Major’s game of freeze tag is over. The FBI push hard on the Chaos Killer case, landing the newly re-zombied trainer in jail. Without food. Yes, this is a rehash from when Liv was arrested. Yes, crisis is averted just in time, yet again—even after Major is arrested a second time for the Meat Cute incident. Blaine, of all people, is the one to smuggle brains from Don E.’s stash after the tight-belted businessman wanted Liv to pay for a brain she plans to use to keep Major from turning the city’s jail into ground zero for the apocalypse. While she handles the food problem, Ravi and Major use video game metaphors to hatch a plan—retrieve a zombie from the freezer, defrost, show as proof Major didn’t kill anyone, release from jail. Simple. Easy. A cake walk.
Max Rager stole the bodies. DuClark also set out hits on Major and Liv as a gift to celebrate selling the company to a military contractor. Ravi gets caught in the crossfire, killing Janko when the mercenary drugs and attempts to abduct Liv. She’s fine. He’s shaken. The dead guy on the floor gives Liv the perfect chance to peek behind enemy lines. Later, she has a vision starring Major’s zombcicles, all nicely defrosted.
In order to get Major out of jail in time without a victim to hand over, Liv finally clues Clive in about Team Zombie. Okay, it takes stabbing herself in the gut to convince him, but he gets the idea and Major is a free man shortly after. I hope Liv bought Clive a new knife. Clive uses a loophole in the case against Major to secure his release. Bozzio is, understandably, livid. His hands are tied. He couldn’t knowingly leave Major in jail to start another zombie outbreak.
During the zombie antics, Boss sends his guys to clean house. The case against him is gone. He should be sitting pretty, save for his competition hitting the streets again. Chief takes a bullet to the brainpan. Don E. talks his way into a gut shot instead of a headshot. Poor hapless Blaine ends up exposed to Boss’ guys and has a hit put on his head. They use Peyton to lure Blaine into a trap. It gets a tad buddy-cop when Ravi and Blaine team up, armed quite impressively, to rescue her. Which is a joke, really. Blaine wiped out the men holding Peyton before Ravi made it in the door. Major joins Liv on Janko brain. They plan to infiltrate Max Rager during their big bash to celebrate the sale properly. To access the secret lab’s elevator, they’ll just take Janko’s hand along for a walk like it’s Thing. Clive disavows any knowledge of said plan—which lasts as long as it takes him to realize the zombies aren’t going to make the rendezvous time. The party scenes are chaos even before a group of idiots turns themselves into zombies with tainted Utopium. The party’s theme? A lockdown. They’re trapped. Just about everyone dies or is turned.
There’s a new savior in town. Vivian Stoll—the woman from the military contractor—saves Team Zombie when they’re trapped during the outbreak. Liv and Major are fine. Clive has a target on his chest being the sole human left on their feet. Stoll’s people clear the building. She gives them free passage to the secret lab.
In the lab, Rita and her father wait to make things just that much worse for the team. She’s ready to promise her front teeth in order to get free or get a cure. He’s hell-bent on winning at least one battle. The gang is separated in the zombie containment area. Drake, unfortunately, is no longer a coherent zombie. The test cures MR forced on them turned him Romero. Man, dating Liv is a curse. More so when VDC forces Liv to choose between saving Clive or Drake. She shoots her boyfriend. There’s really no choice. Drake was doomed to die the day they introduced him. VDC tries twice to gas everyone. Both times fail, with the final attempt ending after Major breaks a glass wall, following VDC into the elevator, and leaving the bad guy trapped in there with ravenous zombies. Upstairs, they open the elevator to find Rita chowing down on Dad brains.
Major takes the kill shot on his ex. Sense a trend? Stoll’s people take over the situation while she snacks on Rob Thomas. Surprise! The military contractors are zombies hell bent on making Seattle their new homeland.
I’ll admit, it’s one hell of a surprise. Unfortunately, I sense this may devolve into a Buffy situation—everything blamed on a mysterious government body who answers to no one, really, and does convenient bad things to make tension for the show. We’ve seen this trope a lot on genre shows. While this new plot twist did bring a lot of dead bodies, it could be foretelling a rather predictable season three.
Given the amount of undead action on our plates, and the ferocity with which we love the shows, it’s only right to have a survival plan in place to make it through those rough episodes.
Note: this is not to replace your current go bags, escape routes, or safe haven plans.
Prepare your viewing room.
