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.
Rated: Not Rated (contains intense gore, adult language, and violence)
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.
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 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.
Eat, Pray, Liv: Review for iZombie 303 by A. Zombie
Ravi tells Major he’s got a few weeks left before he must take the cure or die. By the episode’s end, I’m certain that time frame is far, far shorter. This guillotine over Major’s memories is held by a single strand on a frayed rope. He knows it. The painful truth is right there in his eyes while watching Liv play that ridiculous dancing game with his new work pal, Justin. One might mistake it as a nudge toward a rekindled relationship. It just so happens that happy friends are one thing Major has lacked since the zombie thing started, and if he’s going out soon, he might as well do as Liv’s brain-influenced babbling suggests—live in the moment. In the moment doesn’t include bland, bagged brain mush. He and Justin break the feeding protocol to imbibe in the real thing. I’m digging this happier Major. How long until he’s forced to take the cure? What if the memory serum doesn’t work—we’ll talk testing ethics later—and he’s rebooted while serving in a zombie mercenary squad? There’s no real good outcome unless Ravi’s serum does indeed reverse the memory snafu, but that opens a whole new world of problems for Major’s future.
The thing with Ravi and Peyton? The plot went to the place it never should have. Why? So Peyton could say some deep, insightful things and be all grr-arg, woman power! And then they turn around and have Ravi learn absolutely nothing from forcing Peyton into a corner where she had to defend not only her right to make decisions for herself, but her right to have sex at all with anyone who isn’t Ravi. The cap on the entire ridiculous story is after Ravi is a sex-paranoid nutjob in front of Team Zombie while professing his love, Peyton goes to him and appears to at least somewhat forgive him with a kiss. But wait, he’s already slept with the woman he swears he hates more than snails hate salt. Why even trot out this moral lesson? All men will see is that Ravi still has sex with an attractive woman, so what’s the problem with how he treated Peyton? You don’t get to berate someone in front of their friends about who they sleep with, mortify them, and win a prize. To assume Ravi can have whoever he wants, whenever he wants because he said he’s sorry is precisely how this show continues to perpetuate unhealthy romantic expectations. It’s obvious in the weird sub plot stating Liv can’t be happy in bed because she’s secretly unhappy and guilt-ridden over her brain-eating. It’s the way Peyton has been used as a fire hydrant in a dog park since the get-go, men marking their territory right and left. It’s Major caring more about women he barely knows, but the two closest to him are constantly in danger, sometimes through his own doing. It’s the writers assuming every non-STEM employed woman Liv eats is secretly a slut, crazy, or too caught up in “being a woman” to have a career. For a show with a woman on all the advertising, it does a crap job at representing them. I know not one woman who would’ve kissed a man after what Ravi said when he emotionally blackmailed Blaine into taking the memory cure. Not. One. A few certainly would’ve punched him, instead. With a fist, not lips. Got that, iZ writers?
Let’s get to the case for the week. Topher is a mindfulness teacher, focused on helping others look past negative thoughts, to live in the moment without fear. During his solo meditation, someone introduces his personal Shambhala to a Buddha statue. Clive and Liv dig up a far different past for the Zen guy. Once upon a time, he was a venture capitalist with partners Mitch and Devon. Things went sideways, someone turned to drugs for start-up money, and Mitch spent years in jail while the other two moved on to become legitimate businessmen and mindfulness coaches. It doesn’t take a genius to solve the crime once they look past the red herring a “random” homeless guy tosses in their way. Topher’s brain is one of the better personalities foisted on Liv, honestly. His case just isn’t that intriguing.
While Liv and Clive seize Mitch’s future moments to pay for his newest crime, Blaine is having one hell of a week. The last problem on his list is the potentially harmful serum Ravi bullied him into testing. The first problem, really the only real problem Blaine should worry about if he were his old self, is Angus. The old man wastes no time letting Blaine know he’s back from the deep freeze, in part as a test, but mostly to see the fear of God in his son’s eyes. Disappointing day for Angus; Blaine only fears the man he used to be, the horrible person he’s forced to face every time someone coughs up a story he can’t remember. After getting his money back from Blaine, Angus sinks it all into a restaurant. His new business will eclipse the under-the-table brain biz Blaine’s running in the mortuary’s basement. We’re talking top of the line service. For the right price, Angus’ new associate, Dino, will secure any brain their customers desire. Don E. is way out of his element, and seriously missing Blaine, but tries to be clever enough not to get dead. That may require more work than he thought. Angus won’t wait for word-of-mouth advertising. Nope. Don E. will make customers to fill Angus’ demands. If everyone thought Stoll had a bad idea for zombies taking over Seattle, DeBeers is about to make it a thousand times worse.
