For weeks, I’ve kept my eye on a different variety of teeth-gnashing undead staging an invasion. As more and more news pours in about this threat, I feel compelled to warn you all about the newest vampire menace.
Coming from Netflix sometime in the near future is V-Wars, based on the 2012 book edited by Jonathan Maberry. V-Wars spawned three follow-up books, as well as a game and comic book series.
About V-Wars the book (via jonathanmaberry.com):
They are already here. They hide among us. They hunt us. They feed on us. They ARE us. V-Wars is the chronicle of the first Vampire War. From the savage murders committed by the patient zero of the plague to full-out battles with vampire terrorist cells, these are the stories of the most terrifying war mankind has ever faced! With stories by Gregory Frost, Nancy Holder, John Everson, Yvonne Navarro, Scott Nicholson, and more.
Bringing the beleaguered characters to life on the small screen are Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), as Dr. Luther Swann. Coming in to play Swann’s best friend Michael Fayne is Arrow‘s Adrian Holmes. Peter Outerbridge will add his particular spin to one of the untrustworthy characters, elegant yet duplicitous Homeland Security Team member and science expert Calix Niklos. Rounding out the currently released cast list is Jacky Lai (Beyond), who will play Kaylee Vo, a hard-hustling reporter who’ll do anything to land the biggest story of her life, but when she does, it puts her in the path of dangerous enemies.
About V-Wars the series:
Dr. Luther Swann is in for the fight of his life when a virus is released via melting polar ice—thanks, climate change. The disease turns his best friend, Michael Fayne, into a ravenous predator who isn’t afraid to sate his newfound hunger. This terrible disease spreads; more and more are transformed. Humanity crumbles, leaving normal people fighting the rapidly expanding vampire population. Swann struggles to understand what’s happening, while Fayne sets himself up as a powerful vampire leader.
24’s Brad Turner is set to direct the pilot episode for the series. He will stay on to act as an executive producer under showrunners William Laurin and Glenn Davis—both of whom produced Syfy’s Aftermath series. Season one of V-Wars will contain 10 hour-long episodes.
Filming is currently underway, with locations in Sudbury, ON and the Toronto area. Maberry and Holmes have dropped some pictures and video from the first week of filming on Instagram, if you want to take a peek at the behind-the-scenes process.
We’ll update you, dear brigadiers, when the vampires announce their invasion day.
Every summer, San Diego, California is overrun with people—in costume, out of costume, covered in body paint, alive, undead; it takes all sorts to make an event of such magnitude truly magical. As always, we’re keeping our eye on the undead attendees scheduled to appear. This year we’re expanding the list to include those pesky vampires who keep creeping back into mainstream media.
Keep in mind, this is a super early, unofficial list compiled from information given by the panelists or production companies. The official SDCC panel schedule will be available about two weeks from preview night, Thursday, July 18th. SDCC programming will run from then until Sunday, July 22nd. For the most accurate information, please visit SDCC’s programming page.
Zombie programming schedule:
5:00 PM – Z Nation (Indigo Ballroom)
The Asylum presents a peek into the fifth season of the intense yet funny SYFY series. Anticipated panelists include DJ Qualls, Kellita Smith, Russell Hodgkinson, Karl Schaefer, and possibly more to be announced before the event.
About Z Nation:
In the beginning, a group of survivors must cross the country with a possible cure for the zombie apocalypse. The holder of the cure, a zombie-human hybrid named Murphy, may not be so cooperative. In season two, the team continued their journey to the elusive CDC lab in California, dealing with bizarre enemies both old and new and an increasingly insufferable— and perhaps dangerous— Murphy. For season three, a new adventure lurked for Citizen Z, while our survivors faced a totally foreign threat. Oh, and Murphy caused all kinds of trouble (are you surprised)? Going into the fourth season, the story skipped two years and caught up when the survivors realized they must deal with new types of zombies to stop a mysterious threat known as Black Rainbow.
