Horror Review: The Walking Dead S4E01 “30 Days Without An Accident”


“I’m just tired of losing people is all.” — Daryl Dixon

It’s that time of the year when The Walking Dead returns to the airwaves with a new season. Whether one believes the show is the best thing on TV or a mess of a show it’s hard to deny the fact that it’s become must-see TV whenever it comes back. The series has become pop-culture event that other shows of better quality and acclaim wish they could muster (the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad was the closest to accomplish it).

The returns for it’s fourth season with a new showrunner in series veteran writer Scott M. Gimple. It’s this constant changing of showrunners that seem to make critics scratch their heads. For a show that could never keep a guiding hand for more than a season the series never seems to lose any of it’s popularity and it’s ratings numbers.

“30 Days Without An Accident” sees the show come back after what looks like an extended period of time since last season’s finale. The prison compound looks to have been fixed and improved with new defenses. There seems to be more people now than what was brought over from Woodbury at the end of last season. It would seem Rick is out as leader and a new leadership council have decided to bring in survivors they come across since last season. Carl and Judith are not the only kids in the show anymore.

The episode actually starts off quite serene in comparison to past season premieres. There’s a lack of desperation and kill-or-be-killed tone to this season premiere, but there’s still a sense of something still not right just beneath the surface of relative normality we’re given. Even the normally taciturn badass Daryl Dixon gets to relax a little with all the new people greeting him like an old friend. Yet, we all know what this show has always been about. For all the notion of rebuilding civilization that we see in tonight’s episode the streak of 30 days without an accident was bound to end and it does so in bloody fashion.

Some will probably complain that tonight’s episode was too slow in the beginning. It’s unlike the action-packed season 3 premiere with Rick and his smaller, but highly-trained group clearing out the prison yard with military precision. Again this goes to show that this season that desperation of trying to find the next safe place to rest has now been completed. They do have a safe place to call a safe haven. There’s now a growing farm with vegetables and livestock. They now a common area outside where people cook and eat their meals. We even see Rick and Carol looking to see that the younger members of this burgeoning community get to have some sort of education and time to be kids.

The writers of the show have been very good with creating these little serene and peaceful set-ups only to pull the rug from under everyone and it’s no different with tonight’s season premiere. The group going out into the “world” to scavenge for supplies seems like it’s become routine for this community from the early set-up, but it also looks to have created a sense of complacency in the group as a whole. We see the consequence of this complacency and belief in that things were getting into some sort of normal.

We see a routine and efficient run to scavenge a Big Spot supermarket turn into a nightmare with zombies literally raining down on the group. It’s a great action and horror sequence that managed to be both full of tension and terror. While it also had a “redshirt” feel to who would live and who would die it still didn’t diminish the fact that if The Walking Dead the series was good in any one thing it was setting up and executing action scenes.

The scene with Rick and the Lady in the Woods was another good sequence that focused more on showing just how screwed up this new world Rick and the community is still trying to come to grips with. For all their attempts to establish this normalcy within the prison’s fences the world outside is still a “kill or be killed” place. Even though it was only a brief turn as the Lady in the Woods, Kerry Condon does a great performance conveying how desperation in the early going of this zombie apocalypse has broken so many people. Where Rick and most of those he has rescued and kept safe haven’t succumbed to despair this woman in the woods gave up. She’s an example of where Rick could’ve ended up right from the beginning of the show if he never found his family. This entire series has been in part a story of how Rick has been trying to keep himself from giving up.

Then the final sequence right leading up to the episode’s end shows us that things that were taken for granted pre-zombie apocalypse might just be coming back with a vengeance as we see one of the new people introduced in the first half of the episode succumb to what looks like a virus. It’s good to see that the writers of the show are beginning to spread their boundaries when it comes to bringing in ideas to the show. While some might not think it’s an important detail I’m sure those who dedicate their life in studying crisis management and events will look at tonight’s episode and nod their head’s in agreement. Zombies might be the main threat facing this community, but the show has now introduced the threat of diseases that usually gets cured with a trip to the doctors or the pharmacy. In a world where everyone has reverted back to an almost medieval style of living such things have become luxuries or non-existent.

So, for a season premiere “30 Days Without An Accident”  was a good start for the new regime of Scott M. Gimple. He was able to bring in a new thematic element to the show’s overall narrative with the hope of rebuilding civlization, creating the sense of normalcy in a world turned upside down and new characters to support the returning veterans. He has also made it clear that for all the serenity we saw in the first half of tonight’s premiere the overriding theme of the show will continue to be that danger and death will always be out there waiting to get in and with tonight’s episode we see that it already has found a way in.


