First and foremost I would like to say thank you to Curtis who gave me the two movies. The first one being Horrible Bosses which I will get to down the line and the second being the movie that we are looking at today, Disaster L.A. This 2014 zombie movie has gone completely over my head, as I don’t even remember the thing being released. Hell I couldn’t believe that the Warner Bros. Logo was plastered on the DVD itself. This movie is so strangely obscure that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. In fact I had to do some extensive digging, even past that of IMDB which it is gratefully on to get enough information going into this film. This movie is apparently the third movie of writer, director, producer, editor, and Mary Sue base Turner Clay. He is a young and up and coming filmmaker who has come up with this movie as well as two others in the B Movie world which includes Interception and State of Emergency. While I haven’t seen the rest of Turner Clay’s films what I can gather from watching Disaster L.A. is that this is the by-product of giving a sixteen year old enough of a budget to make a movie and put it out on DVD and the result is something that I would not with upon my worst enemies.
Set in of course Los Angeles. After a party thrown by John (Justin Ray), a meteor hits Los Angeles, the contents of which turns most of the city into walking corpses. Others, like the majority of the protagonists have a natural immunity to the disease and are thus unaffected by the virus. After finding his too cool for school brother Turner (Jerod Meagher), the brothers and their group of friends try to make their way to the coast along with Josh’s ex girlfriend Tori (Stefanie Estes) and her current boyfriend. Hijinks and classic horror schlock ensues.
I’ll give Turner Clay this, he is damn good when it comes to visual effects. This guy could have quite a future on big budget movies as the guy who can do practical and special effects. I applaud him for the limited budget that he had to work with. He takes the scenes where people are dying and make it look very gruesome. The zombie make up is well done and the establishing shots of LA under this thick veil of smoke and decay are excellent as well.
While the guy is not on par with George A Romero or John Carpenter, I can see him reaching their level with enough time and patience and I say that with zero hyperbole. I am thoroughly impressed. Very well done for B Movie standards.
The Acting is Bad
I can understand when you are a B Movie with a limited budget, you don’t exactly have the funds to come up with a cast of A-List actors… Hell you would even be hard pressed to scrape a couple of urchins off of the D-List pile who would still even think the movie is too low brow for them. But come on, you have to find some people who have a little bit of acting chops to them.
The majority of the characters have the emotion and fear in their voice as if they were afraid that McDonalds would run out of limited edition McRibs before they got their turn in line. John typically has the emotion of any other machismo straight man protagonist while Turner who looks like he is 13 years old Sergeant Gruff Manbody here to save kick ass and chew gum and he is all out of gum.
The one who takes the prize is Tori’s current boyfriend who when stating that he was a senator’s son had all the power and emotion of a man reading a tax form. The script even made fun of the fact that he sounded like a fucking monotone Speak’N’Spell when Turner quips, ‘Who even talks like that?’ It is rare to see a movie where the scripts makes fun of itself. The acting is just plain terrible.
This is just inexcusable from anything above a college freshman’s film class. The writing and dialogue are just absolutely terrible on all fronts. It is clear that some of the writing was written around the limited budget and that I can kind of understand, but that still does not excuse the fact that this movie feels like something I would write when I was fifteen and thought I understood how human beings interacted with one another.
First and foremost the fact that there is a character in the movie named Turner, the same name as the director, writer, producer, and editor is clearly just Turner Clay’s way of inserting himself into the story. Turner is written to be this guy who knows exactly what to do in the zombie apocalypse and even though his brother is supposedly the protagonist, it is Turner who gets to have all the cool lines and all the cool moments in the film such as running down a man threatening them with a car, killing the few zombies that attack them, and so forth. He even boldly sacrifices himself for absolutely no reason other than it is the cool thing to do at the end of the film to keep the one fucking zombie from attacking the three perfectly capable human beings.
Speaking of this noble sacrifice bullshit. I can understand that it is a cool way to go out in a zombie apocalypse. But whenever you have three characters who nobly sacrifice themselves in the exact same manner, it kind of loses its impact. The characters Nate (Dennis Leach), Turner, and Adam (Michael Taber) all die exactly the same. They stop running for a split second to say ‘NO go on without me!’ to which our plucky hero says ‘No, I will not leave without you.” After a couple of back and forths and the people who aren’t meant to die gives in. Then the person stays behind and waits to die in the parking garage they got to film in, with each person only fighting one or two zombies at best. Seriously are these zombies just that fucking strong that the concept of 6 healthy people can’t take on 1 decaying zombie? Plus you couldn’t have any other deaths besides ‘NO! Go on! It is the only way!’ When there are clearly hundreds of ways that everyone would be fine.
Also I have come to the conclusion watching this movie that Turner Clay was very hard pressed to find any willing women to stay on-screen with them for longer than a couple of minutes because the four women in this movie Astrid (Ali Williams), Astrid’s Roommate (Kendall Mayhew), Eve (Tasha Dixons),and Tori have very little to do with the plot other than to be props for the Nate and John characters or to quickly die off. The movie takes on a weirdly sexist tone with the fact that the female characters pretty much do absolutely nothing in this big old boys club ran by Turner, John, and their vicious levels of testosterone.
The writing is just bad and not even laughably bad. It is just clearly written by someone who doesn’t understand how humans interact and goes off of movie tropes that have been ramped up to the Nth degree.
I may be coming down hard on what is by all accounts a vanity project created by a guy who just has a dream to be a director, but I feel like Turner Clay’s Disaster L.A. has a little bit of potential to be a cheesy B Movie fun fest that is completely dashed by the fact that the acting is shitty and the writing is absolutely laughably bad. For his next film I would suggest he hire someone else to write his concept to create a much better product then what is presented to us.
But with the exception of the effects that show signs of brilliance, Disaster L.A. is easily one of the worst films of 2014. The acting is poor and the writing is so bad that you will find it difficult to even sit through the film a second time without wanting to shatter the DVD.
Final Score 1/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you liked this review then please like and subscribe for more. The end of the year is going to be a busy one for Tanner Reviews as I have the packaged mini reviews coming up, two new movies, a review of the video game by Shinji Mikami The Evil Within, and the best and worst movies of 2014 as well as the best and worst video games of 2014. So we can look forward to that.