11:15 AM – Fear the Walking Dead (Hall H)
There’s little information online so far, but it’s safe to assume a wide variety of cast and the show’s creators will be present. The panel is perfectly timed to give them a chance to hype the second half of the fourth season, which begins again with episode 409 on August 12th at 9 PM.
About Fear the Walking Dead:
In Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead, fans will see the world of Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her family through new eyes—the eyes of Morgan Jones (Lennie James), joining the story from the world of The Walking Dead. In the new season, the characters’ immediate past mixes with an uncertain present of struggle and discovery as they meet new friends, foes and threats. They fight for each other, against each other and against a legion of the dead, all to somehow build an existence amid the crushing pressure of lives coming apart. There will be darkness and light; terror and grace; the heroic, mercenary, and craven, all crashing together towards a new reality for Fear the Walking Dead.
12:15 PM – The Walking Dead (Hall H)
Like the above panel, we’ve got no information about incoming guests, but given a history of filling the gigantic table on stage, it’s safe to say they will not disappoint on the caliber of who’s present to introduce fans to the ninth season of the blockbuster AMC show. Hopefully we’ll get a start date, too, so you all can start planning your premiere parties.
A refresher about The Walking Dead season eight:
All out war has had a devastating impact on every person involved. The communities themselves are fractured. Alexandria has been destroyed, the Hilltop finds themselves pinned, and the Kingdom is shattered — half of them dead, the other half controlled by the Saviors. At the very center — Rick, having been distracted by the conflict, has just returned home to learn that Carl, who heroically shepherded the Alexandrians to safety during Negan’s attack, has been bitten by a walker. Once his sole motivation in this otherwise stark existence, Rick is forced to deal with this reality. Carl has always been a beacon of hope, a symbol for the remaining thread of humanity — lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward. But Rick isn’t the only person who’s living in peril. Aaron and Enid are in a dire situation at Oceanside — unclear if they’re in friendly territory, or if they’ve just made new enemies. Father Gabriel will do his part in attempting to smuggle Dr. Carson safely back to the Hilltop and a pregnant Maggie is wrestling with the many moral gray areas that come with leadership during war. In a standoff with the Saviors, she must decide how to proceed with the dozens of POW lives she’s currently in control of, as well as new complications that come with being a leader. In addition to the war, Negan continues to deal with struggles within his ranks as workers, traitors, and others’ thirst for power cause conflict at the Sanctuary. Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves. As all-out-war consumes us, the line between good and evil continues to blur. People fighting for what they believe in. Everybody working together for something bigger — to feel safe and have a world worth living in.
Vampire programming schedule:
4:00 PM – Van Helsing (Indigo Ballroom)
Get an exclusive first-look at the upcoming third season for the SYFY show, with additional information from panelists Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, Vincent Gale, Aleks Paunovic, Rukiya Bernard, Trezzo Mahoro, Neil LaBute, Mike Frislev and Chad Oakes.
About Van Helsing:
Van Helsing is set in the near future, where vampires have risen and taken control. Vanessa Van Helsing is humanity’s last hope, as her unique blood composition gives her the ability to turn vampires human. With this secret weapon, Vanessa becomes a prime target for the vampires. Van Helsing comes from the producers of Fargo and Hell on Wheels. Acclaimed director/playwright Neil LaBute serves as showrunner.
