Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie review: Immortals

Since Netflix (I recently switched to Netflix after years of Blockbuster Online and boy, isn't that streaming shows neat) is removing Tarsem Singh's Immortals from their streaming roster on January 4th, I thought I'd give it a go last night.  I was an Ancient Greek major in college (super-useful, that) and have loved Greek mythology since about second grade, plus I loved Singh's earlier films, The Cell and The Fall, so I was really looking forward to Immortals.  To say I felt let down afterwards is an understatement: Immortals is like someone made a movie out of parts of 300 and The Fall, but not the best parts.

Immortals is an incoherent, pointless mess, with a "plot" culled hodgepodge from various Greek myths.  Back in the day, these immortal beings fought a mighty war against each other.  The victors were the Greek gods (Zeus, Mars, Poseidon, etc.) and the losers, imprisoned under Mt. Tartarus, were the Titans.  Henry Cavill is Theseus, a mortal peasant whom the gods want to rise up and lead an army against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, who is actually fairly menacing in his outlandish, operatic costumes) who has decided to release the Kraken Titans since the gods didn't save his wife and children when he called upon them.  Freida Pinto is in the mix as Phaedra, the "Virgin Oracle" - who very quickly is convinced to give up her virginity - and accompanying oracular visions - to Theseus, who, it must be said, looks awfully good in just a skirt.  Stephen Dorff is in there too, also shirtless, but his character is completely superfluous.  There's a bunch of fighting amongst the humans; the Titans are released SPOILER; there's a bunch more fighting, human vs. human and god vs. Titan, until Hyperion's army gets conquered; then there's a bunch more fighting between the gods and the Titans, years later, in the heavens.

The mythology is askew: in Greek myth, Theseus was the son of the god Poseidon, who eventually became the king of Athens after many adventures, including being sent to Crete and defeating the Minotaur. Phaedra did marry Theseus but she was a princess, not a priestess.  Hyperion was a Titan who fathered the sun and the moon.  The Titans were earlier deities who did battle with the gods; they were defeated and thrown into Tartarus but were never freed.  That's fine: mythology is always open to interpretation.  But the movie is so incoherent - why did the gods want Theseus to lead the humans against Hyperion, especially when nothing came of it?  why was it "against the rules" for the gods to aid the humans and why did Zeus kill Ares for helping out?  if all the gods were killed in the battle, how were they resurrected for the battle in the end scene?  apparently it's no big deal to get killed? - and messy that I just didn't care about anyone in it.

In addition, Immortals was not nearly as gorgeous a film as The Cell or The Fall.  The costumes were striking but the sets and scenery were largely murky, not nearly as dramatic or fantastic as I had hoped, although they did do some funky stuff referencing the Minotaur.  I was disappointed by Immortals.  Unless you're really set on seeing Henry Cavill's abdominal muscles, you'd be much better served by watching The Fall.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mini movie review: Ride the Divide

There is a mountain-bike ("MTB") race in the west that stretches from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the U.S./Mexico border.  It's the Tour Divide: 2,745 miles along the Continental Divide.  It is self-supported, the MTBers fending for themselves with respect to food and shelter.  And it is a race, where long days and sleep-deprivation (and luck with all things mechanical) lead to winning.

The Tour Divide is not for the faint of heart and, after recently watching Ride the Divide with Mr. Mouse, it is clear that while the race is physically punishing, it is the mental game that is what's really tough.  The movie was filmed during the 2008 race where sixteen MTBers started and seven scratched, and a woman finished the race for the first time.  RtD follows three riders on their ride: two fall apart mentally from the long, long days of riding alone; the third, the eventual winner, has his head in the right place and just gets it done, while appreciating the solitude and bleak and beautiful landscape around him.

Mr. Mouse and I had both read Eat, Sleep, Ride, Paul Howard's account of the 2009 Tour Divide, so we knew a little of what to expect.  Because of the limitations of the filming crew, much of RtD's footage is on the pavement or well-maintained jeep roads, so viewers don't get to see most of the awful conditions and rough terrain the MTBers had to deal with.  There are plenty of shots of blistered heels, swollen legs and gnarly toes, however, and the riders happily share stories of bear sightings.

The Tour Divide is a brutal, crazy race, and one that kind of fascinates me.  I have no interest in riding that distance on a MTB, even at touring speed (the 2008 winner finished the damn thing in 19 days).  But I'd be interested in doing sections of it, just to see that scenery in person.  Mr. Mouse and I are now reading another account of the 2009 race - Be Brave, Be Strong, by Jill Homer who set a new women's course record that year - so our interest is obviously piqued.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mini movie review: The Bay

Did you know that Barry Levinson (Diner, Sleepers, Wag the Dog, Rain Man, The Natural) directed a horror film?  (Did you know that "eco-horror" was even a genre?  I didn't.)  Did you know that it was pretty good?  Not very scary, but interesting, entertaining and well put-together.

The Bay is Chesapeake Bay, once one of the richest estuaries on the planet but now damaged by polluting runoff and overfishing.  A cute little bayside town prepares to celebrate the Independence Day holiday; parades, a crab-eating contest and fireworks are on the schedule.  But people start getting sick - rashes and nasty boils first, then severe gastro-intestinal distress and bleeding - and then people start dying.  Lots of people. Lots and lots of people.

Levinson directed The Bay as a "found footage" film, presenting it as a documentary cobbled together from a college reporter's video, cellphone and Skype footage, cop car dashboard camera recordings.  The college reporter is the film's narrator but the scenes skip around, focusing in on some poor person or horrible situation and then cutting to the next.  I'm doing a terrible job of describing this but the movie actually works pretty well, ratcheting up the tension as scientists and doctors try to figure out what the hell is killing these people.

The Bay could have been scarier - I jumped just once when something scurried - but I enjoyed it; sometimes it's nice to be scared just a little.  Also, note to self:  don't live downstream of a commercial chicken farm.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mini comics review: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

In support of my author-crush on Joe Hill (and also because my friend Spencer recommended it), I picked up the first trade paperback of Locke & Key, "Welcome to Lovecraft." The Locke siblings, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode, have had it tough recently: their dad was murdered by a psychotic student and their mom moved them across the country to the town of Lovecraft in New England.  Their new home is the strange Keyhouse, the mansion where their father grew up, which holds wonders and horrors and secrets.  Trouble follows the Locke family to Lovecraft, violent, relentless trouble.  Author Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez draw the reader in and raise the stakes immediately; this story is unsparing.

I'm pretty limited in my exposure to comics.  I enjoy Y: The Last Man, Fables, The Umbrella Academy; I collected "Season 8" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; I suffered through the first 100 issues of The Walking Dead.  Buffy just got too far out there for me and I gave up.  TWD I find just too grim and gruesome.  I like reading horror novels - Stephen King, Joe Hill, some Clive Barker, Justin Cronin - but the scary comics are just too much: I think I prefer the images in my head to the images on the page.  That's why I just didn't wholeheartedly embrace Locke & Key ... and yet I'm torn because I am interested in the story, just not the artwork.  I think I'll try the next TPB and see how it leaves me.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No ranting necessary

I do pretty well picking out books to read.  I prefer fiction for the most part, with strong tendencies towards fantasy, historical fiction, horror and British mysteries, although I like it when folks recommend things to me outside my regular bailiwick (Bob Harris's Prisoner of Trebekistan was a successful foray into non-fiction, as well as Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals).

I do end up with books that I like less well - Stephen King's Doctor Sleep was a recent disappointment - but I rarely end up with something I hate.  It does happen sometimes: I despised The Mermaid Chair (raging review here) and Twilight, ugh, don't even get me started on stupid fucking Twilight.

I bring all this up because despite its recent popularity (and resurgence with news of casting for the movie), I had never read Fifty Shades of Grey and thank god, now I never will.  Instead, I am greatly enjoying the "Summarized by a Smartass" posts over at Electronic Cerebrectomy, where SamuraiFrog is martyring himself by reading FSoG and recapping/analyzing each chapter in horrific, excruciating detail.  The man is truly taking one for the team and his posts are scathing, funny and insightful.  (He also did the same treatment for Twilight.)  Fifty Shades of Grey sounds absolutely terrible and I truly appreciate the suffering he is enduring so that I don't have to read it myself.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E8 "Too Far Gone" 12/1/13

Mid-season finale - since when is that a thing? - and I'm sorry, but this whole episode feels like it should have taken place during S3E16.

The Governor has captured Herschel and Michonne and brought them back to his camp.  He stands up in front of the people of the camp and orates a bit, talking them into helping him attack and take over the prison.  "They have walls, fences, plots of land for farmin' ... we could live there - if we're willin' to take it from them."  He has a plan to take the prison without bloodshed [HAHAHA YEAH RIGHT].  "We don't need to kill anyone ... but we need to be prepared to."  Most people seem dubious at first (except for Mitch who's gun-ho for some shooting) but the Governor has a golden tongue and soon the group is on board, desperate for a secure place to live. Lily is reluctant, however, not liking people killing people.  He promises that he will keep her safe, keep Megan safe.  He tells her that he loves her. Lily: "I don't know who you are."  But resistance is futile and she goes to pack their things.

