Zombie Reviews . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Zombie Reviews . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

By A. Zombie

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies delivers a timeless tale, rife with fighting, set in a post-apocalyptic, yet historical era. You can’t deny that it is oddly satisfying to watch a group of accomplished young women mow down a ballroom of zombies with naught but long daggers—which were concealed under their gowns—and some serious martial arts skills. Are there issues meshing the worlds? Of course. In the end, the film is visually satisfying enough to overlook most of it. As a boon, fans of the Pride and Prejudice story still find enough of the source to reconnect with their favorite characters in a whole new way. Or, as is one case, finally come to somewhat like what is possibly the most annoying character in literature.

Sam Riley and Douglas Booth in Screen Gems’ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

The Pride and Prejudice story has enough twists and turns to make it a compelling tale. Adding in the undead posed a particular problem: How to keep the romance in the forefront without compromising a solid story about love’s place in the social structure by changing the setting to the apocalypse. In order to achieve this the quickest way possible, the film doesn’t open with the Bennet ladies and their marriage-worried parents—I will note that post-apocalypse Father Bennet has no interest in wedding off his daughters, only training them to survive. Instead, it begins with Darcy on the hunt for a zombie hiding in the midst of the upper crust. As far as first impressions goes, it’s a pretty sharp introduction. The first zombie isn’t a rotter, held back from the full transformation because he didn’t consume human flesh. Nevertheless, he’s infected and must be dispatched. It’s the first-person point-of-view kill which ruins the scene’s impact. Darcy is cunning and ruthless, then there’s this cheesy head-rolling moment with the camera. When it recovers from the point-of-view shift, the camera pans upstairs to a second, far more detailed zombie before the scene changes. The scene is crammed in before the traditional start to the PaP story, and the outcome of Darcy’s escapade, plus his failure to kill the second zombie, is dragged in again as a way to bring zombies to Bingley’s first party. At least it isn’t a single-purpose moment.

For the most part, the story itself is predictable if one is aware of the source material. There’s very few surprises, like Lady Catherine’s part as a one-eyed, sword-wielding leader in the human forces fighting the dead for control of London and the surrounding countryside. Even Wickham’s true nature, beyond being a cad and a narcissist, isn’t really shocking if one follows the natural progression of how the original book unfolds. I would’ve liked to see more effort to adapt the full story into something different. Lady Catherine remaining on the side of the angels bugs me in particular, seeing as she’s pretty awful to Elizabeth no matter what incarnation of PaP is being told. It would’ve been more shocking for her to side with Wickham over a common undead state than to willingly take in the Bennets, whom she sees as barely above her lady’s maid in social status.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems’ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

This is one horror film where it’s hard to do what we’re accustomed to: hoping all the lead characters bite the big one. Primarily, PaPaZ is a romance with relatable, quirky characters. The zombie war is there in the background to give Elizabeth and Darcy something to bond over, to put them on equal footing at last. That’s the big difference in this retelling of the classic. Elizabeth isn’t some seemingly-damaged suitcase her parents try to sell Darcy—and any other man without a bride— with no concern for her feelings. Yes, Mrs. Bennet’s marriage obsession plays a huge role in breaking apart the primary couple, as it always does, but it’s not as depressing as usual when looking at what Elizabeth has accomplished without a husband. Her prospects with zombies raiding England are better than they were in the actual historical era, all because their new society saw an education with the key sources far beyond the country’s borders as the only way to survive the menace—looking out to find a way to fix the problems within is something few societies embrace. Her progress in women’s self-empowerment doesn’t stop the entire Parson Collins plot from happening, though. He still arrives, annoys, and marries a Bennet daughter. Only this time around, Collins is somewhat tolerable because Matt Smith made him a bumbling fool, not a man coldly calculating how to sleep his way ahead in Lady Catherine’s good graces. Collins provides another opportunity to sew zombie conflict into the Bennet’s lives, but the potential went unchecked. The writer had a focus; Wickham’s established part as villain would be upheld. But why is he the villain? Why not any of the numerous people in Elizabeth’s life who degraded her for her gender or her place in society? Answer? He took a woman (property in the era) without permission. It’s a trope so old, I really hoped it would remain in the classic story and they’d do something different for the Wickham/Lydia plot.