6:00 PM – The Passage (6A)
SDCC guests are in for a treat. Fox plans to screen the premiere episode, followed by a quick Q&A with the show’s stars and producers. Panelists currently scheduled are Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Saniyaa Sidney, Henry Ian Cusick, Jamie McShane , executive producer Liz Heldens, executive producer/ director Jason Ensler, and author Justin Cronin
About The Passage:
Based on author Justin Cronin’s best-selling trilogy of the same name, THE PASSAGE is an epic, character-driven thriller written by Liz Heldens. Executive-produced by Emmy Award winner and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Ridley Scott and writer/director Matt Reeves, THE PASSAGE focuses on Project Noah, a secret medical facility where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous virus that could lead to the cure for all disease, but also carries the potential to wipe out the human race. When a young girl, AMY BELLAFONTE is chosen to be a test subject, Federal Agent BRAD WOLGAST is the man who is tasked with bringing her to Project Noah. Ultimately, however, Wolgast becomes her surrogate father, as he tries to protect her at any cost. Brad and Amy’s journey will force them to confront Project Noah’s lead scientist, MAJOR NICHOLE SYKES, and the hardened ex-CIA operative in charge of operations, CLARK RICHARDS, whom Brad trained. It likewise brings them face-to-face with a dangerous new race of beings confined within the walls of Project Noah, including former scientist TIM FANNING and death-row inmate SHAUNA BABCOCK. In seeking out any allies he can find, Brad also turns to his former wife, DR. LILA KYLE, for help. But as Project Noah’s scientists hone in on a cure that could save humanity, these new beings begin to test their own powers, inching one step closer to an escape that could lead to an unimaginable apocalypse.
7:30 – Preacher (Hall H)
AMC hasn’t given any hints as to who’ll be on the panel to kick off festivities going into the show’s third season. However, seeing how the show is one of the more unpredictable on television right now, it’s safe to assume the panel will be worth a watch.
Season 3 sees Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip return to Angelville, the Louisiana Plantation where Jesse was raised and where old grudges and deadly obligations await them. With the help of his friends—and a few enemies—Jesse will need to escape his past . . . because the future of the world depends on it.
2:00 PM – Legacies (Indigo Ballroom)
Executive producer Julie Plec, with series stars Rose Russell and Matthew Davis, will host a special video presentation for the newest addition to the The Vampire Diaries franchise, as well as answer questions about the show. Legacies will premiere on The CW Thursday, October 25th at 9 PM.
Continuing the tradition of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, the story of the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. Klaus Mikaelson’s daughter, 17-year-old Hope Mikaelson; Alaric Saltzman’s twins, Lizzie and Josie Saltzman; and other young adults come of age in the most unconventional way possible, nurtured to be their best selves . . . in spite of their worst impulses. Will these young witches, vampires and werewolves become the heroes they want to be—or the villains they were born to be?
3:45 PM Buffy Musical: ‘Once More with Feeling,’ an Interactive Whedon Musical (Room 6BCF)
“Time to end this show with a bang! The powers that be behind Whedonopolis and Fandom Charities present an interactive screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode “Once More with Feeling” as Comic-Con’s big closing event! Many say this is the finest, funniest, most ingenious episode ever to come out of the Buffyverse. But remember, the best part of the show is up to you! This episode was made for talkin’-back, and singing, and shouting, and dancing in the aisles, with or without your dry cleaning! Audience participation: It isn’t just for Rocky Horror and mob riots anymore!”
One last bonus panel, if you guys want to check it out:
6:45 PM Shooting Clerks (Room 6A)
“Fresh off its feature on AMC TV’s Comic Book Me, the biographical comedy which dramatizes the making of Kevin Smith’s indie cult classic film Clerks is finally coming to indie cinemas around the U.S. later this year. Join Christopher Downie (writer/director), Brett Murray (producer/actor), Ryan James (producer/editor), Matthew Postlethwaite (actor), Jay Booton (actor), Stephanie Price (actress), special guests from Clerks and Comic Book Men including Marilyn Ghigliotti (associate producer), Ming Chen (actor) and more for an exclusive sneak peak, behind the scenes footage, and some very special announcements.”
The big news for 2018’s Spring television lineup is Fear the Walking Dead‘s cross-over with its parent show, The Walking Dead. As we found out a couple months ago, TWD’s Morgan will hop over to the show’s spin-off, which begins its fourth season on AMC on April 15th.
