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.
Chivalry is Dead: Review for iZombie 408 by A. Zombie
Dost thou not proceed with caution? Verily, there be spoilers lurking below.
Well, this brain is pretty much the DnD brain, but without the witty break where Team Zombie sits down to play out a game. Liv drops so much ol-timey language, only renaissance faire actors can decipher everything she says after chowing down on the brain from avid LARPer, Garrett. I’d like to go on to say there’s a world of variety in this case-of-the-week, but it boils down to yet another domestic dispute which relies heavily on lack on communication in a relationship to push a rather weak plot. Okay, sure, it’s sometimes fun to have a case reflect the lives of those involved, but it’s four seasons in and the domestic dispute cases, primarily ones where the woman is the partner who steps out, are the vast majority of what we see on-screen. The case outcomes are becoming increasingly predictable in order to push all the other story lines. How does one go from a dead guy in armor, to a zombie Thunderdome, to undead LARPers, yet decide in the end to make a woman’s sex life the sole reason for murder? Find another scapegoat, writers. Women are allowed to do what they want, when they want, with their bodies. This constant commentary on how women behave without any solutions in this mythical reality is akin to duct taping a cracked window in the middle of a category 5 hurricane. Fiction gives us a way to work through these problems, yet again and again this writing team barely scratches the surface on social commentary. For a show aimed at millennials, they don’t seem to understand how they think and process messages presented via entertainment.
This is where I have to come back to Angus’ story line. The concerning thing is, even after being called out for harboring a known harasser, this team still uses takes/dialog for Angus which lean toward highly inappropriate. In this episode, Angus orders his flock to savor their high-class meal. The tone and language he uses? It could very easily be used to explain a certain sex act, right down to his command that they swallow. Blaine even makes a subtle joke to back up the entendre. What are we supposed to do with this in-your-face disregard to a known problem? Not only are we forced to endure constant poor-taste dialog from Angus, but he’s also a vital part of Blaine’s sub plot. Every time I think they can finally write him out, he’s back, being useful in ways other characters could also be, so why Angus? Why not write in someone else with the manpower to do what needs to be done and leave Angus in the well?
Blaine’s problems don’t end with his father. Boss is back in town, ready to cash in on a pay day he’s waited for since one of his guys turned state’s evidence to rat him out. Casper is the only one who knows where Boss’ remaining cash is . . . or is he, now? Peyton, also after a quick buck in order to actually help the Underground Railroad, gets to Casper first. Which our bad guys don’t realize until far, far too late. In order to get his hands on the cash, Boss needs to snag Casper during his transfer to a minimum security prison—as promised in his deal with Peyton. Blaine doesn’t keep that kind of manpower handy anymore. Boss’ associates are all dead, in jail, or just done with him. This is where Angus’ flock comes in handy. They tip the bus, eat the prisoners, and hand over Casper for Blaine to enjoy. While I am not keen on Angus’ part in the plot, the moment where Boss, Blaine, Don E., and new goon Crybaby Carl watch/commentate on the mayhem is some of the purest comedy this show’s had in a while. There’s no gore on-screen. Just the guys’ reactions. And it’s hilarious.
Infiltrating the brain-smuggling group is pretty easy for Major since he’s great at manipulating people, then failing to follow his own moral code when it matters. For the most part, all he has to do is show up, get drunk, and make sure Russ doesn’t catch wind of his true purpose. Considering Russ is always inebriated or brain-wasted, it’s stupidly easy. Great for Major since he foolishly talks to Liv in public at the Thunderdome. After he passes whatever “test” Russ has, Major gets to tag along on a rough-up job for the brain thieves. The one thing showing promise for Major despite his deep ties to Fillmore-Graves? He lies to keep the scared zombies alive, though Russ really wants to kill them.
On the Renegade side of life, Liv’s having a hard time maintaining the separation between work, home, and illegal activities. First, Peyton catches her and wants to join the good fight. Then Isobel, one of the women being smuggled, calls in a panic while Liv’s at work. Liv’s old-timey brain antics actually scare Isobel a little, not a good thing considering these people are trusting her with their lives. Yet Liv never clarifies why she’s acting so weird, leaving Isobel to worry right up until the moment they meet at the end of the episode . . . and Liv’s scratch doesn’t cure her. So while, yes, they finally have the money to proceed at full-steam ahead, either Liv can’t make new zombies, or they’ve just found the terminally-ill key to reversing the zombie condition bottled up in a frightened young lady. Honestly? This is the kind of plot development they should spend more time on. The sub-plots are usually good, but this season some of it feels like stretching just to keep up the male-oriented story lines active. Let it go, writers. Let it go. You’ve got something good with the Renegade plot. Just focus on that, please.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Children of the Living Dead By A. Zombie
Rated: R (Contains violence, gore, and adult language)
Starring: Tom Savini, A. Barrett Worland, Damien Luvara, Jamie McCoy, Sam Nicotero, Marty Schiff, and Heidi Hinzman
Often when artists strive to find inspiration, they look to the past. For genre fans, there’s only a few franchises which define zombies in pop culture. Unfortunately, when it comes to grasping the same energy as the original films, that’s like trying to wrestle a greased zombie rabbit into a tutu. Sometimes the heart behind something can push past an obstacle or two. Children of the Living Dead doesn’t have that to fall back on. It’s a lackluster homage to the more ridiculous side of the living dead.