The zombies in the film range in appearance. For the most part, they’re seen at a distance in groups. Few zombies get the close-up treatment, even fewer actually show grotesque wounds like traditional undead depictions. When the camera does get up close and personal with a zombie, I cringe. The design overall is great. Having undead waltzing around in these grand gowns and waistcoats strikes an oddly-pleasing discord. The illusion blows to pieces when one realizes there’s little practical gore on the actors. Featured dead have digital wounds; presumably to enhance the ick, plus make wounds deeper and move naturally during dialog. However, even the church girls on-screen for all of a minute appear to have digital rot on their cheeks instead of practical makeup. That’s where the design decisions stop making sense and become a headache for genre fans. The film cost enough without making the makeup digital. In a way, it feels we were cheated from a proper zombie battle scene because of the zombie design relying on digital gore. Yes, there’s a rather tense bit toward the end when they finally confront Wickham and the undead at St. Lazarus, but the camera is pulled back. Distance from the main threat in the film leaves the undead with the menace of a mosquito, not a lion hunting the countryside. It robs a little justice from Lydia’s rescue, as well, when there’s no real danger from zombies who are too far away to see clearly.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies delivers what it promised: A classic story with zombies wandering in to seriously ruin everyone’s day more than Darcy’s absent sense of humor. Is it a perfect retelling of Austen’s novel? Hell no. Is it a decent zombie flick? Yeah, I’ll give it that. PaPaZ gets four majorly dislocated jaws out of five. Grab the film to enjoy beautiful things covered in blood n guts, stay for the witty snits between Darcy and Elizabeth.


The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be: Review for The Walking Dead 701

BEEP!BEEP!BEEP! Spoiler warning!

Yeah, the warning is right on top this week. We’ve got a lot to discuss and little time to pussyfoot around with generalizations and all that rubbish. You guys waited months for this episode. Was it worth the anger at the producers and writers who said we’d be glad for so much time to stew over who died? Do you feel cheated by the dual deaths? How about all that brain matter on the ground, was it too much? Most importantly, are any of us really feeling the emotion between Rick and Negan or will the directors continue leading it to an awkward place where it’s laughable?

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I, personally, feel cheated out of the surprise. The producers showed their hands months ago when they continuously stated that the show would gradually realign with what happens in the comic books. One death talked about constantly is Negan murdering Glenn. Hell, someone just released an action figure featuring Glenn’s mangled face as it’s shown on the page—which is almost identical to what’s on screen for that heartbreaking apology to Maggie. Almost in the same breath as the realigning statements, TWD higher-ups denied that Glenn would die. Red flag. Red flags everywhere. It was raining them at SDCC 2016. Since then, I’ve spent the time away from TWD saying goodbye to my favorite character. So when Negan first hit Glenn, my reaction was a resigned sigh. Then profanity, and more sighing. The show which constantly states they want to break boundaries and do new things is still utterly predictable.

Abraham’s brutal murder wasn’t overly shocking either if one stops for even a minute to think as Negan would when sizing up his newest assets. Manipulation is his bread and butter. One look at Rick’s people and how they handled interactions with the Saviors told Negan everything he needed to know—kill Abe because he’s ride-or-die loyal, keep Daryl because he’s mentally fragile and can be manipulated just like Rick. This is easy for Negan. Twisting people’s minds to do what he wants is the sole reason he’s not rotting in a walker’s gut. So why would an astute audience willingly overlook this? Why, TWD writers, would you go for the two characters who make the most sense if your desire was to shock, surprise, and devastate? Anyone with half a brain who tunes in regularly knew we’d lose Abraham. Daryl sells too much merchandise. Rick’s demise would’ve been awesome, but ultimately disappointing because the lead-up to the murder scene was so lackluster and drawn-out. Killing a woman would’ve started a feminist war in the fanbase. Carl was a good candidate, but he’s got too much potential to carry the show forward now. Plus in Negan-sense, he’s a carrot to dangle in front of Rick to ensure good behavior. The remaining gentlemen, as much as we adore them, just wouldn’t have the same impact. I would’ve been more shocked by that scene if Negan didn’t kill anyone, but just as pissed off with the direction the show took for the season premiere.

I mean, since when is five minutes of Rick staring at a set we’ve already seen before gripping television? He’s supposed to have a breakdown during the whole axe-fetching scene. Okay, that’s believable. So why did it involve long shots of walkers shuffling through smoke cut with the footage shown at SDCC with Lucille and the main cast? The scene felt like something from an indie band’s music video—a lone, agonized man surrounded by the cheesiest surroundings ever, just to feel spooky. Then, to make the death scenes mean even less, they show clips with Rick imagining everyone else getting a kiss upside the dome from Lucille. Why? We already know what he’s thinking. A good actor can do that, and Andrew Lincoln is no slouch when it comes to his face betraying every thought in Rick’s head.