But how are they going to do it? The shows, as the production teams pointed out when FtWD was announced, happen during drastically different points in the apocalypse. It’s safe to assume Morgan won’t hop in a DeLorean to pay a visit to the Clark family. New showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (both from Once Upon a Time) sat with Entertainment Weekly for a few interviews leading up to the season four premiere. During an interview in January, Chambliss said, “As Morgan Jones steps into the world of FTWD, he’ll be continuing the journey he began on The Walking Dead way back in the pilot.” That’s not where his story picks up on the new show, though, and I think this sentiment is all about showing that they plan to maintain the character’s integrity. What about the time gap, though? It’s a huge elephant in the room. Are they willing to skip ahead that far just to fix the show? Photos from the FtWD set show Morgan with a sharpened staff, which could put his personal time line somewhere near “Here’s Not Here” [The Walking Dead ep. 604] where he learned how to staff fight with Eastman. Which leads me to believe Morgan must be the busiest man in the apocalypse if he’s gone from saving Rick to losing his kid, losing his mind, learning martial arts, traveling from Georgia to Texas, then back toward Washington D.C. where he became a Savior for a heartbeat, only to reunite with Rick, join a war, then move on after losing his mind yet again. Yes, this franchise does enjoy their time-jumps, but their new plan stretches reality a bit thin if we’re to buy into the desolation they’ve established as the norm in the universe. These characters just do not have the resources to do so much in so little time.
We have another elephant in the room:
We’re already on season seven and this one’s on season two and that would be crazy. As far as if those characters will ever encounter each other, I mean, they’re in the same universe so it’s completely possible. Geographically, they’re nowhere near each other so it would be somewhat farfetched if group A were to somehow encounter group B unless over the course of many, many, many, many seasons somehow it made sense.
Robert Kirkman, creator of the TWD comics and show producer, said this at a comic convention in Hawaii back in 2016. Here’s the guy who created the universe admitting how far-fetched the notion is, as illustrated above. The thing is, Past Kirkman is right. It doesn’t make sense to cross over any character—let alone Morgan, seeing as they fleshed out the gaps in his story fairly well. When asked to speak about the crossover in a recent EW interview, Kirkman now says, “When we started Fear the Walking Dead, the original idea actually included some things that would eventually tie in with the other show. We wanted to give it a few seasons to find its sea legs, so to speak, and make sure that it stood on its own and provided its own experience. The goal was that eventually, once we had established that, we would find some kind of creative way to tie things in.” Which, ya know, I didn’t grasp that potential when Kirkman shot the idea down in 2016. Everyone in the production was originally very much against combining the shows because of the time gap and location issue.
Well, Fear the Walking Dead isn’t doing nearly as well as they hoped. It never found its “sea legs,” as Kirkman puts it. The characters remained superficial icons representing stages in human grief and coping. When the production ramped up the action with the hopes of making the family more interesting by pitting them against each other at the ranch, it brought in even more unnecessary racial tension. That tension then spilled onto the San Diego Comic-Con stage in 2017 when talk show host Chris Hardwick and FtWD guest star Dayton Callie projected some seriously xenophobic behavior whilst bashing the foreign accents of leading cast members. How did the production mop up that mess? First, they never commented on it publicly. Then Hardwick was surprisingly absent from the TWD SDCC panel, presumably so producers could focus the conversation on the somber reality of losing a beloved stunt man and not the antics of AMC’s host. Finally, it seems the only way to truly get past the scandal is to move a minority character from the more popular show and use his deteriorating mental condition to completely change the narrative style with the goal to “kick start” FtWD’s flagging energy and viewer numbers.
Lennie James’ character Morgan isn’t the only newcomer for season four. He is, however, the only new minority character on a show with a well-documented and rocky history with racial issues—such as portraying Mexicans as cultish death-worshipers who ignore common sense altogether, or having Walker drop his Cowboys vs Indians style grudge only after a white man dies to “absolve” all past sins, like the old racist was Jesus or something.
