A Collection of Caliginous Choppings

Posts tagged “Zombies

Tidbits of the Dead: Still

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The title of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead is “Still.” Still alive. Still surviving in a world that is still dangerous. A still moment trapped inside the trunk of a car. A moonshine still as a source of cathartic release for a character that has people wondering, “why is she still on the show?” An episode that highlights that even though this diverse cast of characters is living in a dark new day, they are still trapped with the preconceptions of their previous lives. All their wants, needs, wishes, and desires bleed through into their zombie apocalyptic lives.

An equally apt title for the episode would be “Haves & Have-Nots.” The driving motivations of Beth and Darryl are towards things that they have been deprived of, not just in the Land of the Dead, but in their lives before that. Beth’s desires a drink. She’s never had one before, and even though she knows how it tainted her father’s life, she wants something to take her mind away from the pain of losing Hershel and (presumably) Maggie. Darryl’s desires are multiple but mostly left unstated. He picks up a purse and fills it with money and jewelry. These things have no meaning in their current predicament, but the desire for wealth is a holdover from his previous life. We learn that before the dead walked he was just a drifter, mostly following the whims of his older brother Merle. While a viewer may have previously felt that Darryl finally metaphorically stepped out of his brother’s shadow in the last season, when he put down Zombie Merle, this is clearly not the case. Truthfully, Darryl has been accepted as an integral member of the group, as Rick, Carol, Beth and all the others accept him. Still, he feels that he didn’t do enough to prevent the Governor from attacking the prison again.

The haves and have-nots are illustrated by the two locations used in this episode. The majority of the zombie action takes place at a golf course country club, where Darryl takes out his repressed anger on a roomful of walkers. The distinction between low class and high class is not subtle. Darryl in his tattered leather vest is almost in worse shape than these zombies in their brightly colored polo and collared shirts. Beth changes into a white cardigan that quickly gets covered with gore. Darryl might insist that she’s just an insulated college-girl — the carefree singer of the group — but Beth’s survival instinct has been newly asserted. Nice clothes don’t matter when you’re dead. Survival is the only thing that matters.

Of course, it’s always nice to have a drink too. Beth and Darryl escape the country club and arrive somewhere that symbolizes where Darryl came from in the world before. It’s a run-down shack out in the woods. Something like his old man used to have. Something familiar. But this familiarity breeds a discontent in Darryl. Beth goads him into drinking with her, and that opens up his perception of the have/have-not gap. He is tired of dealing with every dangerous situation and having everyone depend on him. There is a tense moment when Darryl makes Beth look down the sights of his crossbow at a pinned walker, but Beth proves that even without bow skills, she can handle herself by braining the zed.

They get the bright idea to burn down the shack. It is not a logical one considering the danger of not having shelter, but it is fitting of the characters and their personal progression through the series. Plus, Beth is in good hands being under the protection of who she says will be “the last man standing.” (On that she is probably not wrong. Not because he is so equipped to survive, but because of his popularity, particularly among the female fans of the show.)

Geek of the Week

rich bitch

This one is not a walker, but a corpse. The torso stuck onto mannequin legs was pretty damn cool. Plus, it really drives home the distinction between the haves and the have-nots. I doubt that she was killed because she was well off, but someone, obviously in disdain, took the energy to construct this effigy against rich bitches.

Some Thoughts

  • It looks like next week will continue with Beth and Darryl and expand the show’s POV to Maggie, Bob, and Shasha whom we haven’t seen since the return episode. Also, Beth is in danger, and with all of her good feely moralizing in this episode it wouldn’t surprise me to see her get bitten.
  • I liked the bit of hiding in the car. That and the random shack in the woods reminded me of a great, recent zombie flick called The Battery. It is a low budget but compelling character piece with only two main characters. And they spend a lot of time at a woods in a shack and stuck in a car.
  • How long do you think a zombie would hang before the rope finally cuts clear through the neck? A dead body would probably hang for a pretty long time. But I imagine that the friction caused by all of their undead movement would slowly cause the rope to saw through dead flesh. We’ve already seen hanging walkers before in season two. Let’s see some headless bodies and scattered heads underneath empty nooses!
  • Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney put on some of the finest acting since Andrew Lincoln’s Rick lost his wife last season. It is not surprising to see how Reedus has given his character such longevity, but who would have thought that the whiny suicidal girl from the farmhouse would have stuck around for so long?
  • Peach schnapps really would be a shit first drink.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!

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Tidbits of the Dead: “Inmates” & “Claimed”

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Well, I missed posting up a timely review of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Inmates,” so I will briefly touch on that before I delve into last night’s episode “Claimed.”

“Inmates,” in two words:

molotov_bullshit

OK, I’ll explain my disdain in more than two words.

Glenn’s use of a molotov cocktail on a previously destroyed automobile to lure away walkers in a direct line of sight from him, is an incredible leap of logic. It’s the part I took away “Inmates,” more than the awesome introduction of Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene, more than my annoyance of the bus full of red-shirts being conveniently slaughtered, more than Carol’s uneasy return to the show. Again, Glenn used a molotov cocktail to cause a distraction that lured a zombie to turn away from him and go towards a burning car. This is the sort of thing I expect in an Asylum zombie film, but not in America’s most beloved zombie television series!

Other than his usage of burning brandy, I wasn’t bothered by Glenn uniting with Tara to escape the ruin of the prison. Glenn raiding the prison cells for supplies and donning the riot gear was the smartest thing (outside of wearing zombie guts) he could have done to aid his escape. Of course, it is a bit of a stretch of belief to think that he didn’t just die (you know, from the flu superbug that got everyone else on the bus) while lying just out of reach of the walkers, but I digress.