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They wanted to come into the Negan Era with a loud noise. In order to make noise, the plot’s gotta move faster than a snail’s pace. Inertia. Ever hear of it? The ball doesn’t roll and keep rolling without a hell of a push. It took the show fifteen minutes to get to the murders. I almost turned it off, thinking they’d strung us along for yet another week, and I was done if that were the case. It wasn’t, but the scene is buried so far in the episode, it does no good other than to turn stomachs. The only reason the scene is hidden in the episode is because of the backlash from the season six cliffhanger. Many fans felt as I did; we’ll watch the opening scene for season seven to learn who died and move on to another, more entertaining show which actually strives to write coherently. In a direct thumb-nosing to the noise-makers speaking against the cliffhanger, they cut together the episode just to make us wait through a couple commercial breaks. How nice of them to ensure the show makes a buck from a group who’re pretty likely to throw out their TWD fan badges after learning who died. I’m not tossing my badge in the fire just yet because I have hope the Negan era will smooth out, but it’s a near thing after this episode.

The violence in the episode really struck some sour notes across the fandom. Every complaint I see is met with a laugh. Fans derided the writers when there wasn’t enough undead violence. They scream for blood anytime a character or group disrespects the main cast. Yet the bad guy, who we’ve been warned about constantly since the show began by fans of the comics, comes in and does exactly what he’s supposed to, and it’s suddenly too much for the delicate flowers planted on their couches. Take up gardening if you can’t handle fake blood on a show centered on how messed up humanity is without actual rules to govern it. Were the close-ups too much? Possibly. I’m not one to judge. Horror and gore are my jam. I only started watching TWD to see what KNB FX could do with extended time to develop creatures and death gags; they’ve yet to disappoint. I will state that wanting a show built on the premise of killing things in order to survive to shy away from gruesome murders is like expecting a unicorn to lick away your tears while curing cancer. It won’t happen.

For the most part, we already knew what’d happen plot wise: Someone dies, Rick and Negan have a long moment to deal with Rick’s stubbornness, the Alexandria crew is absorbed by the Saviors, and Maggie wants blood, but she’s in no position to even walk, let alone lead a war. Daryl as the cause of Glenn’s death was the lone surprise for me—as I stated, I saw the death coming, just not how it’d happen. We’ve waited since Merle’s death for Daryl to be relevant to the plot again and now I want him to be the next big death on the show. Why? Because Daryl knew dang well that someone else, not him, would die for that single punch. They all knew Negan’s M.O. by that point. Abe died because of Rick’s hubris, yet that wasn’t lesson enough for everyone’s apocalyptic savior? Yeah, no. I’m beyond done with their failed attempts to make Daryl into an actual character. He’s been a two-dimensional promotional tool for so long, they’ve forgotten the character has a brain.

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Now that the clunky season opener is behind us, maybe the ball will roll through season seven better. But, wait, we’ve still got a whole ‘nother group to introduce over at The Kingdom. If that episode is as awkward and poorly timed as the Negan/Rick glare-downs in the RV, I don’t know how much longer they can continue to pretend they know how to produce a show, let alone write one with so much potential for real depth and ability to shine a light on the massive problems in today’s society. They keep dropping the ball. I’m tired of waiting for someone in the TWD production office to finally pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. It’s time they returned to giving fans entertainment of substance instead of shilling the Walking Dead name and filling their coffers.


A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set

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A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set
Episodes 1 & 2
By A. Zombie

I’ll tell you right now, two episodes into Dead Set and I still have nothing emotionally invested in the show’s contestants. That’s not to say I haven’t found someone to root for during the end days—Kelly steals every scene she’s in, vastly improving what could have been five episodes of uninspiring reality stars wandering around until they were eaten.

I’d totally cheer if they were all eaten. I might even wave pompoms.

deadsetcastThe show opens with a typical afternoon leading up to another eviction from the BB house, as dictated by fan votes. The household prepares, some touching up their nails, others banging out their nerves behind closed doors. In the production office, Kelly delivers an endless stream of coffee to the crew. The producer, Patrick, demonstrates what a skuzzball he really is while cutting together highlight reels for the event and barking orders at his frazzled staff. Nothing is amiss until we catch snippets from news reports—strange deaths, attacks on police, etc. The reports grow in severity, leading Patrick to worry his precious eviction episode will be preempted in favor of a news bulletin. God forbid.