Who are the new characters? Jenna Elfman plays Naomi, an aloof but adept survivor who isn’t exactly an open book. Maggie Grace is coming onboard to play Althea, who has an undisclosed background which gives her an advantage over others in the apocalypse. Taking a slight turn from some of his latest roles, Garret Dillahunt plays soft-spoken and humorous John for FtWD’s upcoming fourth season. Kevin Zegers also joins the cast, but the production remains mum on his character.
Everything the production has planned for season four boils down to using Morgan as a tool to repair the broken things which only cracked further with every attempt to fix them. The linear time line left the plot too predictable, so they plan to “experiment” with the time a little. Having stereotypes for leading characters means fans aren’t surprised in the least when Madison does things like focusing on the needs of one child over the other’s, nor do they bat an eye when Alicia finds comfort in a casual relationship instead of confronting her mother right off the bat because they established Alicia as someone who clings to relationships when stressed in season one. None of the characters change. They don’t grow. Circumstances may force certain behavior, but they always wrap back around to the same people they were three seasons ago. Morgan, on the other hand, is compelling because he changes so drastically over eight seasons. The same could never be said about Madison and her family, and it’s not like good character writing rubs off on the others just because one guy is present. This plan to use Morgan as television-writing duct tape makes no sense from a practical standpoint.
The long road to finding a home in the apocalypse is a tale told literally a thousand times, even in the guise of a family drama. Fans have seen it all. Unless FtWD pulls a rabbit out of their hat, all this rearranging of characters across the franchise will only hurt both shows in the end. The cagy answers from Kirkman, Goldberg, and Chambliss don’t assuage my concerns, either. They’re acting like they reinvented the genre, here, and I just don’t think that can happen with FtWD. Not without them starting over from the beginning.
As if this week wasn’t busy enough, what with everyone rushing to see Black Panther approximately a dozen times before Saturday, we’ve still got a trio of zombie shows making their way back to the airwaves starting Sunday, February 25th.
Speaking of Black Panther, there’s a new Walking Dead season eight mid-season premiere trailer rolling before the feature film. By the way, the movie includes TWD star Danai Gurira in one of her fiercest performances to date, so don’t miss it. There are also trailers with about half a dozen other TWD alumni in them right now. I went to see a super hero movie and still had a chance to enjoy footage showcasing some of my favorite zombie-killers. Wins all around.
Here’s the latest trailer to help you wrap your head around saying goodbye to a certain young character:
The Walking Dead returns to AMC this upcoming Sunday at 9 PM.
Opting to go head-to-head with TWD, Ash vs Evil Dead‘s third season hits STARZ on Sunday at 9 PM. This season we’re learning about Ash the Family Man and what lengths he’ll go to in order to protect the family he kinda-sorta didn’t know he had. Evil finds a new target, Brandy, Ash’s daughter, and it’s determined to get to his offspring no matter what. It’ll take some cryptic warnings from Ruby, the reformation of the Ghost Beaters, and a lot of weird supernatural stuff to save everyone from a bigger, badder threat than ever before.
Season three looks like a heck of a ride, doesn’t it?
While still basking in the glow from some of our favorites returning to TV, don’t forget to tune into The CW on Monday, February 26th for the season four premiere of iZombie at 9 PM. Everything’s changed after zombies were revealed to the general public. New Seattle is walled up, but humans still scramble to get inside in order to save themselves from mortality. Zombie life is big business. But as we all know, embracing capitalism with both arms eventually rots society from the inside out. Will it happen quicker in this New Seattle thanks to the ruthless nature of some zombies? Not if Liv and her team can help it.
