Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E7 "Heads Up" 11/22/15

FINALLY THEY TELL US: Glenn is not, in fact, dead.  When Nicholas shot himself in the head and fell off the dumpster, pulling poor Glenn with him, Glenn landed on the bottom with Nicholas on top of him and it was Nicholas's guts the walkers were digging into.  Glenn, after screaming for a bit, managed to drag himself underneath the dumpster and hide there, killing enough walkers so that the dead bodies fell all around the dumpster, blocking access.  Eventually, the herd wanders off, bored, I guess, and a filthy and very thirsty Glenn drags himself out from under the dumpster.  As he collects Nicholas's pistol, there's a shout, "Heads up!" and Enid, standing on top of a neighboring building, tosses him a water bottle.  Glenn's all, Enid?

He climbs into the building through an easily accessible window (WTF WHY DIDN'T HE AND NICHOLAS GO IN THERE TO ESCAPE THE HERD?), looking for her, but she doesn't want to talk to him.  He asks what happened back in Alexandria, with the air horn and the gunfire, what happened to Maggie.  Enid's like, people died, it wasn't walkers but people, and you should go.  She bolts and Glenn chases after her, wanting answers.  As he searches for her, he finds the dead Alexandrian who got caught when Michonne's group was scaling that fence.  Well, the Alexandrian is more undead but Glenn finishes the job, a little sorrowfully because he's a good guy.

Back at Alexandria, life is getting back to "normal," with people shoring up the walls, keeping watch over the hundreds of zombies outside.  And Rick is back to being a sanctimonious asshole, telling Morgan they "need to talk" and generally being Mr. Bossypants.  When he sees Father Gabriel putting up flyers for a prayer circle, Rick tears them down, which is a pretty dick move - and even Carl thinks so - but Gabriel is unfazed and keeping posting them.  Rick and Carl take Ron to practice with a gun.  He's not allowed to do any actual shooting because (a) too noisy and will attract walkers and (b) waste of ammunition.  Rick shows him how to load and aim; Carl is more than a little condescending ("You'll be scared") but I'm not sure he means to be.  Also, WTF SOMEONE CUT CARL'S HAIR and he needs to STOP wearing that fucking sheriff's hat.  It was sweet when he is a little kid but he just looks ridiculous now.

Later, Rick, Michonne and Carol sit down with Morgan.  Rick says how he got attacked by the Wolves at the RV and that Carol told him that Morgan let some of the Wolves go.  (In Morgan's defense, those Wolves could have been other Wolves, out and about, and not the ones from the Alexandrian attack.  I mean, they were but it could have been other Wolves.)  Morgan explains his "all life is precious" creed, and how it saved him.  Everyone else is all, it's a nice sentiment but things are not that easy (Morgan: "It's not easy!"), plus the Wolves burned people alive.  I get Morgan's point but those Wolves really are bad news.  Afterwards, Rick takes Michonne aside, telling her about a plan he's formulating to draw the herd away from the walls.  When she asks him if he's going to include the Alexandrians in this operation, he doesn't want to, not trusting them.  She's like, I think you need to get over this us vs. them thing.

Glenn finally corners Enid and, after she draws a gun on him and he disarms her, convinces her to return to Alexandria with him.  She doesn't want to go, doesn't want to trust anyone, doesn't want to let her walls down and get close to anyone, but she does go with him, extremely reluctantly.  Along the road, they find some green helium-filled balloons that had been left out as part of the original draw-the-herd away plan.  Enid takes them, tying them to her pack and saying that maybe they can use them to distract the walkers.   When they get back to Alexandria, they are dismayed to see the herd swarming around the walls.  Enid is particularly disheartened, but Glenn's all, the walls are still up and I will not let you die.

Alexandria's infrastructure is falling apart a bit, pieces of the clock tower periodically falling to earth.  While Rick and some Alexandrian dude (whose name I don't know/don't care to know) work to shore up the walls,  Elsewhere in town, Ron sneaks into the commissary and steals some bullets.  I think Carl is going to regret having given Ron the shooting lesson.   Back out at the wall, Rick and Whatsisname observe Deanna's son Spencer trying to get past the walkers: he's rigged a cable from the wall to an outside-the-wall building with a grappling hook and is pulling himself across.  Everyone is yelling at him to stop and go back.  The grappling hook of course slips and he falls, landing on a bunch of zombies.  While Spencer scrambles to climb up the cable - and Rick, Morgan and Whatsisname scramble to pull him back up, Tara climbs to the outside of the wall for a better shot and starts shooting the walkers.  When Spencer is finally pulled to safety, the first thing Rick does is shout at Tara, "What the hell were you doing? You've already almost died once for these people!"  She gives him a disbelieving look and then awesomely flips him off.  Rick turns his attention to Spencer, who is bemoaning the loss of one of his shoes.  Rick's all, WTF, dude?  And Spencer said he thought he could get out, get to a car and lead the walkers away (which is basically what Rick's preliminary plan is).  When Rick says, "if you have an idea like that, you come to me," Spencer just looks at him and asks, "Would you have listened to me?"