Life in a small town is hard enough, what with the gossip networks having so few souls to pick on and all. One town in particular has it worse than most after an incident in the late 60s left them fending off the living dead. They won, but only for a little while. In ’87, the dead rise again. This time notorious rapist Abbot Hayes returns and promptly resumes his kidnapping ways. Hot on his trail are deputies Hughs and Randolph. Only Randolph and the rescued children survive the encounter. Hayes gets away, laying low for fourteen years. One afternoon, he’s intrigued by a group partying on his mother’s grave, then he gets angry. The concert-goers make it less than a mile down the road. Hayes scares them over a cliff. After the funeral, he interrupts a couple grave robbers in order to collect the accident victims, turning them into his personal army. A year later, Hayes’ family property is sold to a car dealership. In order to build the showroom, the crew first has to remove the family cemetery’s occupants—they opt for mass burials over the hefty cost to move them to another cemetery, as any scuzzy contractor would. Hayes doesn’t take kindly to the Michaels’ family and their plans for his home. His army attacks, ever-growing as they move further into town seeking revenge . . . and a snack.
This is probably the slowest zombie movie I’ve seen to date. Not even the opening sequence with Savini is punchy enough to grab the audience and drag them along for the ride. There’s rarely a viable sense of urgency which isn’t artificially inflated with awkward dialog. For heaven’s sake, there’s a five minute scene with Hayes—a mute zombie who moves slightly faster than a slug—shuffling through the woods outside his family home, like that’s supposed to make us lean in for the kill that’s surely about to happen. It’s like watching Deadpool kill that guy with the Zamboni, but without the witty dialog to save it from being laughably bad. The final fight is such a waste of time, as well. Nothing of note happens. [Spoilers!] Hayes walks off unscathed. Our heroes live to see tomorrow. The dead are, for the most part, contained. What is at stake? Humanity wins the day again. Without his father in the way, Matthew Michaels can build the family empire in his name. Laurie yet again escapes Hayes’ grasp without injury. I’m all for a happy ending occasionally, but there has to be a resolution to at least one story line which isn’t so open-ended it’s like they assumed people would clamor for a sequel instead of calling them out for failing to commit to the story. The poor time management and overuse of time jumps is likewise to blame for limp motivation for the characters. For example, here’s Hayes, a guy who just loves to kill and he’s been reanimated, given a second life where he can wallow in gore. Yet we’re supposed to believe he’s content to live alone in his house, next to a major road, without incident for fourteen years. His brand is murder and mayhem, that part obviously doesn’t change after his death, so why does he twiddle his thumbs?
There’s some decent FX makeup in this film. Hayes’ face will stick in your memory thanks to the detail work. As will the awkward as hell gloves the poor actor has to wear. Watching him “grab” things is cringe-inducing. The wound appliances for the undead are great, but often the detail is lost in the poor image quality and copious blood. That’s where the good makeup ends. The standard for these zombies is, for some unfathomable reason, pale greasepaint and blood. On the same zombie we’re getting quality wound work, and a teenager’s attempt at Halloween makeup. It’s a head-scratcher, that’s for sure.
Honestly, this script needed a hefty revision before they started shooting. There’s so many plot holes, and even more plot threads left in the wind at the end in a most unsatisfactory way. Cliffhangers are a cop-out. Even with how slow the film is, plus the ever-repeating dialog, and underwhelming zombies, if they just stuck a solid ending I was ready to forgive a lot of the bad. But they didn’t. Children of the Living Dead gets one bloody, matted clump of hair out of five.
The world has gone nuts. There’s no denying it. We at the ZSC pride ourselves on being equipped for any dangers, from natural disasters, to zombies, to whatever unfolds as a result of the bow string tight tension in the political sphere. Shamefully, despite years spent preparing, we may have overlooked something deadly lurking in the shadows.
Hear me out, folks. Yes, vampire myths are ancient and diverse, with just about every culture out there developing their own version of the undead menace since who knows when. Vampires have been in and out of vogue in popular culture so often, the concept itself is vampiric, resting for years like Anne Rice’s Lestat, only to rise again years later with a renewed sense of purpose, stalking television and film screens.
