October. What a wonderful month. The first full month of autumn, and my favorite holiday …
Silvio La Frossia is a contributor to the About Men Radio podcast and blog and also co-hosts the Retro TV podcast which will debut soon from HeadStepper Media. He is a lifelong fan of the horror genre and will contribute to The Mass Invasion on a semi-regular basis.
I am a Deadhead, but not in that Grateful Dead kind of way. I’m more of an “Undead” aficionado, a lover of all things Zombie. Something about that slow-moving gait and their unquenchable hunger that calls to me on some primal level.
Like many others, I started with the classic Universal Pictures monsters and in the early 70s went through a “Devil made me do it” phase. I devoured films like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Car and Race With the Devil but during this developmental phase of my horror movie connoisseurship I saw the “Father of All Undead Flicks”: Night of the Living Dead.
I was hooked for life…pun intended.
The zombie sub-genre became my first love in horror. To this day I am enthralled by the smelly, rotting, walking corpses that despite their slow mindless walk are so unimaginably dangerous because one bite and you join them in a neverending quest for warm human flesh to eat.
Fast forward to 2003 and Robert Kirkman goes the comic book route instead of film and together with artist Tony Moore, and later Charlie Adlard, scared a whole new generation and most of the previous one with fantastic story arcs and gripping visuals of The Walking Dead.
In spite of its popularity, a movie or mini-series based on the comic would contain too much blood and gore for network television so executives stayed away. But luckily basic cable could do things network TV couldn’t.
The AMC network was starting to attract viewers with well told story arc series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. They took a chance with Kirkman’s creation and brought The Walking Dead to life…um, so to speak. It was a very successful gamble.
The first season loosely followed the comic books. Characters on screen, new to the avid reader were introduced and some of the characters from the books acted in completely different ways on the screen. But the story arc was gripping, the special effects were horrifying and the gore was intense. In an early episode aptly named Guts, a zombie is disemboweled with a fire axe!
Season one was a smash hit with me! Unfortunately, the next three seasons were an up and down mess of story telling that almost lost me more than once.
The Walking Dead as a TV series, with its opportunity to tell a deeper story, could have easily stretched out into the post apocalyptic zombie world to address the questions we fans desperately wanted answered like “What happens next?”, “How do the survivors continue to adapt?” or “What does the landscape look like?”
Instead we got views of manicured lawns, impeccably clean cars that always started no matter how old the gasoline was, and endless supplies of bullets that always finished in a headshot. And worse still, they took the bite, so to speak, out of the zombie.
The cause of the world’s destruction and the human race’s near extinction was now easily killed with a knife through the skull. I hate to nitpick here but the skull is one of the hardest bones in the human body. It would take an enormous amount of force and an especially strong blade to get the job done.
Some characters are shown holding back the zombies at arm’s length or with an outstretched leg while reaching for a weapon with which to dispatch it.
I even stayed tuned after the ultimate in ridiculousness. A character pegged off an advancing zombie with a golf ball, shot with what seemed to be a 7 iron and of course, hit the zombie right in the head!
These are the creatures that overran most of the world’s military might?!
And yet I continued to watch!
But late into the current season that will finish at the end of this month I am rewarded with the story and images I yearned to see from the start. More than 2 years in story time (5 years air time) of the zombie apocalypse, the “what happens next” events are just now being addressed and I am hooked. Again.
I anxiously await the final few episodes hoping they keep their grip on me and make me want to speed-up time until October 2015 and the start of the next season.
Mmmmm, Walking Dead!