Zombie Reviews . . . What We Become

Zombie Reviews . . . What We Become
By A. Zombie

Rated: Not Rated (contains intense gore, adult language, and violence)

Language: Danish

Starring: Benjamin Engell, Troels Lyby, Mille Dinesen, Ella Solgaard, and Marie Hammer Boda

Dino and Pernille Johansson live with their small family in an idyllic town, Sorgenfri, where it’s so peaceful, the teens are bored to death by the end of summer vacation. That doesn’t last long. Shortly after the new girl, Sonja, moves in across the street, things start to get weird in Denmark. The news features public service announcements on proper hygiene in hopes of staving off a virus sweeping the countryside. It doesn’t work. Sorgenfri is quarantined. The Johansson family are trapped inside, stealing glimpses through the black tarps covering their home as the military takes over once-quiet streets. One by one, the townsfolk are removed from their homes and carted off in semi-trucks. Others are forcibly stopped by the military. Gustav, the Johansson’s son, gets curious and breaks out of the house to snoop on the armed men, and perhaps check in with Sonja as well. Of course, he makes matters worse.

Let’s be frank, this film isn’t anything we haven’t seen on-screen before. I’ve seen versions of similar trapped-house horror plots for decades. What We Become takes the zombie genre back to its simplistic roots in an era where we’ve been given blockbuster after blockbuster, and even the TV shows are approached like they’re feature films cut into chunks to air each week. What you see is what you get with this film. There’s one main location. A tiny cast. Most of the action is through stolen glimpses outside, the news, or during one of the few seriously ill-thought outings to confront what’s really going on in Sorgenfri. It’s NotLD in Danish. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a predictable thing, which will be what keeps genre fans from calling this film one of their top-whatever. Simple films can be well done, though. This is a perfect example.

Because most of the tension is based on how the family interacts and reacts to an unknown threat, the zombies are saved for the final act in the film. We’re given a quick look at the undead chaos at one point, but the full-frontal shambling dead came in the last fifteen minutes or so. From that point on, it’s all snarls and gnashing teeth. The makeup takes a soft approach to the newly turned zombies. Some hero zombies are pretty gruesome; one of the first we see clearly is pretty torn up. To go from the restrained first acts in the film where the zombie action was off-screen to the undead taking over the town in minutes is jarring, tampered by the makeup on the newly turned, especially those who turn inside the house. They almost look like vampires up until the feeding begins.

The final zombie action is undercut perfectly with one last bout of family drama. What happens when one of their own is ready to turn? It’s a wonderful final moment for the actors. This cast is pretty solid and did what they could with the script. Unfortunately, that script leads most characters down a path which ends with several attempts to fix their circumstances by attempting to leave the quarantine area or interact with the military on their turf. It goes about as well as you’re thinking.

What We Become is a pretty solid toe-dip into zombie storytelling. Yes, it has predictable parts. However, the cast saves the film from being tiresome. Come for the high-tension acting, stay for the comfortable feeling of watching just another zombie movie. Sometimes we all need to unwind and watch cannibalistic monsters terrorize a family, along with a few select neighbors. I’m giving this film three and a half severed arms out of five.


Zombie Reviews . . . Train to Busan

Zombie Reviews . . . Train to Busan
by A. Zombie

Rated: TV-MA (extreme violence, strong language)
Language: Korean
Starring: Gong Yoo, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Soo-an Kim, Woo-shik Choi, So-hee Ahn, and Eui-sung Kim

Occasionally Netflix doesn’t fail the genre completely. Recently they added Train to Busan to their streaming service, which is probably the best thing they’ve done in the last year. It’s hard to believe this film didn’t catch my attention before now, seeing as it was a huge hit across the Pacific. Let’s be honest, the American film media is horrible about giving props to genre flicks not set on their home turf. Pair that with the fact that it’s best watched in the original Korean and film media push it aside for yet another poorly produced American movie which is just a clone of fifty similar films and television shows. This film is a breath of fresh air. It’ll also keep you so far on the edge of your seat, you may fall off by the time the final scene plays out.