“Inmates” started with Beth and Darryl escaping through the woods while Beth has a voice-over of words written in her diary. I’m actually less annoyed by Beth than other commentators. I’m glad that she has stuck around, even if her character shift (being the one to push Darryl to keep going) seems a bit forced since she was just suicidal 2 seasons ago. Still, I think she is a more interesting character than her sister Maggie, although I will admit that she’s probably more expendable. Hopefully this added screen importance will lead to her having an awesome death. Darryl in this episode doesn’t do much, besides tracking and kicking dirt on a fire.

As an aside, okay, I get that it is a necessity to build a fire. But, lets say you are in a zombie apocalypse situation. Nightfall comes. You’re in the woods. How do you best ensure your survival for the night? Sulking about next to the campfire, or perched up high in a tree and out of the reach of hungry hands? Hmm . . .

Elsewhere in the woods Tyreese has become primary caretaker of the children, Mika, Lizzie, and Baby Judith! Hooray, Shane’s baby is still alive. (Although we still have to sit through the Grimes’ grieving process.) Now, I’m not surprised that the baby wasn’t killed. Maybe if this show was on HBO, but I don’t think that AMC has the cajones to kill a baby, either on-screen or off. Although, it obviously doesn’t mind killing off the red-shirted children. Do you remember Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl?

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Neither Tyreese, nor Mika, nor the psychopathic Lizzie seem to be grieving for them. Perhaps Lizzie smothered them on their way out of the prison. Lizzie could very well be my new favorite character. She is certainly the most interesting, and you can’t fault her methods (quiet the baby!) for being ineffective. If you’ve read the comics then — SPOILER — I’d put her in the role of the murderous Ben/Billy twin. Only, instead of Carl putting her down, my money would be on Carol. Oh the conflict, oh the drama! — END COMICS SPOILER.

Fortunately for the unawares Grimes family, (and the at home viewers), Carol’s hand-of-God return into the story prevents the death of Baby Judith at the hands of Lizzie, as well as Lizzie & Mika’s death at the hands of walkers. There was tense moment as Carol assesses Tyreese who doesn’t actually know of the hideous act of mercy that she had committed. Not that it should really matter at this point. Did Tyreese’s girlfriend even have a name? If not, she wouldn’t have made it this far anyway.

The other group of stragglers is Maggie, Bob, and Sasha, in this episode representing EMOTION, ACCEPTANCE, & RATIONALITY. Maggie is driven to find Glenn, Bob the Alcoholic Combat Medic shot through the shoulder is cool with dying on a nice rock near the water, and Sasha is the only person who seems to still have her head on her shoulders and tries to regroup and rest up. Emotion wins out and they hunt down the bus, where Maggie kills a bunch of walkers that aren’t her husband. There was a bit of iffy acting as she killed the last zombie on the bus (whose face we don’t see). She seems to convey a range of emotions from happy to despondent, but none of them give a firm indication that she didn’t just off Glenn. Until after the commercial break . . .

At the end of the episode Glenn passes out and Tara is saved by a very badass-looking Sergeant Abraham Ford, his hotpants wearing Latina girlfriend (okay, well, just really like fuckbuddy in the comics) Rosita Espinosa, and the mulleted ‘Dr.’ Eugene Porter. It’s nice to have some fresh faces in the show who have names and who will actually do something!

That’s probably enough about “Inmates,” but before I go on, I want to bitch about red-shirts some more.

Darryl finds some footprints, to which Beth says, “Could be Luke’s, or Molly’s. Whoever they are it means they’re alive.” Darryl responds by saying it means they were alive four or five hours previously (classic Darryl). Now, as an astute viewer, I searched back in my memory to a Luke or a Molly. Couldn’t picture anyone. It took me a bit of Wikipedia sleuthing to deduce that Luke and Molly are Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl. Now, I’m a fan of this show. But I sure as hell don’t think that I should have to look up a character name in order to figure out who is being talked about. Beth could easily have dropped the names Lizzie or Mika, but by mentioning the other two she pulled me out of the narrative. Especially when neither Luke nor Molly actually show up! Maybe they are dead, but then again, we didn’t see them die onscreen, and following Walking Dead logic that means they could still be alive. Tyreese or the other two girls never indicate that they were separated from the others. They never mention that Luke & Molly got eaten either. They are just gone.

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Goodbye Luke and/or Molly.

Here is the other thing that I want to mention. There is a walker that attacks and is killed by Beth. He is obviously fresh, although neither Beth, nor Darryl seem to know this recently deceased individual. This show isn’t smart enough to do a metacommentary about its shitty use of red-shirts, although I admit that I had to stop and consider for a moment. Who is he?

the unknown walker

Later on, in a moment that happened before he turned, Tyreese, Carol & the kids stumble upon this hapless bitten individual. Turns out he was from a separate group, trying to go up the railroad tracks to the safety of ‘The Sanctuary.” Well, he doesn’t call it that, but for the sake of a better term, I will. This guy is someone completely new. Yet, because of how all of the other new characters have been mishandled, I have no idea who the fuck he is! In fact, because of the poorly fleshed out background characters, and the fact that Beth & Darryl are following them, I thought they were just unnamed prison people. But no . . .

All these nameless folks though, they were good people.

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Which brings us to this week’s episode, “Claimed,” which focuses on the groups of Rick, Carl, & Michonne, and Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene. But, actually, fuck it . . . I’ll just write up my thoughts on that episode tomorrow since it’s late and my other recap ran long. Stay frosty folks!


Tidbits of the Dead: After

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Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!