Remove any and all breakable items from the room. There may be random bouts of flailing or flinging things at the television screen. We don’t want to ruin anything important.
Ensure there’s a clear path to the bathroom. You’ve only got a couple minutes during commercial breaks to answer nature’s call. Don’t waste a second tripping over shoes or toys. Miss one second of the action and you may miss saying goodbye to a favorite character.
Build yourself a squishy fort. Load it with pillows and blankets. Pillows come in handy when you need to hug a character, yet can’t. Blankets provide the perfect Gore Shield, lest the blood and guts on screen become too much to handle.
Kleenex. Trash can. Need we say more?
Secure your noise-sensitive pets in a quiet room with their favorite toys and a goody or two. Some animals don’t react well when their owners randomly shout at the television.
Keep a roll of duct tape on the coffee table. Just in case you have that one friend over. You know, the one who stands and paces while yelling at the TV.
Refreshments. You need to keep your strength up.
The ideal foods to serve should be cold or room temperature. Soft, yet not too messy. This is in case you drop the food during a tense moment. Hot foods will burn your lap. Messy foods stain clothes/carpets/furniture. Hard foods, when thrown, have the potential to break glass. Like a TV.
Beverages should be cold to prevent burns. Preferably clear. Again, to prevent personal harm or property damage if spills happen in the heat of the moment.
Plastic or paper serving dishes, plates, and cups.
Avoid foods and drinks which resemble blood, internal organs, or raw meat if you have a weak stomach for gore.
Drink plenty of water. Exciting shows raise your heartrate and blood pressure—just like jogging*. Maintaining adequate hydration will keep you comfortable. (*Do not use TDW or FtWD as a replacement for your regular exercise program.)
Play nice with others.
Call dibs on bathroom use to avoid a stampede when commercial breaks hit.
Warn your neighbors if you feel you will yell at the show. This is especially important for apartment dwellers, those with noise-sensitive roommates, or folks living in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
Do not, under any circumstance, discuss potential spoilers while the show is airing. Your viewing party pals may enjoy being surprised. Don’t ruin it for them.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Z Nation S1E2 – “Fracking Zombies” By A. Zombie
We’re back with the ragtag group of survivors from SyFy’s Z Nation. At the end of the last episode, a bunch of folks who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time were tasked with bringing the oh-so-charming Murphy to California so they can make more of the zombie vaccine floating in his veins. Pretty straight forward. If the plot got too complicated, viewers might think they tuned into the wrong channel. Can’t have that from the masters of cheesy late-night movies.
They need to find something to do with Citizen Z. His character essentially sits around twiddling his thumbs until it’s time to drag the plot along to the next step. He’s all alone. Has enough supplies to last at least ten years. And he’s losing his marbles. Somehow poor writing and direction turned what could’ve been a rather interesting look at isolation in the apocalypse turned into a wild dog chase. Or rather, a wild zombie dog chase. Citizen Z’s fellow NSA personnel didn’t stay dead—of course. At least one made it to his back door, along with a stray dog. Apparently the zombie dog materializes out of thin air around this time. The graphics for the dead dog weren’t bad. But once the “action” started, they’d ruined the effect. The dogs never really engage each other while fighting. There’s no real danger for Citizen Z as he sits perched atop a shipping crate. During the climax of the fight, it cuts out and comes back later to a blacked-out Citizen Z next to a mutilated zombie dog, denying viewers even a taste of action from the character. You know, the one who sits around doing nothing all day. Talk about compelling television.
The rest of the characters aren’t doing much better. Garnett, Warren, and the rest escorting Murphy run out of gas. There just so happens to be a guy they pick up who knows where to fill up their vehicles. Lucky them. Of course, the place is overrun by undead. And they can’t use guns because of the gas. And there’s a mysterious noise drawing zombies closer. Oh and don’t forget, the helpful new guy has this weird thing with Cassandra. See where this is going? Massive failure all around. The characters are too dumb to work out a plan to distract the zombies. They almost get blown up in the process, losing not only the gas they’d come for, but one of their vehicles as well. It’s like watching three-year-olds trying to put together a three-thousand piece puzzle. Eventually they end up mashing the pieces together, even though they don’t fit, and call it a masterpiece.