Morgan stops by the infirmary and talks with Dr. Denise.  She's been putting together cheat sheets on chalkboards, things like how to deal with infection, etc.  He asks her how stocked with antibiotics they are, saying that he has to dress a wound but doesn't want to waste the medicine if it's not necessary.  When she says she'll take a look at his arm, he says it isn't his wound and he doesn't want to get her involved in anything she doesn't want to get involved with.  But she wants to help and, after gathering supplies, she and Morgan head out, trying to be surreptitious about it.  But Carol is there, babysitting Judith and lurking on a porch, and is immediately suspicious.  She runs to hand the baby off to Jessie - and while she's in Jessie's house, Sam (still hiding upstairs) calls down to her, asking if the people who came were monsters?  Carol: "The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing."  Which, yikes.

Judith-less, Carol goes to the house Morgan and Denise went into.  As she's trying to unlock the door, Morgan opens it.  Carol growls at him, "Who the hell do you have in there?"  Meanwhile, Carl walks down the street, oblivious to the fact that Ron is stalking along behind him, gun at the ready.  But before anything untoward can happen, two things happen.  First, a bunch of green balloons is seen floating through the sky and Maggie just KNOWS that Glenn released them.  Second, the clock tower finally falls - and when it falls, it crashes right through the wall, opening the floodgates.

Getting to know what happened to Glenn aside, this episode felt a lot like place setting, putting things into place for what's to happen next.  I'm not crazy about the Morgan vs. Carol conflict because they're both good characters who have been through a lot, and they're putting Carol into the villain role.  As they say in this episode, things aren't black and white, they're not so simple.  Also, Rick just drives me effing nuts, he's such an asshole.  What are the chances we could just stuff him under a dumpster for an episode or two?

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mini movie review Three ... Extremes

I suppose technically I should have tried to squeeze this one into last month's Scarelicious Movie Series but I just wasn't able to get to it in time.  A horror anthology of three short films from different acclaimed Asian directors, Three ... Extremes is a well-put together package.

"Dumplings" is the first film, by Fruit Chan.  Ching Li, an aging actress, who is losing the attention of her husband to much younger women, seeks the help of Auntie Mei (played fairly straight by the kooky Bai Ling, almost unrecognizable with a minimum of makeup).  Auntie Mei makes special dumplings which will rejuvenate the women who eat them.  The filling in those dumplings is horrifying and the sound effects as Mei assembles the dumplings and then again as Li slurps them down are positively grisly.  I liked this short film the best of the bunch: it was the most straight-forward and easy to follow, despite not being for those of squeamish stomachs.

Park Chan-wook's "Cut" is the second installment about a movie director who is kidnapped and tortured by a deranged extra, forcing him to choose between strangling a child and watching his pianist wife's fingers get chopped off one by one.  I found this one to be way too long and also confusing: the movie director's set was built to resemble his own home but when the kidnapper takes the director and his wife, he ties them up in another identical set?  It can't be the same movie set because people would walk in on the goings-on; it couldn't be the director's home (despite dialogue to the contrary, although that could be the fault of the subtitling) because lighting is clearly visible up above the walls.

The third and final short is "The Box," by Takashi Miike.  A young woman, a former circus contortionist, is haunted by her identical twin sister who died under tragic circumstances when they were ten years old.  "The Box" is quite beautiful and stylish; the actresses are gorgeous; the stark whites and deep colors are striking.  Miike's film is formal and psychologically scary, not overtly violent or gruesome.  I also found the pacing a touch slow - but I was getting sleepy towards the end of it and that probably impacted my perception.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E6 "Always Accountable" 11/15/15

Any yet ANOTHER episode in which we don't know what happened to Glenn.  But, as a consolation: Daryl's arms.  Thank god.

Sasha, Abraham and Daryl have reached the twenty mile mark, having led the bulk of the walker herd away.  They turn off, heading back towards Alexandria.  But almost immediately, as they drive through the remnants of a small town, they are ambushed and shot at.  Sasha and Abraham crash their car and then get out and shoot the shit out of a small sedan that was chasing them; Daryl lays his motorcycle down pretty hard, hurting his arm, but gets back up.  He manages to lose the cars chasing him by driving into the forest.  He goes in a ways, to where the forest is all burned, and falls over, from exhaustion or pain or relief.

A little later, he gets up and starts to push his 'cycle through the woods.  It's hard and exhausting work, however.  He tries raising Sasha and Abraham on the walkie - they don't answer - and then notices the blood dripping from his left hand.  Daryl takes off his leather jacket WHEREUPON HE REMAINS SLEEVELESS FOR THE ENTIRE EPISODE and my lord Norman Reedus has great arms.  He hides the motorcycle and starts to explore on foot, crossbow at the ready.  He comes upon a couple of young women who are startled to see him, exclaiming that they earned what they took.  And then a guy comes up behind him and knocks him out.