 

SYNOPSIS

I’m a bit rusty, but fortunately this episode was light on the complicated plot points. This episode follows Rick and Carl as they flee from the zombie madness that the prison became. We also follow America’s favorite scowling samurai Michonne as she gets some new zombie pets and also flees. Joy!

 

Rick

He is the least consequential character in this episode, as he fights a bit with Carl, fails to fully hatchet a zed in the head, and eventually passes out for a day-and-a-half. There was a brief is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-walker scare, but readers of the comic knew that he would pull through. The mid-season finale had a few iconic shots that were lifted from the comic books, but this entire episode was a bit of a self-contained arc in the comic as well. The dynamic between Rick and Carl works here too, but I felt that it was actually a bit better in the comics as Carl was then still his young child-like self.

 

Carl

The zombie apocalypse only exacerbates teenage angst. Rather than just idiotically running around the woods and taunting zombies, Carl is now cockily and idiotically running around the woods and killing zombies. It is interesting how he has turned survival into a sort of game, proclaiming, “I win,” when he scavenges more food than his father, as well as when he narrowly manages to kill 3 zeds that fall on top of him. If this show wouldn’t completely fall apart without the kid I’d have a bit more suspended disbelief, but I just can’t believe that AMC would kill off Carl and leave Rick a widower and childless. I wonder if Carl will bring up Shane again, or if he has got all of this rebelliousness out of his system.

 

Michonne

Rounding out this episode is a bit of character development (about a season & a half too late) for the sword-wielding badass of the group. The best, and most confusing, shot of this episode was the dreamlike (well, actual dream!) scene involving Michonne remembering her brother and lover, before her child Peanut runs up and jumps into her arms. Sadly, Michonne seemed just as awkward in this scene as the other times she tries to not be a badass. Establishing her missing family members at this point seems a bit too late to be genuine. But, I suppose it explains why exactly she has been so reluctant to form any sort of bond with the last few people living in Georgia. Also, she killed Walker Hershel.

 

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Geek of the Week

Which brings us to this episode’s most memorable zombie. It has to be Hershel for me. He looks a bit despondent lying there on the ground, but Michonne mercifully puts him out of his misery. Unfortunately, she isn’t kind enough to do that for any of the other dozens of walkers she beheads in this episode.

 

Lemme Bitch

Michonne leading around two walkers on a leash was a very cool introduction to the character in the comic book. Here it just seems a bit silly, especially when it is established that her previous two pets were known to her in her real, before the end of the world life. Theoretically it would make up for them being just two random walkers and I would also assume that it took a while for them to calm down to the always present meal before them. But here she was able to de-jaw and de-arm two zombies and tame them in the space of a commercial break. I guess my main question is this: why the hell aren’t they still trying to gnaw on her with their top incisors?

 

Looking Forward

In the next episode I predict more of the same. It will be a lot like this one, only focusing on different characters. Will Glen and Maggie reunite? Will the psychotic children get to Tyreese? Will the Governor’s lover and her sister reappear? Will Beth sing a sad song? Will Darryl eat a squirrel? But, the most important question is this: will a busfull of redshirts all namelessly die? Find out next week’s episode, “Inmates.”


Digging into the Short Film Christmas Pile

The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013

For the tenth Slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, ten vids-a-streaming, Santa’s assassin, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!

Hopefully my previous slays have gotten you into the horror holiday mood, but if not you are in for a treat today. That’s right, this Axe-Wielding Santa is early for you good boys and girls and I come bearing the gifts of 10 short horrific films. Now, I’ve dug really deep into the pile this year to ensure that you don’t just get all of the same as previous seasonal holiday lists on other sites. But I will admit that there are a few chillers here that I found listed elsewhere that I didn’t want to leave off. Some of the flicks are animated. Some are claymation. Some are obviously amateurish (but still a good deal better than Santa vs. the Zombies, yeech). These yuletide treats were made with love, and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.

Honorable mention: there is an excellent 7 minute short film that served as the precursor to Rare Exports. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those that haven’t seen it, but I do want to say that this is a very respectable short that covers the exact same material from the film. If you’ve seen the full-length Rare Exports then the shorter version is interesting to view to see a much more condensed version of the idea!

#1 The Winter Stalker

(these are in a mostly arbitrary order)

The 1980 film Christmas Evil (come back tomorrow for a longer review) details just how creepy it is for a middle-aged man to spy on children (both nice and naughty). Here is a short film written and directed by Stephen Reedy that distills the idea of becoming the target of a Santa Claus stalker.

#2 My Name is Kris Kringle

This one takes things a step further from just stalking children, as Santa is hauled into the police station after hacking up a few naughties with a meat cleaver. It isn’t until after explaining that he is simply following the orders on his list, that the full enormity of the situation comes to light. This very dark tale was written and directed by Drew Daywalt.

#3 I Still Believe

In this claymation short we can see a despondent Santa inches away from simply giving up. He hasn’t wandered into creepy stalker/killer territory yet, but it is very clear that this Old Saint Nick is far from jolly. Then he gets a visit that is simply out of this world. Can extraterrestrials get Santa Claus back into the Christmas spirit? This short was animated by the artist Mr. Oz.

#4 Night of the Living Santa

This darkly humorous cartoon was made by Michael Friedman for aniBOOM. Again, we find a depressed Santa, and see exactly what happens when he gives up. This is probably the most funny pick on the list, as the elves use the Christmas Necronomicon to bring Kris Kringle back from the dead. As you can imagine, an undead Santa would prefer brains over cookies on Christmas Eve!