Seok-woo is a work-obsessed absentee father dealing with the fallout from a tense divorce. On the eve of his daughter Soo-an’s birthday, he screws up royally. To make it up to her, he relents to her demands to see her mother in Busan. Leaving town isn’t ideal. There’s something going on with one of the funds he manages and his coworker Kim is increasingly concerned about the reports he’s receiving. But a promise is a promise, so off they go. Seconds before the train departs for Busan, an injured woman jumps aboard. She’s infected with something none of them have seen before. When a train worker comes to her aid, the infected woman attacks and chaos erupts. By the time the initial attack is done, there’s only one train car worth of people left. The rest turn zombie and are locked in the middle train cars. News coming in via overhead televisions isn’t any better. Entire cities are overrun with the undead. Several are quarantined. When the train stops at last, it’s only to discover that the military couldn’t hold the quarantine and the dead have taken over. They opt to move on, pushed by an unhinged COO, Yon-suk. Throughout the last half of the movie it’s hard to tell who the real enemy is, the zombies or the paranoid humans trapped on the train.

This isn’t just another action movie with zombies. There’s a message or forty in the way the living interact with each other. We have an intense father/daughter plot which will drive anyone with a heart to tears by the third act. The film’s writer leaned heavily on the notion of ingrained human selfishness and the heinous damage it does to the masses during a crisis. Many of those who perish in the final act only die due to selfishness and their willingness to turn a blind eye to hatred if it means they’ll live to see another day. Panic becomes a new cast member at the end, unseen yet pushing one survivor group against the other with no sound reason. We’ve seen tension like that before, TWD uses it near-weekly, but here it’s so in-your-face wrong that I couldn’t help but yell at the television. That’s the kind of writing I miss, the scripts which make one forget they’re not one of the characters for a couple hours. It’s hard to watch the human cruelty, but even harder to look away.

Those zombies, guys. I haven’t seen character movement like that in ages unless it was in one of countless demonic possession films. These zombies are twitchy, bendy, snappish, and flat out cool. They’re scary solo, and pants-pissing terrifying in a mob. Kudos to the extras who worked on this film. They left everything on the set every day of production. The pay-off created probably some of my favorite mass zombie scenes to date—the train station attack on the stairs and the sequence where Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, and Yong-guk fight from car nine to car thirteen to rescue a group separated from the other survivors. Because there are so many undead, the makeup for them is simplistic. And you know what? I don’t care. They could have slapped white grease paint on them and let them loose and it wouldn’t have done a thing to lessen the performances from the extras and hero zombies.

Train to Busan is the action-packed zombie film we’ve been waiting for since World War Z tried and just didn’t quite hit the mark. There’s some issues, yes, but the writing and action are so solid, the issues get a free pass. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again, something I never do with zombie films outside Romero’s contributions to the genre. Train to Busan gets five severed heads out of five. Now what are you waiting for? Go watch it!


Left in the Dark

Left in the Dark
by R.C. Murphy

Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.

I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.

Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.

Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.

For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.

Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.


Gearing Up for More Z Nation

Gearing Up for More Z Nation
by R.C. Murphy

First of all, we will not have to wait until October to visit with our zombie-slaying pals. The show will begin in September, possibly near the beginning of the month. However, Syfy has not announced a firm date yet, so keep your eyes out for an official announcement from them sometime soon.

Season four will have thirteen episodes. Episode four has a surprise guest director. Well, not much of a surprise because Keith Allan was still pretty wound up from his time in the director’s chair. Allan said of the acting/directing combo, “It was profound and exhausting.” Unfortunately, there’s no downtime in the end days and the gang was headed straight back to Spokane for work on episode five after the convention. The script for an upcoming episode scandalized Russel Hodgkinson, he admitted during one interview. Guess Doc talking to Elvis and sharing Z-weed with a zombie won’t be the craziest thing we see from everyone’s favorite character. D.J. Qualls was in attendance, much to fans’ relief. Citizen Z will return for the new season, and he’s got a huge weight on his shoulders. Family changes a guy, after all. Qualls said his character’s main focus is to make the world safe for their child. And maybe a change in wardrobe. Warren’s forthcoming story line should be interesting. Kellita Smith said, “This journey Warren is on this season scares and excites me.” If Smith is scared, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

So what’s going on? The cast were pretty tight-lipped about specifics. We did learn that season four takes place two years after the season three finale. Why? The production team wanted the chance to hit the reset button for everyone—from the main crew, to the group in Zona, and beyond. They’re not going to ignore that timeframe; all the story gaps will eventually be filled in. The only thing we’ll be completely clueless about is Roberta’s new mission. While it will dominate the plot, the gang says nothing is actually revealed until episode thirteen. Not sure how they’ll keep the audience out of the loop that long, but color me intrigued.

After the cast spoke at their panel, the production announced the new guys brought in for season four—Henry Rollins, Tara Holt, Grace Phipps, and Michael Berryman. We also learned that Lucy will be a significant part of the season. And no, things are not any better between father and daughter. Murphy still has a lot to learn when it comes to fatherhood. Luckily he’s got the team by his side again to help with that.