Eventually, the chaos reaches the remote location for the BB house and production office. The first zombie to arrive is a company driver—injured and brought to the studio by a production assistant who was sent with him to fetch a guest for the show. From there, the infection spreads through the gathered BB fans. By the time the evicted housemate, Pippa, makes it to the interview room, most of the crowd has turned. It takes mere minutes for the undead to overrun the offices.

The housemates hear the screams and think Pippa is a smash hit with the crowd. They crack open a few bottles, a few drinks to celebrate surviving to see another eviction night.

Little do they know, they’re probably the only ones celebrating in the UK.

deadsetbittenhousemateThe real story isn’t the housemates or their skeezy producer. Kelly provides the heartbeat, and common sense, for the show. While her love life is a feature in the beginning, it’s a non-issue by the time the second episode rolls out. There are a few amazing solo scenes with Kelly doing whatever it takes to survive. It’s not until she takes refuge in the BB house with the remaining cast that we realize she’s the entire braintrust. Where they are keen to believe for as long as possible that the weird things going on are staged, she’s ready to beat anyone to death who so much as looks undead. She’s also the only one with a plan to get medical supplies when a housemate is bitten.

The zombies themselves are minimally made-up, background creatures relying on pale faces, a few wounds, and blood to convey the undead message. We see a few hero zombies with better makeup, mostly in the second episode. There’s great detail in the close-up gore shots, though they’re so shaky, it’s like a toddler was thrown into the fight scenes with a Go Pro strapped to their head. These are also some seriously fast undead. It raises the stakes drastically when the living cannot outrun the dead. Something missing from other shows relying on compelling characters to drive the plot. Who needs to relate to the characters? Just give us zombie action.

While I’m enjoying Kelly’s story, and it’s the only reason I’ll watch the three remaining episodes, this would be much more entertaining with a better-written cast behind her. Patrick is a toad, utterly disgusting and should’ve died in the initial murders. The housemates barely have a brain cell between them. It makes their scenes difficult to endure to get to the actual story. Hopefully with Kelly breaking the barrier between the BB production team and the housemates, it’ll make their scenes bearable.


A. Zombie Reviews . . . Burying the Ex

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A. Zombie Reviews . . . Burying the Ex

Burying1In a wicked case of, “Too soon, a-hole,” I was given Burying the Ex to review not long after Anton Yelchin’s passing. Guilt ate at me until I finally watched. It’d be a disservice to an incredible actor to not watch everything he did on the screen. Spoilers, this film delivers exactly what it promises—a lighthearted horror romance with plenty of off-kilter jokes.

The relationship between Max and Evelyn is beyond ridiculous . . . yet not completely off-base in some areas. Keep in mind, Evelyn doesn’t go off the deep, deep end until magic changes the terms of their relationship. The earlier issues Max has with Evelyn are grounded in reality. She’s holding him back from his dream to own his own horror prop shop. All their meals are vegan. Though, Evelyn does have Max’s back when it comes to his hyper-sexual, skuzzball half-brother, Travis. Brotherly love does not extend to banging chicks on your half-brother’s floor just so they don’t know where you live, just saying. There’s no love between girlfriend and half-brother. Evelyn chews Travis out every time he lets himself into their apartment.

Burying3Evelyn’s magically-amplified jealousy left a bad taste in my mouth after Olivia’s introductory scene. Evie was unhinged and so neurotic over ice cream, it hit ludicrous fast. The point was to show Evelyn spiraling out of control, eventually leading to her death. Instead, the scene killed all pity for the character and made Olivia the side chick for trying to do her job. Hell, she didn’t ask for Max’s phone number or offer him a lap dance. They both just happen to know a lot about kid’s horror-themed cereal. The clunky jealousy bleeds over to zombie Evelyn’s on-screen time, but isn’t as problematic until the film’s climax.

On the flipside, the secondary romance story is something which would make one sigh, save Max being distracted by a friggen zombie who won’t move out of his apartment. Olivia is the cool, but weird chick most people write as death-obsessed, practically sleeping in a coffin Goth. She’s funny, refreshing, Most importantly, at no point did her scenes become, “Everything you can do, I can do better,” with Olivia doing out of character things just to prove she’s not Evelyn.

Burying2On the effects side, things are a little light. Evelyn’s makeup morphs wonderfully from freshly risen to mottled, withered walking dead as the film’s second half plays out. What few other practical effects are in the film are graphic. Viewers can dang near feel the sticky embalming fluid vomit. By the way, there’s a post-credit add-on showing the FX team pumping the goo into Yelchin’s face. He reacted out of character about the same as he did in character.

