Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Walking Dead S5E6 "Consumed" 11/16/14

At long last ... it's the Carol and Darryl show!  Not a lot happens plot-wise but it's awfully nice to spend time with my two favorite characters.  Also, the show is none too subtle with its smoke symbolism because Carol comes right out and explains it all for us.  I've helped by using CAPITALS.

Flashback.  Carol drives off after Rick casts her out for killing and burning those two sick people in the prison.  She cries a little, scared to be on her own, then rallies and holes up in a law office in some small town.  She's not that far away, however, and sees the black SMOKE when the Governor attacks and burns the prison.  She drives back and sees the destruction, eyes wide and jaw dropped.  All her friends (or former friends) are scattered.

Now.  Darryl and Carol chase the car with the white cross, Darryl telling Carol what happened with him and Beth.  They follow all the way to the outskirts of Atlanta.  When their car runs out of gas, Carol says she knows a place nearby where they can hunker down for the night.  They go into a big office-type building.  Carol finds some keys and leads Darryl further and further in, through a series of doors until they come into a small room with a bunkbed.  It's a shelter for abused women and children and she and Sophia stayed there once when she was still married to her horrible husband.  At one point in the night, they hear a couple of walkers banging on one of the doors.  It's a former woman and small child; they can't get in.  Carol makes a move to go put them down and Darryl stops her, saying, "You don't hafta.  You don't."  In the morning, Carol wakes up to find that Darryl has killed the mother and child walkers and is respectfully burning their bodies.  She thanks him as the black SMOKE rises to the sky.

Flashback.  Carol and Tyrese bury the two little girls as white SMOKE (from Darryl and Beth's burning the shack) billows into the sky.

Now.  Darryl and Carol continue into Atlanta on foot, looking for signs of vehicles with those white crosses.  They get into a tall building, hoping for a better view.  At one point, there's a contingent of walkers camped out in a hallway.  No, really: the zombies are trapped in sleeping bags and tents.  "Some days I don't know what the hell to think," mutters Darryl as they take out the sleeping bag zombies.  They leave the ones in the tents because they don't seem to be getting out anytime soon.  Unbeknownst to our heroes, however, someone is watching them.

They make their way to an office on a higher floor.  As they look out the window, searching for the white crosses, Carol mentions that Darryl still hasn't asked her what happened with Tyrese and the girls.  Darryl: "Well, I know what happened.  They ain't here."  Carol: "It was worse than that."  Then they see a van with two of the crosses in its back windows, half-hanging off an overpass.  They decide to take what supplies they can find and head over there to see where it leads them.   On their way back out of the building, Noah - Beth's escapee friend - gets the drop on them and takes their gun and crossbow.  "Sorry about this," he says, opening the zombie tents, "But you look tough."  Noah bolts and Darryl quickly deals with the emerging tent zombies.  Carol brings up her pistol, shoots a walker and then aims at Noah's back.  Darryl knocks her hand down.  She glares at him.

As they find their way out, Carol complains that [Noah] stole their weapons and she should have been allowed to shoot him.  Darryl retorts that he's just a kid.  She goes on, getting a little wound up, saying that without weapons they could die, and she doesn't want Darryl to die, she doesn't want any of their friends to die but she can't stop it and that's why she left the church because she just needed to be somewhere else ... Darryl cuts into her rising hysteria, sharply saying that they aren't somewhere else.  They're here, trying to do their best.

They walk out onto the overpass to that van.  There's nothing in it except a gurney stenciled with "GMH" - Grady Memorial Hospital.  Darryl suggests that that may be where Beth's kidnappers are holed up, but before they can discuss a plan, the van is surrounded by walkers.  There are too many to fight off so they climb into the van and strap themselves into the front seats.  Holding each other's hands, they brace themselves ... and the walkers knock the van off the overpass.  It's a pretty cool stunt (defying the laws of physics a bit so that it lands wheels down), especially when several walkers follow the van down, crashing onto the roof and windshield.  Darryl and Carol have survived the fall but they're pretty battered and Carol can't really use her right arm.  Clinging to each other for support, they leave the wreckage and head off towards Grady Memorial.

They make their way into another office building near the hospital and keep watch.  They talk a little, Carol saying that in her old life, when she was married to ol' asshole Ed, she just waited for something to change instead of making the change for herself.  When the zombie apocalypse happened, that person GOT BURNED AWAY.  At the prison, she felt she became the person she should have been.  And then she GOT BURNED AWAY (like when she burned the sick people and couldn't save the little girls).  Darryl:  "Hey.  We ain't ashes."  They are interrupted by banging and shouting and shooting.  Upon investigation, they find Noah battling some walkers.  Carol almost gets taken out because of her hurt arm but Darryl takes care of her.  He also nearly takes care of Noah, dropping a heavy bookcase on him and intending to leave him defenseless against the walkers.  Carol pleads with Darryl and finally he relents and spares Noah.

Flashback.  Carol, after blowing up the propane tank that would ultimately free Rick et als. from the cannibal Terminus people, strips off her zombie guts-covered poncho and wipes her face, crying, as black SMOKE from the explosion billows behind her.