So, What’s Up with FtWD?

So, What’s Up with FtWD?
by R.C. Murphy

But the show is still here. They rolled out a two-hour season three opener on June 4th, garnering 4.7 million viewers. That’s a smidge better from how they wrapped season two, with just over 3 million viewers hanging in ’til the end. So I guess that means there’s still fans for FtWD, but the numbers are still nowhere near TWD’s season openers. Some fans admit they’re hooked after That Shocking Moment at the beginning of episode 302. Others are frustrated because it’s not meaningful to end a story line once it’s obviously run its course—or as I’ve said since the get-go, that particular one never stood a chance. Yes, I’m being vague. No season three spoilers here, folks.

If you, like me, took some time off from the show, here’s a run-down of what happened after the guts hit the fan and the family separated during the season two mid-season finale. Warning, Season Two Spoilers Below!

Nick makes it to Mexico the hard way, via water. He starts his trip strong, but eventually loses all his gear, food, and water. Basically, he’s playing the game on Hardcore Survival Mode, going so far as to drink his own urine and ingest raw dog meat. Nick is saved from an infection in his leg, and eventual death by exposure, by Luciana. She lives in La Colonia, a walled survivor camp, and takes Nick to get his leg treated. The colony believes death is natural, and the zombies are an extension of that. The sick/injured are given to the dead before they turn inside the walls. This group also has a trade deal with local thugs, drugs for basic supplies. It takes Nick a heartbeat to take over the drug portion of the trade, putting Colonia’s leadership on edge. It also takes him almost as long to seduce Luciana. With the drug trade their only means to obtain water and other vital needs, it’s vital the chain remain unbroken . . . then it’s broken. Nick and Luciana are pitted against Colonia’s increasingly crazed leader. He demands faith, they know faith won’t convince Marco and his people to share. Nick attempts to make another trade, but Marco reveals he’s found a new drug supplier who’ll help him take over La Colonia. When Nick takes the warning back to his new friends, they refuse to leave. The leader is bitten by an infected citizen, and his lie about supposed immunity is outed. Despite learning the truth and the upcoming raid, Luciana won’t leave her people when Nick demands they run. It isn’t until he returns the next day with news of a helicopter landing near the border that La Colonia’s people realize they must flee. Their leader stays behind, using his flagging energy to open a gap in the fence so the infected can attack Marco and his goons. The fleeing survivors make it to the border. And no further. Most are gunned down on the spot. Luciana is injured. She and Nick are separated at the season’s end and taken hostage.

Madison, Alicia, Ofelia, and Strand chase after Nick, but fail to find him. They also fail to secure the yacht and it’s stolen by the Mexican military. With nothing left, they end up hiding in a hotel. When the undead spread, a group was trapped in the hotel during a wedding. After Madison and Strand nearly kill everyone by getting drunk and having a party, they eventually work out a deal with the current occupants. There’s a catch. They have to shun Elena, a woman who came to Alicia’s rescue after the drunken fiasco. There’s tense history between Elena and the hotel leaders, Oscar and Ilene—so much so they’ve kidnapped her son, Hector. Regardless of who can stay or go, Madison pushes forward with clearing the undead from the hotel. There’s too many, but Alicia finds a riptide under the neighboring pier. The combined groups work out a plan to lure the infected to the riptide with Madison as the final bait. Ten days of cooperation later, all looks good. Except the lingering resentment from Ilene, who blames Elena for killing her daughter, and stabs Strand instead of her nemesis. Forced into action, lest Strand die from lack of care, Elena tells Madison about a gang-operated drug trade nearby where her other son lives. Yes, it’s also the same place Nick trades Oxy for water. Madison overhears just enough inside the store before they get their med supplies to know her son lives, and to make life difficult for the Colonia family Marco questions. They’re given their marching orders and return to the hotel to tend to Strand. Madison opts to use the generator to run the hotel sign, for Nick. Travis finds it instead. And he’s alone.

Chris wandered off from the group with a head full of crazy and not much else. His father only followed to keep him safe. After they make a grab and dash supply stop, the men Chris accidentally saved track them down and extend an invitation to join them. Brandon, Dereck, and James are heavily armed, dangerous, the opposite of what Travis wants for Chris, but the kid is already mentally with the new guys before they’ve been together long enough to know each other’s middle names. The newly-formed group spots a farm to ransack. Slight problem there; the farm owner is still alive and very protective of his chickens. James pushes his luck and is shot. Chris returns fire, killing the farmer. And he’s not sorry about it at all. Chris sees kindred souls in Brandon’s crew. He also sees a future, which he’d given up on just before leaving the yacht. James’ injury prevents the crew from moving on. Chris’ new friends get anxious, sure James will turn and they want to do him in before then. In a rather obvious double-cross, Chris holds Travis back while James is put down. Father and son part ways, Chris joining Brandon on the road, Travis heading on foot to find the ocean, and eventually the lit hotel sign.