That’s if Katty Kupps doesn’t expose zombies to humans before they do it themselves. She’s close to connecting the dots. Too close. Seattle is a zombie powder keg. Isn’t it great?
Too many to count have found their way to the great zombie-free haven in the sky. If one thought other shows were out for main cast blood, while compiling this series, I discovered it has the highest main character death rate, and the secondary characters who’ve bitten the dust likewise captured the audience’s heartstrings. Rarely is a death on this show a “good riddance they’re gone” moment. It just so happens that the adventure-of-the-week storytelling style lends wonderfully to writing many, many deaths because next week, the main cast will find someone else to help them or hunt them. Not to get caught in a pattern, the show’s writers also aren’t afraid to tap side characters to make a comeback, like Sketchy and Skeezy. Unfortunately for those we’re revisiting now, that is not an option.
The cuts to what fans assumed would be the main cast came fast and hard in the first season. One episode in, we lost the commander for the troop trusted—kinda—with the task of saving humanity via Murphy’s inoculated blood. Lt. Mark Hammond didn’t have any surviving Delta Force members at his back, but he required the same discipline from the ragtag group he conscripted for the operation. They weren’t quite prepared for such a daunting task, and when Hammond stepped in to take care of a super-speedy zombie baby, he was caught off-guard and eaten. At least he left humanity’s hope in mostly capable hands.
Harold Perrineau played a brief, but vitally important part of Z Nation. In no time at all, Perrineau hit the small screen again, ditching the fatigues for wings and a tense friendship with DC Comic’s surly demonologist on the woefully short-lived Fox show Constantine. After the disappointment at Fox, Perrineau went on to appear on The Mysteries of Laura, Golaith, and Criminal Minds. Currently, he’s set to appear on the TNT dramedy Claws which stars Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) and premieres in June. Fans can also catch him in Without Ward, out later this summer, and I’m Not Here, also starring J.K. Simmons, Sebastian Stan, and Mandy Moore.
Losing a leader so early kept fans on their toes, waiting for the ax to fall again. Sure enough, six episodes down the road, they knee-capped the audience with feels and sacrificed Charles Garnett to the greater good. Garnett proved to have the compassion necessary to lead the mission without sacrificing an ounce of bravery. He got them far, but not far enough. In the end, Garnett’s commitment to saving mankind was greater than his selfish desire to love again during the world’s demise. He took a bullet meant for Murphy, and for his generosity, Roberta gave Garnett mercy so he could find peace in death.
Bringing the fallen leader to life was Tom Everett Scott. Since waving goodbye to the Zs, he’s appeared on How to Get Away with Murder, Criminal Minds, Elementary, and most recently Scott appears on the breakout Netflix show 13 Reasons Why portraying Mr. Down. As Queen Elizabeth’s advisor William Cecil, Scott first appeared in the latter half of Reign‘s second season and made regular appearances throughout the third season. Scott was also a regular on MTV’s Scream: The TV Series. On the big screen, fans can find him in La La Land, Sister Cities,and The Last Word, as well as in the upcoming flicks Collusions, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, and Danger One.
STARZ presents the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Ash Vs Evil Dead’ – Arrivals Featuring: Pisay Pao Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 29 Oct 2015 Credit: Charlie Steffens/WENN.com
Hope as I might, Cassandra didn’t last terribly long on the show, and the latter half of her time was spent enthralled to Murphy, therefore stripping her of pretty much everything which made her such a wonderful character. Someone had to be the example of how Murphy’s bite worked, she drew the short straw by nearly dying from an infection and found herself the recipient of one of Murphy’s rare altruistic moments. His bite saved her, yet doomed her to a mindless life. When her feral behavior became too much, when the group couldn’t control her without Murphy’s interference, 10k stepped in and gave Cassandra mercy.