When Daryl comes to, the other three have tied his hands.  They force him at gun point to come with them, traipsing through the woods.  They're fairly clean and seem a little clueless, and they think he's with some group.  Daryl keeps his head down and his mouth closed, listening as they exposition to each other about setting the forest fire to burn out a bunch of zombies.  They walk a while until they come to some trucking depot where they had left someone.  The place is overrun with zombies and they get a little despairing and while they're distracted, Daryl grabs the duffel bag they put his crossbow in and makes a run for it.  Out in the woods, he gets his hands free, tries to radio for Sasha and Abraham again (no response) and then almost gets bitten by a random walker when he has difficulty getting his crossbow out of the bag.  He kills the walker, however, and then takes a look at the duffel bag: inside is a small Igloo cooler marked "Insulin - keep cool."  Oh, Daryl is almost always cool.

Back in the town, Sasha and Abraham try to raise Daryl on the walkie (no response) and debate what to do.  Abraham thinks that Daryl has likely already headed back to Alexandria but Sasha doesn't think he would have left them behind.  "The best way to find a tracker," she says, "is to stay put."  They find a place to hold up for a while - an insurance agency with one resident walker, banging around inside a glass walled office like a moth on a porch light.  They talk some, back and forth, Sasha worried about Abraham's state of mind (in light of how reckless he was a couple of episodes ago, jumping out of the car and tussling with the moving walker herd) and Abraham noting that she's maybe not all that stable herself.

Out in the burned forest with Daryl and his arms: he has gone back to those three morons to return the insulin to them.  He takes their gun and a little carving the guy was whittling, giving them the cooler back.  When he turns to go, though, a truck crashes through the trees.  A bunch of men jump out and call out, "It's over! You owe us what you took and you're coming back with us."  Paraphrasing.  The three are scared, calling back that they won't go back, and then Daryl grabs them and leads them further into the woods.  When they pause to hide, he gives the gun back to the guy.  They watch through the trees as the other men search for them, and as they are hiding, one girl collapses and the other gives her a shot of the insulin.  One of the searchers gets bitten on the arm by a walker and the leader of the group (Wade?) chops his arm off with a machete to try to save him.  After the searchers have given up and left, the guy turns to Daryl: "We thought you were with them.  We knocked you over the head and tied you up.  Why did you come back?"  Daryl shrugs, "Maybe I'm stupid."

In town, Abraham goes out on a scavenging mission.  He finds a Humvee with a rocket launcher/bazooka/RPG shooter (?) and a box of cigars.  He also finds the former soldier, now a zombie, hung up on a fence with another RPG warhead thing on its shoulder harness.  Because Abraham is a little crazy himself right now, he tussles with the zombie, getting awful close to getting himself bitten.  Then he comes to his senses and backs off.  As he sits on the tailgate of the Humvee, puffing on a cigar, he watches the zombie fall off the fence all on its own, leaving the weapon in its harness behind, caught on a bit of fencing.  Well, huh, goes Abraham, and collects the rocket launcher thingy.

When he gets back to the insurance agency, there's more back and forth between him and Sasha, where he says that he's had a bit of an epiphany: their lives are difficult but there is hope, he has hope for the future.  Also, he kinda fancies her and he "can tell" that she's into him too.  [??!??!?]  She laughs, pointing out that he's "got some stuff to take care of" first - which I took to mean he's got to break it off with Rosita before she'll hook up with him.  He grins at her.

Daryl and the three dipshits walk through the woods again.  They find a burned out house which they recognize and when they get up to it, they find two bodies burned in the wreckage.  They knew those people and realize that they must have died when the forest fire swept through.  They feel guilty for causing the deaths.  But they're still stupid and when Tina, the diabetic girl, goes up to place flowers by the bodies, she is too stupid to realize that these dead people are actually undead.  The zombies tear out Tina's neck and she bleeds out by the time Daryl can put the two zombies down.  Later, when Daryl and the guy are digging graves for the dead people and Tina, Daryl asks Rick's three questions: how many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed and why? He's decided that, stupid or not, he should bring them back to Alexandria to be safe.

When they get back to where Daryl hid his motorcycle, they turn on him because they're awful people.  While the guy holds his gun on Daryl, the girl takes his crossbow (noooooo! not his crossbow!!!!!) and they both get on the 'cycle.  They say they're sorry.  Daryl:  "You're gonna be."  They ride off on his 'cycle and he stares after them for a moment before starting to walk.  Luck is with him for once: he comes across a truck and, after clearing out the walker trapped in the cab, is able to get it started.

The final scene is Daryl, Sasha and Abraham in Daryl's new truck, driving back to Alexandria.  And when Daryl gets on the walkie, reaching out to "Rick? Anyone copy?", this time someone responds.  Just one word: HELP.