That sign brings every survivor to the hotel door. Including, eventually, Brandon and Derek. The hotel dwellers reluctantly bring everyone into the parking garage to check them over and provide shelter. Chris’ companions, without him in tow, are typically American and rude. They also have news. Chris totaled their vehicle and perished in the crash. Madison and Strand agree now is not the time to tell Travis. Slight problem with the plan, when the duo are pulled aside to fix one’s dislocated shoulder, the other newcomers riot. Travis joins them to calm everyone down. From there, it’s a train wreck. Travis learns about Chris, but the stories don’t mesh. He gets the men alone, manhandling the truth from them—Chris survived the wreck, but they shot him over an injured leg. Snap. Travis beats the men to death, also accidentally injuring Oscar. The injury requires surgery, but due to the lack of, well, anything Oscar dies mid-procedure. A lynch mob rushes for Travis’ room. The family fights them off. Strand helps Madison and Alicia get Travis away from the hotel, but stays behind. From there, Madison finally falls into Nick’s footsteps and tracks him to La Colonia. There’s no Nick, but Alejandro, Colonia’s leader, gives them just enough information to send them in the right direction before he succumbs to the infection.

Will you tune in to see where the family winds up, or have you moved on to greener entertainment pastures? Personally, I’m using my free time to watch Wynonna Earp and a couple other SyFy shows.


Return of the Dead Guy: Review for iZombie 310

Return of the Dead Guy:
Review for iZombie 310
by A. Zombie

There’s only one reason to keep throwing back to Roxanne Greer’s death after her brain gimmick left a bad taste in fans’ mouths, it’s the one thing which will finally expose the puppet behind several deadly incidents in the city. We knew Greer’s death wasn’t cut and dry, not with Weckler being so ready to confess, and his subsequent staged suicide. The motive, however, remained elusive. With only one person alive with a connection to the man, Clive and Liv hunt down his daughter, who said some cryptic things about why Ms. Greer met her end during her final call with her father. They catch up with her at a friend’s house. The girl is wary to say too much in public. Or maybe her problem’s with Clive and Liv. There’s a surprise twist, tying Fillmore-Graves to the Weckler family. Was this their way of shoring up Baracus’ public image? If so, maybe the sniper at the reception wasn’t a crazed bigot, but someone trained not to shoot the mayor in the head. I know a certain company with loads of loyal men who’d pull the trigger in the name of the undead greater good. Could be a red herring, though. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Major and Shawna spend some time in Fort Lust. Yes, it’s as sickeningly sweet as it sounds. No, Liv won’t tolerate Major’s new attention diversion, as evident in her rat-feeding rant. Hilarious since she spends the entire episode apologizing to Drake for killing him, and he’s not really there. Drake even gets between Liv and Justin the first time they hop in bed together. But the minute Major is obviously happy, Liv is in a snit. She’s had ample time to deal with her feelings for the guy. They never see eye to eye for long and spend all their time saving each other from their own stubborn nature. But sure, writers, let’s make Liv the jealous ex yet again because you can’t figure out that adults can move on to new relationships without napalming the bridge with their ex. See Ravi and Peyton for another prime example. They do give Liv a moment to acknowledge her insane behavior—the brain-hopping to escape her violent farewell with Drake. The couple even get another chance to say goodbye. At last, Liv is free to move on. If we’re willing to forget her pettiness over Major’s current lover.

Boss weasels his way into a face-to-face with Blaine. He’s so sure he’s going to walk out of the mortuary the winner. Surprise, Boss! Zombies are a thing. Yes, Blaine brings the guy who’s been gunning for him in on the big secret. The brain supply is in peril without Angus’ firm hand to keep things running. Blaine just doesn’t have the same charm over the phone. He recruits Boss to smuggle brains for the business, after scaring the pee out of him with a little Full Blow Zombie mode, first.

iZombie — “Return Of The Dead Guy” — Image Number: ZMB310b_0015.jpg — Pictured (L-R):Rahul Kohli as Ravi and Bryce Hodgson as Don E — Photo: Robert Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