It's a good thing they kept Noah alive too because it quickly comes out that they all have Beth in common.  Noah tells them about the hospital set-up and says that they'll have to be careful because they will have heard the shooting.  A cop car cruises by and Noah panics, "We gotta go.  We gotta go!"  He says that they can get into the hospital through the basement of the building next door.  Darryl lags behind, helping the badly limping Noah along, while Carol runs on ahead.  She dashes out into the street and is immediately hit by the cruising cop car, rolling up and over the hood.  Darryl lunges for her but Noah pulls him back.  They watch as the cops take out a gurney and load the unconscious Carol into their car.  Noah says that the cops will take Carol to the hospital where they can help her; if Darryl goes out there now, it'll be a big fire fight which won't help Carol at all.  Darryl watches helplessly as the cops and Carol drive off.  Noah: "We can get her back.  We can get Beth back."  Darryl: "What'll it take?"  Noah: "A lot.  They got guns.  People."  Darryl:  "Yeah?  So do we."

Last scene:  Darryl and Noah find a truck and drive out of Atlanta, back to the church [where Noah will be the person hiding in the bushes when Darryl and Michonne meet back up].  Now they've got two of their people to rescue.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Walking Dead S5E5 "Self Help" 11/9/14

Again, sorry for the posting delay.  I'm still battling this week-long head cold and it's put me off schedule a bit.  However, I don't know that anyone has been particularly clamoring for a recap of this episode.  It's fine and all, but was anyone, even those who haven't read the comics, in the least bit surprised by Eugene's big reveal?  No, no, they weren't.  Also, OMG CAN WE PLEASE GET BACK TO BETH AND CAROL AND DARRYL?

Now: Abraham drives the church bus down the road, everyone calm and fairly content and pleased to have a plan and a goal.  Rosita and Abraham are kind of couple-y, which is cute; everyone else talks a bit amongst themselves.  Glen asks Eugene about the plan for killing off the walkers ("That's classified") and about his mullet ("I like it").  Everything is copacetic ... until something explodes and the bus flips.  And a small herd of walkers surrounds it.  So much for an idyllic drive in the country.

Flashback:  In a grocery store, Abraham beats several men to death using a can of food as brass knuckles.  His hands are nearly shredded and he staggers further into the store, calling, "Ellen!"

Now: After the crash, everyone is shaken up and a little battered but basically okay.  They check to make sure Eugene is okay - because he's the most important thing - and then they form up to get out of the bus.  Abraham and Glen first, to start on the approaching walkers, then Maggie and Rosita, then Tara and Eugene.  Tara gives Eugene a knife so he can defend himself and also gives him a little pep talk because he's clearly terrified.  (Seriously, how does this guy last this long without being able to fight back at all? Abraham's such an enabler.)  As it turns out, a walker nearly gets Tara but Eugene knocks it over and stabs it in the head - his first kill.  As everyone catches their breath, the bus catches on fire and Abraham is all, this changes nothing - we're moving forward.  Eugene suggests that they're only fifteen miles from the church but Abraham shouts, WE DO NOT GO BACK!  Glen calms him down (Abraham: "I took a pretty hard shot to the sack in that crash - I am stressed and depressed ... but if you say we're rollin' on, I'm good.") and they keep walking.

Flashback:  Abraham is searching for "Ellen," calling her name.  He finds her, cowering behind a register, two little kids hiding behind her.

Now:  The group takes refuge for the night in a bookstore, pushing bookcases up against windows, building a little cookfire, stitching up each other's wounds.  Abraham goes to do a sweep and some time later Glen finds him.  There's a lot of talk, some about what happened back at the church: seems like everyone who is left is strong now - and you either help them so they help you or you kill them before they kill you.  Glen suggests that Abraham turn in since he's got a watch later on.  Abraham: "Yeah.  I really need some ass first."  Glen, after Abraham leaves: "Didn't need to know that but ... cool."

Eugene watches Rosita and Abraham have sex, peeking at them from behind the self-help books.  They know he's watching but don't really care.  Tara, however, finds it creepy and distracts him by thanking him for saving her life back there at the bus crash.  She's legitimately reaching out to him and then he confesses to causing the crash: he put crushed glass in the fuel line but didn't mean for it to go so FUBAR.  Tara's like, WTF did you do that for?  Eugene says that if he doesn't save the world, he has no value in it and he's just freaking out.  Tara says that he's their friend, and that he's stuck with them, and it's going to be okay ... but he really shouldn't tell anyone else about causing the crash.

Flashback:  Abraham says, "I stopped them.  You don't have to be scared now."  But Ellen and his kids (his son has red hair like his dad) are terrified, looking at him all bloodstained.

Now:  In the morning, Rosita suggests that they take the day to regroup, resupply and recover.  Abraham's like no, absolutely not.  And then when Maggie and Glen show up and suggest that they take a day to sweep for supplies, Rosita immediately toes her man's line: We'll sweep as we go and we'll leave today.  Also, Abraham has found them a vehicle: a firetruck with a full water tank.  It takes some doing to get it going - the air intake is clogged with human and/or walker remains.  As they frig around with the truck, trying to get it going, a bunch of walkers come out of the firehouse at them.  There's a lot of them, too many, and for a moment it looks like there are too many.  But then Eugene gets up on the roof of the truck and unleashes the hose on them.  It is an EXCELLENT new way to kill zombies: the force of the water ripping their rotting bodies and heads to pieces.

