Man: “How would you know you’re the last man alive?”
Eli: “I guess you wouldn’t know it, you’d just be it.”
I’m watching The Road again. I saw it in the theater and was devastated; it’s a very grim movie, bleak in every way. In contrast to last night’s Walking Dead finale, The Road is great. Where Frank Darabont’s post-apocalyptic zombie series falls short, The Road is truly terrifying. Every moment is horrendous, imparting a gamut of emotions instantaneously. After last night’s disappointing Walking Dead episode, watching this film again reminds me of how powerful the post-apocalyptic genre can be.
Posted in Movies, Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, apocalypse, cannibalism, cannibals, carry the fire, Cormac McCarthy, Dale, Darryl, Frank Darabont, Glen, gore, Guy Pierce, Image Comics, John Hillcoat, Lori, post-apocalyptic, Rick Grimes, Robert Duvall, Robert Kirkman, The Road, The Walking Dead, TS-19, Viggo Mortensen, Violence, zombies
Episode 6: “TS-19”
The CDC isn’t a fire burning time bomb. Also, just ducking when a building blows up doesn’t really do anything, especially when the bomb is a pseudo-nuclear weapon. Am I willing to suspend my disbelief and go for an entertaining ride? Yes. However, I don’t enjoy visual media blurring the line while demanding empathy, riding melodrama into cheap sentimentality. The season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead did just that. That doesn’t mean there weren’t great moments or that I didn’t enjoy the episode, but I understand why writers were fired.
Posted in Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, blood, bullshit, Carl, CDC, Dale, explosion, fired writers, Frank Darabont, Glen, gore, horror, living dead, Lori Grimes, Rick Grimes, Robert Kirkman, The Truman Show, TS-19, Violence, zombies
Episode 5: Wildfire
So I’m going to start my essay about episode 5 with a minor rant. I hope this doesn’t detract my piece, but, as a reader of the Walking Dead comics, I feel it necessary. The show is riffing along a different tangent at this point, taking elements from the comics, shaping them into a different beast altogether. This isn’t a bad thing. For a devoted reader it gives suspense. Nothing is predestined at this point and anything’s possible. Am I one of those people who dislike when liberties are taken with a quality text? Yes. Do I condone and even enjoy when liberties are taken? Yes. It’s not how unfaithful an adaptation is, it’s when the integrity of feeling of the original source disappears, like Robocop 2 or 3 being devoid of Paul Verhoeven’s dark brand of social comedy. A faithful representation isn’t important; it’s capturing what the original manuscript imparts. Any adaptation demonstrating this sentiment seems valid.
Posted in Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Amy, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, blood, Carl Grimes, CDC, Dale, episode 5, Glen, gore, horror, living dead, Lori Grimes, Rick Grimes, Robert Kirkman, Shane, The Walking Dead, Violence, Wildfire, zombies
Episode 4: “Vatos.”
At least I can say The Walking Dead series celebrates cultural diversity, even if a diverse racial medley embraces American stereotypes. This episode, called Vatos, features a Latino group holing up in a warehouse. When Rick, Glen, T-Dog, and Darryl trek back into Atlanta looking for Merle and a bag of guns, a run-in with the “vatos,” leads to a hostage situation and a stand-off. Instead of the situation culminating in bloodshed, Robert Kirkman’s teleplay reveals another humane survivor group – the “vatos” are maintaining an abandoned nursing home, looking after the elderly and indigent. Their tough exterior gives way, Rick donates some weapons, and a kidnapped Glen is released. Here Kirkman’s episode demonstrates a positive outlook towards humanity; unfortunately it’s the last moment of stability the episode delivers.
Posted in Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, blood, Carl, Glen, gore, horror, living dead, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Violence, zombies
I really like Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. I wasn’t sure if I would at first, but three episodes in I’m quite satisfied. It has a cinematic feel, the acting is pretty good, and the casting isn’t all that bad (except Andrea, who looks about 35 instead of around 25 like in the comics). Last night’s episode, “Tell it to the Frogs,” was by far the least action packed episode yet, but it was still good. As I sat at my laptop with the replay running in the background I had a few complaints that I brought up in my first post, primarily involving Rick’s reunion with his family. I felt the scene was over the top, melodramatic, and the score was cheap and contrived – bringing to mind the sounds of a Hallmark commercial. The only thing missing was a singing card congratulating Rick and company on surviving the zombie apocalypse. This overtly saccharine moment, albeit necessary, is clichéd – lowering the standards set in the first two episodes and appealing to the lowest common denominator. Rick’s emotional outburst and Morgan’s tearful reluctance in the pilot episode were about as sappy, yet the score (reminding me of Apollo era Brian Eno) bridged together Morgan and Rick’s scene; it was the glue holding together a histrionic moment and plucking it out of the mundane. The reunion from last night’s episode missed the mark due to inept scoring, which can sometimes make or break a scene. In this instance it didn’t work.
Posted in Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, blood, Carl, Glen, gore, living dead, Lori, Rick Grimes, Robert Kirkman, Shane, The Walking Dead, zombies
Episode three: “Tell it to the Frogs.”
“You take that stupid hat and go back to On Golden Pond.”
