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?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E2 "JSS" 10/18/15

We start with what is a flashback into what happened to Enid [such a name for a teenage girl!]: after the zombie apocalypse, her parents were eaten in front of her eyes when their car died; then she wandered, for god knows how long, alone, just managing to stay alive by hiding and eating turtles raw and other horrible, traumatic things.  "JSS," she writes, in the grime on car windows, in the dirt, constructed out of turtle bones, in the blood and dirt on her hands as she enters the Alexandria gates.  At first I think those are her initials and she changed her name when she arrived at Alexandria.

And then we're back in the show's present, just before the horn starts blowing at the end of last episode, as the Alexandrians who remained behind go about their day, not knowing what Rick, Michonne, Glen et als., are doing, not knowing that what was supposed to be a dry run, a rehearsal in the great walker exodus, is actually happening for real.  Ron is acting out, refusing to talk to his mom [what's her name again?], angry in the aftermath of his father's death.  Father Gabriel asks Carl to teach him how to fight.  Maggie tells Deanna that she needs to get back to leading the community.  And Carol continues her charade of uber-housewife, making casseroles out of terribly expired cans of things that no one else wants.  Little glimpses of the real Carol show through, as when she rather sharply tells another housewife that she should stop smoking cigarettes - "it's disgusting and it'll kill you, and there's more than enough out here that will do that now."  Tara and Eugene swing by the infirmary, finding that the new doctor (since Rick killed Pete, the last doctor) was trained as a psychiatrist and is uneasy about her new role.  People are living their lives, moving on.

And the Wolves show up, abruptly and without warning.  And all hell breaks lose.

They scale the walls, setting the Alexandrian guards on fire.  They don't have guns, which is good, but they hack the townspeople into pieces - literally into pieces - and it is HORRIBLE.  Zombies eating humans is bad enough, but these feral, violent people, the Wolves, are vicious and without mercy and it is brutal to watch, eviscerations and bludgeoning and all kinds of awful things.  Our first glimpse is Carol's point of view: having just put her celery soup casserole into the oven, she watches from her kitchen window as her cigarette-smoking neighbor gets cut nearly in two.  And then our Carol, the real Carol, re-emerges and she is, of course, a BAMF.

She wastes no time putting Carl in charge of guarding baby Judith in their house.  Enid comes in the back, intending to say goodbye to Carl and then skipping town ("This place is too big to protect, there are too many blind spots"), but Carl's all, no, you're going to help me and you're not going anywhere.  Pete's wife Whatshername and her younger son hide in a flimsy closet but she is worried about older son Ron being out and about.  Carol, meanwhile, sneaks through the backyards, observing the atrocities (including watching a Wolf smear a W in a victim's blood onto his forehead) before stabbing one of them through the back of the skull.  Then, she gathers another gutted, sobbing housewife into her arms and comforts her, before putting a knife into her skull too.  Carol pauses.  She knows she has to kill these people, these humans, and she'll do it, but it gives her no pleasure.  From up in a watch tower, Deanna's son Spencer, is not a very effective shot, missing various Wolves running amok.  An eighteen-wheeler comes crashing into the outside wall below the watch tower.  After the crash, the horn sounds.  This is the horn from the end of E1.

Rosita and Aaron bring wounded folks into the infirmary, then run out to try to help.  Spencer climbs down to the crashed truck.  He tries to get in there but the Wolves have stuck a zombie in there and he freezes, afraid, as the horn blares on and on.  Luckily, just then Morgan shows up (Rick having sent him back at the end of E1).  Morgan dispatches the walker and yanks out some wires, stopping the horn.  He then climbs over the wall and into the town where he immediately sees a huge Wolf dicing up a body with an ax.  Morgan stalks towards the Wolf, telling him to leave town.  The Wolf advances, raising his ax, but before they can engage, a hooded, masked figure darts up behind the Wolf and stick a knife into his skull.  He drops, dead, and the hooded figure is, of course, Carol.  While Morgan bitches about how she didn't have to kill the guy, she kneels down and smears some of the dead Wolf's blood onto her forehead in a W.  She looks at Morgan, telling him that the Wolves don't have guns but if they find the armory, everyone in town will be fucked.  She asks for his help.  Morgan: "You don't have to kill people."  Carol:  "Of course we do."  Morgan: "Carol! You don't like it!"  But that's not the point, is it?  You do what you have to do.  These Wolves are not to be reasoned with.

In the infirmary, psychiatrist Denise is afraid to try to do surgery on the wounded woman; Tara and Eugene urge, encourage and yell at her and she finally agrees to try.  Sullen teenager Ron is chased and almost offed by a Wolf but Carl kills the man, saving Ron's life.  Ron is not appreciative and Carl is shaken by having killed another human.  Pete's wife Whatshername hears footsteps downstairs and summons her courage, telling her younger son to lock the door behind her.  When she goes downstairs, a female Wolf is in the kitchen.  They fight, the Wolf slamming her head into a wall.  Little does the Wolf know that Whatshername is used to that, having lived with an abuser.  Whatshername pulls herself to her feet, grabs a pair of scissors off the counter and throws herself at the Wolf, stabbing and screaming and stabbing and screaming.  That's how Ron finds her when he finally comes home, his mom covered in blood and stabbing another person to death on the kitchen floor.  Damn.

