A Few Thoughts on …. The Walking Dead 7.5 “Go Getters” (dir by Darnell Martin)


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So far, season 7 of The Walking Dead has been pretty inconsistent.

Often times, I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness, vainly defending the season premiere and continuing to hope that, at some point, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan is going to become something more than a one-dimensional caricature.

Like a lot of people, I kind of enjoyed the second episode but, in retrospect, that was mostly because of the weirdness of King Ezekiel and the majesty of Shiva.  The episode itself was extremely slow and featured one of those overly sentimental musical montages, the type of thing that never holds up particularly well on repeat viewing.

The Cell … oh, I tried to enjoy The Cell but basically, it was just an hour of Daryl not speaking and Negan doing his Negan thing.

And then there was last week’s episode, which appears to be going down in the history books as the consensus pick for the worst episode of The Walking Dead ever.

So, with all that in mind, I am going to cautiously state that I think that the latest installment, Go Getters, was a definite improvement over the last few episodes.  It was hardly a classic.  It certainly wasn’t The Walking Dead at its absolute best.  But, at the very least, it held my attention for 60 minutes, it seemed to actually move the story forward (as opposed to just being a stagnant portrayal of doom and gloom), and it left me looking forward to seeing what would happen next week.  Coming nearly halfway through an uneven season, Go Getters provided just a little bit of hope for the show’s future, telling us,  “The Walking Dead‘s not dead and growling in Herschel’s barn just yet!”

Of course, it helped that Go Getters was centered on Maggie, the only one of the main characters who has not left me pissed off or disappointed this season.  Following the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, Maggie and Sasha are hiding out at Hilltop Colony.  Gregory wants to kick them out, Jesus wants to protect them.  Eventually, the Saviors show up and we get to know Simon (Steven Ogg, investing the role with such menace that it’s hard not to wonder how different the season would be if he had been cast as Negan), who is one of Negan’s liuetenants.  Simon collects his tribute, humiliates Gregory, and leaves.  Meanwhile, Carl and Enid show up at Hilltop, having run away from Alexandria.  One-eyed Carl has decided to take revenge on Negan and who can blame him?  At this point, he has to know that his red-eyed, sniveling, neutered father isn’t going to do anything…

(Which brings up an interesting issue: we’re supposed to look down on Gregory for being so weak and subservient to the Saviors but really, he didn’t do anything different from what Rick did last week.  We’re supposed to give Rick a pass but not Gregory, which doesn’t seem quite right.  Gregory may be an ass but, as we should all know by now, nice guys don’t survive the apocalypse.)

So far, each episode this season has featured a different community being harassed by Negan.  I’m assuming that these communities are eventually going to come together to take out the Saviors.  If that’s the case, I can understand and even respect the deliberate build-up.  At the same time, this season is moving so slowly (and has been so repetitive) that it’s hard not to get frustrated when you’re watching on a weekly schedule.  One gets the feeling that Season 7 will be better when binge-watched but, for now, I find myself wishing the show would pick up the pace.

But, with all that in mind, I liked Go Getters.  I love the fact that Maggie refuses to surrender.  Despite all of the terrible things that have happened to her and the people that she loved, Maggie has not given up.  She hasn’t turned into a weak shell, like Rick or Daryl.  Nor has she retreated to a world of fantasy, like Carol.  Instead, Maggie lives, Maggie fights, and Maggie endures.  Glenn may be dead but Maggie the Cat is alive.

GO MAGGIE!

A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.3 “The Cell” (dir by Alrick Riley)


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I’ve been on twitter, reading everyone’s reactions to the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and I’ve noticed a definite pattern.

People who read the comic along with watching the TV show seemed to be pretty excited by tonight’s episode.  They were happy that Dwight (played by Austin Amelio) and his wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista), were prominently featured.  I mean, make no mistake.  This episode may have technically been a Daryl episode but, for the most part, it was pretty much set up to highlight Dwight and Sherry.

Of course, it was also set up to give us some insight into the way that Negan runs things.  We got to see the Sanctuary, the home base of the Saviors, and it’s not really that surprising that it turned out to be the testosterone-fueled Hellhole of everyone’s nightmares.  On the plus side, the Sanctuary has power.  It has music.  It has a TV, though there doesn’t appear to be any good programming.  Is a world where the only available entertainment features Tony Danza a world worth saving?

And Negan — well, Negan’s still an asshole.  He’s still strutting around with Lucille, bullying everyone that he comes in contact with.  Obviously, we were meant to compare Negan’s leadership style to King Ezekiel’s.  Ezekiel rules through fantasy.  Negan rules through fear.  No wonder Gordon tried to leave.

(Gordon’s execution would have been far more powerful if we had more of an idea of who Gordon was meant to be.  Then again, that scene was more about Dwight than Gordon.)