Several vampire inspired or vampire-centric shows bid farewell in recent years, signaling the end of one undead cycle—True Blood, Hemlock Grove, Penny Dreadful, and the most recent departures The Strain and The Vampire Diaries. TVD’s spin-off series, The Originals will also end after its fifth season next year, that’s the left hook in CW’s current plan to scrap vamp-centered shows from their schedule. It won’t last for long. Vampires have been ever-present in media across the Pacific. Here in the US, they go through phases. Just when the bloodsuckers crawl back in their coffins, a few rethink the retreat and new shows haunt pilot season, waiting for some unsuspecting network to invite them inside.
There are a handful of vampire shows still on-air or currently in deep pre-production—Van Helsing, Castlevania, Preacher, Let the Right One In, The Passage, Vampire Chronicles, and Midnight, Texas. On top of those, there’s another Supernatural spin-off in the works. The original show had several vampire-heavy episodes before, so it’s not hard to imagine them pulling a known predator from the hat sometime during the show . . . assuming this new spin-off makes it further than the last attempt. There have also been rumors of a TVD/Originals spin-off in the works. The big news, though, is Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, which will focus on Lestat de Lioncourt. With the film rights back in the creator’s hands, she’s opted to take the vampires many grew to love on the page and put them on the small screen—after two questionable films, it’s refreshing to know the master leads her creatures down their new path with a tight leash. But there’s already rumors that the series, which is in early pre-production, may develop spin-offs to focus on the other ancient vampires who may not get a lot of love on the show.
Basically, vampires are everywhere and won’t stop coming back no matter how hard anyone tries or how many shows they cancel. Several cultures still hold rituals to protect villages from the undead, ranging from as simple as planting a certain flower around the suspected vamp’s grave, to the disturbing act of disentombing a corpse to remove vital organs before roasting them and feeding the remnants to those affected by the vampire via nightmares and/or mysterious illness.
We’re not recommending cannibalism, rest easy. However, there are certain methods to taking care of vampires which differ from zombie-slaying techniques. The easiest method would be, honestly, to find the vampire’s lair, wait until sunrise, and whoops, one wall in their bedroom wall just happens to get a hole in it. Sun-fried vampire is the least hands-on you can get, assuming they’re not holed up underground or in a casket. Decapitation works with vampires, unlike their zombie counterparts who tend to remain animated and bitey even when their head is in the dirt. There’s also the classic stake through the heart technique. Problem is, it takes quite a bit of effort to drive a large, mostly blunt object through the chest muscles, ribs, and finally the heart itself. You aren’t Buffy. Staking a vamp isn’t the wisest choice for non-Chosen Ones. I’d suggest reevaluating your weapon of choice and repacking your go bags with tools which would take care of not only our zombie foes, but also this ancient threat making another round across our television screens.
Call of Duty Delivers an Undead Package at SDCC by R.C. Murphy
Developers sat down for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss what pushed them to venture into the WWII era for the next zombie game tied to the popular series. Their main focus? Michael Condrey, co-studio head for Sledgehammer, had a burning desire to terrify gamers in ways we’ve only really felt from gold-standard horror films—save perhaps one or two game titles, one of which Condrey himself directed. They really dug into their research to ground the game in reality, which developers feel will add to the scares once the undead hit the screen.
The animation shown during the trailer is all cut scenes, but still beautifully detailed. If you can call burned, armless zombies beautiful, that is. There’s blood and gore everywhere in the short clip. Several kinds of undead are featured, with more variations to come as promised by the development team. What cinches the creep factor in the trailer is Udo Kitter’s voiceover as uber creep Dr. Peter Straub.
We only get a small taste of the full story through the trailer. It’s just your standard mad German scientist premise, really. Things don’t get interesting until the playable characters are brought into the plot. The development team didn’t want a bunch of super confident soldiers at the helm, that’s overdone and tired. Instead they reached into history and plucked out the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program to find the game’s everyday-Joe heroes. There’s four playable characters—Olivia Durant (Elodie Young), Marie Fischer (Katheryn Winnick), Drostan Hynd (David Tennant), and Jeff Potts (Ving Rhames). All are members in the program sent in to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis in their attempt to claim literally everything for the fatherland. Winnick’s character brings another layer to the story, which fans can catch up on via the viral advertising campaign for the game. While the MFAA team is looking for art and fighting the undead, Marie has a more pressing mission to find her brother. It adds welcomed depth to what could be “just another zombie game.”