That’s not the only real zombie action. Blaine grrs up again, this time with Liv in tow, to rescue the valiant duo trapped by the torture-happy Truthers. Ravi does his best to keep Don E. comfortable and safe from the groups’ plan to fry him like bacon until he snaps and turns full Romero. He even goes so far as to reach into some dark and mortifying places in order to retrieve Don E.’s burner phone so he can call for help. Rachel drops by, eager to check on the legitimacy of the live feed footage. She’s not on board with the plan Harley Johns and his pals pitch. But other than supporting Ravi as he literally stands in harm’s way, she can’t do much when faced with heavily-armed men hell-bent on hurting someone for fun. But the zombies can. The episode ends with Liv and Blaine Zing up in the car and Ravi’s got a gun to his head.

With three episodes left, things have predictably hit the fan in epic ways. Judging from the preview for next week, it’ll be an uphill battle for Team Zombie if they all want to survive this encounter with the Truthers.


Line Up for a Vision Test!

Line Up for a Vision Test!
by R.C. Murphy

There’s reports flooding our servers detailing instances where folks mistake actors for fictional people who live in a plastic box. I’m not talking one report. There’s many. It’s overwhelming. And if I’m honest, it breaks my heart a little to have so many confused people out there in the world.

Surely you jest, R.C.. There’s no way someone’s eyesight is that bad.

No, voice inside my head, this is not a joke. This is merely a response to yet another string of fandom-based attacks on actors who they worship . . . until the writers take the actor’s character on a darker path.

Where does this turn against the talent begin?

I’ve personally witnessed exchanges where fans downright refuse to call an actor by name, insisting, “They’ll always be [character name] to me,” with a laugh like that forgives the rudeness. No, my dude. By transferring the character’s name to the actor, you’ve dehumanized them. It then gives your conscious leeway to continue with a conversation which often accuses the actor, not character, of vile things, like racism, bigotry, rape, and murder. Sometimes the name confusion thing is an honest mistake; though given the age of the internet, that excuse is thinner and thinner by the minute.

The real problem comes when fans continue to dehumanize actors, stripping them of autonomy and presuming they’re directly responsible for their actions on screen. Worse is when fans demand reasoning from the actor. News flash: Actors work from a script written by a team of other people, they’re given direction from yet more people during the filming process, and even then the action on-screen is further changed in the editing room to adjust the scene’s tone or cut in new dialog because something changed last minute. That character worshipped or hated by millions is actually fifteen badgers in a bag pretending to people. One lucky badger gets to be the face, but there’s so much more under the surface. It isn’t fair to actors when fans refuse to differentiate between who they watch on-screen and the person they meet at a comic-con or happen to pass on the street.

How does confusing a name turn into death threats? I’ve honestly got no answer for you. My brain isn’t wired in a way which allows me to even consider the violent actions some so-called fans have taken. Floods of threats happened several times in the seven years TWD has aired. Lori Holden and Sarah Wayne Callies were constantly under fire during their tenure, blamed for every instance their characters made an ill-advised decision and threatened with sexual violence or death if the character didn’t shape up or get killed off of the show. Children on the show aren’t immune to this bile. When Sam panicked during their escape from walker-ridden Alexandria, fans took to social media to call the young man playing Sam degrading names, accusing him of being mentally handicapped, and even going so far as to write fetish-like theories where a child is mutilated by walkers. Even Yahoo’s TV reviewer chimed in, their article vibrating with indignation that a traumatized child dare act traumatized—uh, what? Brighton Sharbino was the subject of a terrifying online campaign, besieged with death threats after her character Lizzie demonstrated sociopathic tendencies and became a threat to her traveling companions, including an infant.

At comic-cons, actors are often followed on the way to the bathroom, into an elevator up to their to their hotel room, and at one event where the greenroom was on an elevated platform some fans camped out and zoomed in with cameras to watch the actors eat. Norman Reedus was bitten, and while the incident was blown out of proportion, it should have never happened in the first place. Keep your mouths to yourself!

In recent weeks, two TWD actors pulled some or all of their social media accounts. Alanna Masterson took to Instagram a while back to firmly reprimand fandom parasites who felt it their duty to police her postpartum weight. While she did deactivate her account for a bit, it appears she’s active again on the site as of the end of May. I doubt the same will be said about Josh McDermitt. We left McDermitt’s character in a really crappy situation—die like Abraham or work for Negan—and every Eugene fan knew what the choice would be; he’d chose life. But there’s still that unhinged group who launched irate messages at McDermitt, putting Eugene’s betrayal on his head and threatening his life so often, he’s reached a breaking point and will not subject himself to the hate any longer. We honestly don’t deserve McDermitt, guys. In the FB Live video recorded before he closed up social media shop, he ended it by stating he loves his fans. There’s people threatening him daily, but he still acknowledges those who genuinely care about him, the actor.