There was one interesting zombie gag. Early in the episode, the group must cross a zombie-infested bridge. In the process, one of the undead end up stuck in the wheel well of their truck. It’s one of the most detailed scenes in the show so far and one of the few practical effects not completely ruined by added computer-generated gore. The makeup for the frozen zombie was another highlight. Maybe I’ll watch episode three on mute and see if that makes me like it more.
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You Can Run, but . . .
Review of “The Walking Dead” 508 – “Coda”
By RC Murphy
Here we are! Weeks of slow build up brought us to an unforgettable mid-season finale. Was it the perfect way to tide viewers over until episodes resume in February? Not in the way previous seasons have kept us chomping at the bit to find out what’s happening next. They set a high standard after the season four mid-season finale and its fiery blood bath. The show’s producers would’ve had to set no limits to hit that high a note again.
Warning! Episode spoilers a plenty are waiting below.
The episode starts right after the last left off, with Bob Lamson handcuffed and running away from Rick and his rescue team. Taking matters into his own hands, Rick chases down Lamson in a police cruiser, rams into him, and doesn’t calm down until the barrel of his gun is aimed at the fallen officer. Lamson attempts to sweet talk Rick, say they can go back and make the plan work. Rick’s response, “Can’t go back, Bob,” says a lot about the mentality of everyone in this season. They’ve all crossed lines they can’t come back from. The people they once were are long gone. Lamson may have been a decent guy, but after the walkers came, his moral code was dropped in the mud. But his moral code is still cleaner than Rick’s. And splattered on the pavement after Rick was done pulling information from the injured officer.
Lamson may have been able to maintain a sense of civility within the hospital—and its backward rules when it comes to the wards the cops order around like slaves. Dawn walks right on by as her officers physically and emotionally abuse their wards, never batting an eyelash so long as they leave her alone. Yet we’re supposed to believe her when she says the things she does are for the greater good, that she’s doing it to help people who’ve ended up in situations like Beth. Her definition of help differs greatly from what’s in the dictionary. Dawn helped by telling her to risk her safety and steal medicine to maybe-save Carol, covering up Gorman’s murder to use as blackmail, making Beth act as her maid, and lastly, ordering a young woman to push a police officer down an elevator shaft. At every turn, Dawn put Beth at risk, all in the name of paying off some debt for health care or covering up a justified murder. Nothing Dawn says can be trusted. She got where she is by manipulation and cold-hearted calculation. Two skills she puts to work during the climax for the episode.
At last, Gabriel may understand why his fellow survivors are so efficient at killing when a threat comes their way. After his escape, he made his way to the school where the Terminus folks made camp the night they enjoyed a little Bob-B-Q. Too bad for him, they aren’t very good housekeepers and left their leftovers on the grill. After seeing first-hand what the Terminus people did, he heads back to the church . . . with a gang of walkers in tow. Carl and Michonne take care of the mess, trapping the walkers inside. Gabriel is ready to pull his weight, telling Michonne, “I can’t run anymore.” He could’ve also been talking about the hole in his foot, but I like to believe the good Father will be a solid part of the crew from here on out.
G.R.E.A.T.M. pull up to the church just in time to help. Everyone piles into the fire truck, taking Maggie to Atlanta to help save Beth. Unfortunately, even with the wheels, they’re too late to do any good.
The climax for the episode plays out like an old western—two forces meeting on a road, one leader doing the talking for each side while everyone else is twitchy from nerves. The trade-offs go smoothly. Daryl rushes forward to claim Carol and her go bag. Rick walks the remaining officer forward to trade for Beth. The moment Beth is back with the crew, things go south. Dawn has another stipulation—Noah must return to the hospital. Beth had taken his place in their system. Without either Dawn would have to do her own chores. We can’t have that. Fed up with the manipulation and lies, Beth takes matters into her own hands. Or rather, her own cast, where she’d hidden a pair of scissors before the trade-off. It was the one time Beth didn’t hem and haw about taking action. She saw an opportunity and took it, cutting one head off the hydra working within the hospital. Dawn didn’t go down without a fight. She manages to fire off a single round from her gun. Beth’s bravest act is her final one. A single shot to the head will ensure she doesn’t come back as a walker. It’s a small mercy at the end of a painful few weeks for the young woman.