#5 Vampire Santa

Following the idea of a zombie Santa is this one where Santa Claus is a vampire (possibly?). This is an episode of a show called Boss Hospital by Raym Hensley, which appears to be a little know gem of comedic weirdness. It’s a 2 and a half minute strange non-sequitur, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I enjoyed this. Hopefully you will too as you find yourself repeating “Merry Christ’s Mass” in a few days time.

#6 Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a recent holiday tradition, but a strange one none-the-less. Santa has enlisted the help of these stone-faced smiling creeps the world over to watch over kids and ensure that they stay good during the holiday season. As Child’s Play, The Puppet Master, or more recently, The Conjuring, have shown us, dolls are inherently off-putting. But when imbued with magical powers they become all the more unsettling. There are several weird Elf on the Shelf videos online, but this one is the most effective.

#7 Christmas Morning

Here is an amateur film that has to be, technically speaking, one of the best. It doesn’t suffer from shaky cam, the special effects aren’t too bad, and the song featured is actually pretty funny. The girl lip-synching is a bit off at times, but that doesn’t take too much away from the video’s effectiveness. It was directed by Ryan Richardson and seemingly only featured his family members. I’d be interesting to see what he could put together with more of a budget.

#8 Little Cracker

Well, let’s say you’re a child, and your parents are murdered on Christmas. If you’re not lucky enough to have a grandma to live with, then probably you’d end up in an orphanage. Orphanages never seem to be especially happy places, but as Silent Night, Deadly Night, and this short film (and the following one) show us, they can really be deadly during the holidays. In Little Cracker, director Paul Mayers does a lot with very little to craft a story about an orphan boy who just isn’t right.

#9 The Bottleberry Orphans

This is a creepy poem about another deadly Christmas at the orphanage. The imagery used in the video is great, and the poem is off-putting. Lyrically it doesn’t rhyme, but that adds to its unsettling effectiveness. Unfortunately, this poem is not spoken, so you’ll have to read along with a spooky rendition of Silent Night, Holy Night in the background.

#10 976-Evil 2

My last pick for this holiday themed list of scary shorts comes from the full-length 976-Evil 2. The movie itself is largely unmemorable, but this mash-up of Night of the Living Dead and It’s a Wonderful Life is an excellent way to spice up that annual showing of Jimmy Stewart’s tale of angelic redemption. Just beware of Zuzu’s trowel.

So holiday horror hounds, cuddle up close to the fireplace and try to keep warm while watching these chillers!


Tales from the Crypt (1972)

The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013

For the third slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, an Amicus anthology, Santa’s Demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!

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If Santa Claus knocks at your door tonight, don’t answer. — from Roger Ebert’s review

Ho ho ho! Hope you’re in the holiday spirit, I sure know that I am! Today I am getting at the root of the Killer Santa with the original 1972 Amicus anthology Tales from the Crypt, directed by Freddie Francis. As far as I can ascertain (from a perfunctory Google search) this film is the first to feature a murderous madman clad in the red and white-trimmed suit. If that is incorrect, and you know of an earlier film with a killer from the North Pole, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Tonight’s treat is stocking-stuffed full of revenge tales and evil-doers getting their just desserts — a common thread through all of my X-mas picks this season thus far! Tales from the Crypt sees five strangers united on a tour of some old English catacombs. We, the viewer don’t know why they’re here, and they themselves don’t either. The central five are quickly separated from the rest of the group and joined by a mysterious cloaked figure — The Crypt Keeper. Now, honestly, Ralph Richardson isn’t The Crypt Keeper that I grew up with — he has much more flesh on his bones and much less cheesy jokes than HBO’s early 90s incarnation. But, as a very dry, slightly sardonic purveyor of eternal condemnation, he works in this role. Plus, he was knighted, so you know that means he’s one of the queen’s own actors. Indeed, the acting is very strong through-out this entire picture, but I also get a sense that they are all playing very familiar roles. With the exception of Peter Cushing, who plays a down-on-his-luck trash collector, the main actors are all well-to-do high society types, that just tend to rub middle-class me the wrong sort of way.

. . . And All Through the House

Case in point is Joan Collins as a money grubbing wife who kills her husband on Christmas Eve. The first thing that she does after clubbing the man in the head is not to clean up the murder scene, but to check the safe to see that his insurance papers are all in order. But then two things happen to up the ante. The first is that the couple’s daughter calls down from her upstairs bedroom. The second is that the radio announces that old crazy guy on the loose from the mental institution trope: “a man described as a homicidal maniac has escaped from the hospital for the criminally insane . . . and may be wearing a Santa Claus costume.” (I know this trope seems well-worn, but the only other time I can actually remember it from a film is Night of the Creeps.)

Now the murderous mother has to deal not only with cleaning up her crime scene, but also keeping the madman outside, and her daughter on the inside. The TV version of this episode has much more back and forth between the woman and Santa, but the ending to that plays out much the same here in the original. I won’t ruin either of them for you if you haven’t seen them. Just note that the Santa here is more likely to be seen on a Macy’s float while the latter Crypt Santa is more akin to the drooling on his straight-jacket in a padded cell sort of criminally insane.

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Reflection of Death

The second story in this anthology stars Ian Hendry as a man who leaves his wife and children to run away with his mistress. Only, obviously, things don’t go as they planned. Hendry wakes up from a nightmare during the drive, and moments afterward they are involved in a pretty wicked car crash. The car flips upside down several times, with silly slow motion cuts of each of them banging around the car’s interior. Then, seemingly moments after the crash, the man awakes to find himself in the English countryside, near his burned out car. As the viewers, we follow his POV shot through the woods looking for help, but everyone he stumbles upon runs or drives away. He returns to his wife’s house to have the door slammed on his face and her scream in terror. The reveal of whatever is so hideous and repulsive about this man doesn’t happen until he visits the apartment of his mistress and sees . . . well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. I felt that Reflection of Death was the weakest of the tales in this film. It was one of those easy to see twist endings, as well as one of those weird, too funny to take seriously dream endings. It’s all very well shot and well acted, but just not up to the standard of the rest of the stories.

