The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 14: “The Other Side”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 14: “The Other Side”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bury Me Here” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Something They Need” – click here
Pic 1So what about Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his search for escapee Daryl (Norman Reedus)? That fruit will come to bear soon enough. Right now at Hilltop, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is teaching everyone, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) included how to defend themselves properly. At home Enid and Maggie are like buddies, or almost a mother-daughter relationship. And Jesus (Tom Payne), he’s both a help to Maggie, as well as to others.
Because we can’t forget about Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), she’s preparing to go find Negan, to kill him. Jesus, he helps by drawing a map to show her what The Saviors’ compound looks like.
Note: The beauty of this opening sequence is that there’s not a word spoke, only the sound of breathing, if that, and the images telling a story. Really beautiful stuff. Powerful technical filmmaking on television.
Then Rosita (Christian Serrators) arrives, like the end of last episode. Now she and Sasha have a mission, together. But it’s very, very dangerous.
Pic 1AWe also discover that Jesus is gay. Or at least that’s how it sounds. He and Maggie have a heart to heart, which as usual, as any conversation in this new world does, leads to more of what’s next to do, in order to survive.
Jesus finds Sasha, looking for ammo. He and Enid both realise Rosita’s not there to train anyone. They’re going to kill Negan. But the other two try helping, they want Sasha to stick around and help. She’s a strong person, an asset to anyone she’s helping. Jesus also likes having her around, for many reasons not least of which is her strength and determination. Sasha is a great character. And so is Rosita.
This is why I get worried. When characters get a close focus, those other than Rick and Carl and a couple other key players, it’s often right before they’re killed. I hope this isn’t the case. I love Sasha and Rosita. They’re tough, smart.
Jesus: “‘Cause its a long life, and then it isnt.”
The Saviors show up unexpectedly. This sends the two women off on their escape. Likewise, Daryl and Maggie are hidden in a cellar as the men come invading Hilltop. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) does his duty, doing the dance when Simon (Steven Ogg) comes with, you guessed it, no good news. They’re only there to find somebody for Negan. In the meantime, Rosita and Sasha are on the road again, an unlikely yet understandable duo. They’re equally stubborn about the way forward. Each of them want revenge, and I get that. They just have to focus, otherwise it’s more and more likely they won’t make it; together or not. For now they kill zombies, going back and forth with what they think is best to do.


At Hilltop, Enid gets worried when one of The Saviors discovers the cellar. She does her best to keep him away. It’s no use. Except he doesn’t find anyone, only some fruit.
So it seems Simon and his boys have come to collect Dr. Harlan Carson. They’ve been sent by Negan to bring him back. “Congratulations, youre movinup in the world,” Simon says in that ugly charm of his, and then we realise that Dr. Carson’s brother is the one who was killed so violently as of late by Negan. Yikes. So on he goes, to the land of “cardamom gelato” and other delights. However, Gregory isn’t pleased with being so powerless. He tries currying favour with Simon, only getting a deal that he can come see the man at the compound; name at the gate and everything. Not exactly what he wanted. Then again, Gregory doesn’t have much of a spine. I wonder, will that change down the road?
Back to the man in the fruit cellar, Maggie stops Daryl from killing him, and then on he goes. They’re safe and sound. Only Daryl would rather kill every last one of them instead of waiting for the perfect time. He and Maggie wind up talking about Glenn’s death; he feels entirely responsible, apologising to her. She wants to kill The Saviors, just like Daryl. Only she wants to make sure they win.
Maggie (to Daryl): “Youre one of the good things in this world. Thats what Glenn thought. And he would know, ‘cause he was one of the good things, too.
Meanwhile, Hilltop’s left without a doctor. Not a good prospect in the post-zombie apocalypse world.


Rosita and Sasha start enacting a plan to get past a crowd of walkers and to another car. Lighting a separate car on fire, they draw a group of them away and hot wire the vehicle. It starts and they’ve got at least a drop of luck on their side. Rosita’s a bad ass driver to boot.
At The Saviors compound, Sasha and Rosita set up in an adjacent, abandoned building with the sniper rifle. They can see Eugene (Josh McDermitt) doing work. For the time being the two women actually bond over a bit of rigging while Sasha learns to tie knots on a piece of rope. They, of course, talk about Abraham soon enough. And Rosita admits to initially hating Sasha, though it was probably because he “figured his shit out first.” This is a great scene of dialogue between them, as the characters have all these unresolved issues with Abraham after his tragic death. After they come to terms with everything, it only makes their new bond stronger. If anything for the memory of their dead friend and lover who was struck down so cowardly by Negan, without a fighting chance.
Then Sasha sees that Dr. Carson, who was taking care of Maggie, has been taken to the compound. Just as Negan comes out to greet their newest addition. No clean shot with the sniper, particularly with the doc too near. The women hear Eugene over the radio; he mentions Negan will be in his room for a while, so this prompts them to want to head inside.


At Hilltop, Gregory calls Jesus in for a chat. Says he’s slacking, and there are too many people in his trailer. Everyone’s got to pull their weight now. Jesus sees through their fearful leader, which draws a perceived threat from Gregory. He makes clear they aren’t friendly anymore. Uh oh. I don’t like the dude’s ‘tude. And I love Jesus, so I’d hate to see anything uncool happen to him. But no matter – Daryl’s figured out that Sasha and Rosita have taken off, alerting Jesus.
Speaking of the kick ass ladies, they pop a guy in the head who’s out working with Eugene. They want to break him out. “Im not goinwith you,” he tells them. He’s brainwashed, willingly. Too full of cowardice to do anything for himself, or help those that once helped him so much.
The women go in. Well, Sasha does. She closes the fence behind her and goes on, telling Rosita it isn’t her time – the same said earlier of Abraham. So Rosita goes running away, as Sasha works her way violently into the compound. And in the shadows waiting for her is Daryl.
I wonder if he and Rosita will follow Sasha. And is it definitely Daryl? Could it be Dwight?
Pic 5What a great chapter in the last bit of Season 7! I can’t wait to see whatever excitement comes in the last couple episodes. So tense. So many sacrifices for Rick, Rosita, Sasha, Maggie, Daryl, all of them. Will they gain any ground? Or will the end of Season 7 provoke more devastation? You know someone’s dying, but who knows who’ll that be, either.

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The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 11: “Hostiles and Calamities”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 11: “Hostiles and Calamities”
Directed by Kari Skogland
Written by David Leslie Johnson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “New Best Friends” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Say Yes” – click here
pic-1Things at the Saviors compound are looking grim for Dwight (Austin Amelio). After discovering Daryl gone, the others arrive back with their spoils, including Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) greets his new guest with a smile, and Lucille.
But what about when Negan finds out one of his captives is missing? Won’t be happy. And someone’s always got to pay. In the meantime, Eugene comes to find he isn’t being killed. Rather he’s given a room, treated fairly well, given a bit of lunch after going through options of food which surprise him. They’ve even got kettle cooked potato chips. The fridge is stocked. Is the weakness in Eugene going to be a problem? Will he succumb to the temptations of this new life and not want to go back to Alexandria?
Oh, and Dwight, he’s already feeling the wrath of Negan, as a handful of Saviors storm his room and beat him hard. Shit.
pic-2Not that we didn’t see it coming. Dwight’s been put in the same room where he put Daryl, one where he’s been before himself. Negan isn’t happy about he and his Saviors looking from “tip to taint” and he’s definitely not happy about one of his wives – Sherry (Christine Evangelista) – having left not long after Daryl. Not happy at all. So now it’s a case of whether Dwight will go find Sherry. If he’ll try and repair the damage between him and his leader. Personally, I hope to see him change, after all the brutality on his part, as well as the brutality he’s seen from others; most specifically from Negan. It’d be one of the biggest redemption songs of the series. One thing we know for certain is, despite all that has happened Dwight does love Sherry, he never stopped.
Negan: “Who are you, Dwight?”
Dwight: “Im Negan
Rough and tumble Laura (Lindsley Register) shows Eugene around the compound. He’s still a bit sheepish, always will be. Soon, he’s brought to Negan. Sweet, sweet Eugene and his jar of pickles! He’s terrified. And who wouldn’t be, honestly? The I’M NEGAN chants. Lucille; know what she can do. Eugene hauls out his old story of being a doctor, et cetera, and for once it’s used well instead of deceiving people who actually wanted to help him. Thus begins survival mode in the hands of the Saviors, as he talks more confident by the minute; the name of this episode comes from his brief explanation. The slope gets even more slippery when Negan, as a token of appreciation, offers to send over a couple of his wives for dinner and conversation later. Sadly, this makes Eugene happier than it ought to, being in the hands of the man who killed his best friend Abraham.
Negan: “Look at you, Dr. Smarty Pants.”


Eugene has a nice night with the ladies, without temptations of the flesh. The women are great fun, too. Witty, smart. They want to know more about his supposed involvement with the Human Genome Project, and he obliges with a bit of tough nerdy talk. He shows off a bit whipping up a bit of helium, doing a neat science fair-like experiment for the wives. What we see further is his getting comfortable with living there. Each scene with him is like a figurative and literal slipping away from his place in Alexandria.
On the road, Dwight searches for Sherry. But what about when he does find her? What happens then? He goes to a house where there lies a picture of them on the floor. Memories everywhere amongst the empty cupboards. And an old note written by Sherry, one he compares to the note left for Daryl at the compound. In another room, a letter explaining what she did: “I let Daryl go because he reminded you of who you used to be, and I wanted to let you forget.” She also tells her husband that being dead would be better than being at that compound, under Negan’s thumb, hoping Dwight will someday get away from him and all the horror.
Back at the compound, Dwight lies saying he found his wife, killed her after she ran into a pack of zombies.
There are other things afoot. The women want help from Eugene, to help their friend Amber. She wants to end her life, the only mercy left. And tragically, it’s one of the best options in an awful world. She is going to die, one way or another. So Eugene agrees reluctantly to provide a relatively pain free suicide for the girl. Nice little montage of him doing his thing to “Everything Right is Wrong Again” by They Might Be Giants.


Punishment is being handed down at the altar of Negan. The man with the bat offers a show for Eugene. The doctor’s been framed by Dwight, to make him look in cahoots with Sherry for all the mess with Daryl. Nothing good for the doc is coming. Love how the scene is framed with Negan and the doctor in the background, just out of focus, as we’re focused on Dwight’s face, grimly bearing the fruits of his shitty machinations. Afterwards, the iron piping hot, Negan gets a false confession.
That ain’t good enough, though. Not for a demonstration with Dr. Eugene in their company. He decides on tossing the doc straight into the furnace for everyone to witness. Watching Dwight play the part of humble servant, good dog, is crushing. He may have not killed his wife. He still just let a man get burned to death.
Eugene figures out that the women want to kill Negan, the pills aren’t for Amber. They threaten telling the leader of his involvement if he doesn’t give over the pills. Except Eugene knows he has a place in the ranks, he isn’t replaceable; so far as Negan knows. One of the women tells Eugene he’s a coward. And he already knows that well enough.
He’s content to hang around, eat pickles. Before a knock comes at his door. It’s the bad man and Lucille. Popping by for a chat. He wants to know who Eugene is – before he gets it out of his mouth, the crying fool replies: “Im Negan.”
Next day he’s out surveying a bit of work with the caged zombies. Hypnotised by Negan. Is he playing the part, or is Eugene genuinely falling into life with Negan and the Saviors?


A solid episode I didn’t expect to love. Eugene’s not exactly a favourite of mine, though it’s changing now. This episode was an interesting look at his character, which in turn provided a couple unique perspectives into the Saviors’ compound, life under Lucille, so on. Can’t wait for “Say Yes” next.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez
Written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed

* For a review of the previous episode, “Swear” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Hearts Still Beating” – click here
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I’m worried about Michonne (Danai Gurira). She found all those mattresses the Saviors burned on them and now she just can’t bring herself to believe what Rick (Andrew Lincoln) does about the way forward. And now, she’s beginning to revert to a few of her old ways again.
And Rick, he’s with Aaron (Ross Marquand), wondering about Michonne.
At the same time a few greasers sit along the road, driving the truck Jesus (Tom Payne) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) are hiding inside. This is an interesting pair. Jesus is a young guy, though experienced, and a bad ass. I used to hate Carl and then he grew up, got a bit bad ass himself. They might be good together. Except Carl ditches him, very clever, and heads on by himself. This kid’s balls are too big for his own good.
When the Saviors roll into Negantown and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) comes out to inspect the latest haul, Carl opens fire with an assault rifle. “I only want Negan, he killed my friends; no one else needs to die.” The man himself is impressed: “You are adorable,” says Negan. He is a saucy, mouthy bastard. They disarm the boy, but then the leader welcomes him as a guest. As Daryl (Norman Reedus) watches nearby. Fuck, this is maybe one of the most intense openers of any episode, at least in a long while. Plus we see how big Negan’s home is, and it’s massive.
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Carl is brought inside to see what things are like on Negan’s side. The kid’s also schooled in how to be a bad ass by maybe the ultimate bad ass himself; like him or not. Everyone in there kneels before him. Gross. It’s like he gives a sermon. Or a speech in the way of a dictator.
Back in Alexandria, Rosita (Christian Serratos) doesn’t want to give things over to Negan and his Saviors. She doesn’t like Spencer (Austin Nichols) and his bullshit, either. So she and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) are going to head out. You know where: to find bullet making materials.
We see how Negan is trying to corrupt Carl. He wants to corrupt everyone he comes in contact with, and especially anybody he perceives as more helpless to his violence, such as women and children. He is really one disgusting man. He uses increments of violence to ensure further cooperation just by threat later, like reading straight out of portions of Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Did you notice Carl lean in quick while Negan turned for a second? Definitely said something. Either way, at this point I’m not willing to count out anything when it comes to Carl; whether it’s him getting killed tragically somehow, or doing something wild to get himself free.