The Governor goes to the RV where he's holding Herschel and Michonne.  He's pretty calm and claims that he doesn't want to hurt anyone: he has people he wants to keep safe and he needs the prison.  Herschel suggests that perhaps the two groups can learn to live together.  The Governor is all, Rick and I, Michonne and I, we'll never live together.  Michonne just glares at him and promises that she's going to kill him.  The Governor is all, if we can do this without bloodshed we will, but I am going to have that prison.

The Governor has Lily and the children stay in the RVs, parked alongside a river. The fast-flowing river should keep the walkers at bay.  Lily is not happy about this at all.  The Governor gives Megan a big hug and then heads out to attack the prison.

Rick and Daryl finally have their "WTF happened to Carol?" talk and it is markedly anticlimactic.  Daryl is very angry, of course, snarling that Rick could have waited until they got back [so Daryl could have said goodbye, I guess, or gone with her].  But he calms down quickly and doesn't make much of a fuss, instead wondering what will happen to the two little girls Carol had taken care of.  Rick mentions that he hasn't talked to Tyrese yet and Daryl steps up and says, let's go do it.  They find Tyrese down in the tunnels.  He's found a vivisected rabbit nailed to a board and he's connected it to the half-eaten rats they found at the fences.  "We got a pyschopath here ..." Rick breaks in to tell him that whoever did this is not who killed Karen and the other guy.  But before he can explain to Tyrese what he means, an explosion rocks the prison.  Everyone who is not still weak from the plague runs out to the prison yard where they are shocked to see the Governor with his tank, a bunch of gunmen and Herschel and Michonne out beyond the fences.  The Governor is all, hey, Rick, why don't you come down here so we can talk.

Rick does go down to the fence and they talk and talk and talk.  The Governor says that Rick's group has until sundown to clear out: if they pack up now, he'll let them go.  Rick pleads that there are sick people and children who may not survive out in the world.  But the Governor is resolute and means to have the prison.  Meanwhile, back up in the prison, Daryl starts surreptitiously handing out guns.  He spreads the word that if things start to go south, everyone should head for the escape bus, as planned.  Rick suggests that the two groups share the prison but the Governor refuses.  Rick then points out that if it comes to a fight, if the Governor attacks the prison and pulls down the fences, the prison is worthless: "We can all live in the prison or none of us can."  The Governor is all, dude, get your people out.

Back at the river, Lily watches an approaching zombie try to cross the river and get swept away.  What she doesn't see is her daughter playing on the muddy bank and a zombie rearing up out of the mud to batten onto Megan's neck.  Lily runs up and shoots the zombie but it is too late: Megan gets bitten badly.

Up in the prison, the non-fighters start loading onto the bus.  The little girls carry baby Judith out into the yard, heading to the bus, but then Lizzie says that they should get guns and help fight too.  Down at the fences, the Governor gets more and more annoyed with Rick's refusal to just roll over.  He grabs Michonne's sword and lays it against Herschel's neck.  Rick, panicking, pleads with the Governor's people, asking if this is what they really want, promising that they can live together without anyone getting killed.

The Governor has Had Enough, however, and hacks hard at Herschel's neck.  It isn't a clean kill, though, and poor Herschel just collapses.  Rick screams, Maggie screams, Beth screams.  And then the carnage begins.  Michonne drops to the ground and rolls out of the way as the bullets fly.  Herschel tries to crawl away and the Governor goes after him, hacking and hacking and hacking until Herschel's head comes off.  He looks up to see Lily walking towards him, the bloody Megan in her arms.  He walks up to her, takes the little girl and shoots her in the head.  Then he turns back to his people: Take your cars through the fences - kill them all.

And then it's just shooting and shooting and shooting.  Except for Rick and the Governor who start beating the crap out of each other.  It's difficult to tell who is who.  Beth goes to help load people onto the bus.  Maggie goes into the prison to get Glenn.  Tyrese gets pinned down and almost killed by a couple of the Governor's people but Lizzie comes up behind and shoot them, saving him.  Bob takes a bullet in the chest.  Rick takes a bullet in the leg.  Daryl is an effing machine, of course, except that zombies have started to swarm, attracted by all the noise, and one comes up close behind him.  [At which point I shout NO! at the television.  Of course, if they're going to kill Daryl - AND THEY BETTER NOT - it will be dramatic and not by a stealth zombie.]  He stuffs a grenade down the tank's gun barrel, destroying it, and then plants a crossbow bolt in Mitch's chest. The Governor is totally kicking Rick's ass and almost chokes him to death, until Michonne comes up from out of nowhere (where has she been during this fight?) and runs him through the chest with his sword.  The fight is all but over now and she helps him back up to the prison.  The Governor rolls on the ground, gasping, and Lily walks up to him and shoots him in the head.  Now he's done.  And he's caused her nothing but grief ever since he staggered into her life.

Rick lurches into the prison yard (where did Michonne go?), hollering for Carl.  Carl comes up, shoots a couple of walkers and hugs his dad.  Neither of them knows where baby Judith is.  They walk through the yard and, horror of horrors, find Judith's empty, bloodsoaked car seat.  They gasp and howl and sob.  This has been a very bad day for them.

This has been a bad day for everyone.  They're all scattered now: Glenn and the weaklings driven off on the bus; Maggie, Bob and Sasha on their own; Tyrese, Lizzie and Lizzie's little sister on their own; Daryl and Beth alone together; Michonne god knows where.  Rick and Carl stagger through the woods, Rick telling his son not to look back - there's nothing left for them there.

I don't recall the comics all that well but I'm pretty sure that how this episode ends is more in line with how the book's battle with the Governor ends, with the baby killed and everyone scattered to the winds.  Of course, in the comics there was only ONE battle at the prison against the Governor, not two.  Yes, this battle was tense and grim and horrible and we lost some people. Herschel's death was sad and awful and I'm glad that he got to be a hero during the plague. But Judith was a nonentity character-wise (leaving out the fact that killing off a baby, even a fictional one, is just horrific); losing Megan was bad too but we'd only known her for two episodes; and the rest of the cannon fodder we neither knew/recognized or cared about.  Those two Governor-centric episodes were just a waste of time because he ended up the exact same monster he was in Woodbury.  What was the point?  Ugh.  This show is just so frustrating what with the trite dialogue, repetitive plotting and thin characters.  Daryl and Michonne's badassery and the zombies - that's what keeps me coming back, I guess.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E7 "Dead Weight" (11/24/13)

And yet again we are kept from the inevitable Rick and Daryl conversation about Carol because we're still following the Governor around.  However, as we shall see, this two-episode arc is not trying to redeem him but attempting to show just why he's the scary, violent, single-minded man he is.  We didn't get to see how his wife's death and daughter's zombification changed him the first time; this E7 shows us the second round.

Picking up right where the last episode left off, Martinez pulls the Governor and Megan out of the pit.  Lily and Tara are there too, along with several others of Martinez's new crew, including Kirk Acevedo (expanding upon his post-Fringe genre work here as the morally-ambiguous Mitch) and Enver Gjokaj (aw, so nice to see him again as Mitch's nice guy brother Pete.)  (Too bad they don't look anything like each other).  Martinez says the Governor (now known as "Brian") and his little family are welcome to join them but everyone has to contribute.  "No dead weight."

Martinez, Mitch, Pete and the Governor go on a supply run to an abandoned cabin in the woods, formerly occupied by a survivalist.  They find a couple of decapitated bodies, one chained to a tree and one chained to a chair in a field, each with a sign nailed into its chest: "LIAR" and "RAPIST."  It's pretty dramatic imagery.  They hear some banging in the walls and eventually get attacked by a couple of walkers.  Pete flails around rather uselessly so the Governor beats each walker's skull in with his flashlight.  Afterwards, as they gather supplies, they find some skunky beer and do some man-bonding.  The Governor doesn't like to talk much about his past but he seems to enjoy the company.

Back at camp, Martinez joins the Governor, Lily, Megan, etc., for dinner and they all get a little shitfaced on the warm beer.  I'm beginning to warm to him - Martinez - he seems like a decent guy now that he's not under the Governor's command.  In fact, he invites the Governor out to the field with the zombie pits to shoot some golf balls off the top of an RV.  They take swigs off a bottle of booze, whack golf balls badly and reminisce a bit ... until the Governor smacks Martinez in the head with a golf club when his response to "don't you think you can keep these people safe?" is "We can try, hopefully be prepared."  That's not good enough for the Governor.  Martinez cries out, skull cracked and bleeding.  The Governor pushes him off the top of the RV and then drags him over to one of the pits.  He pushes the still-conscious (and now screaming) Martinez into the outstretched hands of the zombies, repeating over and over to himself, "I don't want it, you hear? I don't want it! I don't want it."  But he does want it: he wants to be in charge so he can keep his new family safe.

The next morning, the people in camp (lots more than I thought) are upset that Martinez is dead - purportedly got drunk playing golf and fell into the pits.  Pete says he'll take charge for a few days until they can organize a vote for the group's new leader.  In the meantime, Pete, Mitch and the Governor go on a supply run.  As they walk through the woods, Pete asks the Governor for his advice on rationing, fences, guard duty, etc., the myriad details of being a leader.  They come across a camp of people who have fenced themselves with barbed wire.  This group seems well-supplied and Mitch wants to take their stuff.  Pete says no, they'll not rob these people.  The Governor keeps quiet.  Later, Mitch scoffs at the two meager squirrels they've managed to kill.  The Governor watches the brothers, then hears something and stalks off through the woods.  The brothers follow him back to that camp which is now destroyed and stripped of anything useful, conveniently enough for the plot.  Mitch rages at the lost opportunity; Pete mourns the lost lives; the Governor just watches thoughtfully.