The reactions to Beth’s death have a bigger impact than the moment Dawn pulled the trigger. Daryl is absolutely broken and takes the kill shot to take out Dawn. Carol carefully pulls him back before the tentative peace the deaths brought is broken. The Greene family have always functioned as part of the heart for the group. Beth’s light kept many of them going during the prison days, her gentle songs and the way she cared for the young ones in their group giving them hope for a future led by the kids she aided. Now it’s just Maggie. She really is alone this time. No big what-if hanging over Beth’s fate. Can she recover from this loss? Can any of them? Losing the innocent members of their strange family takes a toll, chips away a little more of their civility. Another loss like this and they may end up more walker than man.
Don’t skip the final scene! Yes, there is a short bit after the credits. Does this mean we’ll see much more of Morgan in the future? I hope so. It’s time to shake things up and bring back some energy to the story now that we’re not mired in the hospital drama anymore.
We’re one episode away from the mid-season finale. So far the plot has crept toward an outcome completely hidden to the viewers. There’s no big bad guy for the various factions within the survivor’s group to fight. The one main mission for the season was based on a lie. We’ve now got a new mission: Save Carol and Beth. But can that take us through the next two episodes and give fans what they look forward to every mid-season break?
Watch your step! There’s spoilers creeping around under here.
Our intrepid heroes split yet again, leaving Michonne and Carl to look after Judith and Gabriel. The Father is jumpy, touchy about the work being done to fortify the church so it’s a safer place for them to hole up. His regret over the murders done by his fellow survivors eats at him. Michonne and Carl tag team Gabriel. They stress the need to learn how to defend himself. How to move on emotionally after being forced to kill—walker or human. Gabriel saved them by allowing them to camp in his church. This is the only way they know how to repay the kindness, by teaching him how to survive after they leave if he doesn’t travel with them. The pressure from them to grow past his comfort levels forces Gabriel to do something utterly stupid. He escapes through the floor boards and under the church, injuring himself in the process. How far can a limping, pacifistic, guilt-ridden man make it? Is he running from people he sees as cold-blooded killers or from the memories of how he soiled his hands by refusing to aid his parishioners?
There is a new faction within the survivor crew – G.R.E.A.T.M. is the team name Tara cooked up for the group who had been escorting the liar Eugene to D.C. for his mythical walker cure. They’re not a very well-oiled machine at the moment. Abraham put himself in time-out after decking Eugene, his temper steaming hotter than the Georgia highway he’s kneeling on. Rosita attempts to talk sense into him. Fails. Fails to the point where Maggie draws her gun and forces Abraham to kneel again. Maggie is done with his hissy fits and the hiccups in their plan. She’d agreed to go to help. To give her life some purpose after losing her entire family, except Glenn. Without the mission, the entire group is lost. Tara tries to keep the peace, but can’t do anything in the face of Abraham and Maggie’s anger. Glenn eventually steps up and starts weaving a plan, using his people skills to show everyone that the fighting will get them nowhere and they can’t camp out in the middle of a highway forever. He brings them together. By the time Glenn, Rosita, and Tara make it back from a trip to find water—scoring a couple fish for dinner along the way—Eugene is awake and Abraham’s relief that he didn’t kill yet another living being sloughs the foul mood from his shoulders. They may be able to work as a cohesive unit, but where will they go if D.C. is out of the picture?
Rick’s group down in Atlanta seem like they may have a solid plan to get Beth and Carol back. Or maybe not. Tyreese has come a long way since the days when he could not and would not even do so much as kill a walker. However, the thought of barging into a secure building crawling with well-armed police makes him think twice. Not only about the casualties from the opposing side, but civilians and their own crew members. He comes up with a better plan—catch two of Dawn’s officers and force a trade, yours for ours. When Rick moves to reject the safer idea, Daryl intervenes. He’s not taking any chances retrieving the two people he’s come to care about the most because of one of Rick’s rash gotta-get-revenge ideas. The plan goes off without a hitch. Or so I’d like to say. Being what it is, things went downhill quickly as soon as backup arrived to aid the cops lured out by Noah. There’s a shoot-out and violent hide-and-go-seek scene. It ends when Daryl rips the head off a walker and bashes a guy’s head with it. There’s a sit down with the officers in custody. One man, Bob Lamson, appears to be the best bet for making the plan work. He gives Rick some solid advice . . . and then uses Sasha’s obvious emotional weakness against her. Lamson lures her off to the other side of the warehouse and rams her into a window so he can escape. So much for having a plan.