We see more of Spencer literally hating Rick. He admits it to Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). He has a lot of strong feelings. And I can see Spencer going the way of his character in the comics. For those who read them, you know what I’m talking about. Gabriel, though – he has faith in Rick. The priest holds onto Rick’s leadership, while Spencer all but wishes for his death.
Gabriel: “What youre saying doesnt make you a sinner. But it does make you a tremendous shit. Just for now. It doesnt have to be terminal.”
Negan likes the cut of Carl’s jib. He likes that the kid is smart, a bit ruthless. He also wants to see the hole in the kid’s face where that eye used to sit. “Its like talkinto a birthday present,” he taunts. Then Carl shows him. He shames the boy, asking to touch it. Being an all around piece of shit until Carl weeps a little. And this actually provokes a response in the man. He apologises, forgetting he’s been talking to a kid. Wow. Afterwards the title of the episode comes when Negan asks for Carl to sing him a tune. In return for the men he mowed down. And the kid sings “You Are My Sunshine” for the evil nutcase, as he swings Lucille wildly in the background. “Lucille loves beinsung to.”
Oh, my. Now comes something awful. There’s an iron in the fire, and somebody’s due to get branded. Negan preaches another sermon about The Saviors, out there to supposedly save the world. Right on, dude. Someone in their crew has gone against the pack; more so against Negan. So he must be branded for his transgressions. Just like Dwight (Austin Amelio). God, that’s vicious. At least they have a doctor to tend to the burn.


Already with supplies, Rosita and Eugene get back to the bullet making factory. But he doesn’t feel good being there. The memories of Abraham lingering at that place, as well as the fact he isn’t sure about barrelling into Rosita’s half-cocked plan. However, she is damn convincing.
We see Dwight and his former wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista), they obviously still care for each other and are only apart because of Negan. The nasty leader is up trying to “break” Carl, as he does with Daryl. The kid, like Daryl, is strong. He doesn’t give the motherfucker an inch. How will Negan deal with him? Especially when Carl threatens to kill him. So instead of anything else, Negan opts to go for a ride out to take Carl home. He doesn’t notice Jesus on top of their vehicle, nor that Jesus disappears quickly. He does notice that Daryl is ready to kill him if Carl is hurt.
Underneath the door in his closet, tucked in the dark, Daryl gets a message: GO NOW. Is it from Sherry? I’d bet on it. She is a good woman, forced into unimaginable horror.
On a road lays a pile of walkers blocking access any further. This is a pile Michonne has made. She disarms a woman and orders: “Take me to Negan.” Man, everybody is just out for going after the guy alone. Instead of listening to Rick – even though he’s not perfect – they all want to go try taking Negan out by themselves.

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In Alexandria, Negan strolls through with Carl. He wants to wait for Rick to come home. He goes on to insult Olivia and her weight, then trying to have sex with her; she slaps his face, though. Good woman! Fuck that guy and his bullshit. Luckily he just decides to sit there and wait. And drink a bit of lemonade.
What follows is a hilariously soundtracked montage of Negan settling in around the house, playing darts, feeling the carpet between his toes. He discovers Judith in her crib, despite Carl trying to prevent it. Weird seeing such a horrific pig like Negan holding an innocent child.
While her dad Rick and uncle Aaron are out on their own. They come across a sign, stating a man lives past that sign and he’s ready to kill anybody getting too close. Is he dead? Or is he still somewhere out there lurking? Nearby on the lake is a boat, supplies likely still aboard.
When Spencer, Eugene, and Rosita return to Alexandria they find Negan already there obviously. He’s taken up in the neighbourhood. “Oh, I like it here,” he says with a menacing smile, still holding Carl’s little sister. Thinking about whether he’ll murder Carl and his father.

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Fuck, this was an intense episode in places. A couple slow parts, but I can see they’re setting a few things up. Lots to look forward to in “Hearts Still Beating” next.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Go Getters” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sing Me a Song” – click here
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On the beach two girls find Tara (Alanna Masterson) washed shore, still alive and not infected. One of the girls nearly kills her, but the older one decides they won’t kill her, not if she isn’t sick. They won’t tell their community about it, or at least the older of the two won’t. At least there are still some good people left in the new world. Sad to see the youngest are already becoming desensitised to living in the post-zombie apocalypse. Although, lucky for Tara one of them was willing to do the right.
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Some time before, Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Tara survive on their own. They’re losing hope about what’s next. No gas, barely any food. Heath laments what happened at the station, when they killed those Saviors. All over food and rations. Now with Hilltop and the deal with the Saviors things are supposed to be… tolerable. However, that isn’t enough for everybody. All Heath knows is that to be honest to themselves, they’ve got to admit who they are: killers beneath it all.
Tara’s personal saviour, Cyndie (Sydney Park), tries keeping her presence secret. She leaves a passed out Tara some water, a little food, along with a spear to defend herself. When the poor girl finally wakesup she doesn’t know whether Cyndie’s there to help. So she remains sceptical. Out into the woods Tara goes, following Cyndie back to her community. The place is full of people, and firepower. Suddenly everyone rushes at the sound of a whistle, or a horn, or something. Guns are handed out to everyone. The community’s on high alert. Then the bullets start flying, as Tara runs for her life. She gets the jump on one woman, but the young girl who wanted to kill her earlier stops Tara, gun pointed. Once more Cyndie stops it, although the rest of the community – all women notably – hold their weapons on Tara. “Look, Im cool,” she tells the group. She tries talking to them, even if the place looks on edge. Who knows what’ll happen next.
Back when Tara was with Heath, they come across a bridge, old cars, tents, tarps, you name it scattered everywhere. Lots of “blind spots,” as Heath points out. They go ahead, slow, steady. They find a load of sand dumped on the bridge, covering a ton of bullet casings. When they try sifting through, one wrong pull sends the sand down on top of them, and a load of walkers crawl out from underneath. In the crowd of zombies Heath leaves Tara to fend for herself; no, you fucking didn’t, Heath!!!!! Oh, man. That is raw.

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Tara’s now handcuffed to a radiator in the head honcho Natania’s little house. She learns more about the place. They have lots of security measures. Natania wants to know about Tara. She talks a big load of shit about working on a fishing boat before, she and a friend. Smart move, girl. But the community isn’t pleased with strangers wandering in. Regardless, Tara gets an invite to the dinner table for fish stew. Things go normally, and later Natania extends another invite: for Tara to stay with them. Somewhere she can “put down roots” and be a part of their community. We again find out more about the community, that they were in a fight with another group, which left them decimated, and without any of the men who were a part of the group prior. True survivors, hiding and fending for themselves, alive, healthy, together. They trust Tara because she’s had the opportunity to hurt them and chose not to do so. She then opens up to them about her own community in Alexandria, her girlfriend, their way of living. She tells them about killing the people at the station, hoping their groups can work together. “Sooner or later youre gonna need a friend.” Natania proposes sending a guide, to help Tara find Heath, then go to Alexandria and scope out their community for safety.
They head out through the woods. When a zombie needs killing Tara offers to get it done, taking her chance to run from her guides. She fights one of the women when they cross one another. She lands on the other side of a gun, again. The woman says that The Saviors can’t be stopped, there’s no point in going home. They are everywhere, they kill everything and everyone. They’re the ones that killed this community’s men; “every man, every boy over ten, they lined them up, shot them in the head.” Those women ran from Negan and The Saviors and they’re not willing to let Tara ruin any of that. Cyndie manages to help Tara get free, and follows her away. She pleads with Tara not to tell anyone where they are out in the woods, giving her rations for the trip home. On the bridge there are tons of walkers, though. Cyndie helps Tara to get around them, providing gunfire from a car nearby as Tara runs right through the crowd. She makes it to the other side of the zombie wall eventually.


Cut back to when Heath left her on the bridge. Or did he? Nope. He comes back with a gunshot, but Tara’s forced to jump off the bridge to save herself. Now there she stands at the bridge, not sure where Heath might’ve gone. For a second she thinks he’s there on the bridge; only a lady walker with similarly braided, tied up hair. Phew. A little farther off the bridge, Tara finds Heath’s glasses, a swipe card with PPP written on it, and tire tracks.

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Out in a field she heads forward, anywhere else. She happens upon a store and some houses, an overturned boat. She keeps moving on back towards home. At the walls of Alexandria, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) sees her coming, happy as can be. But she hasn’t been back in awhile. She doesn’t know about the latest deaths, Denise, all the horror. Rosita (Christian Serratos) asks her about where she was, what happened, and true to her word Tara says she saw nothing.


This was a slower episode, but a good one. I love Tara, and Heath. They got a bit of good screentime, which I hope continues. I’m also itching to get back to Rick and Negan, too.
Next up is “Sing Me a Song” and I’m willing to bet things are going to get nasty.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”
Directed by Darnell Martin
Written by Channing Powell

* For a review of the previous episode, “Service” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Swear” – click here
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After the events of the season opener, we’re back at Hilltop with Maggie (Lauren Cohan). She’s safe and sound, feeling better. At least physically. Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) helped her out with pregnancy troubles; she’s out of the woods, for now. The baby is fine, as well. A little Glenn or Glenda is still on the way down the road. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) is well, too. They both go to where their men are laid to rest. Sasha gives Maggie the watch Hershel gave to Glenn, still in his pocket the moment he died. “All Abraham had was a cigar,” she quips. Going forward, these two women will be even stronger than they were already. They’ll take this and make it into more strength. You just wait.
Jesus (Tom Payne) is on the side of Maggie and Sasha, but Gregory (Xander Berkeley) isn’t keen on having the soon-to-be mother around any longer. He feels they’ve put themselves out enough on their behalf. I don’t like this dude’s attitude. Although he was promised to have the Saviors taken care of, and that didn’t happen. He’s concerned with “plausible deniability” and wanting to not get his head cracked open by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). For his part, Jesus does his best to stand up to the Hilltop leader. Not that it does much to sway the guy.
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Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are headed out from Alexandria, leaving a pissed off Carl (Chandler Riggs) and a reluctant Michonne (Danai Gurira) behind. Nothing is good in their world, still with a Negan boot against their windpipe permanently. One nice thing is that Michonne and Rick feel back on the same page again. She refuses to let up with him, unlike when he had Lori around only to bitch at him, to tell him what he’s doing wrong. Now, Michonne does her best to both encourage Rick, as well as let him know when he’s out of line. Even if she doesn’t, she always makes sure there’s a Plan B. As for Carl, he’s always concerned, about everything. That shit happens when you lose your mother, lose your eye. He sees Enid (Katelyn Nacon) sneaking over the walls to go to Hilltop, to make sure Maggie’s okay. And Carl says he doesn’t want to save her anymore, like a cocky little prick. Up at Hilltop, Jesus tries to reassure Sasha things will be fine. But he isn’t the take charge-type, he isn’t a leader admittedly. She does her best to help him realise he might have to “do more” in order to make Hilltop what he wants it to become.
Later in the night, music starts playing from a car. The Hilltop gates are open and fires are lit nearby. Sasha and Maggie try to figure out what the hell is going on. Walkers invade the premises by the dozens. When Sasha heads into the streets, so do Jesus and others. It’s take charge time. The car with the music is locked tight, caged in. And what does cowardly Gregory do? He cowers inside while the others work hard. Then Maggie shows off, driving a bit of farm equipment through Hilltop to crush a bunch of zombies, as well as that damn car. Good show, Mags!


Carl catches up with Enid on the road, running down walkers in his own car. They then walk on the road together. He tells her about needing to watch what Negan did to their friends, to remember. For the day when they need to kill the bastard. Enid likewise worries for Maggie, not wanting anything bad to have happened to her. They share a kiss together afterwards. Once she realises Carl is trying to hunt Negan and his people. She tries to stop him, but you know him. Hard-headed just like dad.
Simultaneously, Gregory is bitching about Maggie, not wanting her around, as Jesus fights for her. I mean, she helped them fight off an attack the night before. And he’s quite ungrateful. The Saviors have shown up, that makes it all worse. Simon (Steven Ogg) is there to have a little chat about going forward, recent developments and all. He brings the message that people at Hilltop ought not forget how bad things are out there in the world, outside the walls. He’s impressed the walkers were all cleared up by the Hilltop citizens. But worries Gregory’s people are getting “soft.” One thing is painfully evident, that Gregory is Negan’s full-time bitch, on his knees serving the master.
When the meeting’s over, he takes Simon to where Maggie and Sasha were hiding. But not for them: for Scotch. This will make a nice gift for Negan, though Simon takes the credit. Plus, they’ll take half of the supplies on-hand at Hilltop. On top of that he makes Gregory kneel for him. Like a bitch, as I said. Seeing the whole thing makes Jesus sick to death looking at their supposed leader. Gregory actually tried giving up the women, though Jesus did the right thing and hid them elsewhere. He’s taking charge a little more, or at least he’ll be making sure the leader makes less decisions without the whole community.

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Maggie finds Enid outside in Hilltop, near the graves. They head inside after and eat, chatting about old times, laughing a little. Sasha soon joins in and they’re like a family again. In a sweet gesture, Maggie gives Enid the watch Glenn was given by her father. However, she also says they don’t need any items to remember the dead by; they have each other, they have the memories in their minds, never to be forgotten.
And their time will come. They’ll have revenge, in some shape or form, some way. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Someday, though. Amazing enough, Jesus sneaks on the Saviors truck as they go, meeting Carl stowed away out back.