We’re closer to New Seattle than everyone anticipated. Which is a relief, honestly. Not having a premiere date in-hand was worrisome. Why put off an announcement until less than two months in advance? We went through this already with Z Nation. One had hoped iZombie wouldn’t fall into that late-to-press trend, but here we are, less than two months out and CW finally drops the good news. It’s great and all, but the information delays are getting old. Likely it’s a way to create false panic, drum up news and viral campaigns to “Save this show! Let the network hear you want season blahblahblah.” There’s enough to panic about in the real world, could we stop with the fear-mongering when it comes to the future of people’s favorite franchises? Just spit it out. We all know no amount of online petitioning will really save a show—look at the footwork Dark Matter fans, cast, and creators put into saving their ship; if anyone deserves another season based on effort alone, it’s those guys. At least for now iZombie seems to have a future through season five after details emerged in the recent news regarding Knepper’s future with the CW franchise.
On Monday, February 26th at 9 PM, iZombie’s fourth season will take us into a changed Seattle. Zombies are free to live their truth in the open. It’s transformed the city from top down. Even the police department gets with the times, bringing in zombie partners for their detectives so everyone can share in Liv’s whacky brainventures. The extra hands on deck are necessary. This season the gang isn’t fighting a someone so much as a something. That something being mass migration to the newly dubbed zombie safe-hold on the notion that anyone can save themselves from terminal illness and constant pain with just one tiny scratch. The walls won’t keep desperate humans out for long. Their heightened security certainly doesn’t keep out a new character, Levon (Daniel Bonjour), or the smugglers bringing the ill into Seattle. Levon follows their story for a documentary detailing the changes to the city.
Over at AMC, they’re planning a little further in advance than everyone else and on January 13th during a press tour a spokesperson announced a slew of premieres for their spring schedule, including Fear the Walking Dead.
FTWD shambles into its fourth season on Sunday, April 15th at 10 PM. Fret not, those who aren’t night owls, that late start time is only for the premiere. The show hops back to its normal 9 PM timeslot for the remainder of the season. This time around fans will watch through Morgan’s eyes while Madison and her family struggle to survive. Because we needed that family to be even more removed from the fanbase who’re still struggling to connect with the lead characters. Sure. Right. Maybe the perspective change will bring fresh energy to the show. But honestly this reeks of a desperate grab to save a floundering fish. The producers crowed for years that there’d never be a crossover. Well, those quotes did not age well at all. On top of Lennie James coming on-board, the newest cast members for the AMC spin-off include Jenna Elfman, Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt, and Kevin Kegers.
AMC shook things up for The Walking Dead, as well. Rick and company will be returning for a ninth season, according to the latest press release. They won’t be coming back with the same showrunner, however. Scott Gimple plans to move on and oversee the entire TWD franchise as its chief content officer. Taking his place as showrunner is TWD’s co-executive producer Angela Kang. TWD returns to AMC for the second half of season eight on Sunday, February 25th at 9 PM. There’s no premiere date for season nine just yet. Expect that news sometime this summer.
The 25th is going to be a busy night. Ash vs Evil Dead also returns to the small screen on February 25th at 9 PM. Ash took on the evils from his past last season. Well, there’s one last blast from way-back to rock his world. Ash gets in touch with his inner papa bear in the third season of the Starz show after learning he’s actually got family to defend, since, ya know, the others all went deadite. Can he break the grip Death has on his family tree? With a chainsaw hand, he can do anything. But I don’t know if a chainsaw will help him become a better parent.
Stock up on popcorn, guys. There’s a lot of undead entertainment headed your way.
There’s endless possibilities in Las Vegas, Nevada. Heck, the place was pretty much built to satisfy whatever outlandish urge pops into one’s mind. Want to spend an entire paycheck in an hour? Vegas. Itching to watch stellar acrobats? Vegas. Have a hankering to try literally every kind of food imaginable crammed into one large room? Yup, Vegas has you covered. It’s not all gambling and eating. The playful side of Vegas has expanded exponentially over the last couple decades. The grandiose hotels found that diversity in attractions drew in more customers. (Duh?) Now we’ve got things like rooftop roller coasters, live shows to rival some Broadway productions, not to mention countless museums and indoor malls.
