermore, both films are deceptively understated until an explosive and shocking 3rd Act hits like a gut-punch.

Vince Vaughn delivers a genuinely poignant portrayal of Bradley Thomas, a down-on-his-luck drug runner willing to do anything to protect his family from disgruntled former associates. Don Johnson also deserves a shout-out for his turn as corrupt Warden Tuggs, the most unnerving fictional jailer since Cool Hand Luke.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 isn’t your typical horror movie, presenting a meandering narrative, but it’s still as entertaining as anything that follows an established formula. Horror is always most compelling when we can connect with a film’s protagonists, and this film delivers in spades.


Raw

Julia Ducournau’s Raw both benefited and suffered from reports of audience members fainting and falling ill during the film’s 2015 premiere at TIFF. Upon its limited theatrical release, The Nuart in Los Angeles passed barf bags out to moviegoers, a tactic usually reserved for the most extreme and outlandish of B-movies, films intentionally crafted to trigger the gag-reflex. While Raw does indeed contain scenes that are very difficult to stomach (pun intended!) it’s hardly a 2-dimensional gross-out.

Before classifying the film as horror, it’s a coming of age saga first and foremost. Themes of cannibalism and bodily mutilations become metaphors for sexual awakenings and transitions into adulthood. Raw is also a compelling study of sibling rivalries and the powerful influence of heredity on personal development.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Though released after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is actually the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of horror icon Anthony Perkins). It combines the supernatural terrors of a possession movie with the compelling complexity of a murder mystery. The all-girls boarding school in winter provides a moody aesthetic with Gothic undertones while serving as an incubator for sexual awakenings and religious guilt.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter hinges on a powerful twist, but this doesn’t hit the audience like a ton of bricks; rather, the film’s secrets are gradually unraveled, resulting in a slow realization that’s as poignant as it is shocking. The film succeeds in no small part thanks to compelling performances by a trio of talented young thespians: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton.


The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is one of the most talented horror practitioners to emerge from Australia in the 21st Century. His debut film, The Loved Ones, is an under-seen sleeper that balances teen angst, dark comedy, and extreme violence. With his follow-up film, The Devil’s Candy, Byrne is finally getting the attention he deserves.

It’s less extreme than The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy’s understated presentation, genuine drama, and slow-burn build-up delivers more palpable dread and a lasting resonance. The Devil’s Candy is a chaotic mix of heavy metal music and inner demons and can be viewed as a metaphor for how the blind pursuit of art can destroy families.

Ethan Embry deserves a shout out for his harrowing portrayal of father and artist Jesse Hellman. Who’d have thought the kid from Can’t Hardly Wait would develop into such a skilled actor?


Get OutGet Out

Historically, Q1 is a bad time for horror movies, as studios are prone to dumping films they have little faith in. Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaks the rules in many ways and, though released in February, it remains one of the most lauded and analyzed films of 2017—in any genre. The inclusion of sociopolitical elements makes Get Out both unique and timely, although even without its social agenda, Get Out is a compelling and unnerving experience, one that stokes paranoia by exacerbating primal fears related to deception and isolation.

Peele has become an exciting and refreshing figure in horror with plans for more socially-conscious thrillers in the years to come.


47 Meters Down

Nearly unceremoniously dumped directly to DVD in 2016, In the Deep was rebranded 47 Meters Down and given a theatrical release last Summer, where it became an unlikely hit. Perhaps hampered by preconceptions relating to lead actress Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down is nonetheless immensely entertaining, eclipsing 2016’s shark-horror blockbuster The Shallows.

I do have doubts about the film’s ability to spawn a franchise (there’s currently a sequel in the works, being produced under the temporary title 48 Meters Down) considering this film hinges on a twist that can only be used once, so it’s difficult to imagine a sequel with the same impact—but who knows?

Ultimately, though, even a bad sequel won’t diminish the shine of 47 Meters Down. The film also proves there are still plenty of ways to pack legitimate terror into a PG-13 horror movie.

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Seasons 1 and 2 Are Now Streaming on Netflix

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The last word we brought you guys on the upcoming third season of Starz’s “Ash vs Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell was when we shared the show’s all-new teaser trailer (below).

Today we have awesome news that the first two seasons are now streaming on Netflix!

So if you’ve been putting off watching the series (for some reason) or have been waiting until the day where you could just binge-watch the series in one grand swoop, then today is your day. There isn’t a better time than now. Just make sure you’re caught up come February.

Hell, yeah.

Are you excited to watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” on Netflix? Let us know below!

“Ash vs Evil Dead” stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Campbell executive produces the series with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ivan Raimi, and Rick Jacobson. Season 3’s new showrunners are Mark Verheiden and Moira Grant.

“Ash vs Evil Dead” season 3 hits STARZ Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Synopsis:

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

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