Flashback: In the morning, when Abraham awakes, Ellen and the kids are gone.  She's left him a note: don't try to find us.  Screaming their names, Abraham runs out of the store.

Now:  It's not clear how far they have gotten, but the firetruck breaks down.  They're without water too because Eugene emptied the reservoir when he put down those zombies.  While they wait, Maggie chats with him a little bit, saying how she admires him for not giving up.  "You started this thing."  Abraham can't get the truck going so they continue on foot, until they crest a small hill and see a massive herd of walkers ahead in the distance, roaming through what looks like a former feedlot.  Everyone is all, let's get out of here, let's find another way around.  Everyone except Abraham who is determined to go straight through.  He is unreasonable and unyielding and things get tense.  Abraham and Glen start to get into fisticuffs and everyone starts shouting until Eugene shouts too: "I lied! I'm not a scientist!  I don't know how to stop it."  Everyone stops fighting immediately and stares at him, shocked.  (Really?  You're surprised? You people are dumb.)

Eugene explains that he's very smart and a good liar and when the zombie apocalypse shit hit the fan, and he realized that he was a coward, he came up with his story because then people would protect him.  Rosita: "People died tryin' to get you here."  Eugene says he knows, and names them all, and says that the closer they got to their goal, the more he lost his nerve.  But now, he realizes he's screwed either way.  Everyone's face is desolate.  Except Abraham who has completely lost his shit: he stands up and slug Eugene in the face once, twice, three times.  Eugene falls to the ground, unconscious and landing on his face; his head makes a sick thud when it hits the tarmac.  Maggie, Rosita, Glen and Tara rush to him and roll him over.  He is knocked out at best and it may be much worse.  Abraham falls to his knees.

Flashback:  Abraham finds his wife and kids, torn to pieces by walkers.  He falls to his knees and pulls out his pistol, sticking it in his mouth.  Just then, on the road behind him, a man calls out for help.  It is Eugene, being chased - slowly - by a few zombies.  Abraham gets up and puts the zombies down efficiently, then walks off down the road.  Eugene follows him, thanking him profusely: "Wait, stop!  You can't leave!"  Abraham: "Why?"  Eugene, thinking quickly: "I have a very important mission."  Abraham turns and you can see the dawning hope in his face - he's just been given a reason to keep living.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Penny Dreadful is plenty delightful

I recently watched the first three episodes of the first season of Showtime's Penny Dreadful ... and ooh, wasn't that fun!  It's a slightly over the top Victorian monster movie mash-up, with no little resemblance to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  In the first three episodes we got to see (and this is not an exhaustive list, mind you) AND SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: vampires, Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Monster #1, Frankenstein's Monster #2, Dorian Gray, a Wild West sharpshooter (who may or may not be a werewolf), a hard-up Irish lass with consumption, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a seance, a request for a bride for Frankenstein's monster, the Grand Guignol theater, rumors of the return of Jack the Ripper (not likely), a possible Renfield sighting (by the name of Felton, for some reason), visions, possessions and tarot card readings.

Starring Timothy Dalton (former James Bond), Eva Green (former Bond girl), Josh Hartnett and Billie Piper (Doctor Who?), there is clearly something for everybody in Penny Dreadful - if everybody wants classic monsters, Victorian outfits, blood and guts and some sex and cussing.  The pacing was slow-ish in the first episode, right on in the second and slow in the third - for some reason focusing on Victor Frankenstein and his issues to the exclusion of nearly all else.  Dalton's Sir Malcolm Murray is the least developed character thus far, with Eva Green's Vanessa Ives just ahead of him - although she at least got some scenery to chew in the second episode between the flirtation with Dorian Gray (more of him please!) and the seance scene.

Despite the show needing to figure itself out a little bit, I ate it up greedily and can't wait to see the rest - plus HOORAY it has been renewed for a second season.   It is shot fairly lushly for television, all dark and moody and damp-looking, and is off to a promising start - hopefully things will just keep getting better as we go along (as in, just let Eva Green rampage all over the place!).  Penny DreadfulPenny Delectable is more like it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Walking Dead S5E4 "Slabtown" 11/2/14

Apologies for the delay.  I've been a bit under the weather which has put me off schedule.  

Beth - it's Beth everybody! - wakes up in a hospital room with an IV in her arm.  She yanks the IV out of her arm and runs to the closed door, pounding on it and screaming to be let out.  A doctor (Steven Edwards) and a police officer (Dawn) come in and calm her down, explaining that she's at Grady Memorial in Atlanta.  Dawn explains that her officers picked Beth up out in the world (alone, not Darryl) and rescued her; Dr. Steve attended to her broken wrist and minor head wound.  And since she's been taken care of, she owes them.  Yikes.