Burying the Ex is an “It gets better,” note to any weirdo feeling stuck in every aspect of their life. Sure, they won’t end up with an unhinged, jealous zombie sharing their bed, but Max did eventually move on from everything holding him back and making him miserable. I give the film three and a three-quarters cracked skulls out of five.


Undead Roundup – Summer Edition

Undead Roundup – Summer Edition
By R.C. Murphy

Fear-the-walking-dead-season-2b-key-art-poster-1200First up, don’t miss Fear the Walking Dead‘s return for the latter half of season two starting Sunday August 21st at 9/8c. We’ve been promised crazier dead-obsessed folks. Madison is on a quest to save Nick. Plus Alicia becomes a badass, and there’s a father/son road trip which will likely crash and burn. Oh and a hotel that apparently rains corpses.

ZNS3BTSZ Nation will be the next to hit the airwaves with their recently announced September 16th . . . or was that the 23rd for the premiere? To clear up confusion, David Michael Latt, the show’s producer, became a one-man FAQ. He filled in fans via Twitter, saying the two-hour episode airing on the 16th is what he called a, “lost episode,” which will feature returning characters. This episode/movie begins at 8/7c and sets up the action for the third season, which begins the following week. Latt said there may be a ZN marathon before the new season begins. He also said season three is “nuts,” and shared a link to pirated footage for a teaser premiered at SDCC. After watching said footage, I agree. Season three looks downright bonkers.

AvEDS2posterHope you’re ready to get groovy, baby. Ash vs Evil Dead is back on Starz on October 2. Be prepared for bloodier FX, funnier jokes, and Lee Friggen Majors as Ash’s papa. I mean, what more do I need to say about this show? They’ve done what they intended and gave Evil Dead fans something to salivate over—or in most cases, vomit from the gore. We’ve been promised some “Holy crap” tie-ins to the previous films. They’ve already confirmed some special guests, like Ted Raimi and Joel Tobek coming in to play this season’s big bad, Baal. In this season, we’ll learn about Ash’s past while the gang cleans up the mess he and Ruby made last season.

TWDS7TeaseOn October 23rd at 9/8c, The Walking Dead returns to AMC for its seventh season. Talking Dead aired a special on August 14th to tease everyone about the upcoming premiere. Basically it was forty minutes of awkward conversations dodging actually saying something about the season. Every recorded video from the actors simply repeated the tired, “This episode will gut you,” rhetoric. There was a spicy exchange by Melissa McBride and Lennie James, singing each other’s praises. Their characters head off to The Kingdom and they’ve spent a lot of time together while shooting. Scott Gimple sent along a message for Chris Hardwick to read. For the most part, it confirmed that the show is aligning more with the comics, but they will still put their unique spin to whatever comes. The big reveal came when they aired a forty second clip featuring Dwight cleaning up a bunch of blown up walkers. Yeah, not much of a tease.

iZS3BTSLast up, iZombie. Seeing as this is a mid-season show, it doesn’t have an airdate just yet. What do we know? The CW’s president recently gave props to the show-runners, stating that iZ would have a place on the network as long as it continues to perform well. He also confirmed a thirteen episode season three. Team Zombie is hard at work on set. “Hard” seems like the wrong word after scrolling past photos of their behind-the-scenes antics, but I trust they’re also getting some work done.


iZombie: So, is there a Big Bad or Not?

rose-mciverTeam Zombie rolled into San Diego for Comic-Con 2016, looking quite sharp, I might add. Wardrobe aside, the gang was down a man. Robert Buckley couldn’t make it. However, newly-christened series regular Aly Michalka joined the cast, along with show creators Rob Thomas and Diane Russiero-Wright. They were in good spirits, despite the usual chaos at the con. For a good reason, they began filming for season three this week. Matter of fact, I think I saw Rose McIver post a video from the set on Wednesday with Buckley in tow. The zombie ball is rolling. But how are they going to deal with the fallout from the season two finale?

We said goodbye to our main Big Bad. His company was taken over by Vivian Stoll and her undead army. Rob Thomas said Stoll comes into the show in a unique position. “I’m not sure I file her under Big Bad” Going into season three, Stoll is a reactionary presence to the impending zombie problems once the public finds out. Only, instead of having a standing army to defend humans, this army is made from the undead to carve out a place in the world for them once the truth flies. Power like that can be corrupted. It’ll be interesting to see which side of the fence Stoll lands on, or if she can carefully navigate the line between and remain lawful neutral. Adding so many new zombies to the mix poses some ethical questions for Liv. An example given later in the panel pits Liv’s shocking white hair and pale skin against Stoll’s brood who strive to always blend in, covering the very thing which makes Liv unique.