The main walkers for this episode were far different than anything we’ve seen from KNB EFX for the show before. Most of Atlanta was hit by napalm during the initial walker invasion. The unlucky folks who’d been outside the hospital for evacuation were hit in the process. After they died, they came back as animated hunks of bubble gum. Or at least that’s what they looked like with their flesh melting over the asphalt. Wouldn’t want to step in that and try to scrape it off my shoe.
Inside the hospital, things are the same as always. Jerk cops ordering their wards around, and turning that onto Dawn when they feel they aren’t getting their way. One officer orders Dawn to take Carol off the machines and stop treatment, stating it’s a waste of resources. Dawn agrees, and then turns around to use Beth to save Carol. Because any sane office of the law will ask a scared, injured girl to pretend she’s a doctor and potentially kill a woman trying to save her without proper medical training. Yup. That’s one-hundred percent believable.
The next episode if the much-awaited mid-season finale. What’s waiting for viewers? Hopefully something to punch up the energy for the remainder of the season.
Never Again. Never Trust. Review of The Walking Dead 501 By RC Murphy
It must be October. Everyone as far as the eye can see is trapped in Walker Fever—not to be confused with the fever the infected suffer before turning into the undead. We here at the ZSC Command Center are not immune and fell head-first into the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead with snacks at our side . . . which we quickly ignored, given how bloody the first episode of the season turned out to be. With that in mind, let’s see what our favorite band of survivors are up to after being captured last season.
Spoiler Warning! Below are show spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t watched this episode.
This episode had one flaw—the Terminus flashbacks. There were only two, at the beginning and end, but the information delivered was something clearly conveyed through dialog and set decoration in the middle of the episode. All the flashbacks provided was a little confusion as far as the timeline went. For half the episode, it appeared as though there was a time gap between when Rick and company were captured and the moment Carol and Tyreese were within hearing range of Terminus and all the gunfire. It wasn’t until Carol saw her once-friends bound and gagged that things started to make sense. Sometimes in story-telling, less is more. This was one of those cases.
Rick is still embracing the Ricktatorship, pushing everyone to arm themselves with whatever they can find in the train car. Miraculously, in the short time they were apparently imprisoned, they managed to build a good number of gnarly weapons using rusty nails, leather belts, hunks of wood, and who knows what else. All their work was for naught. Glenn, Rick, Ben, and Daryl were still taken by surprise and dragged into Terminus’ slaughterhouse. Which is the exact moment everyone set aside their popcorn and clutched the couch cushions so tight, their knuckles turned white.
Despite internet rumors, this was not the moment we said goodbye to any main cast members. Glenn is still alive and has taken on Hershel’s role, becoming Rick’s conscious when his desire for revenge threatens the entire group’s survival. It’s a position Glenn has filled before, but his youth and inexperience usually costs him solid ground to stand on in the face of Rick’s anger. This time Glenn seems better prepared to stand up for what he feels is right. He’s got far more at stake with Maggie at his side and committed to staying there no matter what. Not even his good friend will force him to risk her safety.
Carol is far, far removed from the character we met in season one. Now she can walk up and kill a walker without blinking, even while Tyreese stands behind her saying he’s not prepared to kill again. In the face of his perceived weakness and possible judgment, Carol doesn’t balk, doesn’t care. She will live, that’s that. She will make sure Tyreese and Judith live, no matter the cost to her. But she has no plans to stick with them. Being ousted from the group changed her more than the death of her husband and daughter. Solitude fits the new Carol. She’s truly free to do what she wants when she wants after years of being the steel backbone for her family. Will her resolve to remain a lone wolf stay firm after reconnecting with the rest of the group? Hard to tell, but the reunion hug she shared with Daryl was perhaps one of the happiest moments on the show in years.
This episode was all about escalation. One group wrongs another, the afflicted group seeks revenge. That’s how Terminus became a cannibal’s Fantasy Land—their once sanctuary was overrun, the women abused, countless murdered, but they took it back and became something ruthless and without morals. That’s how Carol and Rick ensured Terminus could not recover from their attack and escape. Even Tyreese did not escape without having to step up his game to not only kill walkers, but also a human who posed a serious threat to Judith. By the end of the episode, even viewers felt panicky, waiting to see how far the escalation would go. What would be the ultimate cost of this revenge pushing Rick forward? So far, no one in his group has paid. That luck can only go so far.