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Very slow episode, yet there was a lot going on all the same. We’re getting a shape and sense of the whole world going on in the zombie apocalypse, instead of the finite plots and stories of Rick and his crew. Lots of things happening as they mingle together.
Next episode is “Swear” and I feel like Season 7 is gaining steam with every episode, setting up good things for the latter half.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a review of the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Well” – click here
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Our episode’s title comes from Dr. Jenner at the CDC, way back when Rick said he was thankful for all the man had done for them. To which the doc replied: “The day will come when you wont be.”
Today is that day.
We start on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his face spattered with blood. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts him. But Rick replies: “Im gonna kill you.” The nastiness of Negan’s demeanour is so perfectly awful. He digs into Rick, already having taken his victim from the group. He takes the hatchet Rick arrived with and brings Rick into the RV with him nearby. Behind them, a pile of blood and gore.
Who was killed?
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Inside the RV, Rick cowers like we’ve never seen him do before. Hiding in the shadows. And Negan tries to clue him into the new rule of things. He challenges Rick to take the axe and do him in. But you know it ain’t going down like that. He knocks Rick to the ground, dominating him. Proving a point. “Think about what happened, and think about what can still happen,” Negan all but cackles in the driver’s seat, taking Rick for a ride somewhere.
Then we flash throuh Rick’s mind, as he sees memories of everyone in their group. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Enid (Kately Nacon), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus) , Michonne (Danai Gurira) – while Negan throws his axe from the RV into a foggy road of walkers, beckoning Rick to go get it. Our trusty leader, the onetime Sheriff Grimes, manages to get on top of the RV, hatchet and all. Although as he stares into the distance either way you can see the hope starting to fade. For the first real time, he’s a broken man. “I bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together,” Negan pokes at him more from inside.


Now we’re back to the eenie meanie miney moe. Negan goes around the line. We watch Rick’s eyes. We see the terror in the eyes of every single person. The taunting of Negan and his bat land on: Abraham. He savagely beats the brains out of Abraham’s head, smashing him over and over. Everyone watches in sickly disgust, as nothing is left of the skull and brains. Nothing. “Look at my dirty girl,” Negan calls to them horrifically. He even taunts Rosita (Christian Serratos) with the bloody end of Lucille. Then Daryl breaks loose, punching Negan.
Will he get the bat, too? No. Even Dwight (Austin Ameli) rushes in to try putting an arrow in Daryl’s skull. Negan won’t allow that. Not right yet: “Thats not how it works.” No, no, no. Another victim for Lucille comes next.
Glenn’s head is smashed in. The front caves. So suddenly. Everybody is brutalised by the sight of Glenn, his eye popping out, trying to speak to Maggie in his last moments. Negan goes on whacking away until there’s only blood and hair left on the end of Lucille. The group is left devastated.
Rick lies on top of the RV, remembering what’s happened. All to well. This is the worst and most wounded we’ve ever seen him.

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In a crazy moment, Rick jumps from the RV, using the hanged man from the bridge as a grip. With zombies clawing at him, walkers of all kinds trying to rip him apart, Negan pops them all off and saves him. He urges Rick: “Think about what can still happen.” And Rick does. He sees the rest of his group smashed by Lucille, one by one.
Back in the RV, hatched in hand, Rick makes it to Negan. A real sick game, all around. The man with the bat continues his cerebral assault, in such a villainous, nonchalant way that it’s sickening how good Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the role. When they get back to the group, Negan has Rick kneeling in the middle of his remaining friends. The Saviors put guns to the back of their heads and the wretched Lucille-holding monster calls Carl (Chandler Riggs) to the centre. He wraps a belt around the boy’s arm, puts him to the ground next to dad. Negan proceeds to mark off a spot on Carl’s arm with a marker.
Rick has to cut an arm off his son. With his hatchet. Or else everyone dies.
So, what does Sheriff Grimes do? It’s all a psyche out. Rick has been broken, in front of everyone – The Saviors, his own people, his son. He’s torn every bit of Rick apart, his soul, his manhood, his power. What a vicious cycle. Because you know it’s a cycle. Broken as he is, Rick will be coming back. He will not let this rest, not forever. For now, sure. But not forever.
Things have changed. Whatever you had going for you, that is over now,” says Negan to the crowd. He takes Daryl in the back of their van. Property of Negan. They’ve got a week to start getting supplies together for him. A new day. A new deal. Minus two strong people from their crew. People they’ll never get back, ever again. Literally left in Negan’s dust, the rest of the survivors struggle to figure out how to move on from there.

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Maggie’s the first to get up. She wants to keep fighting, even if Rick is beaten to a pulp emotionally. He also understands how bad things are right now, she isn’t acting or thinking rationally. But sadly, Rick has also lost control. He has no more power. And Maggie, she’s in a depression spiral, unable to accept that they’ve just got to go back home, pick up the pieces. Now, they take their dead friends with them and do what they can for them.
In a vision, we see all the group, happy, healthy, a baby on Glenn’s lap. As if there weren’t enough tears shed. Negan’s voice rings in the ears of Rick as they load up the RV to leave. He thought they’d all be sitting around, as in the vision, that dreamy world. These days that vision is a far cry, and Rick is realising it. Around him he’s also watching the walkers die off. Everything is dying. Everyone and everything dies.
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What a savage episode. Completely numbing. I expected Glenn’s death, but didn’t anticipate such a wildly effective execution. Love how the power dynamics are shifting. No longer is Rick the big, tough guy he was once. Although he’ll get back there it’s going to take a major event, or series of them.
Looking forward to the next episode “The Well” and what it’ll bring!

Satanic Templar Zombies in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD

Tombs of the Blind Dead. 1972. Directed by Amando de Ossorio. Screenplay by Ossorio & additional dialogue from Jesús Navarro Carrión.
Starring Lone Fleming, César Burner, María Elena Arpón, José Thelman, Rufino Inglés, Verónica Llimerá, Simón Arriaga & Francisco Sanz.
Interfilme/Plata Films S.A.
Originally Rated X in the UK/PG in the US/16+ in Canada. 91 minutes.
Horror

★★★1/2
posterI love any kind of undead horror, whether it’s specifically Romero-style zombies, or even if it’s something different – like Amando de Ossorio’s Tombs of the Blind Dead. This would be the first of four films about his living dead Templar Knights, followed by Return of the Evil Dead a year later in 1973, The Ghost Galleon the next year in 1974, and a final 1975 instalment titled Night of the Sea Gulls.
This is a movie I love dearly, as far as living dead movies go. Now, that being said, if you’re the type of person who worries about very tiny details in a flick about former Templars who became Satan worshippers, only to be hung, have birds peck their eyes, and then RISE FROM THE GRAVE ONCE MORE!
With its share of flaws, Tombs of the Blind Dead is a fun, spooky, and memorable addition to the world of cinematic horror. Often times it gets lost amongst the rest of the good stuff being churned out – in every genre – during the ’70s. This not only has an interesting premise, the screenplay is surprisingly tight, as we build awhile before getting to the outright terror of those horrific Templars.
pic1The cinematography is noticeable right away. So many great shots, but mainly it’s the breathtaking landscapes which grab you. This goes well with the slow build of the plot. After about 25 minutes, the graves start to crack, the ground splits, and the rise of the Templars finally commences! Part of its goodness is a satisfactory anticipatory wait that doesn’t bore you for over 20 minutes starting out.
Once we get to the Knights themselves, it’s on. They’re fucking excellent. Their accompanying ritual-like chants in the score add a thrilling, scary presence to their arrival, the sound of their horses hooves like ghostly rhythm. Ossorio did something innovative with the concept of the living dead, after George A. Romero breathed life into the popular creatures of modern horror. Rather than regular zombies, he uses the Knights Templar to craft a unique mythology and it feels genuinely horrific, in all the right ways. Not just that, the film has impeccable scenery to boot. The locations make the atmosphere, particularly the Spanish locale used for the ruins of the Templars. Many locations across Spain and Portugal provided Ossorio the appropriate physical aesthetic to go with his visuals, making his film both naturally gorgeous, as well as ominous.
pic3Soon as the dead woman reanimates, biting into a fleshy neck, the nastiness begins. Only briefly, without lingering. However, it’s a creepy and effective sequence with lots of build, which is the name of Ossorio’s game. The best part is when we get a flashback to the Templars (in the original Spanish version this comes later in the film; in the English one it’s the initial scene). There’s a dose of horrific, visceral practical effects work, we witness the Templars hack away at a splayed out woman on a woman contraption before biting and sucking her bloody wounds. Some dastardly Satanic rite of sorts.
Using the Templar Knights as undead creatures, gnawing, feeding off victims is disturbing. Adds an atypical flair to the regular zombie-eating-people scenes. Moreover, I feel like this movie might’ve inspired John Carpenter in the design he used for his own zombie-style spirits, the scorned lepers of Antonio Bay. These Templar zombies are truly unsettling. Like ancient books that fall apart after lying about in centuries, tucked away somewhere, they are crumbling, almost ashy and burned. Great costumes and makeup combined. Just seeing them atop their horses, galloping around in formation, the Knights are a sight to behold. Awesome and different look as opposed to so many other zombie pictures over the years. No wonder Ossorio wanted to return to them over and over for another three films.
Most of all I love the end (SPOILER ALERT) because there’s a full circle return. There’s this opening that might confuse people in the original Spanish version, where a woman screams and we’re sort of left hanging as to what’s actually happening. By the finale, the living dead Templars have made it away from the ruins, closer to the cities. They get to a train where blood is shed, more people available for them to feast on. The woman, again, shrieks and watches while the Knights descend on her, ready to feed some more. One of my favourite endings in any zombie flick, to be honest.
pic2There are absolutely missteps and mistakes along the way. But Ossorio’s Tombs of the Blind Dead is an awesome little relic of the early ’70s in horror. All the great locations in Spain and Portugal make for a wicked backdrop. This Templar tale uses the story of the Knights in a fascinating way that draws you in, especially considering half the undead movies out there have a plot so thin you could floss your teeth.
I’d probably even put this movie in a Gothic category, as well as the zombie sub-genre. Either way it’s horror. You get a dose of the bloodthirstiness, some ghostly essence. And oh yes, a little splash of blood now and then. Surprisingly this isn’t as gory as you might expect, which funny enough is a nice change for a zombie movie.
You can do much worse if looking for an undead bit of horror. Much, much worse. This is fun and freaky. Get a copy for Halloween. Scare up an enjoyable night watching these Templars crawl from the grave. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 15: “North”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 15: “North”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Dave Erickson

* For a review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “Wrath” – click here
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The finale is upon us! Who will survive, and WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM?
After the head crushing finish of the penultimate finisher, “North” starts out on Travis (Cliff Curtis) having unleashed fury on the two young men who put Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) down after being injured in their car wreck. In the process, he hurt Oscar (Andres Londono) real bad. This isn’t going to sit well with anyone in the hotel. Elena (Karen Bethzabe) has him taken away, locked up somewhere. Everything is getting pretty rough at this point. Madison (Kim Dickens) tries her best to keep a cool head, at the request of Strand (Colman Domingo). She then takes Alicia’s (Alycia Debnam-Carey) knife to go put walkers Brandon and Derek out of their misery. Feels like Madison is starting to rage in her own way, too. Ain’t just Travis anymore. Strand, he looks worried.
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At the colonia, Luciana (Danay Garcia) patches up Alejandro (Paul Calderon), whose bite is fierce. He’s getting sick, and fast. She wants to try making him look “presentable,” but he sees the end coming now. It doesn’t look pretty. She stays with him to help, although Luciana’s not impressed. “This is ending,” Alejandro says. But she thinks there’s still a future there for the rest of them.
Strand wants Madison to calm down. Technically, Travis has gone against the rules they’ve set out. “Weve lost our place,” Alicia says about their situation in the hotel. Going against them, Strand believes Travis can’t stay there. And Alicia wants to leave, take him, set out on their own once more. She’s sick of losing people and wants to not become hardened people, willing to give up the lives of others for a safe space to lay their head. At this point, Strand is set apart from them. Not sure if they’ll come back together, or if Strand will stay at the hotel for good. The agreement is to let Travis out of his lockup until dawn when the group heads for the hills.
Nick’s packed and ready to leave the colonia, with or without Luciana. She stubbornly won’t go anywhere. Marcos (Alejandro Edda) is coming, at some point or another. “Do what you do, Nickrun,” Luciana taunts.
With Oscar unconscious things are awful for the people at the hotel. Alicia tries to help. Nobody really wants it, though. They’ve got their hands full trying to do homemade surgery on Oscar.

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In front of everybody, Alejandro limps sickly to his people and confronts them with the truth about Marcos. He does his best to inspire them. Simultaneously, Nick heads for the wall of zombies. He smears himself well with blood, then ventures into the vast unknown past their wall. While Alejandro spins a fairy tale of bullshit to the colonia, Nick spies a helicopter touching down in the distance.
Oscar’s surgery goes on as Madison and Travis spend their last night in the hotel upstairs. “Whoever you think I am, whatever part of me you think is the same, its not,” Travis tells her. She agrees those two guys deserved to die after what happened, after all that happened with them on the road. Madison believes herself worse than him. They’ve bonded closely over this brutality, and that’s how it goes in the new world post-zombie apocalypse. A beautiful little moment between these two; and boy, did they need it! Downstairs, Oscar lies dead on the table. So now, will there be war? Oh, it seems that way. The men go for Travis in the middle of the night. Andrés (Raul Casso) puts a gun to Travis for killing his brother. When Alicia stabs him, all bets are off. Strand winds up getting his hands on the gun flicking across the floor, and states the obvious: “We need to get out now.” If only for the fact Strand won’t leave with them. No, please! I love Strand, I hate to see the group separate. He’s awesome and I don’t want him to die. So as long as he sticks around on the show, that’s fine. Just don’t kill him AMC, you bastards.
The road ahead for Madison, Alicia, and Travis doesn’t look great. But better than getting torn apart by everyone back at the hotel.