Team Z will regroup stronger than ever. Liv is determined to keep everyone on the same page. No secrets. Out the gate, they dig into Stoll’s company. Some B-stories aren’t following through right away. The Boss story line will take a back-burner to establish new characters and dynamics. Major will search for Natalie and fulfil his promise to her. Not sure if that’s a solo mission or not. I’d assume not since they finally have everyone on the same page. We’re not done cleaning up the Chaos Killer mess, either. There’s one more Popsicle to defrost. Robert Knepper will return as Angus DeBeers in episode one this season. I’m thrilled. The DeBeers family reunions are a things of beauty.

The creators promise a shift in the story style. Season three will play out more like episodes of Law and Order, where Liv and Clive catch the bad guys, Peyton prosecutes. It looks like more of the crimes will tie into the zombie thing, at least from the way Thomas phrased the style rundown.

Other random tidbits dropped during the panel include a promise from the creators to McIver that they will not kill Liv’s next romantic interest, even if it is Major. This isn’t Supernatural. The hot lead actor can’t keep dying and coming back via some miracle.

Yes, there’s a love triangle with Ravi, Peyton, and Blaine. No, none of them know where it’s going. Though the cast joked about making it an open relationship, including Clive, and dragging Liv along as the fifth wheel.

Don’t get your hopes up for a working cure. Thomas said if Ravi creates a cure, the show is over. He also enjoys writing Blaine’s memory loss too much to give up cure 2.0’s side-effects and move on to 3.0 just yet.

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We learned that McIver got to veto one potential brain for season three. From a list of about fifty. Then the night before the SDCC panel, they informed her she would get to play dominatrix this season. Guess that one isn’t up for negotiation. It better be the most integral part of the story this season or I’m going to roll my eyes at yet another excuse to dress Liv down in any way.

The new zombie blood will shake things up for the show, along with a new story format. If they keep the momentum from the finale rolling through the first couple episodes, it should be a fun ride. iZombie returns to CW in October.


A One-Way Ticket to Tijuana, Please

Fear the walking Dead SDCC 2016 Coverage By R.C. Murphy

Taking the stage first in the two-hour Dead block in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Fear the Walking Dead kicked off the festivities with the teaser for the latter half of season two.

For the most part, the trailer focus on Nick’s pilgrimage to Tijuana. He meets some kind people, some not so kind people, and even more people with a bizarre connection to the dead. It’s like he’s drawn to this stuff. Madison drags Alicia, Strand, and Ofelia around Mexico looking for Nick with no results. They wind up taking refuge in a hotel which randomly rains dead bodies. But it must be an okay place, Alicia stopped to shower. Travis and Chris’ bonding trip is off to a rocky start as son insists repeatedly that he can take care of himself against the undead or any obstacle in his way. There is a lot more close-quarters fighting with the infected on the way. Alicia does some slightly-very dangerous things to shake her undead assailants. We’ve also got more than just the gangs and weirdos in Tijuana to look out for, as well. Chris and Travis’ problems aren’t all internal for the remaining seven episodes.

Producer Gale Anne Hurd said, “We’re really going to see a lot of things you’ve never seen on television before.” Having seen the TWD trailer, that bar is pretty high. I don’t think FtWD can deliver on the spectacle coming from its sister show. However, if they can get even an ounce of the energy from that trailer to translate to each episode’s timing, I may consider watching it again.

The characters fans saw earlier in the season won’t be quite the same. Producer Dave Alpert said he’s enjoyed watching the characters turn into “battle-hardened warriors.” Kim Dickens echoed the sentiment, saying what Madison did in the mid-season finale revealed a new side to her. We’ll see a more extreme Madison from here on out, perhaps? Madison isn’t the only parent stepping to the plate. Cliff Curtis claimed Travis won’t be a sad-ass when the show returns, he’s prepared to become a, “bad ass dad.” Pretty much every actor spoke up to say their character would get a harder edge for the new episodes. Matter of fact, Mercedes Mason said she wants Ofelia to “pull a Carol” and become “a really violent butterfly.” Coleman Domingo had a different outlook for Strand. He considers Strand a symbol for Western civilization. As his character survives, he will continue to break down.

There was a new face on the panel. Danay Garcia will join the show for the remainder of season two as Luciano. She plays a part In Nick’s story line.

