Out with the old baddies and in with the new. The Necronomicon has returned home to Hell after an extended vacation topside to chill with his Deadite homies. They’re probably lounging around a lava pit telling tales of possession and taking bets on how long Ash will last against Baal. One demon lord doesn’t seem that imposing in a franchise where the lead character faced an army of sassy skeletons and survived. Then Baal whipped out his massive powers.
Unlike some shows where the bad guys all have the same M.O., this one strives to venture into new, different lands. While having an episode plot based around “Who’s really the bad guy,” isn’t shining and new in the idea department, turning Baal into a skinwalker leaves a lot of fun to be had in a cliché plot device. It also allows the SFX department to give Baal’s goons a style not easy to forget. I mean, I’d wet myself if a skinless woman fell through my ceiling and ripped a prostitutes’ arm off, let alone forget it happened anytime soon. One failing in Baal’s powers is this seductive bullcrud he pulls on Ruby. She’s a badass, killing evil right and left; then Baal swivels his hips and she literally can’t form sentences? It’s a huge disservice to the female characters on the show to go from an episode where they clean house without any men to back them up, to Ruby practically begging for a little action from the guy who killed two women inside the sheriff’s station without blinking. Using sex to negate Ruby’s strength is a low blow. Ash gets laid all the time and he still gets the evil-slaying job done. Baal has so many other evil things he can do, let’s lay off the whole, “His groin is mesmerizing,” thing. Okay?
With everyone locked in the sheriff’s station wondering who’s got Baal crawling around in their skinsuit, tensions run higher than Chet’s blood-alcohol level. Sheriff Emery and Ash are at each other’s throats the entire time Linda is at the station. It comes down to Kelly to calm everyone down. By that I mean she grabs the sheriff’s gun and holds everyone hostage—when they’re technically already in a hostage situation. The Inception-like hostage situation happens again elsewhere in the station when Ruby goes to retrieve her dagger. Baal uses a deputy to work his D-Mojo on her, rendering her pretty much useless until the episode’s end when she just happens to help Ash save Linda.
Like having a skin-stealing demon on the loose wasn’t bad enough, Pablo’s got a mean case of what-the-hell-is-that spreading across his stomach. Personal theory, dude’s turning into something akin to the Necronomicon. Why else would he have Sumerian written across his torso? No one signs up for oozing boils and a dead language willingly. Ruby is thrilled about Pablo’s condition. Pablo would rather French kiss a shotgun. But, hey, he should be proud. He’s the key to saving the world . . . after dooming it by tossing the Necronomicon in Hell and freeing Baal.
Looks like more skin-jumping good times aren’t all that’s ahead for the show. Ashy Slashy may just finally win the girl this time around. Sheriff Emery isn’t the man his wife thought after shrieking throughout the fight with his skinless deputy. Linda breaks up with him then and there, totally falling for Ash’s blood-drenched swagger. All of them are out of their minds considering their having a lovers spat over a bisected, skinless corpse.
That’s the joy of this show. It doesn’t really care so long as Ash looks a fool, there’s about twenty gallons of blood used, and someone at home says, “What the heck is going on now?”
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.
No Mercy Review for Z Nation season 3 premiere By A. Zombie
Once the story smooths out, it’s more than obvious when in their history we’ve landed. Unfortunately, that time frame didn’t give us another chance to see Mack, but we get ample time with Zmurphed Cassandra and newborn Lucy—a pair who shouldn’t be left together, honestly; it leads to weird story beats and makes Cassandra a babysitter instead of any part of the team. Which may explain why, not long after this additional story takes place, 10k has to put her down for good. They couldn’t contain the rabid dog once she completely changed personalities. There’s only so much to do with a primarily non-vocal predator to make her interesting.
Z NATION — “No Mercy” Episode 301-302 — Pictured: Joseph Gatt as The Man — (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z/Syfy)
Since hearing about this flashback I’ve wondered, why take them so far back in the time line? What is so important, it has to be said now? It’s far easier to strip an unused script and redistribute the information throughout the upcoming story than to cut together a movie explaining vital information about the incoming probably-bad guys. Except it seems The Man and his mysterious handler—possibly top-ranked Zona personnel—are vital to upcoming events. The unseen man has the markers for Zona leadership, judging from what Dr. Merch told Murphy before he double-crossed her in the season 2 finale. Two-hours of The Man ramming through a small settlement like a tank is a tad overkill. Entertaining, but overkill. The inevitable outcome was set in stone, leaving much to be desired from The Man—like his bald head on a platter.