How can we prevent incidents like this in the future? Well, let’s start by assuring everyone can see the differences between an actor and the character they portray on the big screen, TV screen, or stage.

Exhibit A:

Photo credit: J Benham from sickpix

This is an unnamed zombie. Their clothing is torn, dirty, bloody, and doesn’t fit properly. What about makeup? Does it suggest they’re going out to coffee with friends? Nope. It screams, “I’m a god damn zombie, bro! Let’s eat some people.” The zombie’s face/arms/etc. are covered in blood/slime/dirt.

Exhibit B:

This is an actor. Who just so happens to be me, and the same person portraying the zombie above. Note that the clothing is neat-ish. Hair is neatly styled. The actor sits in a natural, friendly position for this headshot. There’s no blood or dirt. There’s no underlying need to devour human flesh. There’s little similarity between the figures in the images other than the eyes.

Given some fan’s theories on how reality works, the fact that I often portray the undead means I should totally be a cannibal, correct? Truth is, I hardly eat meat, let alone desire to take the time to kill a human and process that much flesh for consumption. My hobbies include . . . wait for it . . . using my acting skills to raise money for charity. So tell me again, why would anyone assume an actor in a violent or morally ambiguous role would want to perpetuate the same during their off-time? Acting is emotionally and physically exhausting work. The minute they can drop it and relax, they will. Keep in mind, fake blood is unpleasant at best and a stain-filled, hair-pulling nightmare at worst, and we won’t get into more complicated SFX makeup with its aerospace-quality adhesives and suffocating prosthetic pieces—few actors enjoy the process and certainly wouldn’t endure the extreme discomfort outside of paid gigs. The same can be said for the wardrobe, which is often the same outfit in different stages of disgusting on shows like TWD. Once actors scrape off the makeup and put on their own clothes, that’s it. They’re free elves, no longer controlled by the chaotic chorus—the creative team building their character.

Do yourselves a favor. Make sure you understand the difference between an actor, their character, and the situations in which said actor fully controls the character’s actions—which is rare, despite how many times one hears, “Yeah, he just made that up on set that day.” At the end of the day, the performance the actor delivers isn’t just theirs, but has been manipulated by writers, directors, producers, digital artists, and the editor. Instead of attacking one person over the decisions of many, why don’t you focus your energy on supporting the amazing work they’ve produced? No one, literally no one alive right now needs to endure yet another human being attacking them for situations completely out of their control.


Twenty-Sided, Die: Review for iZombie 309

Twenty-Sided, Die:
Review for iZombie 309
by A. Zombie

This week, Liv turns into a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master. Only, she’s a cartoon of a human interested in table top gaming and ends up dramatically narrating everything. The second the brain is inconvenient, Liv magically remembers she can pilfer leftover Fillmore-Graves brain goop from Major. So the writers dragged yet another subculture through the mud, got a lot wrong according to my expert, and dropped the gag because it was too annoying to bring into Liv’s new relationship? Okay, sure.

There’s no resolution to this case, either. After the DM is poisoned during a gaming session, the red herring winds up being Dan the DM’s secret hobbit-fetish driven relationship with fellow player Zoe, and how the three other men in their gaming group likewise wanted to date her. I’ll admit, I almost turned off the TV and walked away from the episode. First, Ravi calls the gaming group nerds several times in a five minute span, then they bring on yet another case of Jealous Man Syndrome, in theory placing the blame for the murder on a completely innocent woman through her romantic choice. But she had nothing to do with what happened to Dan, because Dan was a secret international hacker. The FBI takes the case from Clive and Liv, leaving it all up in the air, along with the stench from all those decomposing, ancient DnD jokes they resurrected like it hasn’t been Hollywood’s favorite pastime to demoralize “geeks” since the Eighties.

Bringing the FBI into the case does allow the writers to kick Clive one more time via a face-to-face with Bozzio. She’s taking Dan the Dungeon Hacker’s case, yet absolutely refuses to take any BS from Clive when he runs outside to catch her before she’s gone for good again. We seriously need more scenes like this for Clive. He’s been the robot detective for three seasons, with half-second glances at something more under the scowl. I’d gladly follow the show for more from emotionally-expressive Clive, even if Liv were to bite the dust in the zombie/human war.