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Alejandro gets a surprise visit from Nick. He’s come back after seeing the helicopter, finding Alejandro incredibly sick. They have a frank chat about dying. About whether to leave. Nick believes actually caring about the people in the colonia would mean doing the right thing; getting them out. To be a good man, Alejandro must “let them go.” That helicopter, it landed across the border in a camp. Nick sees hope out there.
In the big supermarket, now empty, Alicia, Madison, and Travis search for information about the colonia. They also see hope – that maybe they can find Nick again. Well, they stumble across that death room where Marco had a bunch of dead bodies. Not a nice place. Although they may be able to figure out how to get to colonia if there’s anything left on the corpses. And there just may be some clues.
In the daytime, Marco and his crew roll out to the colonia. There, they first come across the wall of undead. Heading into the bus they find it’s “too easy.” After they’re all the way inside Marco discovers a veritable ghost town. Nobody visible, anywhere. Not from far away, anyways. Alejandro’s still lurking, looking to die a “beautiful death” as Nick predicted. He’s well enough to get to the bus, put it in drive, and let the walkers crawl on in. Colonia no longer secure.
Along a city road Nick and Luciana lead the good colonia citizens elsewhere, out towards the border in a bid to maybe find that camp, maybe a helicopter. Anything’s better than being slaughtered by drug dealers.


On their own way, Madison and Travis head into the colonia. Fuck, shit, FUCK! Always one step behind Nick. Outside, Alicia waits by herself, but then decides to go in towards the bus. The tension is killing me. Of course the inner sanctum is covered in walkers, dropped guns. Even Marco is a zombie. Every last person is dead. Alicia finds Alejandro at the bus and makes him comfortable. He tells them about Nick and the plan to head towards the border. At least they know which direction he’s going. Someday they may cross paths again.
The border is littered with cars, a scattered zombie here or there. Nick and Luciana take the group through the gates. He looks out towards the horizon spotting a helicopter through binoculars, a refugee camp not too far off. Then from nowhere a man with a gun. Luciana takes a bullet. Reynaldo, as well. Armed militia-style men take the group over. Nick and Luciana are cornered.
With Madison, Alicia, and Travis seeing Alejandro out of life once and for all, Nick is beaten down by the armed men. Nobody’s future is certain, as we always know a little too well. How will the next season begin? Where will they all be?
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A tragic and exciting end to this season. I dig it! Very ominous. Lots could happen.
Let’s await Season 3 with a new season of The Walking Dead in a few weeks.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Date of Death” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “North” – click here
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Here we are at the penultimate episode of Season 2! Can’t believe it’s here so quick, honestly.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own still, only the truck she’s driving breaks down on the road. As she takes care of it a couple walkers sneak up on her. She manages to get out of a jam, but now she finds herself on foot, walking down across a long wall in the middle of the desert. Is she headed back into the U.S. or what is the plan? I only hope she doesn’t get eaten alive.
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Nick (Frank Dillane) and Luciana (Danay Garcia) lay in bed together, having gotten closer with each episode as of late. Except he and his buddy Reynaldo (Cuauhtli Jiménez) are sneaking around under the nose of Alejandro (Paul Calderon) trying to make sure things go smoothly for the colonia.
At the hotel, Madison (Kim Dickens) watches over her newly returned husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) sleeping. They’re not doing well since his fateful last moments with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) before he callously left his father behind. “Hes safer with people who understand him,” Madison tries to explain. Not going to fly right now. It’s hard, no matter how shitty of a person they are, to let go of someone you love, especially a child.
At the overtaken supermarket, Nick and Reynaldo head in with the oxy. Not only that, they want to see Marco (Alejandro Edda). They offer him oxy, every week, for a promise to be left alone to their own devices. Turns out Marco doesn’t need them any longer, and that spells trouble for their little colonia. ‘Cause this Marco, he’s fucking ruthless.
Serving up a bit of breakfast, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to bond a bit with Travis. She feels as if she pushed his son away because of his behaviour. Rightfully so, which he readily admits, too. “Hes sick,” Travis tells her. He knows, it’s just a damn hard thing to accept as a father. He further apologises not for protecting her when Chris went haywire on them.
Worse than anything is the fact Brandon (Kelly Blatz) and Derek (Kenny Wormald) have wound up in the hotel. And when Madison asks about how they got there, they make it sound like their friend driving, who we assume is Chris, didn’t make it. Shit. That’s going to devastate Travis if and when he finds out. Madison goes to tell Strand (Colman Domingo) about what she’s discovered. He thinks they’ve got to try and keep it from Travis, at least until they can figure out what to do from here. He worries that if Travis finds out Chris is gone for good, it may do terrible and irreparable harm. “Hes already broken, thatll kill him,” confirms Madison.

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Back at the colonia, Nick lets Luciana know about their new predicament, advising they tell Alejandro. The head honcho isn’t pleased; not about the whole thing, nor about Nick going out on his own. There’s a bit of zombie trouble first, though. A walker stumbles in, about to bite Nick, and Alejandro takes a CHOMP right in his forearm. Nick tumbles over a railing with the living corpse, and this puts it right in the hospital bed of unsuspecting patient – whose nose gets bits off – then a nurse gets her fingers eaten. All before Nick puts an end to the zombie by pushing his fingers into its eyeballs until POP! What a god damn mess, every bit. Tragic, yet an awesome scene of chaos.
Along the border fence, Ofelia finds a hole cut, and starts in through the desert on the other side. At the same time in the colonia, those bitten – excluding Alejandro – head through the bus, into the wall of undead. Now Nick is worried that soon the “shooting starts” and he knows “faith is not gonna protect us.” He wants Luciana to go, although she isn’t as willing. Until Alejandro reveals to her he isn’t immune, that he was bitten by an addict, then the story went wild. She won’t leave with Nick, no matter the lie.
The hotel turns into chaos, as well. Refugees there in the parking garage aren’t happy that Brandon and Derek are being treated first. Little do they know this is a ploy for Madison to get them out of there without Travis knowing. Only he sees this from upstairs, spying the men who were with Chris. He manages to get down there before they’re tossed out.
Out of nowhere Ofelia gets bullets fired near her feet. She takes off to find what little cover she can. A man (Dayton Callie) with a rifle stalks her down, removing her knife: “Welcome to America.”

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Travis has Brandon and Derek taken back inside. He wants to know about Chris. Things get very, very tense. They tell him how it all went on the road. When Chris volunteered to drive, he dozed off and flipped their truck. Instant death through the windshield. Or is it really how things went down? Travis starts noticing their stories don’t add up. Little slips of the tongue. So he locks everyone outside, then starts in on beating the two young men. He kicks the living shit out of them before Brandon confesses: “We killed him.” His injuries were too bad and they decided to put him down. No surprise there. And that’s all Travis needed to hear. He cranks Brandon’s arm back out of its socket. Derek tries to fight him off, but Travis lets the beast out and demolishes what’s left of them both. Even stomps Brandon’s head in leaving him dead like Chris was on the road. Savage.

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What a whopper of a penultimate episode. Can’t wait for “North” up next.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo
Written by Carla Ching

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Date of Death” – click here
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In the villa, a family of three – mother, father, daughter – looks to be escaping. They quietly make their way through, past the empty streets and sleeping people, to try getting through the wall of zombies. Papa cuts open a walker and they all paint themselves, trying to make it through the wall like that. This opening sequence is chilling. An aerial shot craning upwards, wide on the ground, shows us how many of the zombies stumble around in the fenced off area. The family, luckily, gets out alive.
Then out of nowhere comes a vehicle. Some men confront the father. Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda) pulls his gun on them, eventually forcing them into the vehicle, too. And off they go.
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Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own. She’s doing fine. Killing zombies, taking care of business. A lot easier just to watch one person’s back. But then again, there’s nobody to watch yours except you. That isn’t always easy. For now, Ofelia finds herself near the ocean on the beach in a little house. She remembers life, before the fall and the zombie apocalypse. Her fiancee, their plans. All that’s long gone, painful memories at this point.
Back at the hotel everybody does their part to get things going. They’re locking the gates, making sure the electrical systems and generators are running to the best of their abilities. A garden’s being planted. Madison (Kim Dickens), Strand (Colman Domingo), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), they’re actually enjoying themselves for the first time in so long. Although Alicia worries for her brother, Nick (Frank Dillane). Speaking of Nick, he’s spent the night with Luciana (Danay Garcia). They’ve found about the family taking off in the night; the father was the one who helped get water for the villa. So Nick and Luciana have to take charge.
Tragedy strikes when the mother of the bride stabs Strand for having dispatched her daughter. Some of the hotel survivors try helping Victor, as do Madison and Alicia. One of the survivors studied in med school. He works to keep Strand alive.
When Alejandro (Paul Calderon) discovers the family missing from their villa, he isn’t happy. Mostly he feels slighted, so it seems. There’s something more here. Something boiling. I feel like Alejandro is wearing a mask, or at the very least hiding something.
Problem at the hotel is Ilene (Brenda Strong), the grieving bride’s mother. Madison lays down the law: “If anyone raises a hand to another, theyre out. Any of us; gone. Thats how it has to be. Thats the only way this works.” And such is the grounds for a new, primitive society in the hotel.
Nick is starting to wonder about Alejandro, who, for his part, doesn’t exactly appear calm and collected like he did once. He and Luciana want to head out to take care of their business. Except now Alejandro says nobody leaves their villa, for as long as he says. Hmm. That’s definitely sketchy.

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Elena (Karen Bethzabe) and Madison are on the road to seek out medication and supplies to help Strand. They bond a bit, as Elena tells her own personal story, more than we’ve heard yet. And just so happens it involves drug addiction, or someone of hers addicted to them. Something Madison knows too well. Her own son was lost in the drugs. At the same time, he’s lost in Mexico. Stuck in Alejandro’s little “colonia” (a creepy word if you think of this) – the villa he’s ruling over.
But the villa and the hotel are connected. Madison and Elena head to that big supermarket the gang controls, that’s where they go for the medical supplies necessary to treat Strand. Will this soon bring Nick and his mother together? Alejandro’s kept Nick from going anywhere today, so the reunion will have to wait. While Madison and Elena do their shopping, Marco is upstairs questioning the escapee father about the colonia from which he ran in the night. When Madison gets wind, via Elena, that an American came with Luciana about the drugs, things get tense. She flips, wanting to find her boy. Before Elena has to get them out fast.
Well, Nick is worrying more by the minute. Alejandro is gone paranoid, to the extreme. Acting like he’s been burdened with everything. He requires faith. “So you want me to just follow you blindly?” Nick finally outright inquires. However, it’s only more control Alejandro wants. That’s how it seems to me. Either way Nick doesn’t want to be under anybody’s thumb. He’s worried most about people going without water, and that Alejandro keeps pressing people not to leave, under any circumstances. You know the former junkie won’t have that. His philanthropist side has emerged larger with every episode he’s in. Simultaneously, he softens the hardened exterior of Luciana slowly.

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Everything’s slipping. On the rooftops, Nick spies Marco and his henchmen with binoculars: looks like they’ve found Alejandro’s colonia. Uh oh.
Back to Ofelia – she flashes to memories of her mother Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), talking about men and how you find the right one, et cetera. All those things she’d be thinking on the edge of a marriage. Her mother also talks about the violence of where they lived, and that leaving their original home wasn’t a struggle; they had to leave. They did not want to “live in fear” everyday. Griselda says she’d do anything on Earth for her family: “That is love.” On her own in the zombie apocalypse, heading back towards the USA, Ofelia understands her parents more than ever.
At the hotel, everybody’s going a little crazy. Elena isn’t pleased with the way Madison is acting after possibly hearing of Nick. She turns on the hotel lights, she’s made everything difficult with Marco and their crew. Madison is letting her head get clouded and Alicia doesn’t see things the way her mother does; not about the new world, not about Nick and what he did or where he’s been. Lot of tension between these two.
Although, out in the darkness Travis (Cliff Curtis) can see the hotel lights. When they shut off, he walks in their direction; alone. His son is nowhere to be seen.
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This was a stellar episode! Loved the twisting  bits wondering if Madison will finally find Nick, the intrigue about Alejandro and his paranoia. And now Travis is on his way back to his wife, hopefully having either put his son down or left him with those crazy dudes.
Next episode is titled “Date of Death” and I have a feeling we may see a cast member depart. Will it be Strand? I hope not. Someone else, please. I dig Victor. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Kate Erickson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
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Victor (Colman Domingo) and Madison (Kim Dickens) are trapped in the hotel bar. Surrounded by a wall of walkers. They do their best to start taking out zombies, one by one, when Madison can hear Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) calling out from somewhere. Bad ass mom starts taking charge, as she and Victor cover themselves in dead blood to mask their scent. Slowly, they push through the throngs of living dead to get out of the bar. The pair climb up to a balcony, at least away from the walkers a moment. Certain areas of the building are just – pardon the pun – dead quiet. Not a soul around. Strand believes maybe, if it came down to it, Alicia would leave: “To survive.” And for a second Madison almost believes that.
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They keep hydrated, stay vigilant, as outside the zombies ramble around. From a way off they hear living people banging on a door. It’s Alicia and Elena. Reunited again. Strand’s not exactly happy to see strangers, though.
Back in the protected Mexican villa, Nick (Frank Dillane) is adjusting to some kind of new life. He’s trying to make up for his recent mess, offering his services to Alejandro (Paul Calderon). He wants to use his junkie experience to make things right. Out comes that old side of Nick he left behind him. Alejandro watches on as Nick shows off a little drug magic to “2020” by Suuns. Nice, fun little sequence to add in amongst the horror of it all.
Madison doesn’t want to leave Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) behind, not without knowing for sure where she’s gone. Strand and Alicia don’t think it’s worth it, as Ofelia didn’t think they’d make it anyways. She probably left on her own. At the same time, Elena lets the group know about some supplies still kicking around the hotel. Victor and Madison go to try talking with a man named Oscar (Andres Londono), although that’s not exactly easy at first. After dropping their weapons, Madison takes charge: “Im tired of runnin‘, Victor.”
She tries to convince Oscar and his people they need each other. First, they need to clear out all the zombies. Only they don’t want Elena to stay because of what she did. Kinda understandable. But then again, I might’ve locked people inside that room too if I were here. You can’t be sure. Barbaric? Sort of. Smart? You betcha. Either way, Oscar’s willing to give up some keys for the hotel. That’s a start. As for Strand, he isn’t convinced with Madison believing they can make a home out of the hotel.
The story of Alejandro’s bite comes out, as he was “beaten by the living” he was simultaneously “bitten by the dead.” Luciana (Danay Garcia) brought him away from it all, to their villa. And death never came for him somehow. All because Alejandro tried saving a poor junkie that was mistaken for a walker. Ah, emotional intrigue between these two. I like their chemistry as characters together. A new relationship and connection for this season to feed off.
Then words comes to the villa: they’ve found Pablo dead, Luciana’s brother.