The story is one we’ve seen before. The gang rolls past a settlement, desperately low on supplies and devolved to bickering nonstop. Unbeknownst to Operation Bitemark, the poor survivors inside are being harassed, threatened by someone far more powerful than them. After a crow-raised boy is abducted, the settlers call on the gang to help, since they’re so ferocious and all. The rest really is just various stages of planning and executing the plan, with some close-calls, another abduction, and mass murder.
Oh, did I mention the glowing, exposed-brain zombies locked in a contaminated laboratory? They’re kinda important. Dr. Howard Teller is the only reason The Man is interested in the settlement to begin with. To The Man, Harold is just another name on a list he’s tasked with gathering. For Harold, there’s so much more at risk. His wife, Sarah, is one of the not-quite-zombies locked in the lab. The reason the fungus-infected lab team aren’t dead is because Harold is the only soul brave enough to feed them. It’s not until Murphy translates their plaintive cries that Harold understands she’s been begging him to give them mercy for four years. Murphy’s interaction with these poor souls is heartbreaking. Kudos to Keith Allan for an incredible performance.
The opening sequence is tense and beautifully shot. People overlook this show often when searching for simply beautiful footage when they shouldn’t. The team behind the camera is brilliant.
On the flip-side, the writing team needs their ability to write puns stripped for a little while. If I took a shot for every crow joke said at the kid’s expense, I’d have no brain or skull left.
I wanted to be irritated over the flashback, but in the end, saw the necessity. It’s still not cool to leave us hanging with 10k’s fate. We want to catch up with the others, too. I mean, Citizen Z finally met another living being without fur! Plus, Warren and her team have a new ally in Hector . . . except he’s also cornered on the beach by Chinese soldiers. Murphy and Vasquez are the only ones with the freedom to do what they want. Will they return to save their former travel companions? Guess we’ll have to tune in on the 23rd to find out.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set Episodes 3/4/5 By A. Zombie
It’s no great surprise when the plot runs a predictable course from here on out. Know what? I don’t care. There’s some golden moments when the entire surviving cast is finally together in the BB house.
First, they need to save Angel. Or not. Then they need to save Grayson . . . . Whoops. Okay, third time’s the charm. Kelly and Space are bullied across the studio lot to escort Patrick and Pippa to the house. That’s pretty much the beginning of the end. Once Patrick’s ego enters the room, unrest takes hold and chaos reigns.
How crazy does a guy have to be to sit there laughing like a kookaburra while disemboweling someone he spent weeks watching via the BB cameras? Reality TV producer crazy is the correct answer. This guy is so certain he has the right idea, he never slows while cobbling together his hair-brained plan. Patrick’s ability to manipulate people is the final nail in the coffin. Despite the others attempting to contain His Lunatic Highness, the Force is strong with this one and Patrick convinces Joplin to free him—based solely on the fact that the housemates loathe Joplin.
Things aren’t much better for Tariq, Kelly’s boyfriend, and his skittish savior, Alex. She never sits still. Always scans for trouble. We get little on her background or why she’s more prepared than most to deal with the zombie fallout. The pair are holed up in a farmhouse alongside a river. Alex feels confident they can stay there, but he’s ready to move on toward the studio. A plan Alex wants nothing to do with, yet still she grabs some gear and off they go. She is right to fight against leaving the farmhouse. The act of kindness is repaid when ‘Riq mercy-kills Alex after she’s bitten. Explains why she didn’t get a backstory.
When Riq makes it to the BB lot, it’s surrounded. He barely clears the fence, with zombies on his heels. The studio greeting party needs to work on their gift basket. Marky fires several shots before Kelly stops him, realizing the “zombie” below speaks coherently and is actually her boyfriend.