Post Z Nation has been pretty chill for Pisay Pao. She’s traveled the country making appearances at conventions, meeting fans, and reuniting with the Operation Bitemark gang. When not on the road, she’s working and auditioning.
Starring: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, and Elen Rhys
Here’s something a tad different, yet the movie somehow follows all the checkpoints of a solidly uninventive plot. I grabbed The Rezort to review primarily because it boasted a complete lack of pointless make-out scenes and nudity. Horror movies don’t need sex to make them interesting. Human emotions go far deeper than that. While there’s nothing horribly surprising about how this film’s plot unfolds, there’s a world of nuance in not only how the characters handle a resurgence of the undead outbreak, but it demonstrates how humanity will always manage to shoot itself in the foot when they attempt to drag war-time normality into post-war life.
Melanie survived the zombie war, but it left her an orphan. The emotional damage from years spent scrambling to survive leaves her with PTSD and an inability to move on thanks to nightmares. Someone at her support group suggests immersion therapy, giving her information about The Rezort—an island off the Australian cost filled with undead, where the rich go to pretend they’re brave and safely shoot zombies. She and her boyfriend Lewis, who fought in the zombie war with no obvious mental repercussions, decide to give immersion therapy a try. They’re tossed in with a group of others and off they go into the park, with naught but a few hidden fences keeping them out of real danger.
You see where the plot goes from there. The fences fail after a zombie activist group sneaks a virus into the resort’s computer system and it’s a race to escape before the island is torched by the government in the Brimstone protocol. The characters are, for the most part, prototypes: The Survivor Girl, Her Boyfriend With A Dark Secret, The Warrior Old Guy, The Mindless Morons, The Employee With A Heart, The Clueless Activist, and The Heartless CEO. We never form attachments to them. Hell, most of their names fly over the audience’s head up until their death scene. As each main character bites the dust, it confirms the unoriginal writing process for this script. The only character with soul is Mel, and she is the survivor girl, so we expect her to be an actual character. To show how little effort goes into the characters, it’s not even that satisfying when Vivian, the CEO, is attacked by the zombies she created and imprisoned. Here’s a character who took refugees and turned them into a profit, but without character depth it’s just a fact tossed out to sound interesting right before a death gag featuring numerous zombies tearing a body apart.
Vivian’s actions do lend to some intriguing discussion about what happens when the rich put everything they have during wartime into one venture, and then must move on once they’re found on the winning side of the war. In this case, the Rezort isn’t formed until right after the war. It comes across as a novel way to contain remaining undead while making a buck from a free resource. But what happens when there’s too many keen to relive the “glory days,” where it was marshal law and everyone walked around armed to the teeth? How does one keep up with that kind of demand when the zombie outbreak is under control? Make more zombies, of course. Just use what you have. No one will miss the refugees—a startling statement, but look at Syria. At the cost of the most fragile, the wealthy can have a weekend vacation in paradise. It’s disgusting, and exactly the same mentality countries like the USA currently adopt.
The message in The Rezort is the real take-away here. It’s not the characters having fun or even Mel mistakenly trying to cure her PTSD by participating in forced slavery. It’s the complete lack of care for the human lives affected by the war which is the story. It’s a corporation looking at people who only want to know when they’ll have a home or a full stomach again and determining their lives count for nothing except a paycheck down the line, which should petrify anyone with any concern for their fellow humans. It also just so happens that this film is shot beautifully—except for the opening shaky-cam footage—and has some rather impressive FX makeup for the zombies. Overall, I’m giving The Rezort four oozing eyeballs out of five. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’ll start a conversation about the state of our world.
Yeah, the warning is right on top this week. We’ve got a lot to discuss and little time to pussyfoot around with generalizations and all that rubbish. You guys waited months for this episode. Was it worth the anger at the producers and writers who said we’d be glad for so much time to stew over who died? Do you feel cheated by the dual deaths? How about all that brain matter on the ground, was it too much? Most importantly, are any of us really feeling the emotion between Rick and Negan or will the directors continue leading it to an awkward place where it’s laughable?