That night, the Governor tells Lily and Megan to pack their things and get Tara: "We need to leave - it isn't safe here anymore."  He thinks things are about to go very wrong under the current leadership and they need to get out of here.  Lily trusts him and that night they go.  But they don't get far because they get stopped when the road gets swampy.  There are dozens of zombies stuck waist-deep in the mud (in the middle of the road?) and they can't get the car past.  The zombies aren't really a threat, trapped as they are, but again, it's a striking visual.  The Governor stares balefully for a while and then they go back to camp.  (There's only one road out of wherever they are?  That can't be right.)

In the morning, the Governor makes his rounds.  He goes to see Pete first and that good man lets him into his RV, saying, "I know, we need to talk about Mitch, don't we?"  Whereupon the Governor immediately knifes him in the back and chokes him to death.  Poor Enver.  I'd hoped he'd stick around a little longer.  Next, after rolling Pete into a nearby pond, the Governor goes to see Mitch.  He pulls his gun on him and tells him that he's killed Pete because Pete was weak.  Mitch can stay alive if he gets on board with the Governor running the show.  Mitch sniffles about it for a little while but yes, he gets on board.

Later, the Governor gets everyone organized, putting up fences and moving derelict cars around the camp, gathering ammunition, doing regular scouting runs.  The Governor knows it isn't enough, though, they're too exposed.  This is reinforced when a walker gets into camp in broad daylight and nearly snacks on little Megan.  Tara tries to pull the zombie off her niece - the rotting flesh of its leg disintegrates in her hands, eeeeuuw - but no one has the wherewithal to actually kill the zombie until the Governor runs up and shoots it in the head.  Seriously, these people are not well-trained.

The Governor goes back to the dock in the pond and looks down: zombie Pete is underwater, chained by one ankle below the surface.  Looks like the Governor isn't content with just collecting heads in aquariums this time.  Effing psycho.  The last scene shows him driving out from camp and walking up to the prison.  He watches Rick and Carl in their garden.  He pulls out his gun.  He sees Michonne and Herschel outside the fences.  Michonne is smiling at something Herschel says.  The Governor raises his pistol and takes aim.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E6 "Live Bait" (11/17/13)

Ah.  So this is going to be a Governor-centric episode, huh?  Can't say that I approve.  We pick up right after the Governor slaughters his followers and drives off with Caesar and Whatsisname.  That night, at their camp, the Governor is silent and unmoving, even when a zombie approaches.  Caesar kills it off before it can get to the Governor, but he gives his boss a disgusted look and in the morning, Caesar and Whatsisname are gone, leaving the Governor alone and on foot.

For months he wanders, alone.  He goes back to Woodbury, finds it abandoned to the walkers and burns it down.  By the end of his wandering, he looks a bit like a zombie himself: scruffy, unkempt, shuffling and staggering.  A voice-over accompanies the images, the Governor and an unidentified woman talking about what happened to him.  He glosses over some stuff.  He finds himself in front of a derelict apartment building and catches sight of a little girl peering at him from an upper floor window.  When he goes up to their apartment, he finds two armed women, the little girl and a sick old man.  He hands over his gun and they let him in.  And so this is the story of how the Governor becomes human again. Ugh.

The women are sisters (Tara and Lily? Yeah, we'll go with Lily), the little girl is the daughter of one of them, the old man their father, dying of lung cancer and sucking off an oxygen tanks.  The little girl is kind of shell-shocked and they've been holed up here since the shit hit the fan.  Food isn't an issue because their dad drove for a wholesaler and they've got his truck full of spaghettios and pepperoni sticks.  The Governor (who tells them his name is "Brian") plans only to stay for a day.  But they ask him about himself, feed him, ask for his help with the old man, and slowly he begins to make a connection with them.

He goes upstairs to raid another apartment for more board games for little Megan and finds the former resident, now a zombie.  Tara shot it but she doesn't know you have to hit them in their heads.  [How the fuck does she not know this by now?  It's not like the zombie apocalypse just happened yesterday.]  Later, Lily asks "Brian" if he would please go to the old folks' home a few blocks down to see if he can scavenge any more oxygen tanks.  He goes and finds a whole cartload of the tanks and IT'S SO SLOW AND BORING THAT I FAST-FORWARD until the zombies start attacking him.  He has to abandon the cart, just grabbing one tank so the trip wasn't a total waste.

When he gets back to the apartment building, Lily, who was a nurse before the ZA, patches him up.  She goes to fetch more gauze and little Megan approaches.  She asks him some questions about his eye - he tries telling her he's a pirate but she giggles, disbelieving - and he admits that he lost it trying to protect someone else.  She says she's sorry and all of a sudden, the Governor gets to be a father figure again.  Ugh.

The old man dies and his family mourns.  When Lily mentions that he's been for some time now, the Governor gets concerned, asking them to leave the room.  Because these idiots have (luckily) been so sheltered that they do not know that everyone zombifies, no matter what.  The old man reanimates, grabbing Tara and gnashing his teeth.  While everyone else screams, the Governor bashes the zombie's head in using an oxygen tank.  This traumatizes little Megan again, obviously, seeing her grandpa get his head crushed.

The Governor decides that since he's ruined things with the little girl, it's time for him to move on.  But they refuse to let him go without them and they all pile into the food truck to find someplace else.  Which is okay for a while (the Governor and Lily even hook up after Tara and Megan fall asleep) until the truck breaks down and they have to go on foot.  Which is okay for a while until Tara twists her ankle just around the corner from a small herd of walkers.  They drop their packs and make a run for it, the Governor carrying Megan (who has decided that he's not so scary when compared with dozens of zombies).

They burst out of the woods and into a field, the Governor and Megan well in front of the limping Tara and Lily.  The Governor can't see where he's going very well, however, and he falls right into a big square pit.  There are three walkers trapped in there.  Megan screams and screams and the Governor kills them all with his bare hands (because he suddenly has no weapons?), including the best/ickiest kill of the episode when he uses a thigh bone to rip a zombie's upper jaw off its face.  He picks up little Megan and clutches her, saying that he was never going to let anything happen to her.  Then a gun-toting Caesar (remember him?) peers down into the pit and is all, holy shit, lookee who we have here.  And the Governor repeats to the little girl in his arms: I won't let anything happen to you.  Because that's a promise he'll for sure be able to keep.

Here's the thing about this episode: WTF?  The Governor is a terrible, horrible, very bad man.  We know this because we've been watching this show.  Yes, he once was a loving husband and father, and horrific things happened to his family, things that changed him.  But horrific things have happened to EVERYONE on this frigging show and while, yes, everyone else has also changed, most of them have not turned into monsters.  And yet this episode draws us into the Governor's life outside of any interactions with our regular cast and attempts to humanize him.  We as the audience are now supposed to sympathize with this guy?  Is this supposed to start an arc of redemption?  As a dedicated (if skeptical) viewer, I just can't get on board with this.  The Governor is a bad man and the show's writers are crazy if they think that a couple of episodes like this are going to turn him good again.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mini book review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Ooh, I said to myself, Doctor Sleep - a new Stephen King book!  A sequel to The Shining, where we finally get to see what happened to little traumatized Danny Torrance after his alcoholic dad went crazy, tried to kill him and his mom and ended up perishing in the furnace-explosion blaze that razed the Overlook Hotel!  [Oops.  SPOILER, but hell, The Shining was written in 1977 and if you haven't read it by now, it's your own fault.]  I said, to myself, I can't wait to see what happens and be terrified all over again!

Here's what happens:  Dan Torrance grows up and wrestles with his own alcoholic demons.  He uses his shining to ease hospice patients until one day he meets Abra, a little girl whose own shining far surpasses Dan's.  Abra is in trouble because the True Knot, a group of supernatural beings who travel the country in fleets of massive RVs, wants to suck the shining right out of her, just like they've been doing to other special (and thus now missing) kids throughout the centuries.

Here's how much I was terrified: Not at all.  For all that this is a pretty big book (the "large print edition" I ended up with from the library had 778 pages!), the treatment of the characters is pretty lightweight.  King usually excels in getting you to connect with his characters but this time, he just doesn't get into their heads; for example, he spends a huge number of pages talking about how a new member gets inducted into the True Knot ... and then scarcely mentions her again for the rest of the book.  The True Knot themselves are not that scary - from the first moment you meet them, they are clearly a group in decline - and their leader, Rose the Hat, is a missed opportunity for a charismatic villain.

I absolutely love Stephen King books as a whole but this new Doctor Sleep doesn't come close to reaching the levels of such classics like 'Salem's Lot, IT, The Stand, Carrie or The Shining.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E5 "Internment" (11/10/13)

Welcome to the Herschel show.  Yes, Rick and Carl get to bond, but this episode really belongs to Herschel.