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Poetic Justice

The third story features the late great Peter Cushing as a down-on-his-luck Mr. Rogers type character named Mr. Grimsdyke. All of the neighborhood children love him, and frequently visit his home to take in puppet shows and recieve gifts. Unfortunately, Mr. Grimsdyke is unfairly hated by his very well-off neighbor played by Robin Phillips. This entitled bastard takes it upon himself to get Grimsdyke to leave the neighborhood in an effort to ease their property taxes. It is laughable to see what the neighbor’s call a veritable pigsty actually be so clean and tidy. Perhaps they were offended by Grimsdyke’s finger-less hobo gloves. So, this young prick makes Grimsdyke’s life hell by first tearing up another neighbor’s rosebushes and getting the police to take Grimsdyke’s dogs away. Next, he gets him fired from his job as a trash-collector and then makes all the families in the neighborhood keep their children away from him. And if that isn’t enough, he sends the poor old man a bunch of NASTY Valentine’s Day cards.

grimsdyke

This kindly old man just can’t take it any more. Distraught after all of the vitriolic hatred, he decides to end his life by hanging himself in the pantry. With smug satisfaction the entitled young man and his father find the body, and for them at least, all is finally right in the neighborhood. Only, poetic justice is served, when one year later Grimsdyke rises from the grave to deliver his own Valentine’s Day card. This story is probably the best of the bunch in part to Cushing who was playing a character pretty similar to himself. Throughout Grimsdyke talked to the photograph of his deceased wife Helen when in reality Cushing’s own wife Helen had passed away about a year before this film. (I can’t comment on the actor’s use of a ouijia board or automatic writing device to contact her though.)

Wish You Were Here

The fourth story is a classic spin on that old story The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. In fact, they even reference that story in this one! Richard Greene plays a business faced with mounting debts. Either he can go into bankruptcy, or sell off all of his collected artwork to stave off financial ruin. Surprisingly, he decides to be honorable, and sell of his excesses. That is when his wife stumbles across an oriental statue that promises to deliver them the standard three wishes. Immediatedly, despite a caution from the businessman himself, she wishes for their wealth back. Lo and behold, they get a call to meet with their lawyer, but when Greene goes he is chased by a skeletal biker, crashes, and dies. The wife, however, becomes well off because of her husband’s ample life insurance.

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Knowing that she has still has two wishes, and distraught about her husband’s death, she uses another wish — again, despite the warning from the lawyer — and asks for him to be returned to her just as he was before the car crash. Some mysterious undertakers bring in the husband’s coffin and lay it out saying he had a heart attack right before the crash. Second wish wasted. She also wastes the third wish to ironic effect, but I won’t say what happens, except that of all five protagonists, this guy gets the rawest deal in the end, and actually given what happens, he shouldn’t be with the others in the Crypt Keeper’s prescence. It is the foolish wife who brings down all the trouble on this man.

Blind Alleys

The movie’s last story sees Nigel Patrick as Major William Rogers, the newly appointed superintendant for the Elmridge Home for the Blind. He addresses his men in the most military of fashions, and turns the home more into a barracks than a convalescent home. The blind men are not pleased, especially as the major and his German shepherd feast on steak and wine while they must eat meatless slop and sleep in their frigid beds on cold, heatless nights. When one of the blind men dies the others have finally had enough. They decide to take over the hospital and punish the major (and his dog) for how they have treated him.

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The blind men lock up the major and his dog in separate cells in the basement. Then they go to work with wooden boards, saws, hammers, and nails, blindly shambling through their construction zone like zombies. Once they are finished, they open the door to the major’s cell, and he is faced with a Saw-esque torture hall covered with exposed razor blades. There is no going back, and he must proceed . . . to his doom!

This was such a fun film. It much less cornball than the 90s TV show, but I think there is still a healthy amount of sardonic charm and cinematic irony to make this fun for the whole family. It is only rated PG after all! It is well acted with a nicely rounded cast. Also, this is just dripping with Gothic charm as the visuals of a rundown cemetery at the opening and the music, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in the opening and closing, contribute to something that is very British, sophisticated yet atmospheric. It also doesn’t betray its comic book roots, as the blood throughout is bright vivid red. There isn’t anything too gory, but there madman Santa, as well as the Peter Cushing zombie have been iconic images in the horror genre.

If you haven’t watched Tales from the Crypt recently, then the holiday season might be just the time for you and yours to enjoy something shocking, yet pleasing for all, young and old.


Drunken Tidbits of the Dead: Too Far Gone

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Warning: this blog post has been started on my third bourbon, and it might become four or five by the time I finish.

Holy fucking shit. Well, maybe I shouldn’t start with my reaction to the fall of the prison. Maybe I should start with an apology. I’ve neglected this blog, and only in its second month of existence. The truth is that I’ve been keeping up with my shows — American Horror Story and the Walking Dead — but I’ve been too damn busy to write up an in-depth post. Lately, I’ve been stuck in a pink, candy-coated land of sugary K-pop. My job has been really busy as the school semester is winding down, and one of my good friends just exited my life (potentially forever). I realize that not all of my random readers will understand, but certainly some of my hits from here in Korea (Jen), and those who have lived the life before (Arron, and albeit shortly, Mitch) will understand.