Negan is also trying to brainwash Daryl and it’s obvious that Dwight is more than a little jealous.  I liked the fact that Dwight didn’t seem to know if he wanted to kill Daryl or beg Daryl to be his best friend.  Watching Negan and Daryl, I couldn’t help but think about Merle and the Governor.  Of course, that didn’t end well as far as the Dixon family is concerned…

As I said, those who read the comic appeared to enjoy tonight’s episode.  On the other hand, viewers who weren’t familiar with the comic seemed to be a bit disappointed.  On twitter, they complained that tonight’s episode was too slow and anti-climatic.  Interestingly enough, a lot of them said the same thing about last week’s episode with King Ezekiel.

Myself, I have to say that The Cell didn’t do much for me.  Last week’s episode may have been slow but, after all the shit that went down in the premiere, I was kind of thankful for a slow episode that featured at least a little humor.  But with The Cell, The Walking Dead essentially followed one slow episode with another slow episode, the difference being that this one didn’t really accomplish much.

As I watched day-to-day life in the Sanctuary, I couldn’t help but think about Lost.  You remember when Jack, Sawyer, and Kate ended up spending a handful of episodes living with The Others?  The society of the Others was genuinely interesting.  You could actually imagine watching an alternate version of Lost where the Others would have been the main characters and the Oceanic passengers would have been the rarely seen villains.

You really can’t say the same of The Saviors and life at Sanctuary.  The Saviors may be scary and menacing and dangerous but they’re also more than a little boring.  I’ve praised Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance in the past but, with tonight’s episode, I started to wonder if there was anything more to Morgan’s Negan than what we’ve already seen.  Yes, Negan’s a bully.  Yes, he’s an asshole.  Yes, I’d love to see him devoured by a walker.  But I could say the same about a lot of the characters on The Walking Dead.  What is it about the television version of Negan that sets him apart from every other wannabe dictator on this show?

To a certain extent, it reminded me of when Colin Hanks showed up as a serial killer on Dexter.  I watched him and I thought, “Yeah, he’s pretty fucked up but who isn’t on this show?”  At this point, just being fucked up isn’t enough.

What the show needs is one episode — just one — where Negan isn’t bellowing and threatening everyone that he sees.  We need one episode where we can see who Negan was before the zombie apocalypse and who he is now when he’s not hiding behind Lucille.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a seriously talented actor and he’s capable of a lot more than just playing a one-dimensional villain.

I hope that The Walking Dead eventually gives him a chance to show everyone how true that is.

I do want to end this review on a positive note so I will say two things:

  1. This episode was directed by Alrick Riley, who previously directed several episodes of an intriguing British spy show called MI5 (a.k.a. Spooks).
  2. That scene with the walker falling out of the sky totally freaked me out!

 

 

Horror on the Lens: Night of the Living Dead (dir by George Romero)


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Happy Halloween everyone!

Well, as another horrorthon draws to a close, it’s time for another Shattered Lens tradition!  Every Halloween, we share one of the greatest and most iconic horror films ever made.  For your Halloween enjoyment, here is George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead!

(Be sure to read Arleigh’s equally iconic review!)

ENJOY!

A Few Thoughts on …. The Walking Dead 7.2 “The Well” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


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Hmmm…

Well, what did everyone think of the 2nd episode of the 7th season of The Walking Dead?  After all the violence and darkness of the premiere, The Well felt like a different beast altogether.  In fact, there were times when I had a hard time believing that I was watching the same series, the tone of The Well was so entirely different from the previous episode.

Essentially, we got to find out what Carol and Morgan were doing while Abraham and Glenn were being killed by Negan.  They were discovering yet another settlement of survivors.  This settlement, known as The Kingdom, was ruled over by King Ezekiel and his pet tiger, Shiva.

Judging from twitter, it would appear that over a thousand people fell in love with King Ezekiel last night.  (Even more fell in love with Shiva.)  And I don’t blame them.  As played by Khary Payton, Ezekiel was a breath of fresh — if possibly insane — air.  He was exactly what the world of The Walking Dead needs.  He’s a leader who sincerely cares about his people but, unlike Negan, he’s not a sociopath.  At the same time, he’s also not totally ineffectual and, after what we saw with Rick last week, that was a welcome development.

When he was first introduced, Ezekiel seemed like a comical, buffoonish character.  After all, he frequently spoke like a bad Shakespearean actor.  He was given to broad pronouncements.  He sat on a throne.  He carried a sword, called himself a king, and often seemed like he was auditioning for a Renaissance Faire.  But as the episode progressed, we started to see that Ezekiel was far more intelligent than he first appeared.  As he told Carol, he knew he and his followers were living in a fantasy world but that fantasy was far more preferable than dwelling on the state of the world.  Over the course of an hour, Ezekiel went from being a joke to being a symbol of hope.

