With our abundance of rotting urban blight, rusted industrial ruins and ample, spooky woodlands, Michigan makes a swell backdrop for end-of-the-earth fantasies. Rarely does a season change here without one or two locally produced slasher-zombie apocalypse romps landing on my desk for review. Many of these zero-dollar productions tacitly expect a "hometown discount" for the simple coolness of producing a movie in our beloved Rust Belt. Admittedly, Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption is slightly more ambitious than your average homegrown schlock, but that doesn't necessarily make it any better. A cast of dozens crowds the screen in chaotic fight scenes between hordes of zombies and rival gangs of survivors, who seem to be pretty numerous for a world where we are told "zombies outnumber humans 10,000 to 1." This is utter nonsense, since if humans are the zombies' primary food source, they should have starved or wiped themselves out via cannibalism by now. Of course, I know I'm splitting hairs, as this is a film where the nuclear holocaust left the Detroit skyline mostly intact, and where the survivors in this wasteland seem to have easy access to working cars, gasoline and wardrobes that make absolutely everyone look like escapees from a gay techno warehouse party. Bullets also seem to be easy to come by, as well as cigarettes, and toothpaste for that matter; because everybody still has shiny white teeth.
The undead are merely excuses for more blood squibs, as the bulk of the action involves the feud between a camp of semi-decent refugees and a band of vicious ex-military "raiders" who behave like a biker gang and have turned an intact downtown church into a fortress. I know you are shocked that the society's end doesn't foster a sense of brotherhood among the living.
Infamous local barfly, lovable punk rock nuisance and "poet" Jimmy Doom opens up a big ol' can of deviled ham as the ringmaster for what looks like as a public execution-slash-bad rave party at City Club. Somehow these dudes lured Blacksplotation icon Fred "The Hammer" Williamson into the cast — Fred's an old pro, and he gamely plants a fat cigar in his teeth and powers through page after page of lame macho dialogue.
In the end, Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption (yes, it's a sequel) is dumb fun, with an emphasis on dumb.
Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 and 9, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030; doors at 8 p.m.; 21 and older.
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