The Māori culture of Polynesia and New Zealand has been more visible in entertainment of late. Most notably and memorable was Jason Momoa’s HAKA (traditional chant/dance) during the premiere for ‘Aquaman’ in 2018. There was also the Disney Pictures’ animated musical ‘Moana’ (2016), a comedic adventure about a young Polynesian girl who sets out to deal with an ancient curse that has befallen her beloved Island.
Now AMC Networks has announced the first two episodes of The Dead Lands, an epic supernatural fantasy series set in a mythical New Zealand, will premiere on January 23, 2020 on SHUDDER, across all of its territories (US, Canada, the UK, and Ireland). The subsequent six episodes will premiere on both Shudder and TVNZ OnDemand weekly.
ABOUT THE SERIES: Waka, a murdered Māori warrior returned from the Afterlife, and Mehe, a determined young woman, embark on a quest to find who “broke the world” and how to close the breach between the living and the dead.
If the premise sounds familiar, it’s because the pending series is based and set in the same world as the 2014 feature film of the same name, and also shares the same creator ad writer, New Zealand scribe Glenn Standring. But the network adds that the people who inhabit the land will be entirely new.
CAST: Te Kohe Tuhaka (Monster Problems) as “Waka Nuku Rau,” Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School senior Darneen Christian in her first television role as “Mehe Te Wehiwehi,” Kirk Torrance (Outrageous Fortune) as “Kā” and Vicky Haughton (Whale Rider, King Kong) as “Turika.”
Peep the action-packed and bloody trailer below. More about the series after the jump/poster.
From AMC Networks’ release:
Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, announced today that its new original series “The Dead Lands”, a co-production with New Zealand’s TVNZ, will premiere with two episodes on Thursday, January 23rd, across all of Shudder’s territories (US, Canada, the UK, and Ireland). It will also air on TVNZ OnDemand in New Zealand immediately after its international debut. Subsequent episodes will premiere on both Shudder and TVNZ OnDemand weekly.
“The Dead Lands” tells of a supernatural adventure set in a mythic Māori past, with an aesthetic that’s part Ash vs Evil Dead and part Xena: Warrior Princess. The series features a murdered Māori warrior, Waka Nuku Rau (Te Kohe Tuhaka), who’s sent back to the world of the living to redeem his sins. But the world Waka returns to is ravaged by a breach between Life and the Afterlife as the spirits of the newly dead now stalk the land and hunt the living.
Waka encounters a determined young woman, Mehe (Darneen Christian), who becomes both his protégé and moral compass. Together, they navigate tribal politics, the unsettled ghosts of Ancestors and other forces both natural and supernatural, on a quest to discover who “broke the world” and how to repair it—if it’s not too late.
The eerie world of the series, as well as the characters brought to life (or death) within it, are inspired by Māori traditions and histories. “The Dead Lands” is set in a mythical Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand), taking full advantage of the natural beauty of its landscapes. The series features screen combat performed in the Māori martial art of Mau Rākau, while elements of action and fantasy throughout the story have been given shape by versions of Māori rituals reimagined for the show. In order to honor the Māori people and their culture, the creation of the series required authoritative Māori control and advice to be present in all areas, both in front of and behind the camera.
The modern Māori world thrives because our story traditions insist we respect the past before we explore the potential of the future. With THE DEAD LANDS, we’re proud to bring our people and those traditions to global audiences,” said producer Tainui Stephens.
THE DEAD LANDS is a bold, exciting series unlike anything else on TV—an epic adventure in a breathtaking setting, based on Māori culture. It’s got action, scares and humor in equal measures, and we can’t wait to share it with Shudder members around the world,” said Craig Engler, Shudder’s General Manager.
Directed by Peter Meteherangi, Tikao Burger and Michael Hurst, “The Dead Lands” stars Te Kohe Tuhaka (Monster Problems) as “Waka Nuku Rau,” Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School senior Darneen Christian in her first television role as “Mehe Te Wehiwehi,” Kirk Torrance (Outrageous Fortune) as “Kā”, and Vicky Haughton (Whale Rider, King Kong) as “Turika.”
The series is created and written by Glenn Standring (Six Days) who also wrote 2014’s The Dead Lands feature film, which is set in the same mythical world as the series but is unconnected to its characters or story. The eight-episode series from production company GFC Films is executive produced by Standring, Fraser Brown and Matthew Metcalfe, produced by Tainui Stephens and Liz Adams.