  • Tonight’s season 4 premiere, 30 Days Without An Accident”, was directed by series co-producer and make-up FX guru Greg Nicotero. It also marks the first time new showrunner Scott M. Gimple starts off a new season.
  • The way the new people in the group are greeting and reacting to Daryl Dixon one would think his legion of fans have joined this season’s cast of The Walking Dead.
  • Smart to clear out the horde of zombies at the fence line through the fence line. One thing most zombie fiction always seem to leave out or just get wrong is the constant need to keep the perimeter clear and secured.
  • Looks like it’s not just the Glenn-Maggie ship plying the zombie apocalypse seas this season.
  • Daryl Dixon is now one of the group’s leader…fangirls react enthusiastically to this new development.
  • The show has two HBO veterans joining the cast in Larry Gilliard, Jr. from The Wire and Kerry Condon from Rome.
  • I like how tonight’s episode gave us a brief, but tragic glimpse into those from other countries who got stuck in the area because everything fell to pieces in the beginning.
  • Too many new characters and the way this episode is moving it looks like some of them have to be redshirts.
  • AMC must’ve really opened up their tightwad purses to give Scott M. Gimple the chance to shoot that very awesome and bloody Big Spot sequence. It’s not often we get Visual FX on this show and the few times they’ve gone digital it looked somewhat fake, but not this time around with the destroyed Chinook falling through the weakened roof of the Big Spot.
  • Poor Violet and Patrick. At least, now we have an idea of just what new threat outside of the zombies and the missing Governor will befall this new community.
  • Swine Flu.
  • Talking Dead Guests: Nathan Fillion and showrunner Scott M. Gimple.

Horror On TV: Are You Afraid Of The Dark? — “The Tale of Vampire Town”

When I first decided to devote some of October to featuring horror related TV shows, I knew that I’d have to include at least one episode of the classic Nickelodeon TV series Are You Afraid of the Dark?  Back in the 90s, Are You Afraid of The Dark? was the best because it was a show about scary things but it was on Nickelodeon so you could watch it without having to worry about your mom coming in the room and making you change the channel.

The episode “Tale of Vampire Town” is about — you guessed it! — vampires.  It was originally broadcast on April 24th, 1999 and it was notable for being one of the darker episodes of the series.

Horror Song of the Day: Polymorphia (by Krzysztof Penderecki)

PolymorphiaA couple weeks ago site music writer necromoonyeti wrote up quite an article about what just makes a piece of music a “horror music”.

Using some of what necromoonyeti wrote about I decided to look at some horror and non-horror films with music that evokes that sense of terror and horror that sometimes come from music that we wouldn’t associate with such emotions. It’s a much more difficult task than one would think. Yet, while I didn’t find one of those non-traditional pieces of horror music I did come across one that I should’ve used in this segment a long time ago.

The latest “Song of the Day” is a piece of disturbing music titled “Polymorphia” by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

This musical composition has been used in two classic horror films (some would say some of the best in their genre) to help build the sense of horror and dread for the audience. The two films in question would be William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. I know that in the former it more than added to that film’s creeping dread from the moment the song came on. It made one feel like Hell itself was about to break through the screen. It’s that sense that one’s skin was sensing something evil was afoot.

I found a particular youtube video that used this song and the chosen imagery to great effect. I dare anyone to watch the video, listen to the music in a dark room and in the middle of the night while alone.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #93: The Woods (dir by Lucky McKee)

Last night, I turned over to Chiller and watched the brilliant 2006 horror film, The Woods.

Why Was I Watching It?

I ended up watching The Woods almost at random.  I didn’t want to go out last night because it’s Texas-OU weekend and that meant that the streets of Dallas would probably be full of drunk people from Tulsa.  Even more importantly, I couldn’t go out because I’m recovering from a sprained ankle.

Normally, under those circumstances, I would have watched and live tweeted an original SyFy film.  However, last night, SyFy was showing Fright Night which I had little interest in sitting through.  So, instead, I turned over to Chiller and decided to give The Woods a try.

And that is how I randomly discovered one of the best horror films that I’ve recently seen.

What Was It About?

The year is 1965.  Angry teenager Heather (Agnes Bruckner) starts a fire in a forest.  Frustrated by their daughter’s rebellious nature, her parents enroll her at Falburn Academy, a boarding school that sits in the middle of the woods.   Because she is the only redhead at the school, Heather is an immediate outsider who finds herself being taunted by the blonde Samantha (Rachel Nichols) and called “Firecrotch” by her other classmates.

