TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.1 “Mercy” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


Before I say anything about the 100 episode and 8th season premiere of The Walking Dead, I want to say thank you to the show’s producers for including a dedication to George Romero at the end of the episode.

Even in his later years, Romero never quite got his due from either Hollywood or the critical establishment.  He struggled to raise the money to make movies that would stay true to his vision.  The critics who praised him often only did so grudgingly, often acknowledging his influence while still making snide remarks about his films.  Too many critics are still unwilling to give unqualified praise to anything related to the horror genre.  Despite all of that, George Romero is one of the most important and influential filmmakers of all time.  It can be argued that without Romero and his Dead films, modern horror would look very different.  If there’s one thing that we can be sure of, it’s that without Night of the Living Dead, there would be no Walking Dead.

As for tonight’s episode…

Well, it was certainly different from what we had to deal with for the majority of season 7.  I mean, Rick actually did something other than sitting around in a catatonic state.  While Negan was featured in this episode, he was used sparingly.  He didn’t hijack the show, like he did for most of season 7.  We didn’t have to sit through any fifteen minute Negan monologues.  When this episode started with the various groups preparing for war, I figured that — following the usual pace of The Walking Dead — we would have 6 episodes of everyone getting ready, 6 episodes of everyone talking about being ready, and then 1 episode of actual fighting.  Instead, for once, the show got right to it.

Does this mean that the show’s producers actually learned something from the less than positive reaction that some fans and critics had to the sluggish pace of season 7?  We can only hope so.

I was happy to see Rick finally acting like the Rick that we once knew and loved.  Gone was wimpy Rick.  Instead, this Rick went straight to Negan, shouted out some threats, and then launched an attack on the Sanctuary.  All of a sudden, Rick became a badass again and it’s about time!

At the same time, I think it can be argued that the attack was a waste of bullets.  Sure, Rick and his people wanted to make a statement.  They wanted to show the Saviors that they weren’t going to allow themselves to be pushed around anymore.  But, as I watched round after round being fired at the Sanctuary, I remembered all of the times that we were shown Darryl pulling his arrows out of the head of a dead walker.  Why?  Because resources are limited in the world of The Walking Dead and anything wasted — like thousands of bullets — will never be replaced.  Rick and his allies have a lot of guns but what good are they going to be if they run out of bullets?

That said, during the show, I was willing to set aside those concerns.  Negan has been such a hateful and, if we’re going to be honest, annoying character that it was impossible not to feel a visceral thrill at the sight of someone finally fighting back.

As for the rest of tonight’s episode:

  1. Is Carl growing disillusioned with his dad?  To be honest, I’m just surprised that Carl’s still alive.  Someday, Carl is going to have to shoot his father in the head, in order to keep Rick from turning into a walker.  I have a feeling that’ll be the last scene of the last episode of The Walking Dead.
  2. Why is Gregory still alive!?  God, what a dumbfug toadsucker that guy has turned out to be.
  3. So, now, Father Gabriel has been captured by Negan.  I hope this doesn’t mean that we’re going to have to listen to Negan give a lecture on his opinion of organized religion.
  4. Throughout tonight’s episode, we were given scenes of an older and happier Rick.  He was living with Michonne and Judith.  Carl was nowhere to be seen.  There was a lot of talk of an upcoming festival.  Were these legitimate flash forwards or were they just Rick’s fantasy of what life is going to be like if he defeats Negan?  I’m leaning towards thinking they’re Rick’s fantasy.  Rick always thinks that life can somehow get back to being normal and happy.  All he has to do is find Sophia or defeat the Governor or make a new life as a pig farmer or kill Negan. It never works out like Rick thinks that it’s going to.  However, it’s Rick’s refusal to give up his faith that makes him both a compelling and a tragic figure.
  5. Rick was proud of himself after his battle with Negan but, as I watched Rick celebrate, it occurred to me that Rick always ends up thinking that, just because he’s won a battle, he’s won the war.  Again, it just never seems to work out for him.
  6. The Walking Dead is back!  I thought this was a good episode and I’m cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

How does everyone else feel?  What do you think?  Is season 8 going to be a return to form for The Walking Dead or are we looking at another season 7?  Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Horror on TV: Thriller 2.1 “What Beckoning Ghost” (dir by Ida Lupino)


For today’s adventure into the world of televised horror, we have another episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series, Thriller!