Later, Beth is given scrubs to wear and shown around the hospital. Dr, Steve explains, as he turns a patient's life support off (run on car batteries) that if patients don't show any sign of improvement, they cut their losses to conserve resources - Dawn's call.  Beth helps him take the body to an elevator shaft and dump it down there: they have to hurry before the body gets cold because there are walkers down in the basement and they'll eat the bodies if they're warm enough.  As far as living humans, there are only enough living in the hospital to keep the status quo going.  It doesn't seem like very many: a few police, a few people in scrubs working off their debt, just the one doctor.  When Beth goes to the cafeteria for food, she meets a skeezy police officer Gorman who leers at her.  Skeeved out, she leaves without taking anything - because the more she takes, the more she owes.  She does bring Dr. Steve his meal and he is nice to her, talking about music and art and the guinea pig he's dining upon.  He shares his breakfast with her, saying that Dawn doesn't have to know.

The officers bring in another one and for some reason Dawn insists that they save him, even though he fell off a building, even though Dr. Steve is convinced the guy won't make it.  When Dr. Steve bucks her, Dawn lashes out, slapping Beth viciously and snarling, "Try to grasp the stakes here."  Afterwards, Dr. Steve restitches the cut on Beth's face and tells her to change her shirt: the one she's wearing has blood on it and Dawn likes things to be neat.  Some time later, the officers bring in another one - Joan, a former inmate of the hospital who ran away.  Joan has been bitten on the arm, however, and Dawn insists that they cut off her arm so she doesn't turn.  There's no anesthesia so Beth and Dawn hold Joan down while Dr. Steve saws through her arm.  It's pretty grim.

After that, Beth takes the bloody scrubs to the laundry and meets Noah, who works off his indenture there.  He tells Beth that he's been there for a year trying to work off his debt - it doesn't look like Dawn has any intention of letting him go.  So he's planning on escaping as soon as he can.  Beth's eyes light up.  That night, Dawn brings Beth dinner as a peace treaty, trying to talk with her.  Beth is like, I never asked for your help.  Dawn: "But you needed it."  Dawn is convinced that someone is out there and will come rescue them; until then, everyone has to contribute.  Beth begrudgingly eats a little.  

Later, she mops in Joan's room and speaks with her a little: apparently Joan was at Gorman's mercy and Dawn did nothing to make him stop.  Beth's voice quavers when she asks what Gorman did to Joan but the other girl just mutters that it doesn't matter.  It does matter, however, because the next day Gorman corners Beth.  Dr. Steve comes in just in time to make him back off.  Gorman growls that Beth should have been his, plus he'll get Joan back because Dawn won't stop him, but he leaves Beth alone for now.  When he's gone, Beth snaps at Dr. Steve, "Why do you stay here?" so he takes her down to the ground floor and shows her all the walkers surrounding the hospital.  This is why he stays - because he's too scared to go.  "As bad as it gets," he says, "it's still better than [out] there."  When Beth says she should get back to work, Dr. Steve asks her to look in on the latest arrival and give him his scheduled dose of Clozepine.  Okay, says Beth, sure.

She mixes the drug and gives it to the guy - who immediately goes into convulsions and dies, to Beth's horror.  Dawn comes in and puts a scalpel into the dead guy's head, and then demands to know what happened.  Noah steps in and covers for Beth, saying he must have knocked the life support offline while mopping.  Dawn takes Noah off to her office for a beating and an unhappy Beth protests to Dr. Steve that wasn't what happened.  Dr. Steve is like, well, you gave him his Clonazepan, right?  Beth is all, you said Clozepine.  Dr. Steve, no, I didn't.  Beth, in her head, yes you did.

She's had enough and tells Noah that she's coming with him.  He tells her that he can keep an eye on Dawn but Beth will have to go into her office to find the key to the elevator banks because the fastest way out will be down the elevator shaft and through the basement.  Beth searches the office and finds not only the key but the latest patient's ID: Dawn was anxious to keep him alive because he was another doctor.  She also finds Joan, dead on the floor, having ripped the stitches out of her amputated arm and bled out.  Unfortunately, Gorman comes in and sees Beth.  He backs her up against the desk and starts groping her.  Beth allows it because she's seen dead Joan's finger twitch.  Then she smashes a glass candy dish against his head.  Gorman falls to the floor where zombie Joan immediately goes for his throat.  Beth grabs Gorman's gun out of his belt, clutches the key she came for and bolts.

Beth and Noah make their way to the elevator shaft.  Noah has made a rope out of tied-together sheets and Beth climbs down first.  As Noah follows, a walker lurches out at him from a door on a lower floor.  He panics and falls, landing on the pile of dead, broken bodies at the bottom of the elevator shaft.  He's okay and the two of them make their way out through the basement.  There are lots of walkers and Beth has to use the gun - she's still a very good shot, even with her hand in a cast.  They get outside and run for the fence, still battling their way through the zombies.  Noah climbs through the fence and runs; Beth gets tackled by one of Dawn's officers and dragged back inside the hospital.  Beth has a smile on her face, though, glad that Noah made it out.