The voiceover cast was in attendance during the panel, except Rhames. He sent in a special video for fans to introduce them to his character. And then he was maybe, probably, eaten by zombies off-screen. Much to the audience’s delight. Udo was, well, Udo during his first visit to SDCC and proceeded to creep out everyone by reciting parts of Straub’s speech from the trailer. Young and Winnick elaborated on how involved they were in the character-creating process. Winnick also took a moment at the end of the panel to celebrate the women gamers in the audience. Tennant gave some insight on how character dialog evolved for this project, namely it involved him channeling a non-existent drunk Scottish uncle to get the appropriate level of profanity. Did I mention this will not be a kid’s game? Yeah, no.
Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies is slated for wide release on November 3rd. However, if fans pre-order the game now, they get beta access starting August 25th on Playstation 4—dates for beta on other devices were not available as of the SDCC panel.
Here’s the trailer. I don’t suggest snacking while watching.
Unfortunately, the reality during an apocalyptic scenario is that most people will not make it far with their families intact—these solo folks tend to fall to the wayside on the show quite often. Season three pulled no punches, culling three characters remaining from the pilot, along with two newcomers who really won fans over.
T-Dog’s primary goal in life was to help others. Anytime he was on screen, he did his best to make the apocalypse easier for his fellow survivors. Often, his efforts went awry in amusing ways. His final mistake came when he ran to close the open gate at the prison allowing walkers to pour into the facility. The dead got him, but not before he closed the gate. This is one character death they should have spent just another second with, giving Rick time to put T-Dog down before he turned. It was not okay for him to save everyone, then get left behind to the fate they all dread.
Post-TWD, IronE Singleton basks in fan love, attending numerous conventions over the years to meet them. He’s polished his one-man show, Blindsided by the Walking Dead and performed it several times for fans eager to learn how he turned his life around. In March 2016, IronE dropped his album Hip-Hopcrisy. On the acting side of his multi-faceted talents, IronE has filmed The Box Cutter, An Amish Murder, Franklin & Bash, and is currently working on a new series, SINs, which is searching for a network.
A lot of the character-driven drama pushing the first few seasons forward centered on Rick and Lori’s tumultuous relationship, highlighting how she moved on thinking she was a widow, but Rick was only motivated by keeping Lori and Carl safe. Their clashes, and the Shane complications, led to some of the most frustrating moments on the show. The biggest of which has to do with Lori’s death during childbirth. That’s a rant for another day.
Free from wearing a prosthetic stomach to work every day, Sarah Wayne Callies starred in Into the Storm opposite Richard Armitage, and Pay the Ghost co-starring Nicholas Cage, before finding a new show to headline, USA Network’s Colony. As Katie Bowman, Callies goes the extra mile to stand up for her freedom while keeping her family together in the wake of an alien invasion. Colony will return for a second season in 2017. Callies is very busy, what with the Prison Break miniseries/sequel set to hit airwaves next year, as well. She will also appear in the upcoming film This is Your Death directed by Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito. The upcoming animated pilot Elena’s Serenade is spear-headed by Callies, who found inspiration in Campbell Gleeslin’s book and wrote the script for the project.
Oscar deserved a better death. He needed more than Axel to mourn him. He should have survived far longer than he did, but thanks to TWD’s inability to handle multiple men of color on the show—I’ll keel over if Glenn ever meets another Korean-American—Oscar was killed off simply to prove Rick couldn’t get his crap together.
Worry not, Vincent Ward gets plenty of love to make up for his too-short time as Oscar. He and fellow prisoner-turned-good-guy, Lew Temple, can often be found making mischief at horror conventions and meeting fans. Recently, Vincent graced small screens for a Bravecto commercial—though his furry co-star totally stole the show. He’s also appeared on Wilfred, The Other Side, Psych, and 2 Broke Girls. Earlier this year, Vincent joined Brandon Routh and Yuqi Zhang for the thriller Lost in the Pacific. His other film projects post-TWD include 4 Play, Message from a Mistress, Grave Walkers, 2016, along with the upcoming star-studded horror flick Death House, and The Choir Director. He has also graced numerous stages for various plays since leaving TWD.
In one of the more startling murders, we said goodbye to kind-hearted Axel. Of course, this was literally seconds after Carol and Axel had a nice bonding moment which promised a healthier mental turn for both. We just didn’t expect The Governor to turn Axel’s mind inside out with a bullet before he found peace.