Everyone on the interwebs thinks the "Help" on the walkie was Glenn although in an interview Norman Reedus said it definitely was not.  Taken as a whole, this was a decent Daryl-centric episode, welcome because we really haven't seen much of him this season.  The Sasha and Abraham stuff seemed sort of filler-ish but did I mention the gun show?  Daryl should just give up on long sleeves forever.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mini movie review: Gone Girl

Remember how I loooooooooved the book Gone Girl and was worried that they'd butcher it with the movie?  Well, I needn't have worried.  David Fincher did a pretty good job with it.  I imagine the few people who watched the movie without having read the book first were drawn in and surprised at the twists.  I still contend that Ben Affleck was completely miscast as Nick Dunne (too old, too hulking, too bland an actor) but I didn't find him to be distracting in the role.  I finished watching the movie the way I finished reading the book: amazed at this creation in which nearly all the characters were horrible people.  If you've been living under a rock, I still recommend reading the book first - it is extraordinary - but if you're interested in the movie, it does all right by the source material.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E5 "Now" 11/8/15

Just so you know: I was unimpressed and largely uninterested in this episode.  You've been warned.

In case you were on the edge of your seat, wondering how Rick was going to get out of the RV when he was surrounded by the splinter herd of walkers, there's no reason to worry: apparently he simply got out of the RV and ran really fast back to Alexandria.  Of course, the splinter herd followed him there so once he's safely inside the walls, it doesn't take long until the town is surrounded by zombies.  Um, way to go?  (And seriously, he just outran the hundreds and hundreds of zombies?  Why doesn't everyone do that?  Ugh, this show.)

In the aftermath of the Wolf attack and with the town surrounded, the sheltered Alexandrians are freaked right the fuck out.  They have never encountered anything like this before, not the violence, not the sheer numbers of hungry undead slobbering for their flesh.  The townsfolk start to freak out, getting all "the end is nigh" and doing things like that rationing their limited food is pointless.  It is amazing to me that these people have lasted as long as they have, even sheltered by their walls.  They are, almost to a man, entirely useless and stupid people.  Maybe Rick's group is scary and off-putting and a little crazy, but at least they have learned how to adapt.

Aaron, one of the few capable Alexandrians (where's his boyfriend? we haven't seen him all season), admits that the Wolves found Alexandria because he lost his pack on a recruitment mission.  He feels guilty.  Rick gives him a sympathetic look, saying that there will be more for everyone to talk about.  Deanna can't deal with any of this and just walks away, dazed.  Jessie goes back to her house and drags the dead Wolf out of the kitchen, so at least she's got that much presence of mind.  Her younger son Sam, however, is not having any of this, refusing to come downstairs because upstairs he can pretend none of the recent horribleness has happened.  Jessie tries to coax him downstairs but finally gives up.

Someone who is not giving up is Maggie.  Despite overhearing various peoples' suspicions that Glenn is dead since he hasn't come back or sent up the flare like he was supposed, she has decided that she is going to go outside the walls to find him and bring him back, or otherwise confirm that he is dead.  Aaron sees her preparations and tells her that he can't let her go by herself - he'll go with her and, even better, he'll take her out through some old sewer tunnels that should get them out beyond the assembled walker herd.

In Alexandrian stuff I don't care about: Deanna starts drawing up plans for new gardens and crops and solar power plants and reinforced fortifications, as though she's starting to get her groove back.  Her son Spencer is losing his shit, however, getting drunk and despondent and yelling at his mom for living in a dreamworld of Alexandria being safe.  Also, Ron and Carl get into the lamest fisticuffs EVER when Carl says he's going over the wall to look for Enid and Ron's all, I'm going to tell your dad and you'll get in trouble.  Later, Ron does tell Rick about Carl's plan and then, weirdly, asks Rick if he (Rick) will teach him (Ron) how to shoot.  Rick's all, yeah, I'll teach you.  For what it's worth, I don't trust Ron and I think if Rick teaches him to shoot it's going to be Carl who ends up getting shot.

In Alexandrian stuff I slightly care about: Dr. Denise is freaking out a bit because Whatsisname who got shot in the leg a couple of episodes ago is running a fever from his infected leg wound.  Tara stops by the infirmary and gives Denise some moral support; Denise hits the books and figures out how to draw the pus out of Whatsisname's leg; later, Denise finds Tara to thank her and ends up planting a big ol' smooch on her.  Tara looks surprised and happy.

Jessie walks by a neighbor's house and is dismayed but not surprised to find a zombie battering at the windows from inside: the woman had become despondent and slit her wrists, forgetting that she would turn into a walker after death.  Jessie puts the zombie down and then turns and gives a Rick-esque speech to the horrified Alexandrians watching from the street: blah blah blah, this is what life is now, we have to fight, if we don't fight then we die.

Down in the sewers, Maggie and Aaron have to pull some debris out of the way.  The metal snaps, hitting Aaron in the head. dazing him and cutting him badly.  While he tries to pull himself together, two extremely disgusting and rotting zombies come out of a tunnel.  One comes after Maggie and although normally she would have no problem putting it down, this zombie is too squishy and rotten for her to get a grip: her hands keep pushing right through its body.  GROSS.  The second zombie crawls towards Aaron.  He puts it down and then manages to get the one attacking Maggie before it can bite her.  His head is pouring blood and she tells him he needs stitches and should go back.  He protests, "I was just there for you!" and tells her that he's sticking with her.  They push on through the tunnels.