Dawn takes Beth back to her office to confront her.  Beth snarls that Gorman attacked her, just like he attacked Joan, just like Dawn allows.  Beth:  "No one's coming, Dawn.  No one's comin'! We're all gonna die and you let this happen for nothin'!"  Furious, Dawn hauls off and belts her.  After Dr. Steve stitches her back up again, Beth asks him how he knew that patient was a doctor.  She's all, "That's why you had me give him the wrong meds, right? Because with another doctor, Dawn wouldn't keep you around and protect you."  

When Beth leaves Dr. Steve's office, she takes a pair of scissors.  But when she walks down the corridor, seemingly intent on using them, she sees some officers rolling another gurney down the hall.  On that gurney: Carol.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mini movie review: Snowpiercer

Earth's scientists spray a compound into the atmosphere to combat the global warming crisis.  It works all too well, sending Earth into an ice age and killing almost everyone and everything on the planet.  The only survivors live on a super-train constructed by an eccentric billionaire before the ice age: it circles the planet, never stopping, powered by a nearly mythological Engine.  Wealthy first class passengers live in the front of the train, surrounded by luxury and warmth; the dregs of this closed, self-sustaining society are packed into the train's tail, living in filth and squalor, drinking water recycled from first class's waste.  If the train ever stops, if anyone tries to escape to the world outside, they'll freeze to death.  They've been living like this for seventeen years.

From time to time, as you might imagine, the folks in the tail of the train revolt against their treatment.  All revolutions thus far have failed.  But this time, Curtis (Chris Evans, very un-Captain America-y) is determined to make it to the front, supported by his young buddy Edgar (Jamie Bell), the tail section's de facto leader Gilliam (John Hurt) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer) whose young son has been taken away from her for possibly nefarious purposes.  Grimly, violently, the uprising moves up through the train cars, but every car taken - prison car, food processing, water reclamation - only affects the cars behind and doesn't hurt the greater luxury towards the front.

I'm doing a terrible job of describing this movie but really, Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-ho (who also did The Host, which I loved) is a great, post-apocalyptic science fiction flick.  The train is wonderfully imagined, nightmarish and clever like something Terry Gilliam might have come up with (and has inspired me to watch Brazil, Time Bandits, etc. again soon).  Tilda Swinton, who keeps order amongst the lower classes, steals every scene she's in.  The ending of the movie is probably not what many viewers would have wanted - dire but hopeful and open-ended - but I think it seems to fit.  I don't think Snowpiercer got much of a theater audience but I hope it finds some legs in at-home viewing.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fifth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #6: May

Wow.  It's Halloween and I've only managed to watch six scary (or, "scary," taking Warm Bodies into consideration) movies for the entire month.  That's a pretty lame FMSSOMS showing.  On the plus side, #6 (May, 2002) is a pretty good little indie horror flick.

Poor May is such a weirdo.  Shunned by her classmates as a child because she was shy and had an eye patch to correct her lazy eye, little May's only friend was a creeptastic homemade doll that her mother made - and who lives in a glass case because she's too precious to be touched.  (May's mother's motto: "If you don't have any friends, make one!")  Grown-up May (Angela Bettis) is still weird.  She's got her own apartment - filled with dolls she's made and her own homemade clothes - and a good job - as a veterinary assistant where her facility with needle and thread and a high tolerance for blood and guts comes in handy.  But she's still shy and hopelessly awkward, and talks to creepy doll Suzy because she's so lonely.  When Polly, the hot party girl receptionist at work (Anna Faris), starts making friendly overtures to her, May uses the interaction to build enough confidence to approach Adam the carwash boy (Jeremy Sisto) she's crushing on.  It all works out at first and she is thrilled to have these new friends.  But she's just so weird and creepy, and she doesn't have any social skills at all.  She finally freaks Adam out just too much and he dumps her; turning to Polly, she doesn't understand when Polly blows her off for a booty call.  Abandoned and alone again, May remembers her mother's motto and that's when the blood starts flowing.

For probably two-thirds of this 90 minute movie, May is more of a darkly funny psychothriller: you know that something is wrong with May but you hope that she'll be able to pull herself together.  It seems like she might be able to get herself to be normal enough, if not completely normal.  I was rooting for her at first, this sad, lonely weird girl.  But May is too weird to really identify with and once the killing starts, I stopped rooting for her.  Unlike Carrie White, with whom the audience sympathizes even as she takes her vengeance, May is just too creepy and damaged to be relatable. Still, the performances are good and the effects are, well, effective even if the "blood" is a little thin.  May is an unexpected dark little treat of a movie, a fine way to wrap up the month.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Walking Dead S5E3 "Four Walls and a Roof" 10/26/14

Holy crap - that was by far one of the best episodes TWD has done in a really, really long time.  "We didn't want to waste the bullets."  