There was never a doubt that after TWD, Lew Temple would go on to do great things. Heck, he’d done plenty before donning that grimy prison uniform to impress me. Not long after saying goodbye to Axel, Lew joined Johnny Depp for The Lone Ranger. Being in the class of actor who never sleeps, Lew’s post-TWD credits are vast—Longmire, Wicked City, Night Moves, House of Forbidden Secrets, Atlas Shrugged 3, Camouflage, A Fighting Season, The Grace of Jake, plus numerous other projects. He’s got nearly a dozen films in the works at the moment. Horror fans will be excited to know Lew worked with Rob Zombie again for his new feature, 31, which will be available through VoD on September 16th, with a limited theatrical release on October 21st. Lew’s other upcoming projects include Kidnap with Halle Berry, The Endless, Feral, My B.F.F., Behind the Walls, Cut Off, and The Three.
A one-handed bastard to the end, Merle Dixon didn’t care if he had friends, so long as he had everything he wanted in order to make his life easier. His alliance with The Governor was a means to an end. An end which changed at some point, eventually leading him to catch a case of emotions and attempt to end Phillip’s reign in Woodbury by himself rather than hand over Michonne. As much as I want to say Merle should’ve lived longer, he did go out a hero and that’d be a disservice to the rare example of character growth on the show.
Michael Rooker needs no introduction. He’s big, blue, and everywhere in pop culture at the moment after starring in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn. Rooker’s Yondu will return on May 5, 2017 when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is released. Fans got a preview of Yondu’s new ‘do at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 when Rooker, backed up by his Ravagers, joined the GotG V2 cast during the Marvel panel. In another project written by Gunn and directed by Greg McLean, Rooker joins a seriously unhinged social experiment in The Belko Experiment. The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival recently and found a distributor through BH Tilt. Audiences will get a chance to see TBE when it releases on March 17, 2017. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a restored version of the film will screen at the Chicago International Film Festival on October 14th. The event will include a Q&A with Rooker and director John McNaughton. Henry hits theaters again beginning October 21st. Rooker has been tied to Kevin Smith’s Mallrats sequel, though what form the end product will be remains unknown. Smith’s latest updates says the ten-episode series has Universal as a production house, but they’re still looking for someone to actually air it. Can’t wait for his upcoming projects to get a Rooker fix? No worries! He regularly attends comic and horror conventions to meet fans.
There wasn’t much left at stake personally for Ash at the end. I really wanted him to feel more in this episode, and while he did show huge growth adding his team into negotiations with Ruby at the episode’s end, it’s sugar coating on Styrofoam.
We say goodbye, again, to Amanda. Her deadite counterpart crashes the party inside the cabin after Pablo has that thing latch onto his face. True to form, she is the one to deliver the infamous, “I’m going to swallow your soul,” line during her final fight with Ash. Before DeadAmanda is cut in half, Ruby takes Pablo and the Necronomicon into the basement. Things get freakier from there.
Doomed to his own ill-advised plans, Ash goes into the cellar alone to save Pablo. Okay, Kelly could have probably talked him into a group effort, but the cabin shook Ash into the basement where Ruby gave him a vision of the night he read from the book again to unleash more evil and get laid. This is where it gets a bit clunky. We’re to believe now that the Dark Ones are down to one Dark One who wishes not to unleash evil, but control it to maintain universal balance. All the vital information about Ruby’s scheme is dumped in this daydream. Then she attempts to make a deal with Ash, one we all realize he’ll probably take at some point just to screw things up even more. It ruins the surprise.
I don’t know why Heather was ever present, other than to give them someone other than tiny demons to kill in this episode. She’s meat. Don’t get attached. She sure isn’t attached to any body part by the time the cabin literally chews her up and spits her out in a gush of blood and chunks. The wave knocks Kelly down, honestly just dirt on a turd sandwich at this point. Kelly has been thrown around, had an eye pop on her and Heather, the guy she likes looks like he’s auditioning for a remake of The Mask, she’s locked out of the cabin, and the savior she’s supposed to rely on isn’t a team player. Eventually, she sets the cabin on fire, injuring it enough for it to unlock the doors.
In the basement it’s quite beautiful. I mean, that’s what everyone says when witnessing the miracle of birth, right? Unless it’s Pablo birthing demons by vomiting huge, wriggling, uterus-looking things. The demons which crawl out are played by children. They are evil. Evil children are evil. Why do people insist on tormenting me by adding demonic children to things I enjoy? Ash fights one child demon, the others flee.
Most of this episode is fight scenes. It keeps the awkward story bits from getting too much attention while highlighting an aspect from the films everyone loves—Bruce Campbell getting hit a lot. The final fight sequences all boil down to one thing: Ash has to make a decision. Either he can kill Ruby and wait to see how the chips fall with Pablo’s possession and the unleashed evil, or he can take the deal and trust Ruby to do as she says. He tries to get the best of both worlds, ensuring safe passage for Team Badass and a little money to help them on the way. It’s not as much cash as he wanted, but they have gas money. Yes, Ash just handed the future of mankind to an evil woman for a couple bucks and a trip to Jacksonville, FL.