I, personally, feel cheated out of the surprise. The producers showed their hands months ago when they continuously stated that the show would gradually realign with what happens in the comic books. One death talked about constantly is Negan murdering Glenn. Hell, someone just released an action figure featuring Glenn’s mangled face as it’s shown on the page—which is almost identical to what’s on screen for that heartbreaking apology to Maggie. Almost in the same breath as the realigning statements, TWD higher-ups denied that Glenn would die. Red flag. Red flags everywhere. It was raining them at SDCC 2016. Since then, I’ve spent the time away from TWD saying goodbye to my favorite character. So when Negan first hit Glenn, my reaction was a resigned sigh. Then profanity, and more sighing. The show which constantly states they want to break boundaries and do new things is still utterly predictable.
Abraham’s brutal murder wasn’t overly shocking either if one stops for even a minute to think as Negan would when sizing up his newest assets. Manipulation is his bread and butter. One look at Rick’s people and how they handled interactions with the Saviors told Negan everything he needed to know—kill Abe because he’s ride-or-die loyal, keep Daryl because he’s mentally fragile and can be manipulated just like Rick. This is easy for Negan. Twisting people’s minds to do what he wants is the sole reason he’s not rotting in a walker’s gut. So why would an astute audience willingly overlook this? Why, TWD writers, would you go for the two characters who make the most sense if your desire was to shock, surprise, and devastate? Anyone with half a brain who tunes in regularly knew we’d lose Abraham. Daryl sells too much merchandise. Rick’s demise would’ve been awesome, but ultimately disappointing because the lead-up to the murder scene was so lackluster and drawn-out. Killing a woman would’ve started a feminist war in the fanbase. Carl was a good candidate, but he’s got too much potential to carry the show forward now. Plus in Negan-sense, he’s a carrot to dangle in front of Rick to ensure good behavior. The remaining gentlemen, as much as we adore them, just wouldn’t have the same impact. I would’ve been more shocked by that scene if Negan didn’t kill anyone, but just as pissed off with the direction the show took for the season premiere.
I mean, since when is five minutes of Rick staring at a set we’ve already seen before gripping television? He’s supposed to have a breakdown during the whole axe-fetching scene. Okay, that’s believable. So why did it involve long shots of walkers shuffling through smoke cut with the footage shown at SDCC with Lucille and the main cast? The scene felt like something from an indie band’s music video—a lone, agonized man surrounded by the cheesiest surroundings ever, just to feel spooky. Then, to make the death scenes mean even less, they show clips with Rick imagining everyone else getting a kiss upside the dome from Lucille. Why? We already know what he’s thinking. A good actor can do that, and Andrew Lincoln is no slouch when it comes to his face betraying every thought in Rick’s head.
They wanted to come into the Negan Era with a loud noise. In order to make noise, the plot’s gotta move faster than a snail’s pace. Inertia. Ever hear of it? The ball doesn’t roll and keep rolling without a hell of a push. It took the show fifteen minutes to get to the murders. I almost turned it off, thinking they’d strung us along for yet another week, and I was done if that were the case. It wasn’t, but the scene is buried so far in the episode, it does no good other than to turn stomachs. The only reason the scene is hidden in the episode is because of the backlash from the season six cliffhanger. Many fans felt as I did; we’ll watch the opening scene for season seven to learn who died and move on to another, more entertaining show which actually strives to write coherently. In a direct thumb-nosing to the noise-makers speaking against the cliffhanger, they cut together the episode just to make us wait through a couple commercial breaks. How nice of them to ensure the show makes a buck from a group who’re pretty likely to throw out their TWD fan badges after learning who died. I’m not tossing my badge in the fire just yet because I have hope the Negan era will smooth out, but it’s a near thing after this episode.