We were visited by a long-lost character at the end of the episode. What role do you think he’ll play in the grand scheme of things? Last time we saw this guy, he was twelve crayons short of a full set and sure to die at any time. That’s the wonderful thing about this show, the people we think will die, don’t. Those we wish would live, keel over without warning. It’s impossible to predict what’s around the corner. But that is half the fun of watching. It is also why The Walking Dead was picked up for a sixth season days before the fifth season premiere.
This is the tale of a rabbit named Percy. He wasn’t a wild rabbit, who spend their days scurrying frantically to and fro to find food where predators wouldn’t find them. No, Percy had the privilege to be born under the care of a kindly older human woman. He came into the world in his mother’s spacious cage on a farm far away from the noise of the city. It was a peaceful place to grow and get to know the world of a pampered pet, as the Old Woman called them. One spring afternoon, a family approached Percy’s mother’s cage. They ooed and awwed, pushing pieces of alfalfa through the bars. His mother taste-tested the offerings, of course, but Percy ate his fill. An hour later, Percy’s world grew dark and terrifying. Stiff brown paper trapped him in twilight. The world bounced and hummed around him. A high-pitched voice—the voice of His Girl—cooed over the hum for time too long to tell. Rabbits never grasped the art of telling time. To Percy, there were only three parts of the day: Time for fresh greens, Time for alfalfa, and Time for greens in the dark. Occasionally, there was Time for treats. The Old Woman said too much wasn’t healthy so she kept the sweet treats for herself. In the humming dark, there wasn’t time for anything except fear. Percy’s nose twitched—the only part of him he dared move. Around the Time for greens in the dark, the jostling and humming stopped. As did the cooing. Percy’s dark, papery world shifted suddenly. He scrambled to stay still. Mother had once said, if he ever lost his standing as a pampered pet, he had to stay still to keep the bigger animals from gobbling him up. Percy didn’t want to be gobbled, but he didn’t have any control over his movements.
His Girl brought light back to Percy’s world. The thick paper darkness parted, revealing her freckled face and funny smile—funny only because her teeth were so much different than his own and some seemed to be missing. Along with her smile came the tummy-flipping scent of fresh green things and a flood of light too white to be the sun. Gentle hands pulled him from the dark and set him on the grass. Percy froze. He’d been banished. Only rabbits not suitable to be pampered pets hopped around on grass willy-nilly. Where was his cage? Where was his mother? Why had the Old Woman given him away to His Girl, only to be tossed outside?
Sadly, this would not be the most frightening day of Percy’s life, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Once his panic settled, Percy realized this was his cage. A funny cage, it’d been built right on the ground. Fresh grass grew where in his mother’s cage there’d been coarse hay that poked his belly. Clover and yummy flowers grew in one corner. Far, far across the cage sat a tiny house without windows and only one door, the floor lined with soft material to cushion his belly while he slept. Of course, Percy didn’t investigate any of this until long after His Girl gave up hope and left him alone.
By the time he’d finished a nap in his new house and ate four of the purple flowers, and another five clover leaves, the funny noises had begun.
“This is an awfully noisy bunch,” Percy thought. “Thank goodness my cage is outside or I’d never get any rest!”
Try as he might, Percy couldn’t ignore the racket. Hopping to the edge of the cage—something he’d yet to muster the courage to do—he searched the Big House for His Girl. Her noises were the loudest, nothing at all like the gentle words she’d whispered in the jostling darkness that brought him to his new cage.
Shadows passed over the Big House’s windows, some moving faster than others. Crashes drowned out His Girl’s voice. Bang! Bang! The door directly across the Big Yard from Percy’s cage slammed open. Percy jumped and dashed into his clover patch. Hunkered behind the green covering, frozen like a tree trunk, he watched a new man—not one of the two who’d escorted His Girl to the Old Woman’s farm—trip down the steps. A heartbeat later, His Girl bolted through the door. Her shrieks rivaled Percy’s that one time a big dog had knocked into his mother’s cage, nearly toppling it over with them locked inside. Red stuff covered her yellow dress.
“What a messy eater,” Percy mused from his hiding spot. “She’s got strawberry juice all over. Her father won’t like it.” Shortly after he thought, “I wonder if she’s brought any sweet treats to share.”
Percy’s stomach seconded the idea.
The strange man caught sight of His Girl and gave chase. What fun, a game! Percy dared to poke his head above the cover to watch the two race around the Big Yard. His girl shrieked and raced ahead of the strange man, but the man gained ground with every huge step. Right beside Percy’s flower patch, the strange man caught up with His Girl. Unbelievably, more strawberry juice covered His Girl’s dress.