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At the hotel, Alicia, Strand, everybody pitches in to clear the hallways and rooms. Madison leads everybody in doing what needs to get done. Alicia says it’ll “take weeks” for them to get everything cleared, every floor, each building. Mother and daughter get a bit of time together, Madison apologises for her perceived failures as a mom. I really enjoy Fear the Walking Dead because of the amount of smart, tough female characters so far. These two, of course, being some of the best.
Nick now has his own trailer in the villa, a place of his own. Semblance of a normal life. He doesn’t necessarily want it. Alejandro insists. First thing Nick does? Touch the ceiling. Not because he’s too tall. Because it’s a room, four walls. For the first time in a long time.
The hotel clearing takes on new form, as Alicia’s come up with a plan to use the high riptides in order to get rid of some walkers. Alicia and Hector start luring them outside. Inside, Strand and Elena open up doors, Madison gets zombies piling through the halls. They draw hordes of the undead out the doors and onto the pier. Madison is the one to take the long walk alone, locked on the pier with the zombies, pushing further and further. The others plan to get her on a small boat at the end. Madison jumps off and the zombies, like lemmings, go toppling after her into the water. Luckily, Hector and Alicia are there to scoop her up.
Later, everybody celebrates with a nice dinner together, candle light, wine. Strand goes off and winds up talking with the former groom, the one who lost his bride. “I wont let you touch her,” he tells Victor. She’s not lost, but she certainly isn’t herself anymore. Eventually you just have to let go. That goes for Victor, as well.
Oh, and the bride’s name was Jessica – hence the Pablo (Luciana’s brother) and Jessica of the episode’s title.

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Again, I enjoyed this episode. A few inconsistencies, though nothing major for me. People complain about the cell phone? There’s no guarantee that was Alicia’s cell. She could have easily found it in the hotel, so chill, nitpickers.
Most of all I enjoyed Madison and Alicia this week. They are a great mother-daughter combo: smart, fierce, determined, flawed. Awesome stuff. Excited for “Pillar of Salt” because I can’t wait to see a few of these threads develop further, and maybe we’ll see more of Chris and Travis, too. They’re at a crossroads, which I’m dying to see resolve, or explode.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”
Directed by Michael McDonough
Written by Lauren Signorino

* For a review of the previous episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
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This episode starts with a wedding reception. Might look familiar, as it’s likely the one that happened right before the zombie apocalypse broke out. Everyone is happy, having a good time. Or at least most people are, anyway. Such is life. The world went on turning while the infection came on strong. And some guests start to get wary of sticking around too long, no matter if it’s a wedding. When the bride’s father collapses mid dance with his daughter, the phone lines go dead, nothing’s looking too good for any of the guests. Dear ole dad comes back to life from the dead, and then one of the women from the hotel locks everybody inside the reception hall to let things take effect. Nasty, creepy opener.
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We’re finally back with Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie). They’re not exactly bonding, as you can tell Travis has trouble relating to his boy. Nevertheless, he lets Chris head off on his own to check out a nearby building. Voices and walkers send him into survival mode. Several men inside are shocked to see Chris, who takes off with his father quickly, not waiting to find out what the men were up to, or what they were like. With a new-to-them car they’ve stolen, Travis takes his son “away,” he says, wherever they can manage. He lets Chris take the wheel to learn to drive.  They have a normal moment for once.
After their car runs out of gas, Travis and Chris start a fire, camping along the highway. They start to figure out what’s next. At least Travis tries to make it seem positive. “It might not be perfect, but itll be ours,” he tells his son. “And then what?” Chris replies hopelessly. Soon, a truck comes by; the men who Chris ran into earlier. They don’t seem dangerous, although they do feel sketchy. For the time being they all relax.
Back with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in the hotel, she watches zombies stumble through the hall. Waiting for her time, counting how many of them there are nearby. When she feels ready Alicia walks out into the dark hallway, undead lurking not far. Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is nowhere to be found. So Alicia goes it alone, down an elevator shaft. Narrowly missing being eaten. The hotel employee from the wedding helps her up, then questions Alicia frantically: “Where is he?”
Where is who?

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Chris and Travis get to chatting with the trio. Lots of tragic stuff, as they recount to the men about how California’s basically been decimated. They roast Spam over the fire, talk about killing the “wasted” – what their group calls the zombies. But Travis doesn’t like having his boy around people like them, eager to trade tales about murder and mayhem in this new world. More and more, the father-son duo bump horns.
The hotel employee, Elena, let zombies into the halls. To contain the problem, so she says. She’s searching for a man named Hector. Only Alicia wants to get to her mother, Madison (Kim Dickens), who’s trapped with Strand (Colman Domingo) in the bar. Trouble is this woman seems pretty dead set on keeping Alicia right where she is, and until Hector comes back she isn’t totally thrilled about going anywhere else.
Father and son can’t get on the same page. Travis wants to keep his son non-violent, he doesn’t want him swept away in the carnage of their new existence. “I want to take care of you,” he tells Chris. But the kid doesn’t care. He wants to be with who he sees as strong people. However, Travis finds them too dangerous. And they are, you can just tell.
Alicia and Elena take their chances together. They lure walkers into a room then trap them inside. What I dig in this episode is how Alicia is becoming a big time bad ass. She’s stabbing walkers, dangling from hotel room balconies, she’s just owning it. This is how things are now, and she doesn’t hesitate anymore. Well, Elena and Alicia get downstairs, first to the reception hall. Elena’s no slouch, either. She “contained” that problem and she will continue to contain them all until she’s dead or there are no more problems left to worry about (like that’ll ever happen). “Ive seen worseWeve done worse,” Alicia assures her.

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Meanwhile, Travis is still highly unsure about being with these new men they’ve met. Chris is right at home laughing and talking with them. His father’s uneasy. “The end times made us gods,” one of them says to Travis. They’re somehow pleased with the evening effect of the apocalypse. Seriously? Fucking idiots. Coming across a farm, Travis suggests they stay there, but Chris thinks they need to be with a group.
Things at the hotel get tense. Other survivors have a hold on Hector and they want Elena out, along with Alicia if she’s on her side. But the sly women make their way out of the situation, down into the bowels of the hotel. There, they find Strand and Madison hiding behind a locked door; reunited and it feels so good!
At the same time, Travis realises someone owns that farm and he’s still around. He has a shotgun, too. Now the men they’ve met want to take the farm. Travis can’t let that slide, even if his son isn’t too bothered. And then Chris shoots the guy, killing him. He and his father have officially been separated, this act made sure of that. There’s no telling what happens next for them.

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What a great episode. I often say that, but this one really put the screws to us, emotionally and viscerally. A couple nice zombie kills, plus lots of intrigue. The drama between Travis and Chris is what interested me most, and of course the unstoppable Alicia.
Next episode is “Pablo & Jessica” and I can only imagine what we’ll have in store for us.

THE CRAZIES is A Creepy, Satisfying Remake

The Crazies. 2010. Directed by Breck Eisner. Screenplay by Scott Kosar & Ray Wright; based on the 1973 film of the same name by George A. Romero.
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby, Preston Bailey, John Aylward, Joe Reegan, Glenn Morshower, Larry Cedar, Gregory Sporleder, Mike Hickman, Lisa K. Wyatt, Justin Welborn, Chet Grissom, & Tahmus Rounds. Overture Films/Participant Media/Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ.
Rated 18A. 101 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★
PosterPeople talk a good game about horror remakes being no good. Some also seem intent on believing there are no actually scary horror movies anymore. Both of which is nonsense. Now, not all remakes are good; a nice chunk of them are actually, in my mind, a load of garbage. For every 5 bad ones, though, we do get a good one. I won’t go into a list of the ones I feel are actually good (a couple are even – dare I say – great).
What I will do is tell you about why The Crazies is one of the remakes I’ve enjoyed most. A version of 1973’s The Crazies from living legend George A. Romero, an awesome little movie in its own right, this Timothy Olyphant-star vehicle is worth more than being tossed off as just another movie remade by the Hollywood machine. Admittedly, I’m not really a fan of Breck Eisner’s work. Not even what he did on Fear Itself; although, to be fair, that series only had a couple episodes that were actually decent. But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He turns this into a nail-biting, tense, 101-minute ride that never ceases to feel eerie and exciting all at once. Of course, having a charming, charismatic male lead such as Olyphant and an equally strong leading female in Radha Mitchell helps immensely. Doesn’t hurt to have a good supporting role played by the likes of Joe Anderson, either.
The horror is all there, the suspense and tension, coupled with a smart adapted screenplay from Romero’s original and the solid acting. If you say you’re not scared, that’s fine. I don’t wet myself when I’m scared or creeped out by a film. However, a good horror lingers with me. Certain scenes stick in my mind and crawl out at times, maybe late at night while I try to fall asleep or during the day when I’m lost in a thought. The Crazies has a lot of those moments. It’s got a heavy dose of terror and some fun horror to boot, for those of us who enjoy the macabre to the fullest.
Pic1 There are plenty of scenes worth mentioning in regards to the ones I still remember vividly. Hell, when they sit out in that boat early on above the sunken plane, it’s damn unsettling. Then the shot moves out, further and further, until we see it on that satellite view. Not only is that little part of the scene sort of creepy, it’s then we start to understand the gravity of the situation about to come. Barely a minute later, Sheriff Dutten (Olyphant) utters the line: “Were in trouble.” An almost surreal moment follows this, as Dutten heads out in the street and sees an older woman, dressed like a little girl, riding on her bicycle through the empty road (trivia: the woman is Lynn Lowry, from the original Romero flick). This is the first deeply chilling shot. By the minute, we understand the town of Ogden Marsh is in more trouble than even Dutten knows.
What separates the infected citizens of Ogden Marsh from Romero’s zombies, or any other incarnations of the undead since, is how they are still capable of using their brain. To a certain extent, anyway. They’re able to use weapons, to attack with more than just they teeth and hands. This makes them more formidable opponents one on one than any zombie we’ve seen, from Romero or otherwise. These infected aren’t faster than normal, they’re simply devoid of any human emotion and eager to kill. Almost scarier than the fast moving infected from Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake.
Pic3 The autopsy tool, the small saw, that Dutten faces down a little before the half hour mark of the movie is an ingenious horror scene, one of its best. We’ve seen plenty different moments such as this one throughout the history of the genre. Something about this scene, the coroner being infected and the frantic scramble of the Sheriff to get away from the saw sprinting across the floor at him, is just spot on. Add to that most men will probably find their butthole puckering while Dutten watches the saw get closer to his genitals with each second. This is only the beginning; a proper way to get the horror adrenaline flowing, which kicks off all the action.
Worth mentioning – when Judy (Mitchell) finds herself strapped to a gurney, left behind by the military, that entire scene is downright frightening. Honestly scary. First, you have the one person laughing and laughing in the dark. Terrible eeriness right away. Secondly there’s the infected man who shows up afterwards dragging a pitchfork the entire time, looking for people to kill. Worse still is how he takes his time, going from one bed to the next and stabbing people in the guts with the big, sharp tool. By the time he gets near Judy, it is unbearable. A well written, edited, and directed sequence all around.
Pic2 Olyphant and Mitchell are perfect for the roles of David and Judy Dutten, the town Sheriff and doctor. They’re the everyperson-types, people you can actually envision living in a small place like Ogden Marsh, where everyone knows one another and everything about them and they all see each other at the local ball games. Mitchell makes us feel for her character, both a loving mother and loving doctor to the various residents of their town. Once we discover she’s pregnant it only makes us empathise more, as the fear of what’s going on gets greater imagining what might affect her unborn child in the process. Alongside her is the sturdy, classic leading man in Olyphant. Whether Seth Bullock, Raylan Givens, or any other character, he always projects an undeniable confidence. Even in Sheriff Dutten’s weakest moments he’s a beacon of solidarity for the others to rally around. But again, you believe him as the Sheriff, just as Mitchell comes across so much like what you’d expect from a doctor in a rural area. They’re a good team and help sell the main plot, as David and Judy try fleeing the horror that’s come down on Ogden Marsh.
Pic4 I’ve got to give this a 4-star review. There are genuine moments of horror mixed with that human drama which makes stories like this work. It’s never perfect, some bits could’ve been tightened to make the pacing better. Those are nitpicks. In the end, The Crazies effectively creeps me out. Not once do you find any true respite from the madness. And even in the scenes where we think the fleeing group are about to catch a break, in true survival horror fashion they only wind up in the midst of more savagery. Any movie that can keep me grounded with the characters while the horrific imagery and exciting pace doesn’t let up is worth a great grade. You won’t be disappointed in this remake. I do enjoy Romero’s original film. I feel like this improved on it in the right ways without changing too much or getting too far from the original point.
What is the point, you ask? That terrifying events can tear a small town of close knit people into shreds within a short amount of time. That nobody’s safe when the government makes a mistake they need to keep buried. That there are worse fates than dying.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”
Directed by Deborah Chow
Written by Alan Page