It was interesting to compare Ezekiel and his fantasy world to both Negan and Rick.  Though neither one of them would ever admit it, both Negan and Rick have also built up a fantasy world for themselves.  In Negan’s fantasy, his own sadism is justified by the state of the world.  Negan has created a world where being a sociopath is a heroic act.  Meanwhile, Rick continues to cling to the fantasy that, somehow, things can still go back to being the way that they were before the dead rose.  It’s no coincidence that, after seeing both Glenn and Abraham die, Rick immediately started to fantasize about a future where Glenn and Abraham were still alive and everyone was sitting down for a happy picnic.  In the end, Ezekiel is set apart by the fact that, of all the leaders, he is the only one willing to admit that he’s living in a fantasy.

As of right now, if I had to pledge allegiance to anyone in The Walking Dead, I would pledge it to King Ezekiel.  And it appears that Carol is about to do the same thing.  Either that or Carol’s going to decide to kill him just because she can.  It’s difficult to predict with Carol.

(Sidenote: While the episode was stolen by Khary Payton, Melissa McBride also contributed some of her strongest work yet.  Her amazement upon being initially confronted with Ezekiel’s Kingdom was brilliantly conveyed.)

Last week, a lot of people told me that, after spending an hour watching Negan torture Rick and kill Glenn and Abraham, they were done with The Walking Dead.  I’ll be curious to know if any of them watched last night’s episode and whether it changed their mind.  Much like Carol, the show must now make a choice.  Will its future resemble the first episode of the season or will it resemble The Well?

Now, I have to admit that, at times, I found The Well to be a little bit slow.  I liked it but I didn’t love it, at least not the way that some reviewers loved it.  (Over on the A.V. Club, both the reviewer and several of the commenters are practically rapturous in their praise.)  As fascinating as I found Ezekiel to be, I have to admit that I spent a bit of the episode wishing that I was discovering what was going on with Rick, Maggie, and all the rest.  On twitter, I compared it to how, whenever I wanted to know what was going on with Sawyer on Lost, it would be Hurley episode instead.

But, for the most part, I think The Well worked.  The Kingdom seems like a nice place to live but we probably shouldn’t get too comfortable with it.  Anytime Rick or Carol shows up at a new settlement, that means that death and destruction will soon follow.

We’ll just have to enjoy our time with Shiva while we can!

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Horror AMV of the Day: Children of the Grave (Gakkou Gurashi)


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Here’s a little horror anime music video to help decompress after last night’s very nihilistic and emotional draining season premiere of The Walking Dead.

It’s from amv creator Xophilarus and combines Halsey’s song “Control” with the horror anime Gakkou Gurashi (surprise it’s about zombies!). The series itself was reviewed by site anime contributor pantsukudasai56. Yes, for some the zombie subgenre has started to feel overplayed and overused. But if there’s one thing the two co-founders of this site never truly get tired of are good zombie fiction and Gakkou Gurashi is such a thing.

Anime: Gakkou Gurashi

Song: “Control” by Halsey

Creator: Xophilarus

Past AMVs of the Day

Halloween Havoc!: ZOMBIE (Variety Film 1979)


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I’ll admit, I’m a latecomer to the Lucio Fulci bandwagon. I viewed my first film by The Maestro, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY , earlier this year, and absolutely loved it! I’ve been looking for more Fulci films to discover ever since, and recently recorded his most famous, ZOMBIE, off the El Rey Network (which I highly recommend to Grindhouse fans out there). ZOMBIE goes by many names, but this is the title I watched it under, so we’ll stick with that.

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From that opening shot of a gun pointed at the camera, then blasting the head of a rising corpse, I knew I was in for a good time! After the credits roll, we see a derelict ship floating in New York harbor. The harbor patrol boards it, and find it deserted, with rotting food and supplies strewn everywhere. One of the cops investigates further, and is killed by a zombie…

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Halloween Havoc!: THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (Hallmark Releasing 1974)


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While doing some background research on actor Arthur Kennedy for my post about DESPERATE JOURNEY  back in June, I came across an IMDb entry for a movie titled THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE. It’s description is as follows: “A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson-family like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by chemical pesticides being used by area farmers”. Sounded right up my alley, and a perfect candidate for this year’s ‘Halloween Havoc!’ horrorthon!

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Though the description isn’t 100% accurate, THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is a surprisingly good Italian-Spanish made chiller with elements of giallo movies, as our lead George is traveler who stumbles into murder. His motorcycle (a nice looking vintage Norton) is backed into by Edna on his way to Wyndhamere. She gives him a lift, and…

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