When they get to the end/exit, where there's a grate across, Maggie sighs, saying that they didn't get out far enough - there are too many zombies milling about.  Aaron ignores her at first, saying he can do it but Maggie shouts, drawing the walkers' attention.  Aaron stares at her as she cries.  She's pregnant, she should have gone with Glenn, she doesn't even have a photo of him because she swore that she'd never be apart from him.  "I don't know if he's alive ... I don't get to know what will happen, I don't get to know why it happened, right or wrong.  I have to live with that."  Aaron grabs her, pulling her into a hug.

After night falls, Deanna walks along the dark streets, taking supplies back to the food bank.  She is surprised by a loose zombie - which used to be a Wolf and which must have been hiding under a nearby porch - and fights back when it comes after her, stabbing at it with a piece of broken bottle.  But she's useless at it, only stabbing it in the chest, covering herself with blood and gore but being entirely ineffectual.  Rick comes to her aid, putting the walker down efficiently.  She looks up at him and says she wants to live.  Rick tells her that she needs to lead but she shakes her head, saying that what Alexandria needs is him.  She asks him if what she wanted for the town and its people was "just pie in the sky?"  He says no, gently.  Later, Rick finds Jessie hanging up laundry in her garage.  He's a little sad, worried about Glenn and Daryl and Sasha and Abraham.  And then they make out, so that happened.

WTF, TWD?  First you ambiguously kill off/don't kill off Glenn, then you subject us to ninety minutes of Morgan turning into a zen master, and now you give us an episode focusing on the cannon fodder redshirts Alexandrians, almost all of whom are unnamed and completely useless?  We don't care about most [any] of these people and are just waiting for them to get killed off.  You know, at this point I don't even care if Glenn is alive or dead - I just want it confirmed one way or another so we can move on.  I do not care for this trolling of the audience.  Yes, you've gotten your fans to talk about nothing else since the infamous dumpster but it's just not cool.  Plus, you stick us inside Alexandria for a whole episode and there's no Carol?  I just can't even.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mini movie review: Big Hero 6

Netflix had a distribution goof and ending up sending me two DVDs at once, 3 Extremes and Big Hero 6.  Last night I rather felt like I needed to see something light and fun, rather than creepy Asian horror, and the animated Disney picture fit the bill.

Based on an obscure Marvel comic (even more obscure than Guardians of the Galaxy), the Disney version of Big Hero 6 follows teenage tech-wiz Hiro who, after kicking serious ass in back-alley robot fights, is convinced by his older brother Tadashi to channel his big brain towards more useful things.  Hiro invents some amazing microbots and everyone is all amazed and happy, until Hiro refuses to sell his invention to a slightly shady tech company.  Shortly thereafter, Tadashi dies in a lab explosion and all Hiro has left of his big brother is Baymax, an inflatable robotic "health care companion."  Hiro and Baymax start to investigate Tadashi's death and learn that a frightening, kabuki-mask wearing figure has stolen Hiro's microbots.   Soon Hiro recruits his brother's former lab mates as a tech-supported superhero team to defeat the kabuki guy.

The animation in Big Hero 6 is impressive:  the detail in the fantastical, futuristic Asian-fusion city of Sanfrantokyo is amazing; the movement of Hiro's hair is so realistic.  The character development is less impressive and despite the death of Hiro's brother being the central motivating event, this movie does not so much tug at the heartstrings; it wants to be soulful but ends up a bit lightweight.  Baymax is easily the best and funniest character, both in his physical comedy and his speech.  My favorite bit was when his battery ran low: not only did he deflate but he sounded drunk.  Kudos to voice actor/comedian Scott Adsit for bringing him to life.

Big Hero 6 does not reach the heights of the best animated Disney/Pixar films but it was entertaining, funny and well put-together.  Sometimes that's all you need.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E4 "Here's Not Here" 11/1/15

So by now the entire internet is full of conspiracy theories about how Glenn is not actually dead (the latest one I read says that Nicholas's gun was out of bullets and so he didn't kill himself and the whole thing was a hallucination - which would be such CRAP, and intentional trolling of the audience on the show's part - if you don't want to kill Glenn, don't kill him, but don't purposely fuck with the audience.  This is all to say that in this super-sized episode, we still don't know whether Glenn is dead or not because this episode is all about Morgan.  It's a Lennie James showcase is what it is.

It starts with a framing device: Morgan staring straight into the camera and saying, you want to know everything about me?  Well, here it is - every last bit.

