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SyFy Face Off — “Alice in Zombieland”

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Face Off 304, Alice in Zombieland

This week’s Face Off gave us a delightful blend of fantasy and horror with “Alice in Zombieland.” Smelly cat, redneck rabbit and Tom Petty made appearances, along with Laila Ali and Paul W.S. Anderson. Then the judges ruined the whole thing by blowing the call at the end. Are these the replacement judges?

The foundation challenge (which went AWOL last week) was a cool 90-minute take on boxing trauma, judged by Laila Ali. The judging seemed to favor subtlety over the ridiculous gore effects some of the contestants created – had some of these people ever watched a boxing match? Boxers can get pretty smashed up in the course of a brutal match, but they don’t look like they got hit by a bus. Jason took the win and immunity from elimination.

The big challenge was a great mashup of Alice in Wonderland and Resident Evil: Product Placement. We got mold drama (Tommy breaking his rabbit’s wrist) and Alana’s accident (“My cowl just fell ears-first.”) out of the way in short order, plus a cute segment on Alana and Rod’s Dr. Sid shop glasses (that’s a CSI: NY reference and I’m not proud of it).

While everyone got to work, Sarah revealed that she was raised a Mennonite. They’re a Protestant branch with a strong emphasis on non-violence, so I can see how movies with zombies in them wouldn’t necessarily be common viewing material. Still, she knows what a zombie is, right? Nicole coached her a bit, giving birth to the world’s first ever Smelly Cat cosplay.

Quote of the week speaks for itself, courtesy of Tommy: “I really want this extra arm, I think it’s gonna give me the leg up.”

I want to take a minute here to point out that host McKenzie Westmore started promoting the “It Can Wait” campaign on Twitter this week. It’s an admirable effort to get people to stop texting while driving, and its mere necessity surely signifies the breaking of one of the seven seals. People, when you are driving, you should not ever be doing things other than driving. Or, the angle “It Can Wait” takes: there is literally nothing you could possibly have to say that is important enough to text while you’re driving.

I really wish the producers would spend more time on the creation of the designs and less on the judging. The judging segments take up nearly half of the show, and they are seriously tedious. More time-lapse footage of people sculpting! More models looking uncomfortable under 15 pounds of foam! More airbrushing! More Alana threatening to kiss people on the mouth! Less Glenn glowering!

The middle-of-the-pack designs this week were Sarah’s creepy cat (Neville’s suggestion of using hair product to muck him up was genius, and lead to Glenn’s revolted, “I don’t even want to touch it, it’s covered in goo.”); Jason’s zombified “Don’t Come Around Here” Tom Petty/Mad Hatter; and Alana’s Marylin Manson-ized White Rabbit. The top looks were Derek’s purple Cheshire Cat, which looked seriously malevolent; Laura’s zombie Mad Hatter, which was really sold by the model; and Roy’s Borg Queen of Hearts. Roy’s sculpt on the design was really stunning, but the paint job was so flat that I felt it didn’t earn top look status.

At the bottom we had Tommy’s tweaker rabbit, also brilliantly sold by the model, with those jittery chewing motions. The costume was sort of a pathetic trailer park Ronald McDonald at a furry convention, though, and the judges were not kind. Then we had Rod’s weird Queen of Hearts, which was creepy (and wow did the fake head look lifelike) but totally failed to capture anything about Resident Evil or zombies or anything at all relevant. Nicole’s zombie Alice was cool, what with the pulsing brain pustules and the “Drink Me” bottle stuck in her chest. A broken airbrush left her to paint by hand, and it ended up a smudgy mess.

Now that the contestants have been culled of the weak, the somewhat arbitrary judging decisions are really glaring. Roy winning the Face Off No-Prize is fine, but why no one called him out on the lame paint job is beyond me. In private, the judges said it would look great “with some gloss and lighting,” but never made it an issue in actual judging (an effect of edited footage, perhaps). I thought Laura’s zombie Mad Hatter was so solid and complete – and really fearsome to behold – that she deserved the win.

Where it really hurts is the elimination, and this week they picked Nicole. She was the last one I thought would be chopped this week. Tommy just really fell down, basically showing up with an incomplete design, and Rod’s Queen of Hearts didn’t make any sense. Completely missing the boat on the challenge seems like a far more egregious error than a muddled paint job on an ambitious design. Plus, I really liked Nicole – no-nonsense, dark sensibilities, solid sculpting skills. I was looking forward to what she was going to create this season.

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Posted by on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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