Will the new blood and a kick in the pants for the characters be enough to make it as interesting as the trailer promises? I sincerely hope so. There’s too much potential in that cast to continue to watch them flounder with a poorly-managed script. The danger becomes if splitting the group and the story leads to forgotten characters or story-telling shortcuts which defy what little logic these characters operate by currently. I know there’s not much sense in a guy who covers himself in zombie goo all the time, but you know what I mean.
Fear the Walking Dead will continue its second season on August 21st at 9 PM on AMC.


Oh Great, They’ve Got a . . . Tiger?

The Walking Dead SDCC 2016 Coverage By R.C. Murphy

The annual walker invasion at San Diego Comic-Con took place from July 21st through the 24th. Okay, there were a few thousand other people there, as well. Comic-Con is kind of a big thing, if you’ve lived under a rock for the last few years.

One of the most anticipated panels this year was The Walking Dead. Lucy had some ‘splainin’ to do about that angst-generating cliffhanger ending. Which is why Robert Kirkman struck that iron while hot shortly after the producers took the stage. Aside from numerous statements defending the ending since the finale, he simply added that fans would love the payoff from waiting so long for the reveal. We’ll agree to disagree, as we have since he first stepped on a soapbox to defend knee-capping Negan’s big moment.

What’s new for season seven? The producers confirmed a visit to The Kingdom, plus many more survivors and locations. Gale Anne Hurd meowed at one point, which baffled show fans who haven’t delved into the comic world. Kirkman admitted that once the show took off, he included things in the comics they’d never put on television. The show’s other producers picked up the gauntlet and plan to include some of the outlandish comic ideas into season seven. Sometimes these things bites one in the backside. In this case, one idea can bite off an entire backside and then some.

Right before they premiered the trailer, Nicotero shared new walker concept art. Looks like we’ve got more burned walkers on the way, plus the older walkers continue to become more mummy-like, and I don’t even know what happened to the bulgy walker. Death by bee hive attack?

Okay, on to the trailer.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan swaggering on the screen. Instead, we got a rehash of the finale’s final scene, along with a cliché memorial video of sorts superimposed over Lucille. I would’ve gladly taken just the cropped shot of him slamming Lucille down on an unseen victim after a pan of the group by the RV. Instead they padded the footage with what is essentially an overly emotional teen girl’s video scrapbook. All that’s missing is the sappy song. The second half of the trailer delivers new characters, but too fast to identify any faces. We meet Ezekiel, leader at The Kingdom. Something we’ve rarely seen on this show is animals. Well, that’s about to change. There’s beasties coming. Most notably, Shiva, Ezekiel’s pet tiger. Funny how a few years ago, the show’s budget was nitpicked right and left. Suddenly they’re okay with tossing huge chunks of cash in to make CG animals.

The actors hit the stage when the trailer wrapped. Andrew Lincoln told fans, “Hang in there, guys.” He went on to say Jeffrey Dean Morgan has way too much fun as Negan. Which, as we already know, is probably creepy as hell on set, despite JDM’s infectious smile. There’s just something about a grinning guy wielding a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat to make one’s sphincter clench. Lauren Cohan said, “We go to very physical and emotional places.”

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Pretty standard quo for this show, but things are just beginning to take a turn for the worst. Nicotero confirmed it when he said this [their current situation with Negan] isn’t rock bottom.

The panel devolved into talk about on-set pranks and several cast members doing impressions of other actors. They did air the footage from when Reedus dumped a ton of confetti in Lincoln’s car air ducts. The first time I watched it, I couldn’t breathe because I laughed so hard.

I wasn’t happy with TWD at the end of season six, and they still haven’t done much to convince me they grossly mishandled Negan’s entrance. Yes, we get a flippin’ tiger next season, as well as a smarmy yet charming Big Bad, but fans are kind of a puppy kicked too many times. They’ve promised so many grand things, what happens if these season seven grand plans fizzle like the drawn-out Beth storyline?

Once you jump the tiger, there’s no going back. Hope they have a solid game plan going into this highly unpredictable season.


A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Snow: Red vs Dead

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Rated: R (Strong language, graphic violence, and gore)
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn De Boer
Synopsis: If the worst day of your life consisted of accidentally killing your girlfriend with an axe, chain-sawing your own arm off, and watching in horror as your closest friends were devoured by a zombified Nazi battalion, you’d have to assume that things couldn’t get much worse. In Martin’s case, that was only the beginning. [Official Synopsis]

 

 

Most of the film is Martin sprinting here and there to save everyone’s bacon with his accidental zombie mojo. He’s joined by the Zombie Squad and a random guy he reanimated who dies in several horrific ways, only to revive again. They eventually figure out that in order to defeat the Nazis, they must fight fire with fire and revive some Russian soldiers. Sure. That makes sense. Whatever, Martin needs an army and there happens to be a frozen one not far away.