* For a review of the previous episode, “Grotesque” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
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After checking in with Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) last episode back from the break – where is his mother Madison (Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? What about the others?
Well, Nick’s enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in the Mexican commune where he’s found shelter. Although not everybody there’s having a great time. There are still those who are ill, those injured, and so on. For the most part it’s a paradise compared to where he’s been since the zombie apocalypse began.
Except for when it isn’t. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Mexicans are no different than the rest of us. Let’s just say the first 5 minutes opening this episode are intense. Looks like south of the border human sacrifice has come back.
This is my favourite Fear the Walking Dead opener yet, out of both seasons. Chilling to the bone. I love it.
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We catch up with Madison and Co. She and her daughter ride in the back of a truck, scoping out the horizon with Strand (Colman Domingo) and Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). The mother is the only one dead set on continuing to search for her son. She knows he’s a survivor. And indeed he is, help or no help. He’s doing her proud, though. Helping out in the village where he’s been taken in, not sitting by idly while others work. A good man.
When Strand and their small group go back to the coast his boat is gone. The military’s taken it. Totally different situation for them at this point. “Its me and you now, whether you like it or not,” Alicia tells her mother when Madison worries Nick won’t find them without the boat. They do the smart thing now and leave a message in the sand, just in case.
Then they head off to scope out a hotel by the beach. Shelter is a must. After watching the place awhile they head on inside. Not expecting to find anything other than a roof over their heads. In the building there is a barricade against the door; a last stand was taken, no doubt.
Will they find humans? Walkers? Both? Strand, with his big ole balls, starts ringing a service bell. Not a sound, other than the ringing. Safe for now.
In the village, Luciana (Danay Garcia) does a lot of the boss work. She keeps an eye on Nick, enlisting him for a bit of help. She knows what he’s capable of after seeing him on the road, caked in blood, walking amongst the dead. I wonder what she has in store for him. Out in the sacrifice pit she starts killing zombies, laying out rules: “You stay absolutely quiet.” They cover themselves in blood then get going.
Strand and the crew find a wedding inside, left with the cake barely cut into. They share a bit of personal information, as Ofelia talks about a near marriage. “The pastitll make you sick,” Strand tells her deciding the chat is over. Smart move.

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When Nick asks about the morning ritual, Luciana talks about faith. There’s lots of superstition in the way she, as well as many of the Mexicans, understand the apocalypse. She and many of the others, such as the doctor Alejandro (Paul Calderon), believe that once everything passes, the world is washed clean. Yeah, okay. I wouldn’t hold my breath. After some time they come across a gang; guys you do not want to fuck with, whatsoever. The man running it all? Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda). Seems that Luciana has a deal going with the gang, a trade-type setup. They’ve got a supermarket full of everything, stocked on the shelves, and Luciana wheels herself a cart to get supplies.
At the hotel, Madison and the others start searching. She wants to keep things careful, although Alicia and Ofelia are off to starting searching on their own. Strand and Madison do a bit of hanging at the bar. “You need a drink, I need a drink,” he quips. They pour themselves some martinis, take a load off for a few minutes. Upstairs, Alicia and Ofelia look through the corridors, checking to see if there’s anything of use to them. Not all the rooms are clear, as the sound of zombies is evident behind several doors. They do find empty ones; relatively. One of the creepiest walkers yet is in a bathroom, though he poses no threat. However, he does start a conversation between Alicia and Ofelia, about the tiresome nature of surviving amongst a new and awful world.
When Nick leaves the supermarket, he’s caught taking an authorised treat in his pocket. They want to cut off his hand. But the tricky ex-junkie makes a deal, saying they won’t bring any more drugs. And that’s no good for Marco, whose family would be directly affected. A close call, nearly getting Nick’s throat cut. What a deal maker. He gets his tasty treat, too. Luciana isn’t too happy he did that because now the gang is following them, hoping to figure out where their little commune is located.

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The drinking makes Strand get closer to Madison. She tells him about what happened to her husband; impaired driving I assume, Madison doesn’t say it in so many words. She told the kids he fell asleep at the wheel. “To false hope,” she and Strand toast while she drinks and tosses glasses at the wall. Smart move. More so when Strand bangs on the piano a bit. They make lots of noise and nearby there are zombies, dying to get close to some human meat.
Alicia gets out of the shower and sees walkers taking swan dives off the balconies. They hit the ground, then get up walking again. Shit. All the noise downstairs has been drawing walkers through the halls, down from stories up. Real smooth move. Sort of ironic, after Madison was talking about trying to protect her kids.
Remember that treat Nick stole? It wasn’t even for him. It was for the little girl whose father got eaten alive in the opener. Wow. A good man becomes more good by the minute. This puts Nick in a room with Alejandro. They chat, Alejandro talks about their current situation. He doesn’t want to offer comfort. Only faith. Strange that he can’t see that it’s all the same thing. He believes that the dead will leave. Nick catches a glimpse of the man’s shoulder: a big bite once taken out of it is now a healed wound. Very, very intriguing. He’s like a sort of Jesus figure amongst the zombie apocalypse. The one who has risen after the dreaded, infecting bite: “This world is for usthe children of the resurrection,” he preaches to his masses. Nick is falling into the faith head first. Not good.

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At the same time, Victor and Madison are starting to discover their walker problem at the hotel. Time to check out? Definitely time to start moving, as the zombies are encroaching on the bar. Nice time to be hammered. They are boxed in crazily. How will they manage to get out of this one?
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A solid episode to add to this back half of Season 2. I’m hoping that next episode we see more of the crew and find unity once more. Also, I worry for Nick. He is becoming sucked into a dangerous place, I think.
Next episode is titled “Do Not Disturb” and it’ll be good, I can feel it.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Shiva” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
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They’re baaaaa-aaack!
Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) wakes amongst dead, fly-ridden bodies. A woman and her boy are there, but you know Nick – he’s doing his own thing, all the way. So much so he’s off on a dangerous path, away from his family, his few friends remaining. By far, he’s always been my favourite character, ever since that great opening to Season 1. What I’m hoping is that we get to spend a nice while with Nick, past this season. But especially right now. I want to get more into his character.
Having him on his own is perfect for that. Even if there’s nothing except death and madness lying ahead of him on the path he’s chosen. At least he figured out how to exist surrounded by walkers without them eating him alive. That’s one thing he’s got going for himself.
This opening sequence sees Nick headed towards Tijuana, all the while “How Low” by José Gabriel González plays and the softness of the music makes me wonder: how low are we about to get, or how low can this world plagued by zombies go in its descent?
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Nick flashes back to a time with Gloria (Lexi Johnson). He’s in rehab trying to get clean. “Exploring his thoughts and feelings” and trying to get his head wrapped around how he’ll deal with his family once he gets out. He talks about his father, the lack of not being shown “how to be a man in the world” that’s so obviously lacking in his tutelage of Nick as a son. The deep pain inside him is starting to come out, so this is exactly what I was hoping for coming in.
In Mexico, Nick is still figuring out how to be a man. Only the world has changed, drastically. In this new world he doesn’t need a father figure, nor could he hope to find one. Because this world is dead, full of blood and guts and killing and worse. Nobody’s experienced it before, nobody knows how to do anything in this world. So to ‘be a man’ he needs no one other than himself. He can make his way, discovering what it is to be a man now on his own.
During the night a woman creeps up on Nick as he sleeps. She whacks him with a bat, speaking Spanish. She runs him off without his supplies; great. A headache AND no stuff anymore. Doesn’t phase him. He goes on down the road, off on his journey. Zombies and abandoned cars litter the landscape, the open plains and roadways of the Mexican hills. From one direction comes a jeep with a few armed men inside. Looks like Nick’s wandered into gangland territory. These guys are n’t the simple Mexicans out in the country, these look like militia-types packing serious weaponry. They also take enjoyment out of finishing off an old man in his car. Nothing bodes well for Nick once the men give chase, starting to fire round after round at him. Luckily he’s able to outrun them. But finds himself out in the middle of nowhere.
Smart thinking Nick tries to get some water out of a cactus. Not so smart when he eats a bit of it then pukes. At least he’s trying. This leads him to drink some of his own piss, Bear Grylls style. Surprisingly, it isn’t as a bad as the cactus. Good on you, Nick. You’re a survivor. I guess being a junkie doesn’t exactly leave you with no skills at all. Regardless he’s got a long trek ahead of him, wherever he’s headed. In the night, he flashes back once more to being with Gloria. They receive visits from their parents respectively in rehab. Madison (Kim Dickens) comes alone, without her husband. He died in a head-on collision. A bit of devastating news, even worse to be in rehab and hear it.
Nick winds up getting attacked while daydreaming in Mexico. A couple dogs nearly do him in. Just what you need: a bit of rabies! Well, he gets up on a car and escapes the animals. Right before a horde of the undead come shambling down nearby. They’re distracted long enough to eat the pair of dogs, and then they turn their attention to Nick.
When he thinks he’s finished, Nick almost silently prays to be saved. And he is delivered. Gunshots and vehicle horns sound in the distance. This gives Nick time to rip a belt off a zombie to tighten on his wound, as well as have a bit of lunch himself on one of the torn up dogs. He really has been watching Bear, hasn’t he?

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The one thing nobody can fight or trick is blood loss. Nick starts going a little wobbly after awhile. He sees a zombie that looks strikingly like Gloria – a vision only – he hears her voice, other voices, all surrounding him with the zombies. Dude is fucked up. He lurches along with the walkers, as they get closer to Tijuana.
Those armed men return and open fire on the zombies. One by one, they’re mowed down. Nick stands his ground while walkers are blown away next to him. But those men aren’t quick enough. The zombies close in and take two of them out, eating them alive. Nick walks past as the men are devoured. Down the road people watch the walkers, they see Nick collapse. A woman named Luciana doesn’t want to help him, although the men she’s with do.
Laying in the road, bleeding, Nick flashes back again.
He and Gloria lay together. They’re in the old church where the series first began in Season 1’s initial episode. Remember? They prepare to shoot up, both eager to get their fix. I’m excited to see more on this end. Are we going to see some dark secret lurking in Nick’s past?
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Without any help Nick makes it through the night lying in the road. Rain wakes him up, washing him (relatively) clean. He staggers further into town. Tough bastard, you’ve got to give it to him. In a store, he seeks out a bit of medicine to help with his nasty leg. Not sure if the junkie needs any medicine in the zombie apocalypse, post-fall, beat up leg or no. He eventually comes across Luciana and the men. He explains about the dogs, gets himself a drink of water. They take him to a legitimate doctor in their camp. He gets to work on Nick. They chat some.
And while Nick wants to be on his own, out with the “monsters” and such, the doctor shows him their settlement. It’s big, filled with kids and adults and all sorts of places within a walled compound. He sees a community.
So the world, it goes on. There are people trying to build it back up. There is hope.

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A nice episode to start up this second half of Season 2. I love Nick’s character. Now we can look forward to the rest of the gang this following episode I’m sure, to propel us forward into more wild situations, more journeys and self discoveries and death and zombies.
“Los Muertos” is next.