Major needs no help getting all up in his feels. With yet another new lease on life, Major stews in his recent past, cataloging what few good things remain after becoming the Chaos Killer . . . or Chaos Kidnapper, rather. There’s no shortage of motivation, Ravi has a trunk-load of hidden hate-mail from the CK era. Within the mountain of anger is one letter showing compassion. Shawna writes that she’s also found herself in a situation where she’s blamed for something she didn’t do and invites Major to reach out to talk anytime. He takes her up on the offer after watching Justin and Liv leave for Baracus’ fundraiser. Shawna doesn’t seem completely crazy, so there’s a chance Major gets to do something other than mope soon.

The Travelers may not be the bumbling fools we hope they’ll turn out to be. During the benefit, someone shoots Baracus. Things with these guys needs to wrap up quickly before the body count grows.

Ravi almost manages to be the savior he’s convinced he needs to be in order to woo a woman. While in the Travelers meeting, he steps in to put a kibosh on Harley Johns’ idea to kidnap a zombie, starve it, and live broadcast the outcome via internet to expose zombie-kind. The problem? These yokels have no clue how dangerous a cornered zombie can be. Outing himself as a morgue worker, and former CDC employee, Ravi warns them about a zombie’s ability to infect with a scratch. The mob calms down and agrees to the rational plan—wait for Ravi’s cure so if anyone is injured, he can cure them. Hint, there’s no way Ravi’s following through with that idea. He only needed to buy time.

Not nearly enough time, it seems. Thanks to Blaine’s little blue brain experiment, the Travelers have their hands on a genuine zombie . . . Don E. The dude stumbled into the street, tripping hard on doctored war veteran brain. The visions from Blain’s double-strength memory-enhanced brain are all consuming, pulling Don E. from the real world so much, he’s only aware of danger after Johns locks him in the back of his van and delivers him to Ravi. I mean, at least the dude isn’t at a secret government lab, but this means Ravi has to not only extract himself from the hate group, but also rescue an addle-brained zombie.

At peace again, Peyton actually has energy to focus on work. First priority? Figuring out what happened with Weckler. The best way to learn about a person after their death is to talk to someone they trusted with their deepest secrets. This expert laughed at the notion that Weckler, distraught after losing his wife, would spend his meager income on a dominatrix. Which is pretty much what I’d already figured out. So who’s the puppeteer behind the mentally unstable man? It’d be easier to list the powerful men in town who hadn’t paid tribute to the deceased dominatrix; finding one man amongst her client list with that kind of sway over legal matters isn’t going to be easy.

Perhaps the answer just slithered back into town. We wrap this week by saying hello to Boss as he’s smuggled into Seattle. This can’t be good. His Unfinished Business list is longer than my arm. Drat. Peyton just got her life somewhat together, too.

Next week, make sure the Ghostbusters are on your speed dial. Hopefully the episode will be a nice pallet cleanser going into the final episodes. I’d certainly like to laugh instead of groan during the show.


Reviving that which is Not Dead Yet

Reviving that which is Not Dead Yet
by R.C. Murphy

One does not simply march into Cannes four months after dropping what was billed as the final film in a franchise and announce a new six-film deal to revive it.

But that’s exactly what Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the board for Constantin Film, did during the international film festival. With absolutely no plan under their belt, the production company, which already owns film rights to Resident Evil, announced hopes for a six-film arc in an upcoming reboot. Variety scooped the original interview, but couldn’t get any juicy details from the chairman during their chat. Probably because no one was ready for him to jump out and announce something this big so soon.

Days after Moszkowicz’s Variety interview, Deadline dug up more dirt on this poorly-timed revival. According to them, the first film installment will be directed by James Wan (Saw, Aquaman). Wan made a name for himself in the horror industry, delivering films which on the page could become utterly ridiculous, but often end up being at the very least fun thrill-rides for the audience. I’ll never forget the night I sat to watch Dead Silence as a joke and wound up sleeping with the lights on. His work on Saw set the tone for virtually every scary flick released after 2004. It’s almost natural for anyone working in the genre to court Wan, and I don’t blame the RE team for wanting someone solid to lead the charge.

The wildcard in Constantin Film’s plan is the writer slated to bring a new voice to the franchise which earned $1.2 billion in its lifetime. Greg Russo is currently working with Wan on the upcoming Mortal Kombat revival. And that’s about it for his film writing career from what I managed to find. As a RE fan, that’s cause to raise a brow. A seemingly untested writer is handed one of the largest horror franchises with no notice and no plan from the production company besides grabbing Wan and apparently whoever he’s currently tied to professionally. A few articles said the MK script wasn’t half bad. But Constantin Film still demands massive faith from fans if they expect us to forgive rushing the original franchise into its grave, then they hand the lot to someone we’ve never heard of except that he’s working with a well-known horror director.