In this episode, a concert pianist (Judith Evelyn) is haunted by visions of mysterious piano and the sound of someone playing.  Is she losing her mind, is she being set up, or is her house truly haunted?  This enjoyable episode was directed by actress Ida Lupino.

A Movie A Day #287: Leviathan (1989, directed by George Pan Cosmatos)


A group of miners are sent into a dangerous environment by an evil corporation.  When they explore an abandoned ship, they unknowingly bring a hostile creature onto their own vessel.  One of the crewman is killed when the creature mutates inside of his body.  The rest of the crew includes a scientist, one strong woman, one woman who cries, and a strong, silent captain.

Sound familiar?

No, it’s not Alien.  

Instead, it’s Leviathan, which could best be described as being Alien underwater with a dash of The Thing tossed in.  The main difference between Leviathan and the films that inspired it is that people are still watching Alien and The Thing while Leviathan is one of the most forgettable films that I have ever seen.  Peter Weller is the captain.  Richard Crenna is the scientist.  Amanda Pays has the Ripley role and Ernie Hudson fills in for Yaphet Kotto.  Daniel Stern plays Sixpack, who turns into a monster after he drinks contaminated Russian vodka.  (It happens to the best of us.)  Meg Foster, with her translucent eyes, represents the corporation.

That’s a good cast and the script was written by David Peoples (who also wrote Blade Runner, Unforgiven, and 12 Monkeys) and Jeb Stuart (who wrote Die Hard and The Fugitive).  The above average special effects were designed by Stan Winston.  Why, with all of these talented people involved in the production, is Leviathan so by the numbers and forgettable?  It probably had something to do with the presence of George Pan Cosmatos in the directing chair.  Cosmatos is also credited with directing Rambo: First Blood II, Cobra, and Tombstone.  The first two films starred Sylvester Stallone, who was known for directing all of his 80s films in every way but name only and everyone knows that Kurt Russell was in charge on Tombstone.

If you want to see Alien underwater done right, watch Deepstar Six.

Halloween Havoc!: FRANKENHOOKER (SGE 1990)


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Wanna have a good time? Got any money? Then go pick up FRANKENHOOKER, Frank Henenlotter’s tacky tale of terror that sets Mary Shelley’s classic novel on its severed head and features an explosive (literally)  combination of the goofy and the gruesome, with plenty of black comedy  strewn among the body parts.

Jeffrey Franken’s fiancé Elizabeth Shelley is killed when the remote control lawnmower he invents runs her down, turning her into “one big jigsaw puzzle”. Saving Elizabeth’s head, Jeffrey vows to rebuild, probably after watching too many reruns of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. Seems our boy, who’s a med school dropout now working for New Jersey Gas & Electric, likes to tinker around with mad science, as evidenced by the floating brain with one eyeball he keeps in a fish tank. His grand scheme involves rounding up hookers and getting them loaded on his latest invention, a deadly lethal…

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Horror Scenes That I Love: Karen Transforms in The Howling


Today’s Horror Scene that I love comes from 1981’s The Howling.

In this scene, a news anchor played by Dee Wallace attempts to prove to the world that vampires exist.  Unfortunately, even in 1981, television audiences were pretty jaded.

Halloween Havoc! Extra: “Haunted House” by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (Hi Records 1964)


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Rockabilly singer Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (no relation to the KISS Demon with the long, long tongue!) had a #11 hit on the Billboard charts with the spooky-themed novelty song, “Haunted House”. OK, so the song’s not all that spooky, but this YouTube video is, set to some scary scenes from William Castle’s HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL  ! So put on your blue suede shoes and enjoy!:

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Sam Raimi Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: Sam Raimi!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Evil Dead (1981, dir by Sam Raimi)

Evil Dead II (1987, dir by Sam Raimi)

Army of Darkness (1992, dir by Sam Raimi)

22 (2009, dir by Sam Raimi)