The strange man tackled His Girl to the ground. It looked like a tickle fight—something the Old Woman did with Percy to shoo him to another part of Percy’s mother’s cage while she tidied up. Percy wanted to play. Feeling brave, and hungry for a taste of the strawberry juice on His Girl’s fingers, he hopped through the flower patch to where her hand lay pressed against the cage. Percy tilted his head up and licked the juice.
What kind of strawberries tasted like metal? Percy’s stomach gave a rumble. Then a roar. Maybe it liked the juice, even if it tasted funny. Percy gave it another taste, sneaking a lick at His Girl’s still hand.
A little better flavor this time, though still not any strawberry he’d tasted before.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Cockneys vs Zombies (2013) By A. Zombie
Rating: NR (Adult language, violence, gore)
Starring: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Jack Doolan, and Georgia King
COCKNEY: A native of the East End of London, born within hearing of the ringing of the Bow Bells
ZOMBIE: A supernatural power or spell that according to voodoo belief can enter into and reanimate a corpse
SYNOPSIS: The Bow Bells Care Home is under threat and the McGuire’s – Andy, Terry, and Katy – need to find some way to keep their grandfather and his friends in the East End, where they belong. But, when you’re robbing a bank, zombie invasions makes things a lot harder. And let’s face it, they need all the help they can get when their bank-robbing experts turn out to be Mental Mickey and Davey Tuppance. As contractors to an East London building site unlock a 350-year old vault full of seriously hungry zombies, the East End has suddenly gone to hell and the Cockney way of life is under threat. Equipped with all the guns and ammo they can carry, it’s up to the gang to save the hostages, their grandfather, and East London from zombie Armageddon.
You have to love a movie which starts, not with a zombie attack, but with a fart joke and foul-mouthed construction workers. Cockneys vs Zombies takes a while to hit the undead action after the bumbling construction guys accidentally unleash the zombies lurking in a 17th century catacomb hidden under London’s East End. First, we’re introduced to Andy and Terry. The boys are obviously up to something nefarious, but the depth of their desperation isn’t completely clear until they finish delivering meals to the old folks home and set off to collect their intrepid band of misfit bank robbers. How the guys thought they could pull off the heist implies a strand of the DNA in the McGuire lineage is pure crazy with a pinch of delusion. For heaven’s sake, their disguises included fake mustaches giving me flashbacks to Magnum, P.I.
The true highlight of the film isn’t the zombies or the action (a whole five seconds of it) during the extremely successful bank heist. C vs Z’s golden goose lays in the cast of characters residing in the old folks home. They’re a laugh riot. Don’t balk in the face of shambling evil. And, amazingly, even with their replacement hips, bad hearts, and various ailments, they’re still capable of out running a zombie. Or blowing a hole in one’s head.
This isn’t a shoot-em-up zombie flick. It’s a comedy surrounding a family trying to make the best of a bad situation. There just happens to be zombies wandering around to make the situation that much more difficult. The film is also pretty truthful when it comes to showing how normal people would react and fight the undead. For instance, Emma—one of the hostages from the bank heist—attacks her first zombie with limp-wristed swings of a shovel, a load of determination, and some choice phrases to voice her frustration when the zombie doesn’t instantly keel over. Then there’s a few characters who transform into sharp-shooters, laying waste to every shambling corpse coming their way, covering both sides of the fighting coin.
Makeup FX for the general zombies are basic, but well done. No cheesy Halloween night makeup jobs where someone forgot to cover their ears. The main FX gags are amazing in their detail. At one point, Mickey ends up with a portion of a zombie hanging from his arm for several scenes. Not once did the makeup and prosthetics look rubbery or fake—as often happens in zombie films. The same goes for the few disemboweling scenes, intestines looking like actual intestines instead of rubber hoses slathered in colored Karo syrup.
Cockneys vs Zombies is a slow-moving, but hilarious addition to the genre. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea—some prefer much more tension with their undead viewing—but I believe many of you will enjoy watching this with friends. I’m giving it four punctured stomachs out of five.
Today we have the privilege of a guest post by the lovely Jo Michaels. While on a covert mission for the Zombie Survival Crew in Nashville, I ran into Jo in the hallway of the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel and learned she was knowledgeable about zombies, so after checking to make sure we were not being spied upon by the UGA, we had a confidential chat on zombie behavior. I knew then she’d be a perfect person to share some of her knowledge with the Zombie Survival Crew faithful.
