The GenreBlast Film Festival is entering its sixth year of genre film goodness. A one-of-a-kind film experience created for both filmmakers and film lovers to celebrate genre filmmaking in an approachable environment, it has been described by Movie Maker Magazine as a “summer camp for filmmakers.”

Over the next few days, I’ll be reviewing several movies from this fest, based in the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester, Virginia. This year, there are 14 feature films and 87 short films from all over the world. Weekend passes are only $65 and you can get them right here.

Johnny Z (2022): Johnny Z has been a movie I’ve been waiting to see for some time, ever since it was crowdfunded a mix between Land of the Dead and The Raid.

Directed by Jonathan Straiton (Night of Something Strange) and written by Straiton and Ron Bonk (House Shark, She Kills), this movie stars Michael Merchant (Amityville Death House) as Johnny, as well as Trey Harrison as Vin, Felix Cortes as Jonray, Ellie Church as Lars, David E. McMahon as Frank, Jason Delgado as Cristano and Wayne Johnson as Monster Boy.

The real stars of the show are the gore-strewn effects by Marcus Koch (We Are Still Here, Frankenstein Created BikersThe Third Saturday In October V) and massive fight scenes that were choreographed by Dylan Hintz of the DC Stunt Coalition. Seriously, this movie is nearly all blood, guts, swords, guns and martial arts!

When the film was being funded, Straiton said, “Johnny Z has been a passion project of mine for over ten years and I know audiences will dig it. It’s straight action horror with tons of gore! This is my chance to show my more serious side to storytelling compared to NoSS. Black Mandala approached us about doing a NoSS sequel back in January, instead I expressed the importance of Johnny Z as my next project and they totally got it! They came on as producers and I signed on to direct Johnny Z and NoSS sequel, Dawn of Something Strange and very much look forward to returning to that world after Johnny Z.

Johnny is half human, half zombie and all kickass. Within his blood just might be the cure to the zombie epidemic. Yet after escaping a medical prison called Nordac, Johnny comes under the guidance of Grandmaster Jonray and his brother Crisanto. This sets Johnny on the path to using his martial arts skills to find a doctor who can create the cure while also helping his master fight some personal demons.

Filmed in Central Virginia, this Spanish and English-speaking movie is seriously wall-to-wall fighting. It really does live up to its goal of being a direct-to-video fighting horror movie. It’s the kind of film that you can just sit back and watch the carnage. We all need that every once in a while.

You can learn more about Johnny Z at the official Facebook page.

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