And then we get Morgan's backstory, starting with right after Rick, Carl and Michonne stayed with him.  He has slipped into full-tilt crazy and manages to burn down his apartment during a ranting and raving fit.  Then he wanders in the forest for god knows how long, super-crazy, slaughtering zombies, terrorizing humans and even killing a couple men who threaten him.  So.  Much.  Crazy.  And then he finds a lovely little stone cabin in the middle of the woods.  It's surrounded by fences, has a tidy vegetable garden out front and a cute Nubian goat tethered in the yard.  Morgan approaches and I fear for the goat until a calm voice calls out, "Can you step away from the goat?  She's not yours.  I still need her: I'm figuring out how to make cheese."  Morgan crouches and scurries and shoots his rifle, trying to get into the cabin.  When he comes around a corner, a big man is there ("Eastman," played by John Carroll Lynch, who was Norm on the movie Fargo) and he whacks Morgan on the head with a stick.

When Morgan regains consciousness, he is in the stone cabin, in a cell.  All he can do is mutter and rant and shout "Kill me!"  Eastman goes on about his business, practicing cheese-making, making meals for himself and Morgan, practicing aikido down by the creek, tending to his garden and his goat (who is named Tabitha), killing the various zombies who wander into the area.  He kills them with a stick and after he kills them, he buries them, checking their IDs and making grave markers for them.  This goes on for quite some time, Morgan maintaining his crazy and Eastman trying to reach him.  Eastman was a forensic psychologist for a prison and he knows something about getting through to disturbed people.  It takes a while though.  At some point it comes out that Eastman has never locked the cell door and Morgan is free to stay or go.  There are some fisticuffs and Eastman manages to subdue the enraged Morgan using aikido.  Finally, Morgan breaks down and cries.  Eastman has gotten through to him and now the healing can begin.

They continue their days together now.  They bury the zombies they kill.  Eastman teaches Morgan aikido and talks to him about why he believes every life is precious, why he will not killing any living thing (why he is a vegetarian these days).  Eastman tells Morgan that he used to have a family.  But one of the prisoners he was counseling - the only man he ever met who was truly, utterly evil - broke out, went to Eastman's house and killed his wife, his son and his daughter. Morgan seems to think that there's more to the story but that's all Eastman will say.

At some point, they decide to journey to the coast.  They need some equipment and Morgan says that he left some useful stuff out in the woods where he was staying before he met Eastman.  They go out there and Eastman can see from the debris left behind just how crazy Morgan had been.  But then a zombie lurches out of the woods towards them.  Eastman says that Morgan can take care of it, using his aikido staff.  When Morgan approaches the walker, however, he recognizes that it is one of the men that he killed earlier in the episode and freezes.  Eastman steps in and puts the zombie down, but gets bit in the process.  Morgan is very angry: at himself for freezing up, at himself for having killed that guy in the first place, at Eastman for stepping in and getting himself bitten.  Eastman is resigned about it, not much they can do.

They go back home.  Eastman stops at the burial ground to start digging the dead zombie's grave while Morgan goes back to the cabin.  Sadly, Tabitha got out of the house and is now dead, being eaten by a zombie.  Morgan kills the zombie and brings it and the dead goat back to the burial ground.  Eastman sighs and they get to digging.  Later that night, Eastman is getting sicker and sicker and he admits to the secret he had been keeping: after that escaped prisoner killed his family, he bribed the prison guards and kidnapped the guy, bringing him back to this cabin, locking him in the cell and starving him to death.  It took 47 days for the guy to die.  And after that happened, Eastman came out of the woods only to learn that the zombie apocalypse had happened.

Eastman is fading quickly and he tells Morgan that he can stay at the cabin for the rest of his life if he wants.  There's plenty of food, solar power.  It's safe enough.  But it would be better if he went back out there and found people.  People are what's important in this world now.  Then he sighs, saying he's ready and there's a gun in the lockbox.

I am grateful that we didn't have to see Eastman kill himself or Morgan put him out of his misery.  We do see Morgan practicing aikido forms by the creek before putting on his backpack and heading out, walking past the burial ground with new grave markers for Eastman and Tabitha.  He finds his way to some train tracks and a sign proclaiming "Terminus: Sanctuary for all, Community for all, Those who arrive survive."  He smiles, at peace, and heads on down the tracks.

And then we're back to now and we learn that the person to whom Morgan has been telling his backstory is the Wolf that he had been fighting (and who he obviously didn't kill because every life is precious) at the end of last episode.  Morgan is trying to convert this Wolf away from the crazy.  But the crazy has taken ahold but good and the Wolf says that if the zombie bite on his stomach doesn't kill him, he's going to get out and kill everyone in Alexandria, including the children.  Morgan stares hard at the Wolf and leaves, locking him in.  Not every life is precious, Morgan.  There are still people who are truly, utterly evil.  Outside, he pauses, thinking.  Then he hears a shout in the distance: "HEY! OPEN THE GATE!"  And Morgan takes off running.

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

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #8: It Follows

Implacable sexually-transmitted murder ghouls.

If that phrase isn't enough to make you want to watch It Follows, then I don't know what will.  Arguably one of the best horror films in recent memory, It Follows follows Jay, a pretty teenage girl living in an out-of-time Detroit suburb who, like many horror film denizens before her, makes the wrong choice about whom she sleeps with.  When she does, the guy tells her that he has passed It on to her and she'd be wise to sleep with someone else - anyone else - as soon as possible to get rid of It.  He tells her what It is, to the best he can: It, taking the form of strangers or someone she knows, will stalk Jay, walking straight for her, wherever she is, and never stopping.  If It catches her, It will kill her.  If It kills her, It will come for him.  Jay doesn't know if she can transmit It to someone else in good conscience but she has to do something.