Try as he might, Riq can’t get Patrick to believe him about the destruction beyond the gate. Once the producer’s plan rolls into motion, it’s just a matter of waiting for the inevitable. There’s never a chance that Joplin and Patrick can get it together enough to make it past the horde at the gate. Nor is there chance the bumbling housemates, plus Tariq, will rescue Kelly when Patrick holds her hostage as leverage to get outside. The story is told once the gates open, we simply hang around to watch the bloody outcome.
The latter half of this miniseries is much more palatable. I won’t say it’s because the obnoxious housemates started dying like moths around a campfire, but it is a bonus. Going into the first episode, I was sure it’d be the worst. Thankfully, there’s ample gore to balance the reality aspect in the plot. Paired with decent special effects and satisfying character deaths, it produces an entertaining couple of hours.
I give Dead Set an overall three and three-quarters butchered reality stars out of five.
Oh, the Monroe Family. You gave us hope for sane, rational characters and left way too soon. I honestly feel these actors were given the short straw with characters who were never going to make it out of that particular location. Too many great actors are brought in for one place and left to the wayside when Rick’s movable feast shuffles on to bloodier pastures.
The first to go was Daniel Bonjour’s character Aiden. Boy, he didn’t get a nice, clean death. Skewered and disemboweled. Ouch. Daniel fared far better than his TWD counterpart once he wrapped his two episodes. He’s gone on to film several TV appearances, including an episode of MTV’s Teen Wolf. Taking on the world of video games, he voices several characters in Hitman. Daniel starred alongside Will Arnett in the Netflix original Flaked. Coming up in October, Daniel will star in Frequency on The CW. The show is inspired by the film with the same name. Daniel can be found occasionally at various conventions with the Walking Dead family, meeting and enjoying the company of genre fans/creators.
Reg, like many on TWD, died doing the right thing. Steve Coulter left Alexandria behind and filmed the third installment in the Insidious film series. He also reunited with James Wan and his team to film The Conjuring 2. Not one to sit idle, Steve reprised a recurring role on Banshee recently, as well as appearing in Sick People, Ashby with Mickey Rourke, Extraction alongside action star Bruce Willis, and he has numerous other projects in the works. When he’s not on set, Steve travels the globe to attend conventions with fellow TWD cast members.
A natural leader, Deanna Monroe was the figurehead every fan wants Rick to become. She was also the kind of giving, thoughtful leader Rick can never become. With Deanna’s death, there’s a serious lack of good leadership examples left on the show. Since leaving TWD, Tovah Feldshuh’s hard work on the show has been honored with a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress on a TV Series. She is currently on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as Rachel Bloom’s overbearing mother Naomi. The show is a musical-comedy, putting Tovah far, far away from the land of blood ‘n guts for now. Though she does still occasionally visit the Dark Side while attending horror conventions.
Week three’s departed cast members were two of the hardest to deal with. The Greene family started out on rocky feet with the whole barn thing, but by the time Hershel and Beth met their demise, they’d become integral to the team’s survival.
I’ll be honest, Hershel’s death hit me the hardest of any since the show began. Combined with the genuine good guy Scott has proven to be over and over again during his convention appearances—where he’s often one of the last to leave because he strives to thank every volunteer—and it really felt like losing Hershel meant losing a weekly dose of Scott in our lives. Luckily, he’s not one to rest on his laurels. While still traveling for conventions, Scott has also filmed episodes for Bosch, and had a recurring role on A&E’s Damien. Currently, Scott is working on a Netflix original, The OA, slated to release later in the year.
When Daryl carried Beth Greene from the hospital, many, many hearts shattered. Beth was one of the last gentle souls, the one who stayed behind to care for the baby, the one to sing a song when the silence grew too heavy. Emily Kinney took on some vastly different roles after her time on TWD ended. On Arrow and The Flash, Emily was Brie Larvan, a pun-heavy villain with a fondness for bees. For her role on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, Emily stepped far away from the small-town country girl vibe she used as Beth. She also appeared in several episodes of Cinemax’s historical drama The Knick. Conviction is a new legal drama releasing Fall 2016 from ABC starring Hayley Atwell, Shawn Ashmore, and Emily Kinney. When Emily isn’t filming, she’s recording music—her album This is War dropped in late 2015—and performing, often at horror convictions where she also meets fans.