As Rick drives home, things are starting to get a little desperate at the prison.  Daryl and his crew haven't gotten back yet and while no one new has gotten sick, the folks in quarantine are getting worse.  Herschel has stayed locked inside the quarantine and is running himself ragged, feeding elderberry tea to those who can get it down, hooking dehydrated folks up to jury-rigged IVs, even intubating "Henry," who is pretty far gone, and instructing Sasha and Glenn to squeeze the breath-bag for him once every six seconds or so.  Sasha and Glenn are looking pretty bad themselves, although Herschel seems to be immune to whatever is killing everyone.  He even tries making some jokes to keep folks' spirits up.  He also insists that when the flu kills someone that the subsequent stabbing in the brain take place away from the cells: the sick folks need to keep their hopes up and watching their dead friends get killed so they don't come back as zombies is not conducive to hopefulness.  Maggie talks to her dad through the window, wanting to come in and help, worried about Glenn (who hides around the corner so she can't see how bad he looks) and concerned that Herschel looks so tired.  Herschel is pretty amazing: despite his age and his lack of a leg, he is determined and positive and caring, doing everything he can to help these poor, sick people.

Rick finally gets back and Maggie lets him in.  She's been out at the fence line, stabbing as many walkers as she can to try to relieve the pressure on the wobbly fence.  She's the only one out there doing it - she's the only one who can.  She notices that Rick is alone and shouts at him, "Where's Carol?  Where's Carol?!?"  He tells her that Carol was the killer and that he couldn't let her come back.  Maggie pauses, considering, and then agrees that he did the right thing.  He tells her to tell Herschel but no one else.  Rick checks on Carl, leaving him with some of the food he collected and instructing him to stay put, despite Carl's request to come out and help him with whatever needs doing.

In the quarantine, people are fading fast.  Caleb the doctor shows Herschel the shotgun he's got stashed under his cot, just in case; he says he himself is done for, waving Herschel's ministrations aside.  Herschel asks folks to lock themselves in their cells as he and Sasha take another body out.  She is exhausted, however, and he sends her back to his cell while he moves the body and spikes it in the forehead.  He has to pull a sheet over the man's head first - this is the first quarantine victim he's had to spike himself as Glenn and Sasha have done all the others.  Rick comes to the window to check in with him.  The sheriff encourages the older man, offering what support he can.  Then he says, "I need to talk to you about Carol."

The Carol conversation happens off-screen, though, and afterwards Herschel goes back into the cellblock to close the cell doors for the night.  Sasha has collapsed and while he's tending to her, a dead quarantinee wakes up as a zombie, just a couple of open cell doors down.  On the upper level, Glenn realizes that Henry has stopped breathing.  He tries CPR but collapses, coughing up blood and slime, lungs filling with blood.  Strangely, Herschel doesn't hear him, but little Lizzie does.  She shouts for Herschel but as the old man heads for the stairs, the first zombie lurches at him.  Things go to hell very quickly as other zombies awaken and start attacking various people.

Rick and Maggie are out at the fence to try to shore it up with braces.  They hear a gunshot come from the prison.  Rick sends Maggie inside to check it out, even though she points out that keeping the fence up is more important.  In the quarantine, Herschel manages to subdue the downstairs walkers while on the upper level, Lizzie leads zombie Henry away from the collapsed Glenn.  Herschel makes his way up the stairs as Lizzie trips; the old man manages to grab zombie Henry and throw him into some fencing.  They go to check on Glenn and he's in rough shape.  Herschel realizes that the breath-bag is still stuck in zombie Henry's throat and clambers over the railing to tussle with the zombie, trying to get the bag without getting bit.

Back outside, Rick has enlisted Carl's help to shore up the fence but the weight of the walkers is too great and the fence collapses.  They run for the inner fence.  Once inside, they go to their stash of semi-automatic weapons (when did they get those? and why are they being stored outside where they'll get rained on?).  Rick gives his son a quickie lesson and they go back to the surging zombies.  As the walkers bust the second fence and move towards them, Rick and Carl calmly and methodically shoot the shit out of them.  There are a lot of zombies.  Luckily they brought plenty of clips to reload.

Maggie can't get into the quarantine because Herschel has locked it from the inside.  After scrabbling uselessly at the lock, she runs around to the visitor's window and shoots it out, climbing inside.  She runs into the cellblock and sees her father struggling above her.  She raises her pistol and Herschel cries out, "Don't shoot the bag! We need it for Glen!"  Maggie fires, finishing zombie Henry.  Herschel pulls the tube and bag out of the corpse and goes back to Glen.  While Maggie holds the unconscious Glen's head up, Herschel quickly rinses off the tube with some rubbing alcohol before stuffing it down the younger man's throat.  Glen's struggles for breath ease and it looks like they have saved him, at least for the time being.  In the creepiest bit, Lizzie comes to check on them, asking if it's over.  They reassure her and then ICK she drags the toe of her boot through the blood and mucus on the floor, like she's making designs.  ICK.

As Rick and Carl put down the last of the outside walkers, Daryl et. als show up.  Bob the medic heads inside with the medicine and he and Maggie prepare solutions for injections.  On the plus side, so many people have died that there should be plenty of antibiotics to go around for the remaining sick folks.  Maggie tells her father to go rest, now that the others are back.  He picks up his Bible but closes it without reading, bowing his head and crying quietly.

In the morning, there's clean-up to be done.  Michonne loads walker bodies onto a trailer.  Rick and Carl go check on their garden.  Herschel goes outside for some fresh air, reporting that it looks like Glenn is going to make it.  Daryl: "He's a tough sumbitch."  Herschel: "He is."  Daryl, smiling a little: "You're a tough sumbitch."  Herschel: "I am."  Daryl asks after Carol and Herschel directs him to Rick: "She's okay.  Just talk to [Rick]."  Herschel asks Michonne if she's heading out and she asks if he'd like to join her.  "Hell yeah," replies the old man, hero of the hour.

And as the camera pulls back, looking at the prison from the trees beyond, we see a man watching the prison.  That man is, of course, the Governor.  I told you he'd be back.

Here's a couple of things.  That conversation Daryl and Rick are about to have?  There is no way that's going to go well.  Also, I haven't always been a Herschel fan but he was great in this episode.  Also, regarding the chain link fence collapse:  why haven't they reinforced the fence before now, or added rows of stakes on the outside?  What have they been doing - just hoping that the chain link fence would hold up?  These people are stupid.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mini movie review: Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon version)

Have you seen Joss Whedon's passion project, Much Ado About Nothing, shot over three weeks on location at Whedon's house during a break in Avengers production?  Has anyone, outside of the festival circuit?  Despite having read too much about it, I was eager to see it, what with the cast being filled with Whedonverse regulars: Amy Acker (Angel, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods), Alexix Denisof (Buffy, Angel), Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Buffy, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), Clark Gregg (Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Reed Diamond (Dollhouse), Fran Kranz (Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods), Tom Lenk (Buffy, Angel, Cabin in the Woods), Whatsisname (Simon on Firefly) - kind of like catching up with old friends.

This iteration of Shakespeare's clever play is a mixed bag.  It's beautiful, shot in gorgeous black and white, the characters swanning around Whedon's stunning home wearing lovely clothes and drinking cocktails and wine.  Seriously: I don't think Amy Acker's Beatrice is ever shown without a drink in her hand.  The problem, of course, lies with the fact that many of these actors have never done Shakespeare before and some of them struggle with it, reciting their lines but seeming not to know whereof they speak.  Clark Gregg is quite good as Leonato, and Reed Diamond and Acker acquit themselves fairly well. Fillion is very funny as the buffoon Dogberry but many of his line readings are mushy; similarly, Lenk speaks so softly that you can scarcely tell what he's saying.  Denisof as Benedick and Kranz as Claudio are passable but they play everything extremely angry ... until Benedick decides he's in love and then Denisof is just a goofball.

This version suffers mightily in comparison to Kenneth Branaugh's MAAN, which for me remains the definitive popular movie version (even with Keanu Reeves as Don John.)  Still, it was fun to see all the Whedon-show alums and certainly a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E4 "Indifference" 11/3/13

I'm torn on this episode.  It's slow, with So Much Talking, and, per usual, the dialogue is not particularly clever or compelling.  But there is a consistent theme running throughout - people change, people have to change - and some very slow but not inconsistent character growth.  It's not like when we were stuck back on Herschel's farm, rehashing the same shit over and over.  But still, it's a little talky for my taste.  Daryl is looking extra fine, however, so that bumps up the grade automatically.

Rick is troubled by Carol's confession that she killed Karen and David - her secret is now his burden.  The two of them are going on a supply run because their food was ruined in the cellblock D battle (and there is really no one left to go).  Before they leave, Carol checks in on Lizzie, down in the quarantine.  They have a strange, awkward conversation: Carol wanting to mother the girl but refusing to let herself; Lizzie insisting that she's not weak.  Meanwhile, Rick walks through the Tombs, imagining how Carol murdered the two sick people.  He's trying to figure out what to do about Carol.

Rick and Carol.  As Rick drives to a nearby town, Carol rationalizes that Karen and David would have drowned in their own blood and her killing them was a mercy.  Plus, they were the only two actively sick and she was trying to keep the infection from spreading.  Rick seems unconvinced.  When they get to the town, they find a car, stocked with keys in it; there must be other people around.  They start searching neighborhood houses, taking any food or medicines they find.