We pick right back up where we left off, with Gareth and company noshing on leg du Bob in front of a campfire outside of an elementary school.  Inside the school: dozens of walkers, pressed up against the windows, clamoring to get out.  Gareth is very talky, charming and psychotic - he's a good villain because you like to hate him.  The Terminusians usually prefer to eat women but Bob is, surprisingly, very tasty.  After a while, Bob starts weeping.  Then the weeping turns to sobbing, which turns to laughing maniacally.  The Terminusians gather around, saying that he's cracked.  Still cackling, Bob pulls his shirt away from his shoulder, revealing a suppurating walker bite (that he got at the food bank).  "I've been bitten, you stupid pricks! I'm tainted meat!"  The cannibals spit out their mouthfuls, some of them vomit, panicking that they're now infected.  "TAINTED MEAT!" shrieks Bob.  Awesome.

Sasha, Tyrese and Rick wander in the woods around the church, looking for Bob, Darryl and Carol.  They go back inside and confront Father Gabriel, sure that he's hiding something that has hurt their missing people.  After some badgering, he breaks down, coward that he is, and confesses his guilty conscience: he locked himself inside his church and refused to open the doors to his parishioners when the zombies swarmed.  He listened to his flock get ripped to shreds and eaten and then, afterwards, he buried all the remains.  Rick et als., especially Carl, who wants to believe that people are good, look at him with disgust.

Then they hear something outside: the Terminusians have left Bob out on the lawn.  They run out, drag Bob inside, and cap a few walkers just for the hell of it.  Back inside, Bob brings them up to speed, including telling them that Gareth said he saw Darryl and Carol drive off.  He also shows them all his bitten shoulder and everyone sort of collapses in on themselves.  Death is such a constant on this show but it's still devastating when it's slow and peaceful, as peaceful as the aftermath of a bite during a zombie apocalypse.  Gabriel says there's a couch in his office and they move poor Bob in there.

Abraham speaks up: the "get Eugene to Washington, D.C." contingent is bugging the hell out of here before things go to shit any further.  Rick's like, you can't take that bus.  Abraham: the hell I can't.  After some back and forth macho posturing between Rick and Abraham, a compromise is reached: Abraham will stay for twelve more hours to try to fight against Gareth's group, but then he and his leave, and Tara, Glen and Maggie go with them.  (It seems a little sudden that Glen and Maggie would agree to go except that Glen has more history with Abraham than the rest of Rick's people, and he's begun to be troubled by Rick's growing brutality.  That's why Glen agrees to go.)

Bob and Sasha scene.  Very sweet and sad.  When Bob dies, he's going to take most of the hope and optimism and humor out of this group.

Out in the main part of the church, the gang makes a plan.  "Plan's got stones, I'll give you that," says Abraham.  "It's a big play," notes Rosita, getting a tiny line at last.  Rick, Sasha, Abraham, Glen, Maggie and Michonne head off into the nighttime woods, leaving Carl, Eugene, Rosita, Tyrese, Bob, Gabriel and baby Judith huddled in the church office.  And then, terribly, just as Rick's group fades from sight, Gareth and his crew sneak out of the woods themselves from where they have been hiding and watching and break into the church.  Oh shit.

Gabriel gets to talk and talk again, taunting the hiders as the other five pull their guns and advance through the church.  It's actually quite tense because, quite frankly, any of the hiders could conceivably get killed off (although probably not Carl or Judith).  Just then, Judith gives out a wail before Carl can shush her.  The gunmen move over to the office door, ready to bust it down.  And then BANG BANG the heads of two of them splatter all over the wall.

It was a trick!  Figuring that Gareth was watching, Rick and his group left and then circled around behind, silently coming back into the church.  Rick tells them to drop their guns and kneel and when Gareth doesn't immediately respond, Rick shoots off all his fingers.  Gareth tries to convince Rick that they'll leave and never come back, never bother Rick's group again.  But Rick is done with mercy.  He pulls out that red-handled machete and hacks the kneeling Gareth to pieces; behind him, Abraham, Michonne and Sasha take care of the other three.  It is brutal and horrible, the Terminusians screaming, Glen, Maggie, Tara and Tyrese looking on in shock and horror.  When it is done, Michonne lifts her sword off one of the bodies, her face unreadable.  Gabriel staggers out of the office, looking at the gore splashed around his church.  He whimpers, "But this is the Lord's house," but Maggie interrupts him with a curt, "No.  It's just four walls and a roof."

The next morning, Bob is still hanging in there.  Everyone says goodbye to him.  He asks Rick to sit with him for a minute.  Rick does, Judith on his lap.  Bob says that before the prison, he didn't know if there were any good people left but Rick took him in.  "Nightmares end - they shouldn't end who you are.  And that is just this dead man's opinion."  Later, Sasha sits with Bob.  He wakes from a restless sleep, smiles at her and then breathes his last.  She bows her head, crying quietly, then pulls out her knife to make sure he doesn't rise back up.  But Tyrese comes in, takes the knife from his sister and, after she leaves the room, gently, sadly, slides the blade into Bob's temple.  He's broken his vow not to kill again but he couldn't let Sasha do it herself.

Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Tara, Glen and Maggie drive off in the bus, Abraham leaving Rick with a map of their planned route and eliciting a promise that they'll come to D.C. after they get Darryl and Carol back.  After they've gone, Rick helps Tyrese dig some graves to bury the Terminusians out in the woods (Bob being already interred in the church's cemetery).  He says to Tyrese that he never asked him how it was for him, getting to Terminus.  Tyrese: "It killed me."  Rick, after thinking about it a bit: "No, it didn't."