The violence in the episode really struck some sour notes across the fandom. Every complaint I see is met with a laugh. Fans derided the writers when there wasn’t enough undead violence. They scream for blood anytime a character or group disrespects the main cast. Yet the bad guy, who we’ve been warned about constantly since the show began by fans of the comics, comes in and does exactly what he’s supposed to, and it’s suddenly too much for the delicate flowers planted on their couches. Take up gardening if you can’t handle fake blood on a show centered on how messed up humanity is without actual rules to govern it. Were the close-ups too much? Possibly. I’m not one to judge. Horror and gore are my jam. I only started watching TWD to see what KNB FX could do with extended time to develop creatures and death gags; they’ve yet to disappoint. I will state that wanting a show built on the premise of killing things in order to survive to shy away from gruesome murders is like expecting a unicorn to lick away your tears while curing cancer. It won’t happen.
For the most part, we already knew what’d happen plot wise: Someone dies, Rick and Negan have a long moment to deal with Rick’s stubbornness, the Alexandria crew is absorbed by the Saviors, and Maggie wants blood, but she’s in no position to even walk, let alone lead a war. Daryl as the cause of Glenn’s death was the lone surprise for me—as I stated, I saw the death coming, just not how it’d happen. We’ve waited since Merle’s death for Daryl to be relevant to the plot again and now I want him to be the next big death on the show. Why? Because Daryl knew dang well that someone else, not him, would die for that single punch. They all knew Negan’s M.O. by that point. Abe died because of Rick’s hubris, yet that wasn’t lesson enough for everyone’s apocalyptic savior? Yeah, no. I’m beyond done with their failed attempts to make Daryl into an actual character. He’s been a two-dimensional promotional tool for so long, they’ve forgotten the character has a brain.
Now that the clunky season opener is behind us, maybe the ball will roll through season seven better. But, wait, we’ve still got a whole ‘nother group to introduce over at The Kingdom. If that episode is as awkward and poorly timed as the Negan/Rick glare-downs in the RV, I don’t know how much longer they can continue to pretend they know how to produce a show, let alone write one with so much potential for real depth and ability to shine a light on the massive problems in today’s society. They keep dropping the ball. I’m tired of waiting for someone in the TWD production office to finally pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. It’s time they returned to giving fans entertainment of substance instead of shilling the Walking Dead name and filling their coffers.
Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Review for Z Nation 306 By A. Zombie
All the usual violent diagnosis patients make an appearance in the supporting cast: Paranoid Delusion, Kleptomania, Dissociative Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. The patients are kept in line by Nurse Ratched, who’s just as cracked as the guy who thinks he’s Elvis. Doc finds himself in a bad spot until Ratched makes an offer he’d be idiotic to refuse—diagnose the patients properly and she’ll not only let him go, but he can help them. Doc’s keen insight, and actual expertise at psychoanalysis, get him out of the most immediate pickle rather easily. Things don’t continue as planned when Ratched introduces Doc to their newest, and wildest, patient.
While the Serenity Falls gang misjudged Doc, they totally got it right when they trussed up their newest patient and locked him in a padded room. 10k may not see Red and 5k anymore, but he’s madder than the Hatter without a clean cup. Coherency is a lost art once 10k opens his mouth. Doc is quick to cover for him, claiming the kid has Ten-Kay Fever and disavowing any knowledge of his new patient. At least one of them is in a position to help. For the most part, 10k is a barely animated potato sack. The vaccine in his system is wearing off. He struggles constantly with thoughts of Murphy loyalty and his need to free himself from control before warning Roberta.
Warning anyone may be a ways off. Ratched is convinced Doc will be their guiding light. However, she still thinks her methods are best when it comes to the more violent patients. Lobotomy is the word of the day. Bob, a depressed man with brain damage, is Ratched’s constant guinea pig for new techniques. There’s more holes in his brain than in a good sourdough loaf. He’s given a new lobotomy to prepare for 10k’s possible emergency surgery. 10k is not responding to treatment and something has to be done before the seizures kill him.
Like, oh, Ratched actually handing out medication instead of snacks during med time. Every single bottle of pills and vial of whatever is blocked by a hallway teeming with zombies. Never fear, Doc and Elvis are ready to take on the Shocker Zombies in Ward Z. Are they quick enough? 10k takes a turn for the worst while they’re grabbing the meds. Liddy, the paranoid patient, and Ratched wheel 10k into the surgical suite.