However, Heather has more problems that just a bunch of anti-redhead bigots.  She has nightmares where voices seem to call to her from the woods.  Her friends Marcy and Ann both disappear from their beds, leaving behind a pile of dead leaves.  Meanwhile, the school’s mysterious headmistress (Patricia Clarkson) insists that nothing strange is happening…

What Worked?

I wasn’t expecting much from The Woods.  After all, it was a film that was released straight-to-DVD in 2006 and Chiller doesn’t exactly have a reputation for showing the best films.   But, oh my God, y’all — The Woods turned out to be such a good film!   The Woods is an atmospheric and surprisingly well-acted film that’s full of haunting imagery and memorable details.  Much like Dario Argento’s Suspiria (which has a similar plot to this film), The Woods is a triumph of both style and substance.

While the entire film is well-acted, special mention should be made of Patricia Clarkson, who gives a performance that is both menacing and humorous.  Genre fans will be happy to see Bruce Campbell in the role of Bruckner’s well-meaning father.

Finally, I have to admit that, as a member of the 2% of the population who have been blessed with red hair, I have a special appreciation for this film.  Behind all of the scares, The Woods provides a compelling portrait of the discrimination that those of us with red hair struggle with every single day.  From the minute Heather enters Falburn Academy, she is the subject of constant prejudice because of the color of her hair.  As someone who has had to endure countless comments about redheads not having souls, I both related to and appreciated the film’s sensitivity to those of us in the 2%.

What Did Not Work?

Over on the film’s imdb page, there’s some debate as to whether or not the term “Firecrotch” was in use back in 1965.  Personally, I think that’s nitpicking.  The fact of the matter is that anti-redhead prejudice has always been with us.  If people in the 60s didn’t attack us by calling us “Firecrotch,” they undoubtedly called us something equally bad.  As far as I’m concerned, the entire film worked perfectly.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Almost the entire film was an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment, largely because the main character was a redhead and had to deal with constant anti-redhead prejudice.  (“Oh my God!  Just like me!”)

At one point, Samantha taunts Heather by asking, “Is your pubic hair red?” which is the exact same question that I got asked several times throughout high school, though in my case, I was usually asked by a guy with a smirk on his face.  (“You’ll never know,” I would reply.)  Heather then finds herself being repeatedly called “Firecrotch” by people who are jealous of her red hair and again, oh my god!  Just like me!

Finally, as I mentioned above, I sprained my ankle last Wednesday and, as such, I’ve spent the last few days recovering.  Amazingly enough, about halfway through the film, Heather twists her ankle.  She spends the rest of the movie either on crutches or painfully limping.  Oh my God!  Just like me!

(As a quick aside, can I just say how much I HATE crutches!?  Oh my God, they’re the worst…)

Lessons Learned

I am tempted to say that the main lesson to be learned from The Woods is that it’s not easy being a redhead.  However, I knew that before I watched the film.  I also knew that you should stay out of the woods, which is the main reason why you’ll never catch me camping.

So, the most important lesson that I learned is that everyone should see The Woods.

Redheads Unite

6 More Trailers For A Scary October

It’s the second Sunday in October and that means that it’s time for another horrific edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers!

1) The Rats Are Coming!  The Werewolves Are Here! (1972)

2) Horror Hotel (1960)

3) Repulsion (1965)

4) The Devonsville Terror (1983)

5) The Pit and The Pendulum (1991)

6) House of Usher (1960)

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Witch Trailer Kitty

Horror On The Lens: Starship Invasions (dir by Ed Hunt)


Today’s horror movie on the Shattered Lens is a 1977 Canadian film called Starship Invasions.  While at first glance, Starship Invasions may appear to be more of a science fiction film than a horror film, things do get pretty horrific once Christopher Lee starts shooting his suicide ray.

Here’s what you need to know about Starship Invasions:

1) Judging from the look of the film, it must have cost hundreds of dollars to make.

2) All of the aliens communicate through telepathy so, while you get to hear Christopher Lee’s voice, you never actually see his lips move.  I presume this was done because the filmmakers wanted to save money by shooting the majority of the film without sound.

3) In the UK, the film was released under the title Project Genocide, which just doesn’t have the same oddly generic charm as Starship Invasions.

4) Christopher Lee reportedly considers this to be one of his worst films.

5) However, the film is kind of fun in a bad, 1970s sort of way.

Add to that, how can you have a horror month without featuring at least one Christopher Lee film?