But enough about me. Hot damn The Walking Dead! I had initially though that the show was rushing too quickly to this plot point — probably the most anticipated (in comic and television) of the entire show — the fall of the prison. Some thought that it should have happened last season. I don’t agree, but I also don’t think that Woodbury should have fallen last season. This prison storyline should have been strung out a little longer, without the (hinted at, but ultimately swerved) redemption of the Governor.

Okay, this had flaws, and plenty of them. How the hell does anybody manage to run away from the machine gun fire of several well-armed people in the span of a few seconds? (I realize that Breaking Bad also suffered from this, but I criticized that show to my friends as well.) Both Rick and the Governor should have been dead within seconds of the gunfight starting — seeing as Carl et. al. had ‘Brian Heriot’ in their sights, and at least some of the guns were pointed at Rick. But they both managed to avoid HEADSHOT INSTAKILLS. And then later Rick is able to somehow jump the Gov. without anyone else coming to help him or pull the two men apart. How does that happen in the throes of combat? You’d think that someone would have been watching one of the two and tried to help the one that they didn’t like.

It’s with a sad and heavy heart that we say goodbye to Hershel. I’m actually a little surprised that more of the main characters didn’t die. I was almost certain that either Maggie or Beth would be shot through while clutching Baby Grimes. Instead we were served with the unsatisfying conclusion of a bloody car-seat. (And the shittiest thing is that it didn’t even have any bloody chunks, leading me to believe that one of the other children may have grabbed the baby. I realize this is cable TV and it is not kosher to kill children outside of  HBO or other premium channels, but it was a tad bit disappointing not to get a conclusive ending for little Judith Grimes.) Back to Hershel dying — I’m happy that the show kept the bit with the Governor being unable to lop off his victims head with a single strike like Michonne. Originally, SPOILER FOR THE COMICS STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THAT SPOILED the Governor took several swings to remove the head of Tyreese, but I seeing as he was no-where near as endeared to the at-home viewers, I had thought that Glenn (or extra-special-devilishly Darryl) would fill this role. Although, I must admit that Hershel isn’t a bad choice, but I wonder if that puts the kibosh on a potential wounded-member-of-the-group-wanders-off-to-die-and-gets-eaten-by-cannibals storyline with what I had pegged for Hershel. OK, NOW THE COMICS SPOILER IS FINISHED.

hershel with his throat cut

Just a moment, I’m pouring myself a fourth bourbon.  It’s the Costco Kirkland brand. So cheap, but also not terrible on the tongue. This episode was great for showing the emotional range of David Morrissey. Actually, now that I think about it, I would like to see his story in TV form prior to becoming the Governor. DAMMIT, HERE WE GO WITH ANOTHER COMICS SPOILER: It was great that Lily killed him. Just like in the comic, but here it meant something more. I was also satisfied with the story that rounded out young Megan’s short life (although she was absent from the comic). It featured an homage to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and really, any other zombie property that includes the living dead arising from the earth, but it also sealed the deal as to the Governor’s demise. None of the children that grow up in this world will be normal. Lizzie and the prison group confirm that. Megan was sheltered from her life away from the dead, and too young not to be warped or lost to the horrors of the new world. The Governor obviously didn’t want that for her. She was his new daughter (versus Hershel’s who he didn’t give a shit about), and he was fighting for the prison for her sake more than Lily or Tera’s. OKAY, I’LL END THE COMIC SPOILER HERE. But speaking of Lily or Tera, I wonder if we’ll see them again in the second half of this season. I really hope so! It would add an interesting dynamic to see some people who had originally been opposed to the prison group joining up with them later.

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And speaking of joining up with them later: I’m almost dead certain that Carol will come back this season. It is just too convenient that she is on her own now, but that now most of her former survivor friends are too — OK, NOW I’M FEELING THE WHISKEY — I think that Carol will be the conduit between Rick’s group and the new people with Abraham et. al. (fuck, that’s a comics spoiler, and a spoiler in general if you haven’t been following the online news about this show, but actually, not really, since I’m just name dropping a person whom you’ve never met before). Anyway, now I think that Darryl and Rick are the only people who know that Carol was the killer (since Hershel is dead) and the group has more to worry about these days than Tyreese’s potential lover being prematurely killed along with all the other dead redshirts, apart from Previously Seen Before Black Lady on the Bus. They’d best hide it if they do meet up with Carol later — and I think that maybe Tyreese’s concern about Whatever-Her-Name-Was will take a back burner to his concern over the well-being of his sister. But ultimately, it was pretty shitty that we didn’t have a more drawn-out moment between Tyreese-Darryl-Rick. (In which Andrew Lincoln tilts his head to the side and half-scowls, Chad Coleman looks angry and a bit bug-eyed, and Norman Reedus remains my sexy-as-hell-guy-I’d-go-gay-for.) Also, I bet that the whole feeding the rats to the zombies at the gates thing dies too, because that was a stupid side story and it was probably only crazy Lizzie (who I want to stick around!).

Yeah, alright. I’m pouring myself another bourbon, and I’m gonna stop hitting the backspace when I fuck up the spelling of words.

Welcome to the extra-special, extra-drunken edition of TIDBITS OF THE DEAD WITH AXE-WIELDING ALEX. Here are some random thoughts from the rest of the show, as I’ve not taken to plying my inebriated brain to fixing the coherent arguments of whatever the hell I’m thinking about.