Ruby totally reneges on the deal, too. There’s sinkholes popping up all over the area as Team Badass trundle off into the sunset. At least we know there’s still evil to fight in season two.
Does it feel like the honeymoon is over? For me, the shine on the blood-encrusted gold rings AvED slipped on fans’ fingers dulled. Why? The formula. The movies series used the formula well—Ash arrives, evil, death, and chaos follow. In the end, our main man walks away, dirty, tired, possibly maimed, and alone. Though they negated the alone part physically, Ash is mentally alone on this trip. Breaking the formula down to fit the series means each episode is pretty predictable. We can only have so much fun watching Kelly and Pablo take two gallons of blood to the face for five minutes in each twenty-something minute episode. While they do tend to mix up the fights and gross-out gags, it’s not enough to make us sit up and go, “Oh.”
When did horror television become about maintaining the same instead of breaking boundaries? This franchise, most of all, was the last I expected to play it safe. Showing Bruce Campbell’s butt in the first episode is not living dangerously.
When we left the gang, they’d killed deadites in a restaurant and left with a bonus team member—Amanda. We catch up with them in the middle of a misty forest, discussing the merits of Ash allowing the others to join him, though he’s still hesitant considering the formula and everyone except Ash dying as a result. Now would the show really kill off Pablo, Kelly, and Amanda? I want to say no, to give it something more to hold over the films—and also give them a solid base for the future considering season two was green-lit before episode 101 aired.
But here we are. Again. With Ash doubting his team even as he leads them to meet with his old pal Lem’s militia group in order to gear up for the final battle with evil. Before they even make it into the camp, they find a gutted corpse, an injured man babbling about an attack, and masked militants who shoot first, ask later. Luckily, it only applies to the injured man, who they think is, “…one of those things,” and their leader makes his head the consistency of oatmeal.
Ash talks his way into an actual meeting with the armed brain trust—that’s sarcasm if you can’t tell. Before they get to haggling for the good guns, evil arrives in the form of DeadLem, who’s mostly naked and possessed. The militia think he’s been gassed by Big Brother. If that’s a demon’s name, then they’re so on point. Unfortunately, these goons are slow on the uptake. Don’t get attached. Most end up dead. The others survive, but only to run away once they realize they’re way out of their element.
Lem’s attack, times with the team’s arrival, make the militia nervous. Ash and Amanda are handcuffed together, then dumped in another section of the compound. Why not, say, a jail cell? It’d be easier to keep captives captive if they’re not left to wander through endless tunnels, one of which surely leads outside. It does give them time to discuss Ruby, who isn’t dead, but rises from the ashes and reclaims her car. No worries, DeadLem somehow finds his way into the labyrinth to stalk the handcuffed—and flirting—duo. I’d hoped they would forego forcing one of the women on the team into Ash’s bed, but there it is, Ashmanda. DeadLem makes several attempts to blow up the pair. At last Amanda gets one over on the deadite. Ash thanks her by almost kissing her, until they’re interrupted by the cavalry.
Kelly and Pablo escape captivity after DeadLem’s meeting-time attack. The militia spread out to find them, though they manage to hide pretty much in plain sight alongside the dirt road leading to the compound. The big plan? Steal a gun, a gas mask, and take over the compound with Pablo posing as a militia member. The plan works, up until they miscalculate the number they’re against and get nabbed mid-theft. They’re dumped in a truck, but the vehicle goes nowhere. A deadite wipes out the guys holding them. Pablo takes out the deadite with the militia’s truck. Kelly makes sure it’s really dead after testing the new-to-her semi-automatic rifle. She unloads the gun into the deadite. Pablo is covered in blood. Off they go to save the day and interrupt a kiss which I believe should never happen if they wish to maintain the integrity of Amanda’s character.
The team catches—and releases when they leave—the militia, then pilfers whatever they may need for the fight at the cabin. Ash gives a rousing speech about how much he appreciates everyone.
Then Ash ditches the team. Because, formula. Or he was abducted. But my guess is he ran to save them. Annoying since it’s been his stance since the get go and they negated actual character growth by perpetuating his distrust. “But he’s protecting them!” A group who a minute before he leaves calmly pumps a deadite full of bullets. No hesitation. No worrying about the human it once was. They put the deadite down, saved the militia, and helped Ash secure weapons. They’ve earned trust, but the show’s writers are stuck on the notion that Ash’s appeal is his swagger and lone wolf routine. His appeal is the ability to adapt to any situation, even if that situation requires competent backup.
If you aren’t an adult, this show isn’t for you; neither is this review. Also, show spoilers everywhere.