Daryl's crew.  They're on foot now, looking for another vehicle.  Tyrese is sullen and cranky, resistant to the others' overtures.  There's a nice moment between Daryl and Michonne where she teases him gently (she has a wonderful smile) and he pushes back about her continuing to hunt the Governor instead of letting go.  They find a minivan parked outside a garage.  It needs a new battery so they decide to check out the garage, but they have to hack through the kudzu covering the building first.  Tyrese is a seething ball of rage, hacking and slashing, and when three zombies lunge out at them out of the kudzu, he seems nearly suicidal: Michonne and Daryl rapidly dispatch two walkers but Tyrese grabs onto the third and won't let go of it.  He pulls it out of the vegetation, dragging it over on top of himself, barely avoiding its teeth, until Bob is finally able to shoot it in the head.  Michonne: Why the hell didn't you let go?  Tyrese doesn't have an answer for that.

Rick and Carol.  In one house, a pajama-clad zombie tumbles down the stairs towards the two of them.  Carol calmly stabs it in the head and then both she and Rick raise their guns as an upstairs door opens.  It's two newbies, a young couple who'd been hiding in the bathroom for a couple of days.  They got separated from their group and had been surviving on food they scrounged.  They've got a gun but are terrible shots; they've got knives but don't seem very handy.  The girl has a gimpy leg, from a badly healed injury.  The guy's shoulder is dislocated and Carol puts it back in for him. She is calm and efficient, considerate but not warm.  When Rick is impressed, she tells him that she learned to do that on the internet: she got embarrassed going into the ER after her husband knocked her around a third time.  The kids ask if they can stay with Rick and Carol, so Rick asks his three questions.

Daryl's crew.  Daryl and Bob investigate the garage, finding a battery that will work.  On the way back out, they find a fourth zombie, pinned under some wreckage but still moving.  Bob notes a snapshot of four friends grinning for the camera - the four zombies here - and then puts the trapped walker out of its misery with a screwdriver to the head.  Outside, Tyrese and Michonne clear the kudzu from the minivan.  She tells him that he needs to let go of his anger because anger makes people stupid.  He calls her out on her attempts to track the Governor, asking her why she's still doing that.  She looks at him, nonplussed: I don't know.

Rick and Carol.  It is agreed that the kids can go back to the prison with Rick and Carol - they do tell the kids about the flu ripping through the population - but they're going to continue to search the neighborhood, looking for supplies.  The kids are eager to help out, to be of use.  Rick isn't sure but Carol dispassionately points out that four of them can cover more territory more quickly.  Rick gives them a gun (fire a shot and we'll come running if you get in trouble) and his watch so they can meet back up in two hours.

Daryl's crew.  As he works on the minivan, Daryl asks Bob about the group he was with before.  "Which one," says Bob.  He was the sole survivor of two different groups and the guilt of that wracked him, caused him to drink to forget, almost kept him from joining the group at the prison for fear of it happening again.  Daryl gruffly pushes the self-pity aside, looking damn good while doing it: "You ain't gonna be standing alone, not no more."

Rick and Carol.  Carol pushes Rick to respond to her and they go back and forth about his abdication of leadership, whether what she did was right.  "You don't have to like what I did, Rick.  I don't.  You just have to accept it."  There's a lot more talking but that's the gist of it.  They have a nice moment outside as they gather some tomatoes from a backyard garden.  Carol talks about how she thought she wasn't strong when she endured what her husband inflicted upon her.  She's let all that go past, let Sophia's death go - "someone else's slideshow."  Rick talks about how Lori used make these horrible pancakes for breakfast on Sunday mornings, smiling because his wife wanted them to be the kind of family who had pancakes together.  They move down the block and pause at a blood trail.  They follow the trail and find the girl's leg, and then see a group of walkers feeding on someone fresh.  Carol, indifferent, says: "We should get back.  [The kid] is probably waiting."  The kid is not there.  They wait for a while and then Carol, coldly, says he might be okay but it doesn't matter because he's not here and we have to go.

Daryl's crew.  They make it to the veterinary hospital and start collecting supplies, getting everything on Herschel's list.  Strangely, they don't go out the way they came in, instead winding their way deeper into the building.  Zombies start following them, including bloody-eyed ones who look like they could be infected with that flu, and they have to run through corridors and up stairs, finally finding themselves in a dead end.  They break a window and climb out onto the roof of a covered walkway.  Bob slips, though, and his backpack dangles over the roof.  The dozens of walkers below grab at it.  Daryl, Tyrese and Michonne yell at him to drop the pack but he refuses.  Finally, they haul him back up on the roof.  His pack clanks and Daryl picks it up, pulling out a bottle of booze.  That's what Bob was so desperate to hold onto.  Daryl is angry that he would be willing to risk their lives just to drown his demons.  "You should have kept walking that day." Bob makes a move towards his gun and Daryl struts up on him, gets in his face.  Tyrese steps in, suddenly the voice of reason: Let him go, Daryl, the man's made his choice.  Daryl hands the bottle back, growling that if Bob takes one sip before they get the medicine back to the prison, he'll beat his ass bloody.  Back in the minivan, Michonne tells Daryl that she's done chasing the Governor (which probably means that he'll show up in the next couple of episodes).  Good, grunts Daryl.

Rick and Carol.  Back at the car, Rick has made his decision: Carol cannot return to the prison with him.  Tyrese will kill her when he finds out what she's done.  The others won't want her there, knowing what she did.  And if everyone else dies, if it's just down to Carol, Rick and the kids, he doesn't want her there either.  She pleads, just a little, crying just a little, saying that she had to do something.  Rick: No, you didn't.  He promises to keep Lizzie and Mika safe.  He tells her that she's tough and she'll survive.  They load up the kids' car with some of the supplies they collected and Carol drives off.  Rick watches her go.  And as he drives back to the prison, he keeps looking in the rearview mirror, looking for her.

I can't say I'm happy about this: I liked Carol and think she is one of the better characters.  But I didn't want to see the big ugliness that would be inevitable when Tyrese found out what she did.  I hope she's not gone for good (I also hope that her leaving isn't to start up that Walking Dead spin-off I've been hearing about).  Also: I think Daryl is gonna be PISSED.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #9: Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

Happy Halloween, everyone!  As this is, in fact, October 31st, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is officially the last scary movie of this year's movie series.  I may have to do one more, however, since this is hardly a fantastic movie to end things on.  It's too bad, really, since I like Ginger Snaps so much.

This time we're in 1815, out in the West somewhere (filmed in Alberta), and the sisters are back, Ginger and Bridgette.  They're out wandering in the woods, for reasons that are never made clear, and they find an abandoned Native American camp that is shredded and liberally doused with blood.  A little further on, Bridgette steps in a bear trap.  Ginger is unable to free her but luckily a handsome young Native American man stops by with his pet wolf.  He gets the trap off the dark sister and leads both girls to a nearby fort.  The soldiers at the fort are pretty strung out; they've barricaded themselves in but are running out of food since their supplies are late.  Some of the soldiers are nice to the girls, some leer at them, some are just this side of psychotically violent.  That night, Ginger gets up for some water, hears a noise and investigates.  She finds a deformed boy locked in a room and the boy bites her.  Of course, this is how Ginger becomes infected by the werewolf virus.  The girls decide to leave the fort but before they can, werewolves surround the enclosure and attack; the deformed boy is also attacking people from the inside.  Blah blah blah, various 19th century fighting against practical effects werewolves, lots of people die.  The sisters manage to get out and barricade the remaining soldiers in the fort.

Here's the thing.  This movie is slow.  The acting and effects are fine but the dialogue is weak and there's not much of a plot.  Hell, Ginger doesn't even go full-wolf so the stakes never seem that high.  I guess this is supposed to be a story of how the "curse of the red and the black" got started and passed down, but that doesn't make sense and doesn't sync up with the first movie.  Is this supposed to be a standalone, but using the same actors and characters as the first one?  Both Ginger and Bridgette are anachronisms, spouting very non-1800s dialogue.  I dunno.  I give it a meh.

Possibly next up: An American Haunting

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E3 "Isolation" 10/27/13

After a strong start to the season, we slow way back down again for E3.  Lots more folks are sick, lots of people talk about it and Carol makes a behavioral change which is supposed to be character development but which just seems abrupt.

As the episodes open, twelve more graves are being dug as the sickness ravages the prison population.  Meanwhile, Tyrese shows Rick, Daryl and Carol the still smoking bodies of Karen and David.  He is wild with fury, shouting that they were murdered.  He and Rick get into fisticuffs: Tyrese unable to deal with his rage and Rick letting his inner killer loose just a little.  Daryl pulls them apart.  It's a rough, horrible scene and you can just imagine how this might be how zombie apocalypse survivors would live - violence always lurking just beneath their skins.

There is lots of walking and talking, bandaging wounds and talking, digging graves and talking.  Everyone is stressed big time since this isn't something they can actively fight - you just sit around and wait for the next person to get sick.  Sasha comes down with it, and Glen, and little Lizzie too.  Quarantine is strictly enforced for the sick folks but even Dr. S gets sick as he tries to help the patients.  The council meets and decides to send Daryl and Michonne out after antibiotics, heading to a veterinary college fifty miles away that Herschel thinks maybe won't have been scavenged like human hospitals and pharmacies.  Bob the medic volunteers to go too and Daryl recruits Tyrese as well.  Tyrese is reluctant to go until he learns that his sister is sick.  Before he leaves, however, he pushes Rick hard to find out who killed Karen and David.  He also asks Carol if she would look in on Sasha for him while he's gone on the meds run.  She says she'd be happy to - but once he's gone, she freaks out a little, knocking over some water barrels and sobbing.  So, we're to understand that it was Carol, then, who killed and burned Karen and David.