Cell is an Okay Zombie Flick but King Can Do Better

Cell. 2016. Directed by Tod Williams. Screenplay by Adam Alleca & Stephen King, based on King’s novel of the same name.
Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Stacey Keach, Joshua Mikel, Alex ter Avest, Griffin Freeman, E. Roger Mitchell, & Wilbur Fitzgerald. The Genre Co./Benaroya Pictures/Cargo Entertainment.
Rated R. 98 minutes.
Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller

★★★
POSTER Cell is one of the few Stephen King novels I’ve not yet read at this stage. He’s one of my favourite writers, as well as a huge influence on me as an author myself. His influence is large and encompasses generations of weird kids who read his work growing up, whose touch made us more confident in mining the darker regions of our minds. Not only does he inspire readers, writers, he further has left a mark on horror directors, many of whom cut their teeth in the genre first by reading his books. Regardless of who you are or what you do, King is able to get to you. My mother was an avid reader. Then she passed his books on down to me, as they always interested me on the shelf and she’d say “Not until you’re a little older” and so eventually I read them all, devouring each page until there was nothing left. Now, 31 at the time of this writing, my bookshelves at the home which I share with my girlfriend are filled with a small library of solely Stephen King books. His writing is almost like a family tradition between myself and my mother. His work transcends genre, which is funny because those only familiar with a few of his stories always peg him as a horror writer, or that guy who writers creepy stories, and other descriptions. But he is capable of crossing genres and while captivating you with scary moments King always has something bigger happening underneath.
With the film adaptation of Cell, King had a hand in the screenplay alongside screenwriter Adam Alleca (wrote the remake of The Last House on the Left). Some King films suffer because his writing isn’t always easy to adapt for the screen, so I’m inclined to give the movies he’s more involved with a better shot. A Good Marriage was, to me, enjoyable even if it wasn’t great. Because the writing was good, even if the casting wasn’t spot on. Here, I can’t judge versus the book. I can only come to this adaptation with fresh eyes. Although it can’t be too bad to take another ride into creepy King territory with the likes of John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, right? Add in Isabelle Fuhrman, who was amazing in Orphan, and that’s a solid three leads to keep things grounded.
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One of the more initially unsettling moments is just after the half hour mark. A bunch of the infected people scream in unison, their mouths open, and it’s super eerie to watch and hear at the same time. Quite Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a nice homage without being a rip-off. A trippy, brief scene that only gets creepier right afterwards. The imagery shows us the horde of people together in a scary huddle, then the shot goes up, fading into the cell tower, and then we cut to a beautiful waterfall. There’s an excellently juxtaposed feeling of nature v. man-made structures, further in that we’ve perverted nature and now this return to a primitive state has thrust people back into a more basic, more savage world. Subtly, the camera work takes us through that amidst the small trio’s efforts to understand the situation around them. Not long after is the terrifying scene where Charles Ardai (Stacey Keach) introduces the stadium full of infected, laying in piles, all lulled by the cellphones. Almost a parallel to those hordes of people out on the sidewalks, walking with their heads down and face, eyes, everything stuck on a screen. That’s the wholly intriguing aspect to this King story, in either form. It takes on our nearly disease-like addiction to technology in an appropriate way. Sure, this takes the form of what we’ve seen many times before, another zombie flick, another form of the same story, the same types of characters. A certain amount of that still applies. Something I dig is that these characters are a little atypical, in that they’ve come together more randomly than other movies – another one I like in that regard is the Dawn of the Dead remake. So you’ve got less of that stale family first ethic, instead focused on just a bunch of people, all with their own fears, emotions, thoughts, plans, hopes, et cetera.
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Another scene that got to me was the nightmare Clay Riddell (Cusack) had – the imagery all around was scary as hell. Loved it. Not only that it leads into them all having a collective dream about the same character, one that Clay drew in his comics previously. But simply that brief scene where Clay finds the red hoodie man getting a blowjob in a decrepit bathroom, the tear in the man’s cheek, the blood, his odd demeanour, everything adds up to be totally unnerving.
I do think Alleca and King wrote a decent screenplay. There’s nothing wrong with what they’ve done. However, disappointingly enough I feel like neither Cusack nor Jackson does anything worthwhile with the characters. You can’t say there’s nothing interesting about the characters themselves. First you’ve got Clay, he’s a guy who draws comics, he has a tough family life with a son he loves, and all kinds of personal stuff. Problem being maybe we’ve seen this character type too many times from Cusack, and no longer is there anything to mine from that starved patch of ground. Secondly, Tom McCourt (Jackson) is a Vietnam veteran, he’s a tough son of a bitch. And maybe again, we’ve seen this style of character from Jackson so often that seeing him in a zombie-type story to boot only makes it more cliché. However, that’s meant to be the power of an actor, if they can make you believe them and their portrayal, over and over. Though I do love both Cusack and Jackson in their own rights, having performed a ton of great characters between them, they don’t give us what we need here.
That task is left to Isabelle Fuhrman. Her portrayal of Alice Maxwell is really good. She doesn’t always get the right amount of time to do her thing, but when she does it’s solid work. If only her character were given more then it’s possible that could have made the movie better than it comes off. She’s a talented actor who I hope will get some bigger, better roles. Here, she’s able to root us emotionally before destroying us after the arc of her character breaks your heart.
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Ultimately, I’ll say Cell is about a 3-star zombie flick. There are a couple elements that make it less typical, mainly in its approach to the entire infection sub-genre of horror. Stephen King and Adam Alleca adapt King’s novel into a decently creepy piece of work. Plenty of flaws to boot and there are definitely lacklustre performances out of Cusack and Jackson. At the same time, I found myself creeped out at times. More would be better, but the terror King’s story is able to bring out makes this better than most low budget zombie movies floating around out there. In addition to the writing, there’s great atmosphere; some nice cinematography, as well as a score that’ll keep you on edge while it swells and falls and sucks you in.
Some scenes will stick out, from the one in the bar to a short time later when Clay unmasks an infected man he – for a moment – believes to be his son. There’s enough to enjoy and to make this worth watching. Plus, I really enjoyed the ending. Not near one of my favourite King stories adapted to film, though. Perhaps I’ll enjoy the novel more once I get around to giving it a read because the premise alone is horrifying. The execution of the film is what leaves much to be desired.

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by David Wiener

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Grotesque” – click here
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The mid-season finale is here! What will happen? Who will survive, AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM?
We open on a flashback from the life of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades). In the jungle, a boy comes across bodies strewn through a dirty pool of water. This is Daniel as a little boy. Someone tells him to take a gun.
Then he wakes, he and his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) get out of bed quickly at the sound of a gunshot. She’s not well, though. Not well at all.
And then Daniel wakes from a dream within a dream. Outside there’s commotion. We’re back over with Strand (Colman Domingo) after he’s put Thomas out of his misery. Then in a fit, Celia Flores (Marlene Forte) rages at him. As well as at Madison (Kim Dickens) a bit. Everyone is slightly in shock. Nick (Frank Dillane) offers his condolences, but ultimately Ofelia doesn’t want to hear much.
At the same time, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to tell Travis (Cliff Curtis) about what Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) did. Though the loving father, a bit dumb because of it, refuses to listen. So many things happening. Even worse, Celia has kicked everybody out. Every last one of them. Now, the search for a new place to settle begins.
Travis goes after his son, who leads him on a bit of chase out away from the house. An ominous opener.


Out and about Travis picks himself up a knife from a corpse. In the distance, his son watches and maneuvers around. Back at the house, Madison tries to get her kids in gear so that they’re not totally unprepared when the time comes to start leaving.
Travis comes across a man in his house. At first they’re at odds, but things smooth out. With his foot in bad shape Travis rests a moment. It’s nasty, too. Definitely needs to get patched up.
Most impressively, Nick brings back the zombified Luis. This buys them brownie points with Celia. He understands them, in some way. Or at least he’s able to empathize. And perhaps that’s a unique quality in any world, our real world, let alone the zombie fucking apocalypse. Celia doesn’t want the others around, though allows Nick to stay. He isn’t going to stick around without his family. She eventually agrees. Aside from Victor; he must go.
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Celia: “This is not the apocalypse. This is our beginning, Nicholas. The end of death itself. Life eternal.”


While Strand goes on with burying Thomas, Daniel advises not to, as the ground itself is infected. Everything there is infected, Celia, her walkers. Very seriously, Daniel says not to put him in the ground on that property. Paranoid? Who knows any more.
Madison notices Nick is different lately, especially since getting out of Los Angeles. He seems to have a fascination with the zombies. He relates Celia’s hope to be back with Luis to his own mother’s desire to have him back, when he was using. Although his view of walking amongst the dead is a bit naive, a bit too confident (scaring me at the mid-season mark), there’s part of him I understand, as a former addict and alcoholic. Part of his rebirth has now become inexplicably tied to this walking out into the undead hordes.
Daniel and Ofelia end up at odds with the guards at the house. He pulls a knife and things get serious. Simultaneously, Strand is told he can’t stay, though it doesn’t bother him much. And as Madison gets a bit emotional about it, he reassures their supposed friendship, or whatever it’s been, was only means to an end.
Travis finds there’s somebody in the man’s place where he rests: Chris is hiding in a room, with a gun, and a little kid. Whoa. This young man is losing his god damn mind.
At the house, Celia says some words while Strand buries Thomas in the ground. Then she tells him to get out. However, he wants to bury Tom fully, throwing on the dirt and all. Ofelia worries for her father. They’ve got Daniel stashed away somewhere. Turns out they’re apparently worried about his recent behaviour.
Back to Chris – he thinks Madison and Alycia believe him to be a “monster” even though his dad disagrees. The son runs off before his father runs him down. Chris even tries to stab his dad. “Look at me,” Chris pleads with Travis: “Im no good.”
Then there’s Daniel. He finds himself tied up, being monologued to death by Celia. The poor guy is a haunted man. All those years ago he was clearly forced to do awful things, as a boy. Now, as a man, those memories plague him. Eternally. But even in the face of Celia and her brand of madness, Daniel holds strong. He is one of the toughest bastards out there. He sees a woman afterwards: his wife. He really is starting to lose it.


When Nick, soaked in blood, finds Travis, the father and son are not going back. He says Chris needs him, and can’t be with the others. Not now. Seriously? C’mon, Travis.
Youre makina mistake,” Madison says right after the last scene. Perfect moment. Though she says it to Celia, talking about Strand, it works perfect because that’s exactly what her husband is doing, as well. As far as Celia goes, she runs a tight ship. Won’t seem to budge much. Madison pleads to understand how Celia sees the undead.
Meanwhile, Daniel falls apart. The vision of his wife, the one speaking to him earlier as Celia spoke. He sees her, flashing back to his past as a boy; the bodies, the water, all that horror. He was forced to kill his “first victim” that day: “No, my love. The first victim was you,” replies his dead wife.
Then once Celia shows Madison where the walkers are kept, as the former talks about what a mother wouldn’t do for her children, you can almost see it coming. It’s just as intense, either way. She closes the gate behind her, leaving Celia inside with the zombies. Awaiting death.
WOW! MADISON! YES! Fuck that Celia. They’re taking the place for themselves. Or is that wishful thinking?


Daniel goes full bad ass and gets himself out of the chair to which he was tied. His wife’s still talking to him. But still, he’s… okay, for the time being. Also, Strand is being escorted out. “Dont worry about me, Ill hail a cab,” Victor quips, as the gate closes him out and Alicia waves from the distance.
Resident bad ass Daniel heads in to where the undead are kept. He pools a load of gasoline around their cage. In between the zombies, he sees real people. Maybe some victims, people he knew. Then his wife is there, too. He lights the match and lets the place go up. He stands in the middle of it all. Is Daniel going to die in there? Well the whole place starts to go up. The work Madison did is worth nothing now. Everything is on fire. Daniel is no more, obviously. Kills me. Nick and Travis are nowhere to be found, though we know the former was planning on staying away with Chris.


When Nick arrives, he isn’t happy. About Travis not coming back, about their group being destructive. He turns around then walks back into the zombie masses. Strand piles the rest into his vehicle before taking off. They leave Nick in the distance, the smoke, by himself. The group is all split up.
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Great mid-season finale. I’m not going to be surprised if Daniel decided to bolt last minute and somehow made it out, there’s no definitive answer on him. Although, it’d be emotional if he were gone. Maybe Ofelia’s character, through tragedy, could grow more. Regardless, a lot of fun. Can’t wait for the show to return later in the year. Stay with me, fellow fans!

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus
Directed by Kate Dennis
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Captive” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Shiva” – click here
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We begin this episode in a Mexican church, as the priest speaks of the world’s troubles not as from God, because he wouldn’t do such a thing. Then out from the church everybody goes, grabbing weapons. Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) shows up to warn the priest not to go ahead with what they’ve got planned. But everyone starts bleeding from the eyes, collapsing, and Tom is left in the midst of it. Incredibly creepy opener to this week’s episode.
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Back out on the boat, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is defending his decision to shoot Reed. Turns out Madison (Kim Dickens) is worried about Travis’ (Cliff Curtis) son. Inside, Luis (Arturo del Puerto), Strand (Colman Domingo) and Madison spot some incoming trouble, people in a smaller boat. They’re interested in the nice boat. Luckily, Daniel (Rubén Blades) listens in to the Spanish conversation, sussing out what’s going on. And things start to take a turn for the worse.
Gun shots. Footsteps running everywhere. All of a sudden the boat starts up, Strand is all right. Daniel heads out to start taking care of the soon to be zombified corpses. Poor Luis hasn’t fared too well either, taking a shot in the gunfight and ready to die. He doesn’t want to get it in the head. Preferring to walk the land as the undead.
But soon the survivors arrive on shore. They head into the village nearby where things are… rough. Piles of bodies everywhere. Some impressively nasty practical makeup effects work. The whole place is an outright massacre, which of course sets Victor off worried for Tom. A large group of walkers turns up around the corner, even some of the choir boys from the church earlier, and the zombie action is pumping! Everybody takes their turn swinging. But the swings in turn take their toll: Nick (Frank Dillane) is forced to kill a little girl in her pink dress with the bow in her hair.
However, even worse is Daniel’s experience. He first kills the zombie priest, then a little boy comes at him. He grabs him by the throat, immediately flashing back to a devastating time, some time long ago; the first visual glimpse of Daniel’s past we’ve seen, of what he’s only so far alluded to in brief chats about having seen awful military situations before. Can’t wait for more of this to come out. Wow. More than that, Chris almost lets a zombie eat Madison before Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) intervenes. Yikes! That’s some stepmother-stepson shit that’s dangerous.