    • David Morrisey as the Governor has been a great actor, but I agree with the online sentiment that he has not been redeemed as a despicable character on this show. Also, I’m not absolutely certain that the TV show did a good job of setting him up as beyond redemption. I felt that Rick almost reached him. He said liar, and then cut off Hershel’s head. But he previously admitted to Michonne that he knew his daughter Penny was not alive. (I wonder what would have happened had Lily and dead Megan arrived sooner.) Maybe he would have gone along with Rick’s idea of letting them all live.
    • How the hell is Tera the only one who questions the Governor? What’s-his-nuts-tank-driver’s brother was killed by Brian Heriot, and still her follows him blindly into battle. I’m happy that at least someone questioned the madman, and I hope that this episode isn’t the last that we’ve seen of Tera and Lily. (Yeah, it’s shitty that Tera’s lover got capped in the head by Lizzie, but I’ll hold out on her finding love again — maybe Sasha is a lesbian?)
    • This line: “Don’t look back Carl, just keep walking”  That comes straight from the comics. It was awesome then, and it was awesome tonight. The entire shot — with the prison in flames, and the walkers all in the background was exactly the same just as awesome!
    • How the fuck are there so many walkers, which Rick and Carl gun down, the night before the attack, but only like two (that the Governor easily dispatches) during the late afternoon showdown of Georgia’s last remaining humanity? I think that Martinez’s group should have been shown as having dealt with more.
    • And since we are on the topic of Martinez, how the fuck does he get killed in the last episode when there are actually so many fucking redshirts in the Governor’s group? There’s no way that goes unnoticed. Just as there is no way that such large groups as the previous episode (around 10 [or less] killed by whomever {hopefully cannibals} and Martinez & the Governor’s [what 20 or so?] go unnoticed by Rick and the prison’s group [who, remember, spent months wandering around {an entire winter at least}] before stumbling upon the prison and other people like Woodbury.)
    • Shit, I’ve actually been lying and going back and fixing my mistakes, but this last point was hard to write — what with parentheses, brackets, and whatever the hell the pointy brackets are called.
  • This bourbon is pretty damn good. If you’ve never had it, then I highly recommend that you do. Yes, I feel a bit woozy, but my mental clarity is pretty damn awesome. I’ve not got the inclination to go back and look up whatever delicious amber liquid the Governor and Rick shared last season was, but I’m sure that was just as good as this shit.

    this shit brought me back to chopping up Pieces of Darkness.

    This shit brought me back to chopping up Pieces of Darkness.

    • Will Beth and Carl hook up now that there is one less father (and one less older boyfriend) in the way?
    • Does having a 2 episode buffer help to detract from the fact that this episode featured the miraculous recovery (after a single night) of sick Glenn and all the others?
    • Which is more annoying: Michonne’s ability to roll away from danger in front of all of the Governor’s people, or her completely random disappearance from the show after killing Brian Heriot with her samurai sword, but without her helping of Rick and Carl to safety?
    • Darryl killing badass rough voiced tank driver with a cross-bow bolt to the heart was pretty awesome. I have a feeling that we would have liked (whomever his character’s name was) had we gotten the chance to meet him, but since we didn’t, our more favorite redneck character wins out.
    • Bob the Drunken Combat Medic (like me, only with more combat experience) put away his alcohol and got shot for his trying to help out the group. He is redeemed in my eyes, as I no longer think there was a Governor spy in the midst of the prison. [Though, I’d still be interested in how Shumpert and Martinez managed to make it alone before meeting up with the larger group of expendable redshirts].

Okay. That’s it for my drunken recap of this midseason finale of the Walking Dead. Hopefully more good characters come in YET ANOTHER COMICS SPOILER — I think Abraham & Eugene will be  in the next episode and Jesus (next season) will come in soon, but save that fucking weird tiger dude for a while (maybe season 6?). END COMICS SPOILER.

I’m gonna pour myself one more drink and then pass the fuck out. Happy late Thankskilling to your and yours!


Tidbits of the Dead — Live Bait

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The Walking Dead’s sixth episode of season four proved to be exactly what I wanted it to be — an all Governor episode. “Live Bait” opens on the killing fields of Woodbury from last season. The Governor (David Morrisey) has just finished machine gunning all of his followers, except for his inner circle thugs Martinez and Shumpert the Bowman. In the next scene these three compatriots are camping out — each with a separate tent — while the Governor looks pensively into the campfire. His face is a mix of anger and regret. Wherever he is, he is not in the current moment, as he pays no attention to a female walker that advances towards him. It goes so far as to fall through the campfire without moving. Finally the Governor is pulled away from his thoughts but the gunshot of Martinez putting the walker down. Whoever this man is, he is no longer the maniacal psychopath that unsuccessfully tried to raid the prison at the end of season three. If possible, the Governor is even darker in these moments, as his anger is being bottled up. What is he thinking? Does he still want against Michonne and Rick? Or has he realized that this may be a futile effort?

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“Live Bait” shows us how a broken man, regardless of his state prior to breaking, must pick up the remaining pieces of his life. One could argue that this is what all the people in the world of The Walking Dead face. Everyone has to deal with death now cast in a much more dangerous light. But few people have managed to build something in spite of the hordes of zombies ready to break down the barriers holding the last few pockets of humanity. Rick has achieved something spectacular in clearing out and maintaining the prison. Similarly, the Governor, formerly Philip, and soon to be Brian Heriot, managed to build something in spite of the world of destruction he was living in. As warped as Woodbury under the surface, it was a functioning remnant of society — a piece of light in the darkness of a dead world. Eventually it rotted through as its core foundation — the Governor’s strong leadership — crumbled away. Had Michonne not killed the Governor’s zombified daughter — a mercy killing in the eyes of some, a murder in the eyes of a father — perhaps Woodbury would have stood while the prison fell.