Bad luck, Doc. The man with OCD, Re-Pete as they call him, is in charge of unlocking the doors in order for Doc to escape incoming zombies and get to his buddy before the nurse turns him into a shambling meatsack like Bob. Winona, the kleptomaniac, ends up being a solid ally during these moments. Actually, she’d make a decent addition to the main team. Her thieving skills are beyond anything the gang’s got in their wheelhouse. But it’s Bob who gets the MVP award for the episode after disposing of Ratched in his gloriously stiff, Frankenstein’s Monster-esque way.
The remaining action in the episode is basically Doc wrangling cats. He wants desperately to save everyone from the zombies slowly ripping through the hasty barricades over the hospital’s exits. They all make it outside in one piece to find the sole vehicle left on the ground, a small bus. Winona wastes no time hot-wiring it after Doc finally turns everyone in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Doc and 10k aren’t on the bus when she drives away from the encroaching zombies. With his wobbly charge in tow, Doc makes a run for it. Where they’re going, no one knows. They’re getting close to Murphy, though. With 10k returned to the fold, though desperate to hide his zmurphed status, it shouldn’t be too hard to trap their prey. Right? Yeah, we all know they’ll foul this up, too. It’s just how the show rolls.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set Episodes 1 & 2 By A. Zombie
I’ll tell you right now, two episodes into Dead Set and I still have nothing emotionally invested in the show’s contestants. That’s not to say I haven’t found someone to root for during the end days—Kelly steals every scene she’s in, vastly improving what could have been five episodes of uninspiring reality stars wandering around until they were eaten.
I’d totally cheer if they were all eaten. I might even wave pompoms.
The show opens with a typical afternoon leading up to another eviction from the BB house, as dictated by fan votes. The household prepares, some touching up their nails, others banging out their nerves behind closed doors. In the production office, Kelly delivers an endless stream of coffee to the crew. The producer, Patrick, demonstrates what a skuzzball he really is while cutting together highlight reels for the event and barking orders at his frazzled staff. Nothing is amiss until we catch snippets from news reports—strange deaths, attacks on police, etc. The reports grow in severity, leading Patrick to worry his precious eviction episode will be preempted in favor of a news bulletin. God forbid.
Eventually, the chaos reaches the remote location for the BB house and production office. The first zombie to arrive is a company driver—injured and brought to the studio by a production assistant who was sent with him to fetch a guest for the show. From there, the infection spreads through the gathered BB fans. By the time the evicted housemate, Pippa, makes it to the interview room, most of the crowd has turned. It takes mere minutes for the undead to overrun the offices.
The housemates hear the screams and think Pippa is a smash hit with the crowd. They crack open a few bottles, a few drinks to celebrate surviving to see another eviction night.
Little do they know, they’re probably the only ones celebrating in the UK.
The real story isn’t the housemates or their skeezy producer. Kelly provides the heartbeat, and common sense, for the show. While her love life is a feature in the beginning, it’s a non-issue by the time the second episode rolls out. There are a few amazing solo scenes with Kelly doing whatever it takes to survive. It’s not until she takes refuge in the BB house with the remaining cast that we realize she’s the entire braintrust. Where they are keen to believe for as long as possible that the weird things going on are staged, she’s ready to beat anyone to death who so much as looks undead. She’s also the only one with a plan to get medical supplies when a housemate is bitten.
The zombies themselves are minimally made-up, background creatures relying on pale faces, a few wounds, and blood to convey the undead message. We see a few hero zombies with better makeup, mostly in the second episode. There’s great detail in the close-up gore shots, though they’re so shaky, it’s like a toddler was thrown into the fight scenes with a Go Pro strapped to their head. These are also some seriously fast undead. It raises the stakes drastically when the living cannot outrun the dead. Something missing from other shows relying on compelling characters to drive the plot. Who needs to relate to the characters? Just give us zombie action.
While I’m enjoying Kelly’s story, and it’s the only reason I’ll watch the three remaining episodes, this would be much more entertaining with a better-written cast behind her. Patrick is a toad, utterly disgusting and should’ve died in the initial murders. The housemates barely have a brain cell between them. It makes their scenes difficult to endure to get to the actual story. Hopefully with Kelly breaking the barrier between the BB production team and the housemates, it’ll make their scenes bearable.