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Thursday, June 18, 2020

THE DEAD LANDS (Shudder Series Review)

                                    Starring: Te Hoke Tuhaka, Darneen Christian, Vicky Haughton

                                          Directed by: Glenn Standring


           The never-ending story of the resurrected dead travels everywhere and anywhere - that we all as horror fans know for a fact, and after checking out director Glenn Standring's The Dead Lands on SHUDDER, I can attest that even in the most primal and violent fashion, these zombie-fied warriors are nothing to sleep on.

  Set in the land of Aotearoa, we as the audience have the opportunity to witness the final battle of the greatest fighter in all the expansive territory that is covered - his name is Waka Nuku Rau (Tuhaka), and unfortunately his best wasn't that good on this day. He's killed in battle and is ready to make that final ascent into heavenly enclave - only problem is he is not wanted in the sacred afterlife, stonewalled at the entrance to eternal peace and forced to return to his battleground as a rejuvenated (albeit dead) protector of sorts. He's given another chance to rectify all his wrongdoing and see if his new direction will lead him into a more guaranteed position among the gods - trust me, this will not be an easy task, or one that he's looking forward to. Broken down into episodic fashion, the series was adapted from the 2014 film of the same name which was directed by Toa Fraser and serves itself well when taken in smaller bites.

   From the jump of the first episode we see just what Waka will be contending with after his transformation - an ultraviolent, almost unstoppable hyper-strength combatant who back in his mortal day might not have proven to be much of an issue. However, these grayed-out, black-blood spitting killers relent without provocation, and DAMN are they hard to take down! As Waka contends with this ferocious enemy, he's joined with Mehe (Christian), a villager who has made her way onto his land and is warning with the word of her ancestors about "the veil between light and dark that is breaking." She's begging for his help to protect her tribe and together they'll begin a journey of sorts that will spill more blood than is necessary and rack up bodies as high as they can be stacked. The only thing that is more spectacular than the performances and action is the backdrop itself - almost looking like a more demented and claustrophobic version of Avatar - I for one think Mr. Cameron would be proud. If there were a negative I could see it would be some of the pacing at times, but it's relatively small in comparison once the action ramps up, and the fight scenes are glorious (and gory) to witness.

  Overall, I can definitely recommend The Dead Lands to our fellow zombie-enthusiasts who want a different atmosphere to their viewing pleasure - it's a distinct perspective but one that absolutely should be given a chance to thrive - it's available now on the SHUDDER app so grab your loin-cloths (or a bath towel) and your cutting weaponry and enjoy the bloodshed!

 SERIES RATING: 3.5 out of 5

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