The MGM Grand is adding yet another attraction to draw in customers who aren’t into games of chance.
On September 8th, MGM Grand opened a 2,000 square foot Virtual Reality playground. Located inside their adults-only, high-tech gaming lounge, Level Up, visitors will have the opportunity to play through one of three virtual scenarios—including one set in the zombie apocalypse. The game lasts thirty minutes, costs $50, and teams may be comprised of up to eight members. Each team member will wear a wireless VR headset. The VR weapons are likewise wireless to give players a truly immersive, teatherless experience. Players are encouraged to really explore the vast gaming arena while working through the intense co-op VR games.
The VR experience is sponsored by Zero Latency, a company with several VR arenas globally. The Vegas location is the first in the western United States. Below are the game descriptions from Zero Latency’s website.
Compete against your friends and protect your fort from hordes of killer zombies!
Caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak, your team is bunkered in a fort. A rescue team is on its way and you must stay alive until they make contact. Work together to build barriers and fight off the undead hordes until help arrives!
How will you fair against killer robots and drones?
You and your team are sent to investigate a secret military space station that has gone dark. Fight your way through killer robots, rogue drones and merciless gun turrets to reclaim the high-tech military black-site. How will you fair against AI?
Be prepared to have your reality turned upside down in Engineerium!
You are transformed into an ethereal, ancient alien, who must work with your clan to ascend through a mind-bending, mystical world to be reunited with your tribe. Be prepared to have your reality turned upside down!
The Walking Dead franchise draws big business for everyone involved. It only makes sense that game developers would scramble to snatch a piece of that pie. There’s a few TWD games already out in the world, namely the tension-ridden series from Telltale Games and it’s spin-offs, A New Frontier and Michonne. Telltale teamed up with Zen Studios to produce The Walking Dead Pinball, which allows players to play pinball on location maps from Telltale’s main TWD game, including the addition of player choice to determine the ongoing story. Scopely released its addition to the franchise in 2015 with The Walking Dead: Road to Survival—a game recently plagued with glitches which inspired spending freezes from dedicated players and several intense press releases from the developer promising to do better for the game’s devoted fan base.
Two more developers have stepped in to bring more undead fun to the masses this year. First up is Disruptor Beam’s The Walking Dead: March to War. While not set in the television universe and taking most of its cues from the comics, it still has events inspired by the show. In this strategy game, players develop alliances with each other in order to not only survive the walkers wandering through Washington D.C., but also the humans they encounter while building a secure home base. Players have a twenty mile map to work in, encompassing all the iconic buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital. If they’re having a hard time figuring out what to do, players have the opportunity to bring Rick and Negan onto their advisory council. Help is always needed, according to the developers. Getting by on one’s own in the game is apparently pretty difficult. March to War is free for iOS and Android devices. But you get what you pay for, and this is a new game. Expect some glitches while the developers roll out updates. The graphics aren’t stellar. There’s also been several complaints about monetary purchases failing.
The newest addition to the TWD franchise will be The Walking Dead: Our World from developer Next Games. Whereas all the other TWD-based games focus on player vs player fighting or dive deep into what’s basically a pick-your-own-adventure game format, Our World is vastly different. The game is, essentially, Pokémon Go but with walkers instead of brightly colored creatures. Augmented reality games were all the rage last year and Our World feels like it may have missed the boat by, oh, six months or so—that’s being generous since there’s no actual release date yet. That delay may be in their favor though, giving developers more time to work out the quirks which made other AR games difficult to play, or downright ridiculous due to the programs inability to read the distance to the ground accurately. Game play for Our World shows grounded characters, so there will be little chance of watching Michonne or any of the other television characters floating four feet in the air as they slay the undead. When it does finally release, the game will be available for iOS and Android systems.
Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.
I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.
Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.
Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.
For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.
Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.