That night, Michonne is up keeping watch on the church's front steps, her sword sitting across her knees.  Gabriel can't sleep and he joins her, saying that he still hears his congregation.  Michonne: "Yeah, that won't stop - but it won't be all the time."  They hear some rustling in the underbrush.  Gabriel scurries back inside but Michonne draws her sword from its scabbard and walks towards the woods.  After a tense moment, Darryl steps out.  Michonne grins at him, then: "Where's Carol?"  Darryl just looks at her for a second or two and then looks back into the dark woods behind him and says, "Come on out."

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fifth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #5: The Conjuring

Okay, so The Conjuring is one of the scarier flicks I've seen, at least for the first two-thirds: for approximately half of the first two-thirds, I had to watch from behind my fingers, slouched down on the couch, trying not to startle the dog every time I jumped.  Which was a lot.

Based on a "true" story, The Conjuring is set in Rhode Island in the early 1970s.  The Perron family - Roger (Ron Livingston), Carolyn (Lily Taylor), their five (!!) daughters and their dog Sadie - move into a great, old farmhouse. Right from the get-go, things are weird: Sadie refuses to enter the house; and the parents find a boarded-over staircase to a forgotten basement, full of various junk.   The poor dog is killed the first night, one of the daughters starts sleepwalking, Carolyn develops mysterious bruises and all the clocks stop at 3:07 a.m. every night.  Roger is a truck driver, requiring him to leave his family alone a lot, and the nighttime disturbances intensify: pictures falling off walls, doors opening for no reason, sleeping daughters getting their feet touched by unseen assailants.

Finally, scared and worried, Carolyn tracks down Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), real life paranormal investigators whose claim to fame is Amityville.  Ed and Lorraine investigate and determine that not only is the Perrons' new home haunted, it is probably inhabited by a demon - a former witch who sacrificed her own baby to the devil.  The investigation continues and the disturbances escalate further, dragging the Warrens into the fray on a personal level.  The culmination is an exorcism, performed by Ed because the Catholic church won't authorize an official exorcism for a non-Catholic family, and there is mostly a happy ending.

The first two-thirds of The Conjuring is fantastic: suspenseful, creepy, scary and tense.  The camera follows the Perrons into their home as they move in, so the audience gets to explore the house as the new residents do.  Then, the camera focuses on what is not there - dark shadows, spaces under the beds - which is particularly effective when one of the daughters is shrieking and screaming that something is RIGHT THERE BEHIND THE DOOR and we are watching right there behind the door, and there is nothing there.  There is a rhythm to the jump scares - tension building, false scare, actual scare - but that doesn't make them any less effective, and one of the best sequences is when Carolyn searches the dark house by herself, opening doors and going into the basement alone. Dear god I was squirming.  But for the last bit of the movie, when the Warrens really get involved and the scary bits get explained, things fall flat.  The demons come out into the light and the tension drains away - and the exorcism itself is perfunctory and unimpressive.

So, here it is in a nutshell: The Conjuring is fantastically scary for the most part and then, when you can't stand it anymore, it steps back and lets you down easy.  Still, it's a solid example of a haunted house flick and worth your time for the most part.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Walking Dead S5E2 "Strangers" 10/19/14

This episode is extremely talky.  Fortunately most of it doesn't matter, until the reveal at the end.

Our gang walks away from the burning Terminus, in slow motion.  Tara 'fesses to Rick that she was at the prison with the Governor.  Carol and Tyrese decide they don't need to tell the others about what happened to the girls.  Bob and Sasha are completely adorable, playing cute word games and smooching (this, of course, means something terrible is going to happen to at least one of them).  That night, camping out in the open, Carol and Rick talk some - it's not important until the end of their conversation when he says, "I sent you away to this and now we're joining you.  Will you have us?"  Carol is surprised and nods yes.  He thanks her.  Later, Carol and Daryl sit up, keeping watch.  She tells him that she doesn't want to talk about it, she can't.  Daryl's like, all right.  Then he thinks he hears something out in the underbrush; when nothing lurches at them, trying to chew their legs off, he shrugs, guessing it was nothing.  But there is someone there, watching, waiting.

In the morning, they are on the march again when they hear screaming.  Rick doesn't want to get involved but Carl does.  They find a minister treed on a boulder, surrounded by zombies.  Rick, Daryl, Carol, Carl and Michonne make short work of the walkers.  The minister comes down, promptly upchucks all over his shoes, and then answers Rick's three questions: he hasn't killed any walkers, he hasn't killed any people and he hasn't done anything.  His name is Gabriel and Rick doesn't believe him.  He does, however, have a church nearby, a place where they can shelter.  He takes them there and our gang checks it out, finding nothing amiss but no food either.  Seems safe enough for now.  Gabriel tells them that there's a nearby town: he's cleaned it out except for one place that's been overrun - about a dozen walkers.

Our gang decides to head out on a scavenging run, except for Tyrese and Carl who will stay behind to protect Judith.  Before they go, Rick tells Carl to be aware, that he's never safe and can't let his guard down.  Carl listens and agrees, but does say to his dad that he doesn't believe that everyone can be evil.