The healthy children, plus Carl and Beth, plus Herschel, go into isolation in the administrative offices in the hopes that this will keep them healthy.  Herschel gets fidgety, though, and decides to go out into the woods to gather elderberries - he has remembered that his wife used to make elderberry tea to help combat flu symptoms.  Carl sees him leaving and goes with him to protect him.  They gather a bunch of berries and only run into a couple of walkers who aren't really threats - one is just a torso, stuck under a tree, and the other has a bear trap stuck around one of its legs.  Herschel and Carl don't even take out the zombies (I guess Herschel is trying to keep Carl from killing as much as possible) and return to the prison unmolested.  Maggie finds them and yells at her dad, not wanting him to go into the quarantine area.  Rick comes up and backs Maggie up, begging Herschel not to do it.  The old man is adamant: "We risk our lives every day.  I can save lives and that's reason enough to risk mine.  And you know that."  He takes his berries and enters the quarantine.

Carol sneaks out to fix the water hose.  The fence zombies don't notice her at first, until she starts banging the hose around, trying to clear the mud out.  Rick sees what's going on and runs to help her as the zombies converge on her.  Carol clears the hose and fights off the zombies, running for the fence.  Rick shoots a few to help clear the way.  Once back inside the fence, he says, "We decided to do this tomorrow."  She replies, "We don't know if we get any tomorrows."

The group on the meds run is in a low-riding muscle car that is just eating up the miles.  Daryl plays with the radio and they are all startled to hear a voice.  But then, just around a blind corner, there are thousands of zombies, a huge herd, and the car is quickly stopped and surrounded.  Daryl tries to back up, running down a bunch of walkers and getting the car's axle stuck.  They decide to make a run for it.  Daryl, Michonne and Bob jump out of the car, hacking, slashing and shooting their way to the edge of the woods.  Tyrese just sits in the car, ignoring Bob's shouts to him.  Finally, Tyrese gets out of the car and starts swinging his hatchet, but the walkers surround him quickly.  The other three watch, resigned, knowing the odds are against their rescuing him, then turn and run into the woods.  They pause in a clearing, turning to face what is following.  A few walkers lurch out of the woods and then, incredibly, Tyrese staggers out, covering in zombie entrails but seemingly unbitten.  His team collects him and they keep running further into the woods.

Back in quarantine, Herschel feeds his tea to Dr. S (who repays him by coughing blood all over his face) and Glen.  Glen is frustrated, pissed off to "be taken out by a glorified cold" after all they've been through.  Herschel chides him gently and tells him to think positive thoughts.

Rick finds Carol outside, lugging water around.  He tells her that what she did was stupid, going outside like that.  He says, "You know, you do a lot for us.  For the kids.  You sacrifice a lot.  Is there anything you wouldn't do for the people here?"  She looks at him ... and then my damn DVR cuts off the last little bit.  But this is where it comes out that yes, Carol killed Karen and David and burned their bodies to try to stop the infection from spreading.  Because I didn't see it, I don't know if she feels badly about it or not (and "not" would be a big jump for the character - but then so is killing innocent people, I think).  But at least we won't have to go through weeks and weeks of Rick doing his investigation.  Now we'll just have to deal with the aftermath.

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #8: Dog Soldiers

Omigosh, Dog Soldiers, where have you been all my life?  Why has it taken so long for us to find each other?

Neil Marshall's solid debut (several years before the brilliant The Descent) is about a squad of British soldiers, out in the wild Scottish highlands on a training exercise.  There have been some recent disappearances in the area but they're not too concerned, ribbing each other, telling war stories, bitching about missing the big soccer match ... until they come across the remains of a Special Operations squad that has literally been ripped to shreds.  The soldiers (including Kevin McKidd and Sean Pertwee) are efficient, effective and loyal to their squad, responding as well to the unimaginable situation as they can, putting down their blank-filled training guns, picking up the S.O.'s real guns and retreating to an old farmhouse to make their stand against a pack of gangly, determined and very hungry werewolves.

This is what I've been waiting for all month: a monster movie with characters I liked and could tell apart, and who acted sensibly and realistically, with a couple of jump scares, a little humor, some nice tension builds and gooey red gore, plus lovely Scottish accents and some Highland cattle thrown in for good measure.  It isn't particularly scary although it is plenty violent - lots and lots of bullets are fired, until the soldiers run out of ammunition and then they make do with whatever they have on hand - and the blood and guts are plentiful.  The werewolves themselves are just great.  You don't get to see them very clearly until the last third of the movie; when you do see them, they're all done with practical effects - actors in werewolf suits - with no CGI in sight.

For those of you who are good at math, basically: Aliens - space + Scotland - aliens + werewolves - $$$ = Dog Soldiers.  I love-love-love this movie - so much fun!

Next up: more werewolves with another Ginger Snaps entry

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #7: My Bloody Valentine

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a slasher movie fan.  So when I do decide to watch one, I try to go for a classic one.  I was actually looking forward to watching 1981's My Bloody Valentine, one of the earlier entries into the genre.  Many horror fans are quite fond of the original MBV and I was therefore completely disappointed when I opened my DVD mailer to find the 2009 3D remake instead.  (Yes, I still watch DVDs by mail.  Don't judge.)  It wasn't until I actually started watching the damn thing that I realize how frigging disappointed I was.

Here's the plot synopsis:  A mine in Who-the-Hell-Cares, Pennsylvania, had a cave-in, due to an error by the mine owner's son, Tom Hanniger.  A bunch of miners were trapped but only one - Harry Warden - survived because he killed all the others to save the oxygen.  After his rescue, he somehow ended up in a coma until waking up in 1999, going on a rampage in which he slaughtered half the hospital staff and then pick-axing his way through a bunch of local teenagers who picked the mine's Tunnel No. 5 in which to party.  He was shot by the sheriff and buried out in the woods; Tom Hanniger freaked out and left town.  Ten years later, TOTALLY COINCIDENTALLY, on the day that Tom (Jensen Ackles) returns to town, a masked and pickaxe-carrying miner shows up and starts killing townsfolk left and right.  The serial killer is, of course, presumed to be Harry Warden, back from the dead.

I'm sorry.  I just ... I can't.  This movie is so very bad.  Unlike the original, the remake only has the most tenuous connection to Valentine's Day.  There is no suspense whatsoever.  I guessed the true identity of the killer within ten minutes.  The acting is terrible.  Even horror icon Tom Atkins can't save this bad, bad movie.  Here are some quotes from my notes:  "I am so bored.  Why do you suppose I'm still watching this?  This is by far the worst - at least The Convent was entertaining.  I really wish Blockbuster had sent me the original one like I wanted.  Also: way too long. [...] Tom Hanniger is crazy and this movie blows."  I still want to see the 1981 version but I'm going to have to take a break from My Bloody Valentine for a while first until I can forget I saw this one.

Next up: Dog Soldiers

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E2 "Infection" 10/20/13

Eeuw.  Some unknown creeper stands at the prison fence at night, feeding live rats to the walkers on the other side.  No wonder the zombies cluster there if they're being fed.  Who the hell is dumb enough to do that?

Here's a dead (haha) giveaway in a show as grim as this one: when anyone is at all happy, things are going to go to shit for them shortly thereafter.  With that in mind, Tyrese and Karen are canoodling in the prison library.  He asks if she wants to spend the night in his cell (in Cellblock C, I believe) but she says no, not yet.  They kiss goodnight and she heads off to the shower room to wash her face before bed.  For the first time in a really long time, I had to watch this show through my fingers, just for this scene, knowing that Zombie Patrick was in the shower room, just sure that he would lurch out at her.  (Good job, show, with the suspense.)  But Karen goes back to her cell (Cellblock D, I believe) unscathed and Zombie Patrick staggers after her, unheard and unseen.  He pauses at her cell's door, then moves further down the line when he hears a cough.  Inside the sleeping cougher's cell, Zombie Patrick kneels down and tears the sleeper's throat out with his teeth.  Blood spurts up as Zombie Patrick chows down, and the dying sleeper can't even cry out because his voice box has just been eaten.

Here's something that I would do: even "safe" inside the prison, I would close my cell door for sleeping, just in case.

In the morning, over on Cellblock C, Rick gets up at 6 and wakes Carl so they can go do their farming.  Because that's what they do now: no more guns, no more killing, no more life-or-death decisions - just compost and cucumbers.  Meanwhile, on Cellblock D, Zombie Patrick lurches out of the bloodied cell, looking for someone else to chew on.  The dead sleeper he'd been eating has zombified in the meantime and gets up himself, his intestines falling sloppily to the floor from the hole Patrick chewed in his stomach.  Outside, Glen and Maggie wake up from their night in one of the guard towers, and Michonne saddles up for another one of her scouting/searching runs.  (Do you suppose it's the Governor, hiding out in another part of the prison and feeding the rats to the walkers?  Long shot, I know.)  On the far side of the field, the fence is looking wobbly from the weight of the walkers; Carl asks Rick if he can help clear some of them out and Rick says no, cucumbers.  The idyllic morning is then broken by gunshots echoing out of the prison.  Rick runs for the cellblocks.  Michonne hears the shots too and turns her horse around.  Carl lets her in through the first gate but can't get the second one open in time - it's really a two man job - and two zombies sneak in, swarming over Michonne.  Carl grabs a rifle and gets one of the walkers and Maggie runs out and offs the other one, then helps the limping Michonne to safety.