As far as plans go, it isn’t a bad one. Brujo tells Eligos to take a hike, they get back to sorting out Ash’s mental mojo, then the newly awakened El Jefe cruises to the cabin to bury the friggen book. Easy as Ash getting laid.
Except they still have the wrong person hog-tied and awaiting whatever exorcism ritual requires a knife and chicken carcass. Going out on a limb, here, but I assume the Catholic Church did not approve this method. Despite the gag in his mouth, Ash tells everyone exactly what he thinks of them, the plan, and Keligos’ taunts when Brujo and Pablo can’t see. They brush his anger off as the demon talking. Compiled with Keligos’ compelling performance as a helpless victim, Ash is about to learn first-hand what a blood ritual looks like.
Annoyed by the request, but still fulfilling it, Pablo fetches the ritual supplies and gets out of Brujo’s hair. For a guy who spent a good chuck of his life avoiding the dark and spooky family business, Pablo sure wants to be in the thick of the mess a lot. Keligos has other plans to kill time. Her original plan is to get drunk. Failing to locate the booze, they decide on plan b—Ash’s grass stash. They just need a pipe. Pablo is off to play gopher once again. At some point he has to grow more of a spine. It feels a tad imbalanced—Kelly loses her parents and is possessed, Pablo gets brains and blood splattered over his face and a hot girl practically begging to get him in bed, but she’s the emotionally stronger character. Why pick on Kelly?
If anything positive can be said about the possessed woman, she’s resourceful. Bored with waiting for Pablo and a pipe, she uses the boom stick’s barrel to smoke.
Things get super awkward when Keligos seduces Pablo. Really, she just wants him to quit paying attention so she can blow his head off. Not exactly the method Pablo has in mind, either. He hesitates. Kelios loses her patience for the second time and attacks Pablo. The creature design for the hybrid Kelly and Eligos creature is elegant almost. They didn’t take her so far from human, she looked like a deadite, but made sure to bring Eligos’ distinctive grin onto her face. The effect is startling when it first happens.
Things aren’t going right in the Brujo’s shack, either. Ash isn’t reacting the way he should when approached with blessed items. While Brujo prepares the blood sacrifice, Ash dismisses with the gag, telling Brujo the truth—Eligos is in Kelly and probably about to kill Pablo. Shots fired in the trailer.
Ash and Brujo rush to the trailer. Pablo has Keligos cornered, boom stick aimed at her head. He can’t pull the trigger. They all scuffle over the shotgun. There’s yet another hole in Ash’s trainer, but Brujo subdues Keligos without any human injuries.
Take two on the exorcism. Eligos doesn’t react to any mojo spell, totem, or blessed item. The only time it reacts to a ritual component, it’s to vomit leeches fat with Brujo’s blood near Ash’s feet. They’re getting nowhere fast. Eligos takes to beating Kelly to make the men react.
Pablo and Brujo chat outside. Pablo tells his uncle he’s sorry for leaving so long ago and hiding from the mystical side of their family. While they’re out of the way, Kelly begs Ash to put her out of her misery before Eligos kills her. She even asks him to make sure there’s a cross on her grave. Tisk, tisk, Eligos. Wrong religion.
Things heat up when Pablo struts into the shed and demands Eligos take possession of him instead. Not one to ignore such a ripe morsel, Eligos reaches through Kelly’s mouth to grab Pablo. Unlike other mouth-exiting gags, they didn’t feel the need to waste time making Kelly’s mouth do weird things. Most of the shot following Eligos as it emerges is straight-forward.
The demon claims one last victim—Brujo, startled by how quickly Eligos jumps to and fro, is impaled through the chest when he dodges an attack. His death is not unavenged. Ash uses the not-so-wise words he told himself in the vision quest to finally find the right timing to blow Eligos’ blue-goo filled head to smithereens.
Kelly wakes from the ordeal with another headache and a gap in her memory from the time they reached the ranch. Ash fills in some of the blanks after ensuring she has ice for her head. They burn Brujo’s body on a funeral pyre. Pablo makes a lot of promises to the dead guy. In return, Brujo’s spirit flings a red-hot necklace at Pablo’s feet.
For the first time in the history of history, Ash apologizes for his part in the whole raising the ultimate evil fiasco. Pablo tries to brush the apology under the rug. Kelly tells him not to, Ash owes humanity an apology, not just the people stuck in the fight with him. They can’t walk into the final stage of the battle—the trip to the cabin—without all hands on deck. The hand Pablo started for Ash magically finished itself at some point. Trying it on, the first thing Ash does is high-five his team, then flip them the bird.
