Zombie Tidal Wave stars Ian Ziering, Chikashi Linzbichler, and Shelton Jolivette and was directed by Anthony C. Ferrante. It tells the story of fisherman Hunter Shaw, played by Ian Ziering, as he attempts to save the residents of a small coastal town after it’s been hit by a tidal wave that just so happens to have brought zombies along with it.
How do you even review a movie like this? Usually I talk about the cinematography, or the script, or the underlying themes when reviewing films. But this isn’t the kinda movie you can do that with. There’s no substance to it that can be critiqued in any meaningful way. It’s a terrible movie, but intentionally so. And that’s the key to understanding this movie and understanding the point of its existence. This type of movie is the SyFy Channel’s bread and butter.
They pump out the most ridiculous, cheesy, low-budget original movies you could imagine, but as stupid as they are, we watch them and we glean at least some entertainment from them. After the conclusion of the fantastically terrible Sharknado series last summer, we needed something to fill that made-for-tv B-movie void. Luckily, Ian Ziering and director Anthony C. Ferrante stepped up once again to provide us with our SyFy Channel original movie fix. We’ve still got our aquatic theme, but instead of sharks, we’ve got zombies. A tidal wave of zombies. Really. Now obviously my expectations of this movie were extremely low. As a film, I knew it was gonna be terrible. But as a SyFy Channel movie, I was kind of optimistic about it.
I love zombie movies (far more than shark movies), so the prospect of getting a zombie movie in the ridiculous and absurd style of Sharknado seemed like it could be kinda fun. And it certainly has its moments, but it doesn’t quite capture the charm that some of the other SyFy Channel movies have been able to. They always have really dumb stories that are super convoluted and make no sense at all, but this one was especially stupid. Like I said, this kind of movie is really hard to review in a classic sense because it has very few redeeming qualities.
The visual effects are laughably horrendous, the script and dialogue are terrible, the story’s beyond absurd, and the characters are so paper thin that you can practically see right through them. You could spend days picking this apart and talking about why it’s a bad movie – and you’d be totally correct. But despite the fact that this is an intentionally terrible, ridiculous, reductive pseudo-parody, it’s clear that at least some of the people who were a part of making this movie genuinely know and appreciate the zombie genre. There were way more nods and homages to zombie movies than I ever would’ve expected. I think probably the most obvious was the design of the zombies themselves, which was a pretty clear nod to the zombie design from George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. If you’ve ever seen that movie, you know that the zombies look a little hypoxic.
They’re blue. They look silly now compared to the makeup we’re used to from things like The Walking Dead, but that was the original look. And the zombies from Zombie Tidal Wave are blue. And not just Romero blue. Like, blue blue. Like they just crawled out of a Porta-Potty blue. There were also other references too. A handful of the lines of dialogue were subtle nods to lines from classic zombies movies. There are a couple scenes early on in a bar and all the beer the characters are drinking is Romero brand. There’s even a rock band in this movie call The Fulcis which was a nice little reference to Lucio Fulci, who directed numerous zombie movies throughout the 70s and 80s, including the influential Zombi 2 – which just so happens to feature a zombie fighting, you’ve guessed it, a shark. Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. The only real pro of this movie is its absurd fun.
This is a downright terrible movie, but it’s so ridiculous and so campy that it ends up being sorta enjoyable at points. All of the things that could be considered cons of this movie are intentional and so they come across as stupidly amusing. It’s certainly not high-class cinema and not everybody will get the same enjoyment out of something so ridiculous, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy parts of this movie. On the con side is literally everything else. Like I said, this is a bad movie. Objectively speaking and, probably for most people, subjectively speaking too. It seems kinda silly to go super in depth about the cons for a movie like this, but I’ll briefly touch on a few of the major ones.
The biggest issue is definitely the visual effects. They’re absolutely horrible. There’s terrible glowing effects, silly electricity stuff, and over-the-top blood spurts. The zombies look stupid enough with their Blue Man Group appearance, but anytime water’s actually incorporated, it’s utterly absurd. The shots of the zombies in the tidal wave I can’t even describe it. Con number two is the script. The movie makes no sense. These SyFy Channel movies are always ridiculous, but this is even more stupid than normal. As absurd as the premise sounds, the movie’s even more ridiculous with the convoluted path it takes. And don’t even get me started on the dialogue. The third major con has gotta be the characters.
They’re just zombie food. There’s no characterization or development to any of them, so you don’t care when they get eaten. And the performances really match that with the exception of Ziering (who once again earnestly gives his all to this movie), everyone else frankly feel like zombies even when they’re not supposed to be. I’m gonna give Zombie Tidal Wave 1.5 out of 5 paws and that’s being pretty generous. It’s a horrible movie, but I kinda like these SyFy Channel movies sometimes and as a fan of the zombie genre, I appreciated all the little nods and references strewn throughout. I would recommend Zombie Tidal Wave to fans of SyFy Channel Original Movies. If you’ve seen any of them, you know exactly what you’re getting into here. This isn’t the type of movie to be taken seriously at all.
This is the kind of movie that you watch late at night with a big group of friends with the intention of laughing at its utter absurdity. It’s a mid-level SyFy Channel movie, so I don’t think I’d classify it, on the whole, as a so-bad-it’s-good movie, but it has its moments of that. So, if you’re looking for something silly and stupid, this might fit the bill. If you liked Zombie Tidal Wave, I’ve gotta recommend Sharknado. It’s another absurd SyFy Channel movie that blends creature feature with disaster movie. It’s directed by the same guy who directed this and also stars Ian Ziering in, arguable, the exact same role. If you enjoyed the terrible effects and line delivery and want something equally ridiculous to laugh at, be sure to watch Sharktopus.
It’s another SyFy Channel movie about ñ yup ñ a shark octopus hybrid. And if you like the campiness of the zombie stuff, but want something a little more reasonable than these SyFy movies, I’d suggest The Return of the Living Dead. It’s goofy, it’s weird, and it’s very 80s. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen Zombie Tidal Wave? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What’s your favorite ëbad’ horror movie? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.