Director: Turner Clay
Writer: Turner Clay
Starring: Justin Ray, Jerod Meagher, Stefanie Estes, Ron Hanks, Michael Taber, Dennis Leech, Morgan Jackson
Some dudes are hanging out in one of their many really nice apartments in LA, wearing striped shirts in neutral colors and drinking and generally being awesome, when meteors strike the city, bringing with them a toxic smoke that kills and reanimates the dead into mutated killers. It’s time to head for the coast, bro!
Ever felt like you couldn’t find your way out of a parking garage? You know, like in that classic SEINFELD episode? Well, get ready to relive the nightmare, because besides shooting most of their movie in a few square blocks of LA – probably in and around their own apartments – the team behind DISASTER LA decided that an action-packed location for much of their zombie romp was the nearest underground parking palace. Presumably, however, they didn’t want to risk having to clean up after themselves when filming there, leading to the awkward and frankly laughable use of CGI glass and identical sound effects every time someone smashes a car window.
There are more than a few nods to the 1984 mutant zombie classic NIGHT OF THE COMET.
There are more than a few nods to the 1984 mutant zombie classic NIGHT OF THE COMET in this lackluster effort, from the harbinger of apocalyptic doom arriving from the skies over LA to the occasionally amorphous skull-like prosthetics for the zombie creatures. There are also some genuine attempts at humor here and there, but like everything else in this movie – except the meteors, that is – nothing quite lands. Oddly, the movie is also a partial remake of film maker Turner Clay’s earlier (and I’m reliably informed, superior) effort, the slightly more CRAZIES-like 2011 STATE OF EMERGENCY. So why make it again, and not as well? Beats me.
Effects-wise, the zombies are mildly interesting, attracted to sight and sound, but barely ever seen – seems they could only afford to make up a few people and do their best to avoid showing them the rest of the time – but the production team must have fallen in love with the CGI helicopter model they made or acquired, since copied-and-pasted groups of them fly by endlessly throughout the film. Oddly, we hear jet fighters without seeing them, prompting us while watching to assume that they must not have had a plane to show. Then, toward the end, the jet fighters turn up on screen too, inexplicably held back in the mix until the final act.
As for other production notes, the wardrobe people must have decided that the apocalypse will best be weathered in muted colors of striped polo shirts. Oh, and hoodies…tons of hoodies! Everyone is wearing them, living and dead. Honestly, did someone on the production have a hoodie store or get a ‘discount’ shipment off the back of a truck?
DISASTER LA dwells in that middle ground between almost competent storytelling and “so bad it’s good” ineptitude.
Truly the worst part of DISASTER LA is that it’s not really all that bad while not being all that good. Although this review may suggest otherwise, the movie has enough in terms of generally decent performance and production to hold interest through most of its running time, even though it fails to deliver on anything too dramatic, meaningful, or even entertaining, and then expects you to just walk away from its beach-based finale with anything more than utter disappointment. DISASTER LA dwells in that middle ground between competent storytelling and “so bad it’s good” ineptitude, a not-at-all-sweet spot of failure that nevertheless results in something dedicated zombie fans might find themselves watching once just for the hell of it. Just don’t blame me when you do.