The episode begins on the department store roof from the second episode. From above the camera focuses in on Merle (Michael Rooker), handcuffed to a pipe. Merle has a problem: the keys fell down a drainpipe on the previous episode and the only thing separating him from a horde of zombies is a door barricaded with a lock and chain. Merle relates a story to himself, about punching somebody’s teeth out, the time he served for it; a look of genuine satisfaction on his face. This quickly turns sour, as Merle pleads to Jesus; acknowledging his past behavior but still begging for forgiveness. Merle’s going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief originally discussed in the book On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Following Merle’s bargaining, depression sets in and finally leads to acceptance. This is where Merle’s survival instinct kicks in and he uses his belt, attempting to reach a saw left behind by T-Dog (IronE Singleton).
Unlike the prelude from the first two episodes, this episode doesn’t feature gratuitous sex or violence. That doesn’t negate how frightening the scene is, since Merle’s actions (wonderfully executed by Rooker) are quite honest; I’m sure the best of us would react similarly in the same spot. Seeing another person at their most vulnerable is awful, displaying how Frank Darabont’s rendition of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is a multi-faceted television series. It’s cinematic, explores many features of fear and terror, and investigates social issues. Instead of relying on non-stop action The Walking Dead is primarily a character piece, exploring character traits, morality, and the human experience. Of course an army of the living dead is an excellent catalyst for watching the show in the first place, but I’ve always found the people in zombie stories more fascinating than the gore itself. This week’s episode gives you just that. It’s a character piece, furthering the protagonist and surrounding players. The episode still features a good deal of violence, but it takes a back seat.
Posted in Television
Tagged AMC, AMC's The Walking Dead, Andrea, Andrew Lincoln, blood, Carl, Frank Darabont, george a. romero, george romero, Glen, gore, living dead, Lori Grimes, Lucio Fulci, Merle, Michael Rooker, night of the living dead, Rick Grimes, Robert Kirkman, Shane, The Walking Dead, Violence, zombies
Penned by George A. Romero and directed by Tom Savini, the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead is actually a great rendition of the 1968 classic. It incorporates many tropes from the ’68 original, but makes them relevant to an audience on the cusp of the 21st century. In addition, the film actually has a budget ($4.2 million according to Wikipedia), implementing a variety of clever make-up effects that contemporize the zombies. Instead of a blue tint like Dawn of the Dead, the zombies resemble Savini’s work from 1985’s Day of the Dead – a movie lacking in plot (in comparison to Romero’s original Night or Dawn of the Dead) but rich in quality special effects. For Savini’s directorial debut, he does a good job; Savini understands moving making and doesn’t rely on a barrage of quick cuts and cheap gags to convey terror. Continue reading
Posted in Movies
Tagged blood, george a. romero, george romero, gore, living dead, night of the living dead, night of the living dead 1990, night of the living dead remake, patricia tallman, tom savini, tony todd, zombies
Episode Two: “Guts”
“We need more guts.”
Although AMC’s The Walking Dead is thus far deviating from comics’ storyline, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The second episode starts out with a gratuitous sex scene between Lori, Rick’s wife, and Shane, Rick’s law enforcement partner and close friend. After Mad Men’s licentious oral sex scene from this past season, the graphic sexuality starting out this episode isn’t surprising; AMC is really pushing the envelope in regards to sex and violence, trying to imitate HBO. Amazingly, it’s working since most of AMC’s original shows are captivating and clever.
I know gore hounds everywhere praise Lucio Fulci, dubbing him, “the godfather of gore,” and a variety of other trite titles. I like some of his movies. Zombie (Zombi 2 in Italy) and The Beyond are highly entertaining, yet I’ve always felt his work is a little underdeveloped. Many of his scenes end before anything happens; it’s like he doesn’t know how to complete a scene, therefore he stops them prematurely. Whether this is intentional – to maximize horror by removing the object of the viewer’s gaze – or unintentional isn’t something I can find much on (maybe I’m looking in the wrong places). Chau Balun’s book Lucio Fulci: Beyond the Gates doesn’t give much insight into Fulci’s constant usage of this technique; in fact, Balun’s meager exploration of Fulci’s work doesn’t provide much insight at all. Instead it gives a superficial historic overview of Fulci’s work, never divulging anything relevant to the director’s thematic motivations or compositional choices. What it does convey is Fulci’s outlook on filmmaking itself. Instead of an analytic approach to horror, Fulci asserts his “nightmares are made of passion,” preferring Poe over Lovecraft.
Although I’m sure this will be published on Sunday, I just got back from a double feature of the 1941 film King of the Zombies and the classic George A. Romero zombie movie Night of the Living Dead. Orlando, Florida is really a one horse town: we only have one independent movie theater (The Enzian) and every October they play classic horror films at midnight each Saturday night. Last year they featured The Exorcist, From Dusk Till Dawn, Night of the Living Dead (which I went to last year also), and Cannibal Holocaust. This year they’re playing Re-Animator, City of the Living Dead, Child’s Play, and tonight’s double feature. There’s something special about midnight movies, especially if they’re cult flicks like tonight’s selections. Both films were screened on original 16mm prints, which is fantastic since the King of the Zombies print is almost 70 years old.
Posted in Movies
Tagged double feature, Duane Jones, Enzian, george a. romero, gore, John Russo, living dead, Mantan Moreland, night of the living dead, racism, zombie, zombies