Finally, a little hope. They reach the gated path to a load of fields approaching that palace where we saw Thomas and Strand back before the fall of humanity. For the moment, everything is safe. Well slightly, anyway. Everyone has to give up their weapons, but that’s a small price to pay. “Theres no need for them here,” says one of the staff. Daniel is a little reluctant, though relinquishes his weapons after all.
Tragedy isn’t too far. Strand finds Tom in his chair, staring out the window. A deep bite in his arm. Obviously a devastating blow for Victor. This is way too sad, knowing that it was essentially Tom driving him to get there, to survive and to carry on. Their story was so interesting and unexpected, too bad Tom is on the way out.
All the others are doing their thing to relax a little while they can. Alicia isn’t happy with Chris. He is going off the rails. Basically, he threatens her: “I dont wanna hurt anyone.” This is one creepy turn of events now. I’m really worried, and interested, where this is headed. Nick is in the kitchen with Luis’ mother Celia (Marlene Forte), eating before supper and also confessing to being “sick of it“, the murder they’re all forced to commit in the post-apocalypse landscape. All the same, Mama Madison isn’t too keen on Celia filling Nick’s head with her Mexican faith.
Madison also gets a glance at the other side of Victor Strand, in bed with his lover. This is something new for them. Even more than that Tom requests she “look after him” once he’s gone. Naturally, Strand wants to brush it off as not needing to be talked of, no death, nothing like that. Madison still recognizes the request. I hope her and Strand form a closer bond from here. They’re both tough in their own ways. Right now I’m actually worried about Daniel, as he seems to have slipped slightly from his tough exterior, softening due to the horrific experiences of his lives.


Alicia: “Its kind of pathetic how much I miss t.v
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Now that Alicia has made her fears clear to Madison, the married couple are arguing about Chris’ intentions. Travis doesn’t exactly like the talk of his son being dangerous, especially because he’s supportive of Nick, her son and his problems. There’s a big wedge stuck between Madison and Travis at the moment. They each want to side with their child, obviously. It’s just a difficult thing with which to deal, at any time. Let alone in the midst of zombies. Meanwhile with Tom on his deathbed, Victor even offers to go with him. He admits Tom is his only reason for living.


Victor: “Im begging you. This world was never good enough for you. Let it go.”
Tom: “I dont want to leave you
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At the same time, Daniel has discovered something altogether disturbing. In a cellar there are a bunch of walkers. Seems they’re mostly Celia’s family. So that’s why Luis didn’t want to be put out. They all come back, y’hear. Well Daniel and Celia have a tense, unsettling conversation about what she’s been up to, and none of it is pretty.
Upstairs, she tends to Thomas whose final minutes draw closer every minute. Strand watches on in pain. However, he’s decided to join his lover. Celia has the right remedy: communion wafers, just like the parishioners from the church she poisoned. Now they can all remain in the afterlife, still on Earth. Crazy bastards. But Strand’s not really going out like this, is he? I doubt that very much.
Thomas passes away silently with Victor by his side in bed. In a world of terror, this is a slightly more peaceful death than many have been allowed. Simultaneously, Chris gets up in the middle of the night and finds himself standing over Alicia and Madison, holding a knife. Uh oh. He’s interrupted when Strand shoots Tom in the head to prevent his reanimation, and of course decides not to Celia “Jim Jones” Flores himself.
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Developments are adding up and things are getting exciting. Looking forward to the next episode titled “Shiva” and that worries me, for anyone who knows what the term means that points to the likelihood of something terrible happening. And it’s been awhile since we’ve really lost anybody too important, right?

Dawn of the Dead’s Remake is Legitimately Frightening Fun

Dawn of the Dead. 2004. Directed by Zack Snyder. Screenplay by James Gunn, based on the original George A. Romero film of the same name.
Starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, & Matt Frewer. Metropolitan Filmexport/New Amsterdam Entertainment/Strike Entertainment.
Rated 18A. 101 minutes (110 minutes – unrated director’s cut)
Action/Horror/Thriller

★★★★

POSTER

Remakes are a dime a dozen these days. But when Zack Synder’s Dawn of the Dead released – remade from George A. Romero’s original screenplay, written anew by James Gunn – there weren’t as many as there are today. That’s because this is one of the movies which really got people (a.k.a studios) on the remake bandwagon. Reason being, this is one of those remakes which also does justice to the original. And while Romero’s original film will always be my favourite of the two, as well as one of my favourite zombie horror movies out there, Snyder and Gunn do a fantastic job here crafting something that pays homage to Romero and simultaneously carves out its own niche.
2004’s Dawn of the Dead reignited the public’s love for all things zombie. Afterwards came the avalanche of zombie movies, even another (much lesser) Romero adaptation with 2008’s Day of the Dead, and of course then Frank Darabont got AMC’s The Walking Dead running, now America and the world are captivated weekly by the blood, guts, and societal breakdown of a zombie wasteland.
What Gunn and Snyder manage to do is make zombies terrifying. I’m always going to be a fan of the slow moving zombies, but these guys wring the terror out of zombies that are able to run track and field. On top of everything, they offset all the wonderful undead action with all the various troubles of the humans left in the midst of this new, horrific world. Striking an even balance, Gunn and Snyder cover all the bases, and throw lots of good blood and effects at the viewer to make sure it’s all up to snuff. Again, Romero made the superior film in my mind. Yet this Dawn of the Dead is nonetheless super appealing.
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A big reason for why this works well, as opposed to some of the stuff Snyder pumps out, is due in part to the screenplay by James Gunn. I’m actually not a huge fan of Gunn’s films, but his talent as a writer is fairly solid. He can be funny, very darkly comic. He’s also got the heart and soul that’s necessary to paint out an engaging story. And on top of everything else he does well writing action sequences, or anything that’s suspenseful and filled with tension. Again, not a fan of anything else really that he’s done, other than SlitherGuardians of the Galaxy was popcorn fun but felt tedious, and Super is just all right (maybe if Rainn Wilson weren’t in it I’d have enjoyed the movie more). Dawn of the Dead is definitely his greatest achievement so far in the industry, as far as I’m concerned.
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Gunn took a beloved horror classic then remixed it into a contemporary setting, new characters and an overall expanded cast, yet also kept so much of what makes the original incredible. Even how he opens the story and takes us into the zombie apocalypse breakdown is masterful. He didn’t try to copy everything, and then kept bits and pieces which felt organic to his reworking of the material. And isn’t that what a remake should do? Equal parts paying respect and also innovating his own character/plot inventions.
Also, for any of the uninitiated zombie movie fans, this is not the first appearance of fast moving zombies. This phenomenon really began with Umberto Lenzi’s 1980 cult classic Nightmare City. I’ve genuinely heard so-called horror fanatics tout this as the first of the infected films to feature zombies that run. That just goes to show how some run their mouth off about being film lovers yet have only seen the well-known movies. All the same, Gunn makes things tense with this increase in speed, and of course the flashy style of Snyder also works to make this aspect more terrifying.
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In any zombie film, no matter how much of the human drama and element is present the zombies themselves must always take precedence. Much as I personally do love AMC’s The Walking Dead sometimes their writers forget the main ingredient is the undead. So it’s nice to see that Gunn and Snyder together, along with the talents of the makeup and special effects team (much of the work here is practical which is excellent), made sure to include nice gory zombie action, and a ton of fun, creepy, wild looking zombies.
Some of my favourites follow…
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Obviously the whole pregnant infected mother giving birth to the zombie baby is a highlight. I’m always wondering if shows/films in the post-zombie apocalypse will tackle that particular issue. This one does, in fine, nasty fashion.
Something else I admire overall is their use of blood. For different stages of undead decomposition the crew used varying colours for the blood. So the newer zombies have brighter red blood, the slightly older ooze brown, then the oldest of the undead have black, oily blood. That’s a nice subtle touch many people likely passed over.
The big bloated, infected woman that ends up with the survivors in the mall is pretty gnarly, too. They had a man play the role, which adds an even better element to the features. But it’s the nasty wound, the hideous skin, all those gross bits that make this one zombie something special. She is not just gross looking, she is scary and the moment her reanimated corpse gets ready to boogie you’re just rooting for someone to smash its head in.
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There are a few blemishes overall. Not enough to make this any less than a damn great zombie flick. More than that, as I’ve said the whole production does justice to its roots in George A. Romero’s original 1978 classic. The finale pulses and pounds at the senses, as this group of survivors tries their best to make through a wall of zombies. For the most part, the actors hold this up well, from Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames who both give fantastic performances in their roles, to smaller parts like Ty Burrell with his comic relief and Michael Kelly as the bad guy who eventually becomes slightly likeable. Everyone works together in an ensemble cast to make this more diverse than the original, so that alone changes the dynamic a whole bunch. Also, the diverse cast makes for a variety of characters that are all different, all looking for something of their own desires, and this allows Gunn to have a bit of fun with some of the scenarios. Added to everything, the blood and gore here holds up to any proper zombie movie. This is probably the only Snyder film that I find actually great, as opposed to how great he thinks all his work comes out.

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 5: “Captive”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 5: “Captive”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Carla Ching

* For a review of the previous episode, “Blood in the Streets” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
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We open on someone cooking steak – it’s Connor (Mark Kelly). Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) looks around nervously, as Patsy Cline croons in the background. They have a little chat after serves up one of his apparently famous New York strips. Seems they’ve got a “selective” little community going on there. But at the moment the generator goes out. And Alicia winds up locked in the cabin. She manages to sneak a way out to see they’re docked at a huge port. A massive open space.
Well Jack finds her out there and rushes her back inside. She wants to see Travis (Cliff Curtis), so she can make sure he’s okay. I don’t know why Alicia keeps trusting Jack. I hope that’s just what she says, and not how she actually feels.
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Over on the boat with our survivors, Reed (Jesse McCartney) has a brutal wound, to which Daniel (Rubén Blades) tends with some field medicine. All the while Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) gets taunted by Reed about his father. This Reed is a real dick, and has a huge pair on him to talk so boldly while a) hurt and b) in the midst of people he tried to hurt/kill. He says Connor will not be happy, lots of threats. They’re brothers after all. But of course Daniel isn’t the least bit impressed having seen men far worse and far more terrifying than this little idiot. I love Blades as an actor and this is possibly one of his best parts, to be honest. Not just that, Daniel as a character fits in well because he’s someone who’s been through very tough times and that’s informed his behaviour in this current apocalypse filled with zombies.
Now Daniel and Madison (Kim Dickens) have their plan, to use the brothers against one another. Only problem is that while Madison obviously wants to get her family back, Luis (Arturo del Puerto) has a window of time to get them across the Mexican border. Lots of tension and complications. Poor Strand (Colman Domingo) is still lying up after his swim in the ocean during the previous episode. For his part, he gives Madison half a day to take care of business.


On the other boat, Jack is assigning Alicia some work. Now I start to get the feeling she’s playing him, thankfully. There’s a sinister bit of stuff happening on that boat: “This is the world now. This one lives, that one dies.” Alicia is meant to pick a boat for annihilation. Really? That’s grim. Meanwhile, Travis wakes up in a grungy little space down below deck somewhere. And then, Alex (Michelle Ang) appears. She is certainly not happy with Travis, even if it was never his fault. Though he feels responsible because of negotiating them out onto that raft. Regardless, things aren’t looking too fun from where Travis is standing.
Back with Madison and Strand, she makes clear not to send Nick (Frank Dillane) out alone anywhere on any missions again. “He knows how to move through this world,” says Victor. While Madison doesn’t like it, Victor sees a tough and “capable” side to her son. I wouldn’t get between her and either of her children, as she makes clear to him. You just know there’s a fierceness in her waiting to come out over threat to her family. Even for Travis she would more than likely kill.
Hoping to avoid her people getting annihilated, Alicia ends up with Jack on her side. They pick a ship to put Connor on. And down in the bottom ship, Alex reminds Travis: “You knew the right thing to do. And you chose. You chose the other.” The two of them have a deep conversation, which brings up Travis having to kill his ex-wife. I love Cliff Curtis. He is possibly the most underrated character actor in the game today, endlessly talented. Here he gets to show those chops off. Great writing in this scene, as Alex and Travis go back and forth on what humanity “can become“, or what it can’t.

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Reed is still taunting. At the same time, Chris is getting tougher, on the outside and the inside; at first, and up until recently, I found him slightly annoying in certain ways. Now he’s evolving. Signs of some developing writing. So now he’s confronted with Reed bringing up his mother, all sorts of things. The tension in this scene mounts to an impossible degree. Nick shows up to close the door, but Chris reveals he’s disappointed in himself for freezing up, allowing those people on the boat. I really love Nick, too. Dillane plays him well and he is written well; he is a junkie redeeming himself in the post-zombie apocalypse. Wonderful character development.
At the bottom of the boat Alicia tells Travis about the boat coming back. But he has faith in Madison. That’s another aspect of the whole story I love, the strong bond between Madison and Travis. They are a great couple. So now Travis is left alone on the ship after Alicia and Jack plan to get going.
Madison finally calls over to Connor. That situation is getting intense, quick. The hostage situation has become heated: one hour clock. A trade off is set. Then from nowhere, a gunshot. It’s Chris – he did something preemptive. And now the hostage situation gets even wilder, as Reed is dead. He tells Madison he did it because “thats what happens now” and that Reed was turning. In a jam now, though.


Ofelia: “Its what we do now: spill blood, clean it up, spill it again.”
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Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) almost gets a bite when Reed comes back to life, his brain still not gone. Luckily her father pins the new walker up against the wall. A very surreal moment happens afterwards, as Daniel has the Reed zombie hooded and tied up, and he hears a voice tell him to take the gun; a flashback to tough days in war?
In other news, Alicia did play Jack. I knew it. More to come.
And Nick is arguing with his mother. Essentially, she worries he’s found his new addiction. He questions why she won’t let him go do the trade off: “Because you want to,” she replies. Quite telling.
The deal is underway. When Madison goes to do the drop, she unleashes Reed to his brother, which begins a big mess. Travis even whips out a heavy duty headbutt; all right, dude! Zombie madness lets loose, as one bite leads way to the next, and so on. This is a great action sequence. Also, Alicia gets back to Madison and Travis. So glad she made it out safe, and left that Jack(ass) behind.
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Thrilling episode, all around. Next up is interestingly titled “Sicut Cervus”, which ought to be another solid chapter in this fun Season 2. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!