Ashy Slashy’s Taking Over Universal Studios by R.C. Murphy
Just when you thought it was safe to enter a theme park alone, Universal Studios announced that this fall, Ash vs Evil Dead will join the ranks of great horror franchises the park has adapted for their Halloween Horror Nights event in Hollywood and Orlando. Starting September 15th, horror fans will have the chance to walk through not only the AvED haunted maze, but also the long-standing The Walking Dead maze, as well as haunts for The Shining, American Horror Story, and Jabbawockeez. Tickets are available online now.
Below is the official description for the maze. Hopefully they’ll fully utilize the franchise, instead of picking one or two setups and repeating them in two dozen rooms, as they have in the past with mazes like A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The Ash vs Evil Dead maze will transport guests into the town of Elk Grove, Mich., where they will encounter Deadites – people or objects possessed by evil demons – that have been unwittingly unleashed by Ash Williams – again. Throughout the maze, guests will come face-to-face with disturbing characters and iconic comedic and gory scenes from seasons 1 and 2 as they desperately try to escape all things evil…before it’s too late.
The STARZ Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead is a follow-up to the original The Evil Dead movie, which has long been regarded as a cult classic since its debut in 1981. Starring Bruce Campbell, who reprises his role as Ash Williams, the series has amassed a huge fan base and was renewed for a third season by STARZ. Catch up on the STARZ APP.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims of their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing scare-actors lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.
Additional details about Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visit Halloween Horror Nights’ official site.
So, who’s planning a road trip to get their pants scared off?
This year the San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Walking Dead was a vast departure from the way the show’s run things for the last seven years. Yes, the cast was there in force. Yes, the series’ showrunner and producers were on stage to guide the conversation away from spoilers. But Hardwick was nowhere to be seen. There were no prepared questions or discussion, and they jumped straight to audience questions. There weren’t even name tags on the table. The mood on stage was about eight notches down from past years. They’ve had a seriously rough summer, and given everything it’s surprising they still came at all instead of sending a smaller delegation with the trailer. No one would have blamed them for cancelling.
Scott Gimple opened this year’s panel with a touching statement about John Bernecker, an accomplished stuntman who tragically lost his life after an on-set accident a couple weeks ago. Prompted by a fan’s question later in the discussion, Robert Kirkman and Greg Nicotero also took a moment to remember late director George Romero, the man who created the zombie genre as we now know it.
The cast and crew were excited to announce that episode 801 is actually the show’s 100th episode. Danai Gurira misspoke at one point, saying, “100 years,” instead of episodes, to which Lincoln claimed it felt like it. To celebrate the occasion, AMC has a few things up their sleeves for social media and the likes come October. The producers also brought a retrospective video to show the panel audience to kick off the celebration. I’m not sure what clips they used, but Reedus was especially touched by the video and took the chance to gush about his time on the show toward the panel’s end.
The panel had about 30 minutes of fan questions after the retrospective. We didn’t get much about the new season outside the 5-minute trailer. Kirkman did put his foot down about possible future story lines—there will be no immune characters or another search for a cure, ever. They also teased new characters, but intentionally left the answer so vague, I’m just going to assume an alien invasion is a go until proven otherwise. Gimple joked that as part of the 100th episode, Judith will get her first zombie kill. “Three’s old enough,” Gimple said as everyone laughed. Kirkman promised that season 8 will be, “action-packed and fast-paced.” Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan stated they hope the show story line falls in line with the comics, as both would love to delve into that particular Carl/Negan dynamic. When asked about Glenn’s legacy living on in the baby, Lauren Cohan hoped the writers give Maggie the chance to instill his strengths in the child as it grows, as well as passing on tales of Hershel, Beth, and the extended family they’ve left behind.
The rest of the fan questions prompted some levity in the group, but not much. On a few occasions, Gimple acted as moderator, urging actors who weren’t answering fan questions to talk about, well, anything. To wrap things up, they showed that baffling trailer again.
No, I don’t think they’re pulling a Dallas, guys. Calm yourselves. But the end does raise a whole truckload of questions.