Keep it classy, Ash. And keep your backside in gear. Ruby and Amanda haven’t given up the hunt. Their method to navigate just takes a little longer than Amanda likes or has the patience for. The slow-moving hand GPS isn’t her only problem. Ruby is actively dodging Amanda’s questions, and not even that well, to be honest. What isn’t the deadite slayer telling her new buddy?
Poor Lionel is having a bad day. His store is wrecked by evil winds accompanying a spell he did right, only for Ash to botch. Does he get thanks for a job well done? No. He gets a glass shard to the eye and a demon using him as a meat puppet to attack Amanda Fisher. I guess in a way having Amanda handcuffed in place counts as a reward.
Then Ruby happens.
In typical Ruby style, she attacks DeadLionel, impaling him with a lamppost. Pinning DeadLionel to the wall gives Ruby time to snoop around the shop. She also fills Amanda in on her side of the whole Evil Dead story. According to Ruby, Ash is a stone-cold killer who mowed down her entire family—mom, dad, and her sister Annie. Something about her story tickles DeadLionel’s funny bone. Before he says something to contradict the tale, Ruby decapitates him and stomps on his head. Completely oblivious to Ruby’s true intentions, but enjoying her methods, Amanda agrees to team up with the undead slayer to track Ash. But how? He’s in the wind. Ruby has a friend who can help—Ash’s possessed hand which he severed in one of the most memorable fights in the franchise. Seems the little fellow has an internal tracking power, making it move the closer they are to Ash. It’s not GPS, but it’ll work in a pinch.
The ladies may not have far to go to catch up. The Evil tracking Ash catches up with him, Pablo, and a severely concussed Kelly on the road to Pablo’s uncle’s. A dust cloud storms down the road, chasing the trailer Ash tows, tossing passing vehicles into the air. In the nick of time, the car turns into the Brujo’s driveway. The talismans around the property protect it from the evil dust storm. Not from Ash’s incompetent swagger.
Uncle Brujo knew Pablo would return. Not sure much could prepare him to deal with Ash as the sole Jefe available to deal with the local evil problem, but he’s game if Ash is. “When evil shows up, it blows up,” Ash tells the gang—it’s his new slogan if he is indeed this whacky Jefe thing Pablo and Brujo talk about all the time. There’s a long road ahead if Ash will become the hero they need. The Brujo says the light inside the hero-to-be is too dim, and quite frankly, Ash is a gigantic failure.
The trip they must take is an intimate one, which leaves Pablo to take care of Kelly. She’s probably going to need more than the standard, “Take two of these and call me in the morning,” seeing as she’s hearing voices in her head and all. None of the guys know. She’s really not inclined to tell them, either. You guys remember Eligos, the faceless fun n mental mindgames demon the gang summoned in the last episode? Yeah, he’s taken residence in Kelly’s brain and body. Rut roh. Pablo does his best to make sure she’s comfortable. While she rests, and is consumed by evil, he rifles through the storage shed for hand-making supplies. He creates a pretty nifty mechanical hand before Keligos electrocutes him, knocking him out.
In Brujo’s ramshackle shed, Ash is given a hearty dose of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic meant to draw Ash into himself to find the answer to their troubles. It takes a while for the potion to kick in, but once it does, whoa. We’re treated to an odd TV montage acid trip sequence, followed by footage from Evil Dead and a map tracking Ash’s nomadic life from ValueStop to ValueStop. At last Ash drops into a freshly dug grave. His eyes are sewn shut. Vaguely Ash-like masked men roam around, searching for our hero-to-be. Brujo, as a voice from above, instructs Ash on how to control his trip. The minute Ash has a grip on things, he travels to Jacksonville, FL. But not the real city, just an idealized version Ash saw on a postcard. He’d planned a trip to the city thirty years prior. A trip he was supposed to take right after visiting the cabin where he obtained the Necronomicon.
Eli the lizard, who can talk in this vision, verbally abuses Ash until they work out what’s in Ash’s subconscious that can point them to a solution to the evil problem. It all has to go back to the beginning, Ash and the book. Great news for long-term ED fans, they get to see the infamous cabin again.
Ash is vulnerable, trapped in the vision quest. He’s ripe for Eligos to screw with mentally. The demon hijacks Ash’s trip and drags him mentally back to ValueStop, where the possessed Little Lori doll waits to finish their fight. But this is Ash’s vision. He’s the head honcho in charge. Ash changes the vision, attacking Eligos. In reality, he’s strangling Kelly’s possessed body. Unaware of the real situation, Pablo whacks Ash over the head to save Kelly.
Well, that’s a strange turn of events. How will Keligos fit into the new plan: Bury the Necronomicon at the cabin in the woods? Will Pablo trust Ash after the attack? Is this the delay Ruby needs to finally catch up with her prey?