Inside Cellblock D, it is utter and horrific mayhem.  There are zombies everywhere, many of them bleeding from their eyes and ears.  People and children are screaming and running everywhere.  Rick, in his new, pacifist role, will only help carry children to safety ... until he can't avoid it anymore and, with many an angsty look, starts taking zombies out with a tiny pocketknife.  Daryl, as usual, is a big ol' hero, dispatching walkers with panache.

Carol helps some big, burly guy to his bed, noting the bite on his arm and preparing to amputate it to save him.  Then she notices that he also has a bite on the back of his neck - and there's no saving that.  She asks him if he wants to say goodbye to his two little girls, Lizzie and Mika.  He asks Carol if she'll look after the girls like they were her own.  Of course she will.  She brings the girls in and their father dies.  Carol tells the girls that she has to take care of him before he turns.  Lizzie, the older girl, says she should do it because she's family - holy hell she's only about ten years old! - and Carol gives her the knife.  Of course Lizzie can't go through with it so Carol does, sticking the knife into the man's ear while his daughters wail.

As Daryl and Rick finish cleaning up, they notice that some of the walkers have no bites or other wounds - they just died, bleeding out of their orifices.  After consultation with Herschel and some of the new guys who appear to be doctors, it is suggested that a horrible and aggressive strain of flu has descended upon the prison, causing pleurisy and the bleed-outs.  Herschel the veterinarian says that birds and pigs can be flu carriers and they should do something about Rick's piggies.  He also points out that this sort of sickness is highly contagious and the whole prison population could be at risk.  A little while later, the governing council meets to discuss quarantine:  anyone who might have been exposed will go to Cellblock A (formerly known as "Death Row," but at least it's clean) while anyone showing signs of illness will be housed in clean cells down in the Tombs for observation.  Some guy named David and Tyrese's girl Karen have been coughing so off to the Tombs they go.  Because that's not FORESHADOWING or anything.

Rick goes out to help Daryl dig some graves and Daryl tells him that he was glad Rick was there in the cellblock with them.  Rick is all, I'm not much use without a gun, and I have no intention of taking it up again because whine-whine-whine I made too many bad decision and almost lost my son self-pity-more-whining.  Daryl's all, look, you earned a break from the action but if you see anything that needs doing or fixing, we'd sure like to hear your opinion.  Then Maggie runs up, screaming for them to help: the zombies are caving in the fence.  The three of them, plus Sasha, Tyrese and Glen, race to the fence and start poking walkers in the head.  Yes, even new non-violent Rick is back to killing zombies, although he grimaces before picking up a pike and getting down to it.

Inside, Beth wraps Michonne's ankle, feeling sad about the widows and orphans and "why don't they have a word for someone who has lost a child?"  Subtle, show.  Then baby Judith spits carrots up all over Beth's shirt and she thrusts the baby at Michonne so she can go clean up.  Michonne protests at first, then softens, cradling the baby close and crying silently.  Beth sees her and lets her have her moment.  Nice acting by Danae Gurira.  In another part of the prison, Carol finds Carl while he's making grave markers and asks him not to tell Rick about her teaching the little kids how to use weapons.

Out on the fence, Sasha finds the gnawed rats: "Someone's feeding these things?" But there's no time to contemplate this because the fence is totally caving in.  Rick, stepping up and making a big decision in a time of danger, despite his earlier protestations, shouts to Daryl to get the truck because he knows what to do!  What they do: Daryl drives the Jeep (why the fuck haven't they welded a top and sides onto that completely open vehicle?) towing a trailer; Rick rides on the trailer next to a big wooden box.  They drive around behind the fence zombies and then they go chumming for zombies.  Rick reaches into the box and pulls out one of his beloved piglets.  He slashes one of its legs with his knife and then drops it to the ground, where the swarming zombies immediately pounce on it.  They drive a little further from the fence, drawing more zombies off, and repeat with another piglet.  Again and again, Rick's face and chest drenched in piglet blood, until all the pigs are gone.  It's one of the most heartbreaking scenes of this whole damn show, actually, with the terribly sad music, the poor squealing piglets and (I can't believe I'm saying this) Andrew Lincoln's solid acting.  On the plus side, the walkers have all moved away from the fence and Glen, Maggie, Sasha and Tyrese are able to shore it up.

Afterwards, Rick dismantles his pigpen and burns it up, trying to eradicate any possible infection.  He tosses his blood-soaked shirt on the fire too - which makes sense because, as Carrie White can tell you, pig blood just won't come out.  Carl joins his dad and tells him what Carol's been up to: Carl thinks Rick should let her keep doing it.  Rick agrees with him, to Carl's surprise.  Then, even more surprisingly, Rick opens his toolbox and pulls out Carl's gun, handing it back to the boy.  He pulls out his own gun and holster too and straps them back on.  Thus endeth Farmer Rick, I guess.

In the final scene, Tyrese walks through the Tombs, carrying a bouquet of flowers for his sick girl.  But there's no one in Karen's cell, just a thick smear of blood on the floor, as though a body was dragged out of the cell and down the hall.  Tyrese follows the trail of blood outside where he is staggered to find two charred and smoking bodies - one of them identifiably Karen; the other presumably David, whoever he was - a gas can on the ground beside them.  My god is this show grim.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #6: Land of the Dead

George Romero's Land of the Dead (2005) is another one of those movies that I wasn't that impressed with while I was watching it but that I decided I liked better the longer I thought about it.  It's set some time well after the zombie apocalypse and, quite frankly, the zombies are winning.  Some enterprising humans have fortified a small city pretty well; it's bounded on three sides by rivers, with the bridges and four side well barricaded.  In addition, the 1%ers have taken over the luxury high rises, making them the ultimate gated community called "Fiddlers Green," where they live as though the ZA never happened.  Outside the Green, however, on the streets of this city, the rest of the population lives in poverty, kept complacent by the booze, drugs, gambling and other assorted sins thoughtfully provided by the richest guy in the Green, Dennis Hopper.  Hopper sends crews of guys out of the city, to the small towns that are overrun with zombies but not picked clean by humans, to bring back medicine, food, booze, etc.

These crews, led by Simon Baker and John Leguizamo, are savvy and well-armed, and they've got a secret weapon against the zombies - a massively armored truck called "Dead Reckoning."  They shoot off fireworks which distracts the zombies so the humans can do their raiding.  It's a pretty solid system, until they hit one town where, horror of horrors, the zombies seem to be evolving.  They're holding onto vestiges of their former lives - musical instruments, tools - and one of them, a huge guy wearing mechanics coveralls with the name tag "Big Daddy," is even more advanced than the rest.  He starts communicating with the other walking dead and leads them towards Fiddlers Green.  It used to be that the worst thing about zombies was how relentless they are.  With them using tools and figuring things out, hope for humanity's survival is getting dimmer.

I've watched a lot of Walking Dead since my last zombie movie and, as such, I've gotten used to zombie violence.  LotD is a little bit gorier/gooier than WD but not by much, so I didn't find it that scary.  Big Daddy is all kinds of awesome, though, and not something you want leading a charge against you.  Land of the Dead is a solid zombie flick and although I put it fourth out of Romero's four best, after Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, it's a damn sight better than a lot of the other genre entries out there.

Next: My Bloody Valentine (original recipe)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #5: Ravenous

Ravenous (1999) is a weird, little, kind of gory, kind of funny, low budget movie - just the thing for this month's movie series.

Captain John Boyd, Mexican-American War hero, is a troubled man.  First, he's not really a hero: left for dead on the battlefield, he was dragged behind enemy lines and stuck in a pile of dead soldiers, their coagulating blood running into his mouth.  With a surge of vigor, he climbed out and single-handedly took over a Mexican fort.  His commanding general thinks he's weird, however, and sends him off into the California wilderness to be stationed at the remote Ft. Spencer, deep in the Sierra Nevadas.  There are eight soldiers there - Boyd, Colonel Hart, Private Toffler the chaplain, Private Cleaves the layabout, Private Reich the psycho soldier, Captain Knox the drunkard, and a pair of Native American siblings, Martha and George.  When a starving man (Colqhoun) wanders out of the wilderness, babbling about his wagon trail being stuck in the mountains and reverting to cannibalism to survive, the bored soldiers head out to see if they can rescue anyone.  It's a trap, of course, and Colqhoun is the wendigo - the man imbued with strength and power from consuming other men - and he makes mincemeat of most of the rescue party.  Colqhoun recognizes a kindred, cannibal spirit in Boyd, and delights in tormenting him.  Boyd doesn't want to eat human flesh again because it's wrong from a moral standpoint; Colqhoun is the wily devil's advocate and, out in the middle of nowhere, it's difficult to resist him.