Wan’s name alone won’t make Resident Evil live again. Constantin Film hung the future for the reboot onto Russo’s ability to capture the magic which made the games so popular and drove the film franchise into horror history. It’s almost too much pressure to put on one person. Like someone simply walked up on Monday and said, “Here, we just told the public this is the last movie, but we’re going to have you rewrite the entire thing from the start. Don’t muck it up.” As a writer, I’d run far from that offer.

Keep in mind, there is no actual script yet. Everything has been announced, but all parties are currently focused on other productions. It’s entirely possibly Constantin Film will never get the Resident Evil reboot off the ground, or they’ll change the main production team before filming begins. These folks want to talk a big game in order to remain relevant, or simply to keep the film rights. There’s no planning behind this announcement; it’s giving me little faith in what’s to come.

Jovovich, the face of the film franchise since its inception, delivered this parting shot for the new Resident Evil team during an interview with ComicBook.com. “I would suggest that you find people that have that same passion for the property before you talk about reboots. I think if you get into this kind of genre, people are very sensitive to fakes. There’s some real fans in the sci-fi/action/horror world, and they’re not idiots. They can smell when something is done because people love it and when something is done just to monetize an opportunity.”

If you were given the monumental task of writing the first Resident Evil reboot film, what changes would you make to the universe, or do you prefer the tale laid out by the original series? Personally, I dig the idea of a reboot because they never did reach the universe’s full potential. However, the timing makes this news like dancing in the cooling ashes of a funeral pyre. It’s the ultimate case of, “Too soon, bro.”


Eat a Knievel: Review for iZombie 308

Eat a Knievel:
Review for iZombie 308
by A. Zombie

Didn’t anyone on the iZ team look at the optics of a jealous white guy burning a black man alive for impregnating his white girlfriend during an ill-considered prank? We’re not above the race talk in a zombie setting. We’re certainly not allowed to forget that unconscionable crimes are perpetuated against people of color all over the United States thanks to the vitriol coming from the sitting president’s supporters. Yet again I’m left to wonder if this show’s production staff is horrifically isolated from the world or if they’re willfully ignoring the negative messages laced throughout this last season in particular. They have a whole sub story about chasing down men committing zombie hate crimes, then stage a murder where a young black man is burned alive for defiling another man’s “property.” In a world with infinite possibilities, countless ways to murder, and the ability to combine any color of people in a situation, these writers opted for too many instances of white men killing people of color. Let’s not forget, the Travelers are primarily white Republican types and their first known victims were a black family.

It’s not okay for the writers to make a buck on killing people of color. It’d be great if they quit preaching that women who step out of line will lose their lives or suffer great personal loss. Just knock it off already. It’s not entertaining. You’re attacking your target demographic! There’s no rational reason to target women and people of color so often. None. If that is truly all these writers can come up with, it’s time to put iZombie to pasture and give the money to creatives who’ll bring some actual representation to women-led shows and not trot them out like a freakshow.

The gimmick of the week: Liv eats an immolated professional prankster, tries to staple a guy’s tongue, and channels her destructive nature into a weird “same brain” date with Justin—which includes impalement by lawn dart.

Fillmore-Graves is left scrambling when someone, likely Travelers, blows up the corporate helicopter with Vivian Stoll and her advisors on board. This happens moments after Stoll privately outs Major as human and demands answers, along with a sit-down with Ravi. Major gets another chance to die for zombie kind, hooray. The new commanders seem far tenser than Stoll. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first act of outright zombie/human war comes from Fillmore-Graves. That bunch has itchy trigger fingers.

Blaine hatches a plan. Boy does it work well. There’s just one catch. He had to turn zombie again in order to put everything into motion. Once Blaine is back on his feet, he wipes out all of Angus’ goons. It’s rather impressive to watch Blaine now compared to Blaine pre-human. It’s the same man. Same memories. But this Blaine is flat-out done. He’s either going to rule the city or bite a bullet. So far, everything going in his favor. Good ol’ pops isn’t as lucky. Well, I hope he can hold his breath. The upside to another hostile deBeers takeover is Don E. and Blaine teaming up again to expand on the base Angus founded with The Scratching Post and all those back office meetings.

The episode wrapped with Liv leaving Ravi alone to infiltrate the anti-zombie hate group. Yeah. Like that’s going to end well. None of this will end well. War is knocking on the door.