The Asylum stepped into some large footprints when they opted to take a zombie film and set it in a Jurassic Park situation. They went for broke, too, holding nothing back when it came to zombie gags, perfectly placed irony, and an attempt to tell a coherent story through most of the film. It really held in there until they’d killed off so many characters, the hero, Ellen, basically had to say, “Forget everyone, I’ll do it myself.” Which still fits the theme laid out in just about every dino-flick when women finally have enough dying and get things done. There’s the usual parallels—mocking the infamous t-rex chase with infected lions, one character ditching the others and running, children coping way better than adults about man-eating animals, etc.—which make the film tolerable. The plot is simple, characters are just deep enough to provide tension, and the sense of funny-wrong doesn’t miss the mark. While there are times where plot points are dragged out for too long, it’s not so bad it bogs down the 90-minute format.
The easiest way to get to know characters where all your effort on a film is spent figuring the logistics of zombie apes is to trap them in vehicles throughout the three acts to do info dumps. It isn’t ideal, but for films like this, it isn’t about the characters so much as putting characters in outlandish situations to see if stereotype personalities will make it out alive. This movie has an okay mix of decent characters and some which needed serious reconfiguring just so fans don’t spitefully throw a beer at the screen when they finally shut up and die. Even Ellen, who we are supposed to like in the end, has character traits which can just stop happening in everything always forevermore, especially her need to repeat how much she feels she’s failing a dead guy. Family obligation isn’t the only reason a wealthy woman would show remorse for So Many Dead People.
The other main characters are the zombie animals. As with all Asylum features, don’t place your bets on being blown away by the computer graphics. There’s a few great shots featuring the lead gorilla character, reaction shots for smaller zombie monkeys, but for the most part the undead characters are blurry and laughable. When the zombie giraffes stepped on screen, I gave up and laughed through the entire thing. It’d take Marvel-sized budgeting to fully render the amount of shots needed to make the zombies work. When it came to fight scenes, they made it even simpler. The actors clutched wadded faux fur for the small animal attacks, and batted away a hand puppet for the terrifying zombie giraffe scenes. The humans who are attacked get slightly better zombie treatment. My favorite gag involves the nesting instincts of a bald eagle. You’ll know when you see it.
Zoombies gets three gnawed cow hooves out of five. It’s a decent Saturday night drink-and-watch with friends.
During week two of our series, we take a moment to peek in on Emma Bell and Laurie Holden, the women who brought us the sibling bond most hope they’ll have during the apocalypse. But with, you know, way more time together and less things trying to kill you.
Amy Harrison didn’t last long on TWD. Her death sets off a world of hurt for her sister, Andrea. They were pretty balanced together. Without Amy’s light, Andrea walked murky paths which inevitably lead to her demise as well.
After leaving Amy behind, Emma Bell appeared in Final Destination 5, and guest starred on several shows, including The CW’S Arrow. She went on to star in a few short films, the TV film Midnight Sun, and a couple indie movies. When TNT brought the revival of Dallas back for a second season, Emma came on board to play Emma Brown. A role she held through the show’s third and final season. Emma stars opposite Cynthia Nixon as the young version of Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion. Dating in the social media age isn’t a snap, as the characters on the go90 original show Relationship Status discover. Emma played Claire on the show, which also stars Shawn Ashmore and Molly Burnett. Earlier in June, Emma announced via Twitter that she guest starred on an episode of Rizzoli and Isles during the drama’s final season. Taking to Instagram, she’s given a couple behind-the-scene peeks as she directs the short Scratch.
As Andrea Harrison, Laurie Holden lasted a little while longer in the apocalypse than her on-screen sibling. Unfortunately, Andrea left the TWD world during the season three finale. In a striking change of pace, Laurie’s next role came in Dumb and Dumber To opposite Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. She went on to guest star on prime time dramas Major Crimes and Chicago Fire. Stepping behind the camera, Laurie produced The Time of Their Lives and Honeytrap. The Abolitionists documents OURrescue.org and their teams as they liberate enslaved children around the world. Laurie is a vocal human rights activist and steps in to help rescue trafficking victims in the film.
You know what? I don’t just miss the characters. The actors behind the fallen survivors are talented, caring people who get pigeon-holed into this one moment in their career. Many have gone on to do amazing things since. It’s time we took a look back at some of the show’s more memorable deceased characters and played catch-up with the actors who brought them to life.