What’s Really Going on in those Zombie Novels
by Jo Michaels, author of I, Zombie
So, I’m sure you’ve all picked up a zombie novel and turned to page one with your breath in your throat and your hands shaking as you contemplated what horrific situations you were about to be treated to, right?
Is it because you’re anticipating the sticky situations people will undoubtedly get themselves into and out of? Or, is it the mindless munching of brain matter by half rotted, animated corpses that gets your pulse racing?
Chances are, it’s a mixture of both. Zombie novels aren’t about the eating of flesh. While that’s a key component in the movement of the plot and something adding to the spine-tingling horror of it all, it’s not what’s lurking behind the scenes.
Deep within the pages of your everyday zombie novel there’s a central theme: survival of humanity and basic compassion. What you’re reading about is the battle—both with the creatures, who used to be thinking, feeling humans, and with the character’s own sense of what’s right and wrong while trying to survive. All around the character there are old friends, family members, and people those characters met along the way that now must be destroyed.
How do you pull the trigger when you’ve had a conversation with the person staring back at you with those milky zombie eyes? What if it’s your child?
Many times, authors of zombie novels go the extra mile to include how a parent tried to keep their feral child safe once it turned; because the parent(s) were unable to do the unthinkable. A neighbor might present a challenge (it depends if they were easy to work with over that property line dispute), but if they mean to harm or eat you, chances are you wouldn’t have much of a problem pulling the trigger, using a machete, or sticking them in the head with a pitchfork (hey, I lived on a farm; don’t judge me).
Survival of a zombie apocalypse is all about preparation for the masses. You’re stocked with weapons, food (like Twinkies), and those nifty little tablets to sterilize water. But are you mentally prepared to deal with the inner turmoil of being forced to kill someone you know and/or love if they turn into a moaning people eater? Is there any way to prepare for that?
A good zombie novel won’t just focus on the terror, flesh eating, or monsters. No, it’ll make you think about survival of your physical and mental self. If you had to slice up someone you knew, would your mind be okay?
I imagine you’re thinking: If it were in defense of my family or loved ones, I’d have no problem taking someone out that was threatening us; and I wouldn’t feel badly about it afterward. I agree. There’s the crux of the issue. Where is the line drawn? What happens when the person has just been bitten and still looks/acts/thinks like the uninfected? Is it still an easy decision?
These are all situations in the arsenal of the zombie novelist used to make you squirm in your seat and wonder what the character will do. Without the niggling doubt in the back of your mind, you probably wouldn’t enjoy the book. What will the character do if Bob is turned? And, you flip the page to find out.
Unlike vampire novels, werewolf novels, or other horrible creature novels, zombies bring an element that can’t be touched by anything else: humanity. We know there’s no cure for any of these other afflictions; but what if there is for the disease causing the zombies to re-animate? Doubt sometimes stays our hand.
So, the next time you lift a zombie novel and read the prose that was so carefully crafted to touch your human side, think about why you enjoy those tales so dang much. They delve very deeply into your belief system, try and connect with you on an emotional level, and show you what kind of struggles you may face during the bane of an apocalypse.
I took it one step further. My zombies are thinking, feeling humans—with a disease rotting away their motor functions, voices, and skin—that eat live animals. If you enjoy the human element of your zombie novels, and ever wondered what it might feel like to turn and be hunted, check out my novel: I, Zombie.
Thanks for the invitation to write something for your beautiful group, and I hope you all have a lovely (zombie free) day!
What’s your favorite thing about a zombie apocalypse novel?
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!
~ Jo Michaels
This is how I remember Jo best (pictured with Christina Mercer). She absolutely rocks the cowboy hat and has a smile that lights the entire place. Her contact information is at the bottom of this post, and I recommend you check out her work, and Tweet her or drop her a line on Facebook.
Trixie Collins is a normal teen making her way through high school. One night at a party, a boy comes on to her and won’t take no for an answer. As she jerks her arm away, his fingernails cut into her skin.
When she finds her dog’s mutilated body and realizes she’s to blame, she starts to think maybe the zombie apocalypse they’ve been screaming about on the news isn’t a hoax after all. Worse, she begins to think maybe she’s one of the infected.
Now it’s a fight for life as she joins together with her brethren to stop the humans intent on destroying them. Are zombies all bad, or is it just a huge misunderstanding?