It’s interesting to note that both leaders from last season suffered from mental instabilities. Rick saw the ghost of his dead wife, and that distracted him from being an effective leader. The Governor becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on Michonne and maintaining control over Andrea. In Rick’s case, there were others in his group that were able to pick up the slack that he dropped. Woodbury, however, was like a snake with its head cut off without the Governor in control. Neither of his seconds — Martinez or Shumpert, (or even Merle had he not switched sides) — could pick up the slack and divert the town from imploding. So, the prison group, whose own strained source of power stemmed from the in-fighting between Shane and Rick in season two, survived while the Governor and Woodbury went down in flames.

Where do we go from here? Let’s take a look at the cast from this episode.

Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) & Shumpert (Travis Love) — These two guys did exactly what they needed to do to survive — cut loose and run. Although it wouldn’t have been unjustified for one of them to gun down the Governor before driving away from the Woodbury population killing fields, they took the less messy route of leaving in the night. Perhaps the Governor’s hold on them was still too strong for them to turn their guns on him. As it was, they recognized that he was a failed leader, and they had better chances on their own. We see Martinez again at the end of the episode, but not Shumpert. I hope that Georgia’s second best arrow shooter is still alive!

Megan (Meyrick Murphy) — the Governor’s new daughter figure. Given the monumental task of making the Governor more sympathetic, this is the best way to go about it. If Philip became psychopathic from the deaths of his wife and daughter, then perhaps a new will set him straight again. Maybe this is what he wanted all along, just to reclaim his lost familial unit. If so, then this is exactly what drives Rick — see last week with his first questions asking about the safety of Carl and Judith. Rick and the Governor are just two sides of the same coin.

There were times when the Governor could have cut the dead weight of this family and went out on his own again — after the father died, and when the zombies were after them — but since he didn’t, I’ll take that as a sign that he really does care for this new family in his life. Now, as far as Megan herself goes, I think she has been pretty sheltered from the horrors of life in Zombieland. Her grandfather may have been the only one she saw reanimated, and then she had to witness the ordeal of seeing his head caved in by an oxygen tank. Good thing she’s got a brand new dad in her life, or otherwise she might end up like creepy Lizzie in the prison!

Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Lily (Audrey Marie Anderson) — The cop and the nurse. Who have been hiding away since the entire zombie apocalypse began. If that’s not dereliction of duty, then I don’t know what is. Okay, so Tara was just a cadet in the academy. But Lily should have had a bit more exposure to the dead if she was a nurse. At a hospital. Where sick, injured, dead people end up. However, they seemingly closed themselves off indoors at the first sign of trouble, and have stayed that way for over a year. Heh.

I like the budding relationship that is developing between Lily and ‘Brian Heriot.’ It would have been pretty awkward doing it in the back of a flatbed truck with your daughter and sister sleeping right next to you though. I’ve read criticism that this episode was slow and had too much drama. That’s okay in my opinion though. Had we seen the deaths of the Governor’s new family in the same episode they were introduced, I would not have been pleased. Please AMC, let them stick around for a week or two before pulling the trigger. That will give it a much stronger impact!

David (Danny Vinson) — Lily and Tara’s father and Megan’s grandfather. All in all, I’d say lung cancer ain’t a bad way to go during the end of the world. Still, I wonder why the Governor didn’t tell them that he would turn after his death. Perhaps he had his mind made up to leave, and didn’t have the heart to do so. Or perhaps he already thought they knew.

The Governor aka Philip aka ‘Brian Heriot’ (David Morrisey) — I really liked his transition from consummate bad guy to possibly redeemed by the end of the episode. I think that it won’t work out for him, yet again, and he’ll snap completely when his new family dies. Had it been just the Governor in the pit, do you think Martinez would have shot him? I think had the tables been turned, and the Governor’s family not been right there with him, then Martinez, or anybody else, would have had a new hole in his head. The Governor may be on a path to becoming a changed man, but I think that he will do anything it takes to protect the new family that has adopted him. Only, how will his new family react when they learn of the atrocities he has committed, and the lies he has told them?

Zombie of the Week

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The legless faceless ghoul stuck in the bathtub was incredible. Second place was the zed whose head the Governor ripped off at the jaw. That one looked normal, but that was an awesome effect!

Some Thoughts

    • The the big beard and dirty clothes, the Governor looks like a really frazzled, homeless Snake Plissken.
    • I love how he told the truth about the former leader of his group losing it. Has he really developed a new persona for himself outside of Woodbury, or is he really just manipulating them with his lies?
    • The situation in the apartment with the women and their invalid father is straight from the first Governor novel. Although, since they are on the road now, I doubt anything else similar from the novel will happen with them.
    • The Governor and Megan had some honestly cute interactions, and I think that had we not known the hell Brian went though (caused) to get to that point, he would be a ‘good guy.’
    • With that infection going around the prison, fist bumps might be a great deal safer than handshakes!
    • The burning of the picture could be one of two things. 1. It is a symbolic severing of the man that he used to be — consumed by anger and hatred — and a change into something else. 2. It is a means of the Governor protecting himself from being asked more questions by Lily and Megan about his previous life and family.
    • Is Tara the first lesbian in The Walking Dead?
    • It’s probably not the smartest plan to drop everything and just run willy nilly into the wilderness away from the zombie horde. Especially since the Governor is so adept at killing them with his bare hands!

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Next week, the Governor’s story — who cares about the prisoners? — continues in “Dead Weight.”