This week, we’re reuniting with the Peletier family.
Adam Minarovich played abusive Ed Peletier opposite Melissa McBride’s meek season one version of Carol. Since his character was eaten in a tent at the quarry campsite, he’s gone on to guest star on Banshee, One Tree Hill, Rectify, and Gang Related. Not only does he have a strong on-screen presence, Adam has written several short film scripts, co-wrote Remnants which stars Tom Sizemore, and penned Pawn Shop Chronicles starring fellow TWD star Norman Reedus along with Paul Walker and Elijah Wood. Adam also has roles in these films, proving his never-tiring spirit. A spirit he’s taken on the road to appear at horror/comic conventions and meet fans.
We all wept when Sophie Peletier shuffled from the Greene family’s barn during the second season’s mid-season finale. Madison Lintz brought youthful light to a dark, dreary show. When her character was turned zombie, it’d take a few seasons to find another actor capable of bringing the same energy. After her final send-off, Madison filmed After as the younger version of the lead character Ana. She was also in Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal and Bette Middler and appeared on an episode of Nashville. School took precedence for a little while. Then she landed a role as Maddie, daughter to the namesake on Amazon’s original show Bosch, which was just picked up for a third season. During downtime from filming the show, she starred in Tell Me Your Name, a horror film with a demonic twist. Madison occasionally travels the country to appear at conventions, but remains focused on finishing school.
Next week, we take a look at the women behind ill-fated sisters, Amy and Andrea.
How does one figure out which Ash is which? Let them babble long enough for you to recognize just why the real one annoys you so much. It works well for Kelly and Pablo. Once they take out BadAsh, the gang is forced to divide and conquer. Ash stays inside to dispose of the bodies before they turn deadite. Pablo and Kelly head outside to stop Brad, Heather, and Brad’s wife from discovering the grisly scene in the cabin. Matter of fact, they’re so willing to keep these hikers from becoming deadite fodder, the duo offer to escort them to the road.
Just one hitch in the plan. When Ash finishes disposing of his doppelganger, and having a chat with the Necronomicon, Amanda’s body is missing. Not for long. DeadAmanda stops the fleeing hikers. Not to be rude, she even performs a puppet show for them. Unfortunately, she is fresh out of puppets, so Brad and his wife have a little room made in their heads to accommodate DeadAmanda’s hands for the performance. What’s the play? Oh, just a little comedy starring Kelly and Pablo, highlighting how pathetic they are. DeadAmanda pins the duo with the corpses, leaving Heather to fend for herself. The woman wisely runs. She makes it pretty far before being caught, toyed with, and thrown into a tree where she suffers a compound fracture. Pablo tries to save Heather. Tries.
Suddenly from the trees, Ruby to the rescue! DeadAmanda doesn’t hang around long for the fight. The second Ruby’s guard is down, the deadite books it. There’s a nice bit where Ruby rants about Ash and his oafish ways with the Necronomicon while dismembering Heather’s friends so they don’t come back. It’s a classic gross-out splatstick gag.
We finally get to see Ash and Ruby together. Though at this point in the game, I’m still not sure which one to trust with the future of mankind. Ash thinks with his junk and accidentally unleashed evil on middle America. Ruby, on the other hand, is a mysterious badass fighter who came out of nowhere, but seems to know a lot about how to fight evil. She could even be a competent ally in disposing of the book.
Ruby convinces Ash the key to destroying the Necronomicon involves defacing—literally—the book with her super special dagger before burying it. At no point during this whole ritual does Ash stop and listen to Ruby’s word choice. It’s not until she’s reading from the book and hell starts creeping closer to the cabin that he thinks to take the book back from her. Damage done, dude. The Necronomicon’s loose face launches at Pablo, wrapping around his face like a mask. What can they do? Does Ruby actually know what she’s doing? Duh? She wrote the thing.
Ruby being the Necronomicon’s creator is a pretty awesome twist to what little folklore was ever explored for the book. Too bad we learn this right before the season finale. Thank goodness we know season two is on the way. Maybe they’ll expand on Ruby and her connection to the Necronomicon. Then again, it could be a finale where Ash kills everyone. Who knows with this show.