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There’s a load of fighting in the film. Fear not, those who want blood and gore. All the fake blood in Europe went into the numerous full-scale fight scenes and many more skirmishes. What I love about the filmmakers? They didn’t avoid daylight. The fighting pretty much all takes place out in a brightly lit field.

All that light means the makeup must be on point. They did not disappoint. A few designs didn’t stand up to the harsh glare—looking at you, Russian dudes. But the tried-and-true Nazi zombies were brilliantly detailed, along with the mundane zombies turned along the way. The death gags were insane. So many were wrong to the point I couldn’t stop laughing. This is how you add laugh beats to violence. Just silly, unexpected intestine humor to bring up the mood before more blood flies.

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The local cop side story bogged things down a little. For the most part, they’re slap-stick comedic relief. It’s like the streams crossed somewhere and a story line from Hot Fuzz came over to screw with the timing. They did have a few good laugh lines.

Overall, I’m giving Dead Snow: Red vs Dead four bars of Nazi gold out of five. This series continues to amuse me while never failing to stun visually. It’s something to show your friends which won’t make them groan and walk from the room.


A. Zombie Reviews . . . Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

 

Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Leon Burchill, and Keith Agius
Rated: Not Rated (Contains violence, adult language, and mild nudity)

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Synopsis: Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers & experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor – together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bushland. [Synopsis written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner]

This film came through the food slot on my cell door a while ago . . . and was promptly lost under a bone pile in the corner. I found it today and decided to give it a go—it’s not often I’m given the chance to watch a zombie flick from another country and I had hopes this would be an Australian La Horde in some way. Spoilers: It isn’t. Nor did it deliver a Mad Max vibe, as billed in the majority of press written by their marketing team. Homemade safety gear does not automatically make a film a skip away from entering the Thunderdome. Pair all this with a disjointed story telling gimmick for the first forty–five minutes and the film falls a little flat. Once they get past the getting-to-know-you bit with the characters and setting the apocalypse, it’s a tolerable hack-n-slash flick with enough comedic moments to overlook some flaws. I mean, how can one dislike a film with golden phrases like mouth farts?

wyrmwooddoctorOne thing the movie has for it is an original approach to the ecological repercussions of the undead during the apocalypse. Surely people turning into freaky creatures at the drop of a hat means other things are wrong. Turns out, whatever airborne virus changes humans also makes combustible materials inert. How’s a guy supposed to save the day if he can’t drive? Simple, use zombies as fuel. The gas they emit is highly flammable. And smells like farts. That’s a key take-away from the film.

Okay. Not really.

As much as I enjoyed the witty banter between characters, there’s not a lot of depth to anyone except Barry. His story through the first half is gut-wrenching. However, once he gets back on track to finding his sister, the story unravels into a series of deaths designed to have little to no actual impact on the hero until he pairs up with Benny. Side note: There’s three lead characters with similar names. It’s like they got stuck on the B section in a baby-naming book while penning the script. Barry’s sister, Brooke, becomes the sole female survivor in the story. As such, she’s bogged down by metaphysical gifts to make her unique and special, and more powerful to the men holding her captive. It’s like the writers couldn’t fathom an everyday woman capable of escaping. While, yes, Brooke’s ability to control zombies is pretty neat, it becomes a plot crutch, leading to several long moments where she’s supposed to call the undead and leaves the action to happen around her, without the only woman on screen really doing anything aside from standing and scowling.

Wyrmwood-Zombie-TruckThe hero zombie makeup is pretty decent, featuring sunken eye sockets and mild wounds since most zombies turn without being bitten thanks to the zombie gas in the air. However, there’s a few background zombies who get close-ups and their splotchy greasepaint makeup breaks the continuity established for the dead. It’s jarring to see four zombies in a row in detailed FX makeup with full-face appliances, only to zoom in one another which looks like their makeup took maybe fifteen minutes to apply in the back of a car with a palm-sized mirror.

Overall, Wyrmwood proved slightly disappointing. I wanted something grander, crafted with care for the genre. What they delivered needed more time in editing to make it flow better and maybe a few reshoots to elaborate more on everyone except Benny. I give the film three decaying hearts out of five. It’s an okay film to add to your zombie-flick marathon come October.