It Follows is a great and extremely creepy movie.  The cast (all teenagers as adults are rarely onscreen, even in the background) is terrific, understated and sounding like actual teenagers.  The Detroit setting is bland, until the kids venture into the gray blight of the city.  The score is fantastic, a synth throwback that ramps up the tension.  The menace of It is, in part, that It could be anyone, at any time - any time someone walks onscreen, there's a possibility that they are It.  It isn't a ghost but It is unstoppable and the fact that Jay is being stalked all the time is very unnerving.

It Follows has a couple of grisly scenes but is not at all a gorefest, its scares instead suspensefully ratcheting up through clever direction and music cues.  This is a smart, well-crafted horror film, definitely recommended and a strong finish to this year's Scarelicious October Movie Series.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E3 "Thank You" 10/25/15

Sorry this has taken so long to get up.  I was out of town for a while, and then I watched the episode and I've been putting off recapping ever since.  Sometimes this show is just exhausting.

Just so's you know, there's a LOT of running in this episode.  It starts with Rick, Glenn and Michonne running through the woods with a bunch of Alexandrians as the horn blares in the distance.  They are trying to (a) redirect the walker horde back onto the road and (b) stay alive.  Rick is on the radio to everyone, checking in, giving orders.  Daryl wants to go back to town to help with whatever is going down but Rick is adamant: they have to stick with the plan, they have to get the walker horde away. New plan: Rick will run back a mile to the RV to help redirect the horde; Glenn and Michonne are to head back to home with the Alexandrians.  Rick points out that some of the Alexandrians aren't going to make it and he tells Glenn and Michonne not to wait, not to get held up by the weak and wounded. Some of the Alexandrians try to rebel a little - tired, scared - and then some of them get munched on.  "Just get back safe," orders Rick.

In Glenn and Michonne's group, one girl has a twisted ankle and then, when they have to fight a small group of walkers, one of the Alexandrians panics and ends up shooting another Alexandrian in the leg.  Also, a third Alexandrian has been bitten on the shoulder just a little and he'll succumb eventually - he just wants to get back to town to say goodbye to his wife.  So out of the five Alexandrians with Glenn and Michonne, three are injured, one fatally.  The other two are Heath and Nicholas, and Nicholas is just barely holding his shit together.

Out on the road, Daryl is all conflicted, wanting to go back to help out in town.  Sasha and Abraham say that they need him there with them, helping keep the horde on track.  "Nah," says Daryl, "I got faith in ya." And rides away as Sasha and Abraham shout after him.  But they have to let him go, continuing the sloooooow drive, leading the walker horde away from their home.

Glenn and Michonne's group come to the remains of a town that Nicholas claims to be familiar with and which is "halfway home."  [Here's an issue I have: I don't know the geography here.  I don't know how far away the zombie-filled quarry was; I don't know how far this group is from Alexandria; I don't know how far out Daryl, Sasha and Abraham were; and, quite frankly, it takes Rick an inordinately long time to run one fucking mile back to the RV at the bend in the road.  It all seems a little off to me.]  Glenn tells Michonne that he NEEDS to get home [so don't they all, Glenn, drama queen] but he's not about to abandon any of the useless wounded Alexandrians.  Michonne's like, dude, I'm with you.  Since Nicholas was most recently in this town, he leads the way.  They try to find a car that starts with no luck and end up having to hole up in a pet store as walkers, separated from the main horde, start straggling in.

In the store, Glenn has a plan: he's going to find a building in town and set it on fire so that the inferno distracts the gathering walkers, allowing the humans to escape.  He tells Michonne that if he doesn't get back in a certain amount of time, she's to take the Alexandrians and go on without him.  Nicholas says that he knows where a feed store is which should burn quite nicely.  They head out. Michonne and Heath have a tense moment when he accuses her of planning to dump the Alexandrians and run and then she awesomely gets in his face and is all YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN OUT THERE ON YOUR OWN YOU DON'T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE HOW HARD IT IS OUT HERE.  Just as they get ready to leave the pet store - all of them, by the way, even the wounded ones - more and more walkers show up.  Lots of walkers.

Rick runs and runs and runs on his ridiculously long mile down the road, stopping to battle a few zombies along the way.  He also manages to slice his left hand quite badly in the process.  But he keeps on running.  And running and running and running.  FINALLY he finishes that damn mile [I mean, it takes me ten minutes to run a mile.  Rick is probably in better shape than I am, cut hand notwithstanding, plus he's got zombies chasing him.  Should have been quicker, is all I'm saying.]  He climbs into the RV and heads off, chasing the horde.