First of all, Ravenous has an amazing cast for a movie I never even heard of before:  Guy Pearce as Boyd; Jeffrey Jones (the principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off) as Col. Hart; Robert Carlyle (The Fully Monty) as Colqhoun; Jeremy Davies/Toffler (Lost), David Arquette/Cleaves, Neal McDonough/Reich (most recently the blond psycho from Justified) and John Spencer (Leo McGary from West Wing) as the grumpy general.  The music is incongruous, perky compared to some of what goes on on-screen.  The gaping wounds and spurting blood are over the top but not particularly gruesome.  Jones and Carlyle have some pretty funny lines and seem to be winking at the camera more often than not, while Pearce is his usual dour self.  The movie is a little slow in spots and runs a tad long - at 100 minutes, they could probably have trimmed at least 10 minutes away - but I thought Ravenous was a surprisingly entertaining, if not awfully scary, scary movie.

Next:  Land of the Dead

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Walking Dead S4E1 "30 Days without an Accident" 10/13/13

In the aftermath of last season's finale (and, by the way, I did read the next comics to see what is supposed to happen but I can't remember because I repressed it all because the comics are GRIM, man, and I don't like them), the prison folks seem to have a pretty good life going.  Daryl regularly brings new people into the prison from his scouting runs, which diversifies the population.  They've got a nice garden and a pigpen with a litter of piglets (where'd the piglets come from, show?), so they're working on supplying their own food.  Regular supply runs bring back batteries and other necessaries.  They've got some power and running water hooked up.  The biggest threat is the ever-increasing swarm of walkers pushing against the outer fence: to try to thin the herd, a regular crew goes out to the fence to stab the clustering walkers.  But they keep coming, more and more, and the people have to keep an eye on them.

There's now a ruling Council in place, its members include Daryl, Carol, Herschel, Sasha, etc., but not Rick, who seems content to be a dad and a farmer, and check on the snare lines occasionally.  Herschel does admonish him to carry his gun when he goes out there, although Rick doesn't want to and is all angsty and "I'm broken" about it.  Daryl is way popular with the newbies - almost as much so as with the viewing audience! - and it's pretty cute the way Carol teases him about the fandom.  Glen and Maggie are still Glen and Maggie and, well, I'm just going to get this out of the way because it doesn't go anywhere: at the start of the episode, they think she might be pregnant, so Glen insists that she not go on the day's supply run; by the end of the episode, they know she's not pregnant and they are both relieved.  Also, Beth and newbie Zack (played by Veronica Mars's Kyle Gallner, but don't get too attached to him) have a little thing going, but Beth doesn't seem to be as into it as he is.  Oh, and Carl seems to be normalizing a little bit, acting like a delighted kid when Michonne brings him a stack of new comics that she picked up on her last scouting trip - she's on a Governor hunt.

That pretty much brings us up to speed on everyone.  There are two "plot" lines in this episode: Daryl, Michonne, Glen, Sasha, Zack and newbie Bob (who doesn't look at ALL like a "Bob") go on a supply run while Rick checks the snares.

Supply run.  The store they're hitting is a big box store, unrealistically unlooted, supposedly because the Army commandeered it and set up fences around it.  They also crashed a helicopter on its roof and that'll be important later.  After a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of character work, in which redshirt Zack tries to guess what Daryl's job was pre-apocalypse (he calls it "the Turn") and Michonne laughs her ass off at his guess of "homicide cop," they go into the store.  Bob stares for a while at the bottom half of a zombie before he goes inside.  Then, as ominous music swells, the camera pans up to the building's roof where we see the top half of the zombie, plus dozens of more mobile walkers and that helicopter.  (We get it, show.  There's danger up there.)  Inside, everyone pushes their shopping carts around, filling them with items from their lists.  Bob pauses in the beer and wine section, tempted by a bottle of wine.  He thinks about hiding it in his jacket but then puts it back.  (We get it, show, he's an alcoholic which may prove problematic at some point.)

More immediately problematic: the shelf he returns the bottle to collapses and the whole case tops over on top of Bob, pinning him.  The others rush to help him, unaware that the roof walkers have heard the noise and are wandering across the roof.  When the roof walkers get over where Daryl's crew is trying to free Bob, the roof starts collapsing under them for some reason.  This next action piece is pretty cool: one at a time, the walkers fall through the roof.  Sunlight streams into the store from the holes in the ceiling.  Some of the walkers splatter - one awesomely dangles by his intestines for a while - but most of them struggle to their feet and go after the humans.  For all their experience, Daryl's crew has a tough time with these walkers: Glen gets knocked down before getting free; Tyrese almost gets chomped; Bob just manages to hold off a walker before Daryl drags it away and lifts the case off him.  In the end, only Zack gets eaten, first with a bite to the Achilles tendon, then getting his throat ripped out.  Everyone else runs away, just as the helicopter falls through the weakened roof, crushing the beer, wine and walkers beneath it.

Snare lines.  Rick comes across what he at first thinks is a walker but which turns out to be an emaciated, filthy and ultimately batshit crazy woman.  She looks as much like a zombie as you can look without actually being a zombie.  But Rick doesn't know the extent of her craziness at first, although he is wary of her.  He gives her some food and she asks if she and her fiance Eddie can go back with him to his camp.  Rick says that he'll need to meet Eddie first, and ask them three questions.  They talk as she leads him through the woods to her and Eddie's campsite.  She seems very fragile,brutalized by all she's gone through.  There's a lot of talking.  They finally reach her campsite, which is neat and tidy.  She hurries off to one side, greeting Eddie, but Rick looks around in bewilderment, not seeing Eddie anywhere.  Then, screaming, she lunges at Rick with a knife.  He knocks her away easily and she starts crying, saying that Eddie is weak, slowing down, and he needs something fresh to eat.  Then, miserably, she asks Rick to not "stop it," because she can't be without Eddie.  Realization dawns over Rick's face and, over his aghast protestations, the woman guts herself.  Rick drops to his knees beside her.  As she slowly bleeds out, she asks him what those three questions were.  Rick: How many walkers have you killed?  How many people have you killed?  Why?  Her answers:  Eddie killed all the walkers.  Only herself.  And, because you can never come back from this.  After she dies, Rick staggers to his feet.  He spares one glance for the twitching, squirming burlap bag sitting beside the fire ring, then walks away home.  It's a nice touch to leave Eddie to our imagination.

Wrap-up:  Daryl tells Beth about Zack's demise.  She feels bad but doesn't cry about it, instead giving Daryl an awkward hug.  Rick tells Herschel that he's nearly as nuts as the crazy lady and Herschel's like, no, you aren't and you're not going to be.  I think Herschel is as over Rick's melodrama as I am.  Finally, one of the new kids, Patrick, who is a Daryl-fanboy and Carl's friend, gets up in the night, coughing and sweating.  He staggers to the shower room and passes out in there.  As the episode ends, we see Patrick's dead face, blood drying around his eyes, ears and nose.  And then his eyes pop open, zombie style.  I don't imagine that's not going to be good for the rest of the prison dwellers, either having a zombie or a plague inside with them.

Overall, this was an okay episode, if it's just to be looked at to set the stage for the upcoming season.  The "plot" lines didn't advance the story at all, and I don't feel like I know any of the characters any better than I did before I watched it.  We'll see how the season goes.  Fair warning: if Daryl dies, I quit.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #4: Severance

Unpolished and in need of at least one more rewrite, but still entertaining and perfectly serviceable, Severance (2006) is the latest installment in this year's FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series.  A seven-person team of low-level executives from Palisade Defense, an arms-manufacturing company, are on a team-building retreat somewhere in Hungary/Romania/Serbia.  (The movie was filmed on location in Hungary but the hapless executives have no idea where they are.)  When the main route to the luxury lodge to which they are headed is blocked, the nervous bus driver abandons them on the roadside, refusing to drive down the scary secondary road.  Thus stranded, they decide to hoof it.  The road takes them to a spooky and abandoned building, however, and despite putting the best spin on their situation, it is by no means a "luxury lodge."  The next day, while a couple of them hike out to find a cell signal, the other five play paintball in the gloomy woods.  This is when hell starts breaking loose - the bus driver is found dead; a bear trap mangles one of the paintballer's legs - and the group is stalked by menacing figures, chased back to the not-luxury lodge and then picked off one by one.

This flick is a little uneven, with broadly drawn characters, most of whom get no development, including the bad guys - they aren't supernatural Jason/Michael types but just actual people for whom we never get clear motivation.  Final Girl Laura Harris (of Dead Like Me fame) is the best of the bunch, and it's fun to see her resolve coalesce when one too many of her coworkers gets slaughtered.  The strongest points of the movie are its ability to crank up the atmospheric scares and then back off the tension (I watched a good portion blurrily, over my glasses, sure that something awful was about to jump out) and its humor.  Severance isn't quite funny enough to qualify as a horror-comedy a la Shaun of the Dead, Black Sheep or Slither, but I did laugh out loud several times, which was also nice for diffusing tension.

Severance isn't my favorite kind of scary movie - I much prefer monsters or supernatural horror to stuff like this that could possibly (however improbably) happen in real life.  But this little movie was certainly scary, gory and funny enough to enjoy.

Next:  Ravenous!