Daryl and Carol fetch more water.  They find a car abandoned on the side of the road: the battery is dead but Carol finds a charger/generator in the trunk, so she figures they can use this car as a back-up.  Glen, Maggie and Tara check out a gun store where Glen finds three silencers that had been hidden in a mini-fridge (Glen: "Rule #1 of scavenging: there's nothing left in this world that isn't hidden.") - they call that a win.  Rick, Michonne, Bob, Sasha and Gabriel go to the town's food bank.  The basement, where all kinds of canned foodstuffs are stored, is full of water from holes in the building's roof; it's also full of walkers, squishy, waterlogged, extra-disgusting walkers.  All five of them go down and here's the big zombie action scene of the episode: splashing around in that gooey, stinking water, crushing heads with whatever is handy.  Gabriel panics and Bob is almost nailed by a submerged zombie but they all make it out, none the worse for wear, and with lots and lots of food for their trouble.

As they take the food back to the church, there's more talking.  The only thing important is that Rick asks Michonne if she misses her katana sword.  She says no, and she doesn't miss the life she had before - she misses Andrea and Herschel but she doesn't miss that sword.  When they get back to the church, Carl shows Rick what he's found: knife marks scratching up the shutters on the outside of the church and the words "YOU'LL BURN FOR THIS" carved into the siding.  Carl: "This doesn't mean Gabriel is a bad person.  But it does mean something."  When did Carl get so smart?

That night, they feast and even crack open a bottle or two of the church's communion wine.  It is here that Abraham makes his pitch: for Rick to agree to bring his group with them to Washington D.C., so Eugene can work on the cure.  They believe that there's still infrastructure in place, food, medicine, a place to be safe until they can clean out the dead.  Most of our gang looks like they want to go but they hold their tongues until Rick nods, agreeing to go to D.C.  People applaud, liking having a plan.

Not everyone is feeling happy, however.  Rick sits with Gabriel, who is moping by himself.  He tells the minister that he knows he's hiding something - that's his business - but if what he's hiding hurts Rick's people in any way, he [Rick] will kill him [Gabriel].  In the meantime, Carol steals away and Daryl finds her getting that car started.  She doesn't feel like she can stay with the group but her running away is interrupted when another car roars past them.  It has a cross painted on its back window and Daryl shouts that that is the car that took Beth.  They knock out the taillights and jump into their car, giving chase.  You know, I bet no one else knows where they are.  That's not good.

Back at the church, Bob has also gone outside, alone, away from everyone else.  He leans against a tree and begins to sob, apparently not as happy and optimistic as he seemed earlier.  His pity party is interrupted, however, when an unknown assailant clubs him over the head.  When he comes to, things have gone from bad to worse:  he has been captured by Gareth and some other Terminus-ers.  Gareth gets his turn to talk, blaming Bob and his group for ruining their home and casting them out into the world where they now have to hunt.  What are they hunting?  Our gang.  Why are they hunting them?  It's not personal - they would have done it to anyone, it's just cosmic justice that it's our gang that the hunters have found first - it's because they're hungry.  The camera pulls back: Bob's leg has been cut off at the knee and Gareth takes a big bite out of the hunk of Bob-meat he's holding in his hand.  Everyone around the fire, on which the rest of Bob's leg is roasting, is munching on Bob meat.  Bob starts to wail and panic, as one would do in that situation.  Gareth:  "If it makes you feel any better, you taste much better than we thought you would."  Nom nom nom.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fifth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #4: The Ring

I watched The Ring, last night, the U.S. remake, not the original Japanese Ringu.  I was a bit conflicted about it because I do try to see originals first, like REC or Let the Right One In, but I'd heard good things about this 2002 Naomi Watts vehicle and was just not in the mood for subtitles.  I was in the mood to be scared a bit, however, and The Ring fit the bill.  Although twelve years after its release I am already well aware that many of its iconic moments are now well-worn tropes (i.e. evil girl with dripping wet black hair), it still did its thing.

Everyone by now knows the story: there's a videotape and if you see it, you die seven days later.  The fun thing is that this movie is as much a mystery-thriller as it is horror; the onscreen body count is low and the bulk of the movie follows reporter/mom Rachel (Watts) as she tries to figure out WTF.  Director Gore Verbinski sets a very creepy, atmospheric stage with a dark, almost monochromatic color palate, rain-washed and moody, very evocative of the J-horror from which this remake sprung.  The opening scene - with a very good Amber Tamblyn - effectively ratchets up the tension.  Many of the shots are beautifully framed, especially the ones out at the horse farm - not what you expect from your average horror flick.  And speaking of horses: anyone who does not find the horse on the ferry scene disturbing is a bad person.

While I thought it was maybe a little bit long at 1 hr. 55 min., I enjoyed The Ring quite a lot.  I don't suppose it holds up that well on repeated viewings and it does seem dated now, what with the flip phones and videotape, but I found it a fun Thursday night viewing.  Now if someone could just tell me why that creepy little kid called his mom by her first name ...