Finally, Michonne's group makes a run for it.  The Alexandrian girl with the twisted ankle goes down and gets eaten almost immediately.  Michonne pauses, looking back, and Heath grabs her, dragging her away.  Meanwhile, when Glenn and Nicholas get to the feed store, it has inconveniently already been burned down.  And a huge herd of walkers is heading their way.  Glenn's all, where do we go?  Nicholas is on the verge of panic, looking around wildly before finally heading off down an alley.  Unfortunately, this alley is blocked with a chainlink fence with walkers behind it.  For some reason, they don't quickly scamper up a nearby and visible fire escape and are soon trapped as walkers close in on them.

Across town, Michonne's group is in another alley which is also blocked by a chainlink fence.  There are no walkers on the other side, however, and they all climb up and over.  Well, the one guy who'd been bitten didn't quite make it: he gets pulled down into the herd and slowly, horribly, pulled apart.  For some reason, the group all just stand there and watch him suffer and die instead of putting him out of his misery.  Seems like a strange reaction.  Finally, the three remaining humans run away, heading home.

In Glenn and Nicholas's alley, things are super dire.  They are completely trapped and the number of zombies closing in on them is insurmountable.  Desperate, they climb up on a dumpster and stand there, just barely out of reach of the clutching hands.  They pick off a few zombies but it really doesn't do any good.  There are just too many of them.  Nicholas is freaking the fuck out.  I mean, Glenn is scared too because there really doesn't seem to be a way out.  But Nicholas is losing his goddamn mind.  He looks right into Glenn's eyes, says "Thank you" and then puts his gun to his head.  Glenn screams at him to snap out of it but Nicholas pulls the trigger, splashing blood across Glenn's face.  Worse - and I mean SO MUCH WORSE - his body collapses into Glenn, knocking them both off the dumpster and into the arms of the ravening zombie horde.  The sad music swells as Glenn silently screams in slow motion, the zombies chowing down on intestines and other nummy innards.

Rick pulls over at some possibly predetermined place [I missed that part of the plan] and tries to radio Glenn, anybody.  He raises Daryl, who is still heading back to Alexandria.  Gunfire is heard in the distance and Rick is all, even though we don't know what's going on at home, we've got to stick with the plan, keep the herd away from the town.  Daryl considers these words, turns around and heads back to meet up with Sasha and Abraham, keeping the herd moving.

Rick has some additional excitement to contend with, however: the Wolves who Morgan chased out of town without killing have found the RV.  Two of them rush inside, attacking Rick.  They battle and he manages to kill them.  Then he can see in the sideview mirror more Wolves sneaking up so he goes full Rambo, shooting through the side of the RV and putting them all down.  That's good, of course, but afterwards, the RV won't start.  And the zombie herd, the portion that Rick was supposed to lead back to the main herd, it has arrived at the RV, swarming around it, surrounding it.  Rick cannot fucking believe it.

Of course, by now EVERYONE has read all the internet theories that Glenn is not actually dead, because we didn't actually, incontrovertibly see him die, like we have all the other major character deaths, because The Talking Dead didn't do an in memoriam segment for him, like they have done for all the other major character deaths, because etc. etc.  People are all, those were Nicholas's guts the zombies were eating and perhaps Glenn managed to drag himself to relative safety under the dumpster.  Maybe.  I certainly am not eager or happy to say farewell to Glenn as his character was a much needed counterpoint of sanity to Rick's increasing madness.  But his escaping from that situation would be SO improbable that it would be a cheat, the writers bending the rules of the show's world just to spare him.  I don't know.  I don't want him dead but I don't see how he could have made it.  And since it looks like we're getting a Morgan-centric episode next, it may be a while before we are shown what happened.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious Movie Series #7: What We Do in the Shadows

Apparently I'm on a New Zealand horror/comedy kick (not intentional) because the movie I watched after Housebound was What We Do in the Shadows.  It was well-received when it came out, from what I remember; maybe I was a little tired when I watched it because I sort of had a "meh, okay" response to it.

The concept is this: four vampire roommates, sharing a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, are being followed by a documentary crew.  They've been together a while, these roommates.  There's Viago, a 17th century dandy who is rather concerned that the chore wheel is not being paid attention to; Vladislav (played by Jemaine Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame), who used to do a lot of torturing but just hasn't been feeling it much lately; the 8,000 year old Peter, who looks like Nosferatu and who is not a morning (technically, evening) person; and Deacon, just a couple hundred years old (Peter sired him) and the slacker of the bunch ... until one night, instead of eating the guy Deacon's familiar brought to the flat, Peter makes a vampire out of Nick.  As a brand new vampire, Nick turns the original flatmates' lives upside down, bringing them into conflict with a vampire hunter and a pack of werewolves but also getting them into some cool clubs downtown.

What We Do in the Shadows is clever and funny in some parts ("We're werewolves, not swearwolves") and quite spurty with blood in other parts.  But I just wanted more out of it, for both the funny and the gory.  It seemed like it wanted to go all-out but just never fully committed and I think suffers from that.

I'm really going to have to watch something truly scary at some point before this year's series ends, aren't I?