I know, I know, when you first saw the title, “Zombie Tidal Wave,” and heard that Ian Ziering was not only starring in it, but also the producer, you had dancing thoughts of “Sharknado”-ish action coming to Syfy on Aug. 17. I mean, the pieces all fit. The king of the “Sharknado” movies was moving into his own thing for Syfy now and, we thought, bringing that “Sharknado” aesthetic with him. The Syfy original movie air Saturday on Syfy at 9/8 central.
Let’s face it, the title alone had one wondering just how they were going to pull this one off. “Zombie Tidal Wave?” That’s a “Sharknado” type of deal, isn’t it? Well, somewhat yes, but also, as it turns out, somewhat no. “Zombie Tidal Wave” has all the makings of something kind of nutty, but Ziering and crew played this one far straighter than we all thought he would. Whether that’s good or bad is for the audience to decide. As a devotee of the “Sharknado” franchise, I admit to being a little disappointed.
Now, here’s your SPOILER warning. There are SPOILERS below, so if you don’t want to be SPOILED, go no farther.
However, there is plenty of zombie action in “Zombie Tidal Wave,” and at least two separate tidal waves bringing zombies to the beach of a small tropical island. Ziering plays Hunter Shaw, a man who’s afraid to commit, but enjoys taking his friends on his boat and exploring the waters around the island. It’s there that the dead from the depths begin to revive and make their way to the surface. Personally, I had no idea that there were so many bodies lying beneath the waves, but in “Zombie Tidal Wave,” they are legion.
Turns out that an evil company had come to the island years before for some special out-of-view experimentation that didn’t go so well. They decided to sink their chemicals aboard a ship offshore and go on their way, thinking the secret would stay buried. But that wasn’t the case as the chemicals got loose and provided just what all those dead bodies in the water needed.
Zombie’s attack Shaw’s fishing party boat and the race is on, first to get to shore before the zombies arrive, then to simply outrun a tsunami-sized tidal wave filled with the undead that suddenly has appeared. Turns out, the chemicals are also causing some geological movement along the coast. So, we have a tidal wave zombie transport headed to the beach and plenty of locals and tourists just waiting to be eaten.
And eating does occur. “Zombie Tidal Wave” gives us two different types of zombies. Those that came from the ocean have a blue tint to their skin, while those they infect on land offer up the more traditional zombie look — bloody shirt, dead eyes, neck and head wounds, you know, the good stuff. And once the sea zombies make landfall, all hell breaks loose. Shaw has a daughter to protect and friends he has to watch die.
And there’s one other twist that makes this movie interesting. The normal zombie trope of shooting or stabbing them in the brain to kill them doesn’t apply here. To kill these zombies, you need to electrocute them.
And that brings up a whole slew of creative utensils for eliminating the zombie threat – from your basic electrical cords to a battery attached to a knife. Slicing and dicing isn’t enough. You’ve got to hit these suckers with some serious voltage. And Shaw becomes adept at doing all of the above. Dying and zombie-fying ensues in wonderfully zombie movie proportions.
“Zombie Tidal Wave” is another, interesting riff on the zombie genre. And what throws one off is that there is no “Sharknado” vibe to this one. There are no guest cameos from former child or action stars, no semi-wink to the audience to let them know they’re in on this gag, too. No, “Zombie Tidal Wave” appears to be playing this one straight and if you’re like me, that takes a little getting used to. Bad people get killed, good people get zombiefied, and it’s left to Ziering, an island recluse, his daughter and the woman he’s afraid to commit to, to finish this thing off.
Along the way more friends are lost and there are explosions galore. But in the end, the threat is neutralized. “Zombie Tidal Wave” offers some twists on the Zombie genre that are interesting and fun to watch. But I’ll admit this one was not what I expected. In the end, the good guys win this one on water on land and demonstrate an ability to adapt weapons and tactics to meet the threat. And when the entrails have stopped being eaten, Shaw even gets the girl.
Ziering does Shaw pretty darn well and Cheree Cassidy is pretty stellar as his love interest, Kenzie Wright. Also on board are Erich Chikasi Linzbichler, Shelton Jolivette, Tatum Chiniquy, Angie Teodora Dick, Rancy Charach, Eliza D’Souza and a host of others, who bring their own unique charms to the show, even as a good portion of them get the bite put on them. This Syfy original movie is directed by Anthony C. Ferrante.
In the end, I enjoyed “Zombie Tidal Wave” simply because it’s got enough fun elements in it to keep me interested. In the end, it is what it is and you’ll either accept or not based on that. So keep an open mind and realize that even though Ziering is in it, it’s not going to be what you might expect at first blush. If you’re okay with that, you’ll be okay with “Zombie Tidal Wave.”
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