Carol and Morgan head towards the armory, Morgan splitting off when he sees a Wolf attacking Father Gabriel.  Carol gets to the armory, killing several Wolves as she goes, and then loads a bunch of guns into a bag.  God, I love bad ass Carol.  Out on the street, Morgan saves Gabriel by knocking the Wolf down and tying him up.  The Wolf looks at them, saying, "We're freeing you.  You're trapped.  People don't belong here anymore."  Morgan and Gabriel looks at each other, confused, but then BAMF Carol strides up and just shoots the Wolf in the face, cutting off any further soliloquy.  She hands a gun to each of Morgan and Gabriel; Morgan, who really does think this can be solved without killing, is speechless and horrified and gives his gun to Gabriel.  Carol knows better, despite how much this is costing her in her soul, and stalks around, shooting Wolves.  Morgan gets cornered by five or six Wolves.  He beats the crap out of them with his stick and warns them that his people have guns and if they don't leave right now, they'll all be killed.  "You keep choosin' this life, you will die."  Wolf:  "We didn't choose."  And then, incredibly, they run off, Morgan slamming the gate closed behind them.  I mean, Morgan isn't wrong in theory - it should be people banding together against the walkers.  But that's not the way of the world any longer.

After the place is cleaned out of Wolves, Carol sits on her steps, looking at the bodies on the street.  She rubs at the W on her forehead and for a moment, just a moment, tears well up in her eyes before she manages to clamp down again.  Aaron walks through the town, pausing by several dead Wolves.  He rolls a body over and picks up a messenger bag.  When he opens the bag, he pulls out a bunch of photographs of Alexandria: I don't remember this but I guess he lost that bag on one of the runs he and Daryl did?  And the Wolves found it and thus found Alexandria.  Oops.  In the infirmary, Denise has been unable to save the woman she was working on.  Tara tries to say something comforting to her ... and then reminds her to "get her brain."  Don't need no zombies walking around now that the massacre is done.  Inside his house, Carl stares at the Wolf he killed, lying out there on the lawn.  Then he turns, calling for Enid.  But she is gone, leaving a note behind her: "just survive somehow."  JSS.  And then the timer goes off and he takes Carol's casserole out of the oven.  This whole horrible attack happened in nearly real-time, in just the amount of time it took to cook dinner.

Finally, Morgan walks through the streets, making sure everything is safe.  He sees the door to Deann's house is open and goes inside to investigate.  There is one last Wolf in there, hiding, and he nearly gets the best of Morgan.  But Morgan fights back, with all he's got, giving the Wolf an ass-kicking.  The Wolf pulls away, realizing that Morgan is just beating on him, and grins, "You can't, can you?  You should have."  The Wolf lunges again and Morgan drops him.  Then Morgan grimaces and says, "I'm sorry," and then he kills that Wolf.  Out in the street, he and Carol pass right by each other, neither saying a word to the other.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #6: Housebound

Housebound, a horror/comedy/thriller from New Zealand, came recommended to me by my friend Spencer R., who played it at his Halloween party last year to good results.  Spencer and I tend to like the same stuff genre-wise - although he draws the line at zombies - so I went into it with confidence.

Kylie is a twenty-something miscreant who gets arrested during a failed attempt at robbing an ATM.  The judge feels that she will not be well-rehabilitated in jail so he sentences her to eight months house arrest, complete with ankle bracelet, with her mother.  Kylie is not much pleased about that: her flaky mother lives out in the country with dial-up internet (THE HORROR), a mumbly new husband and a creepy neighbor.  Plus, it seems as though the big, creaky house they live in is haunted: her mother certainly thinks so - things move or go missing, gadget batteries drain unpredictably, there are noises in the walls - and while the jaded Kylie is skeptical now, when she was a child, she certainly believed in the ghosts.  When the mysterious happenings start to pick up again, Kylie finds an unlikely ally in her parole officer and they learn that the house used to be a halfway house for disturbed teenagers.  At least one girl was killed there and certainly enough psychic torment was unleashed in the house to bring on the disturbances.

I'm not going to go any further because to do so would be to spoil the movie.  The very entertaining Housebound does have a bit of a Shaun of the Dead feel to it (albeit lower key in both humor and gore) but with about twenty minutes left, switches to more of a thriller/comedy.  Kylie is a good anti-hero, not particularly likable but strong and resourceful (her knife and cheese grater combination was excellent).  I enjoyed Housebound quite a lot but it's pretty light on the horror aspects

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E1 "First Time Again" 10/11/15

Here's the stylistic deal:  the black and white scenes took place right after the events of the S5 season finale; the scenes in color are "now," seemingly six months later.

Now.  Rick is speechifying about some grand plan on the cliff over a quarry that is teeming with walkers.  Behind him, a tanker truck that had been serving as a barricade to keep the walkers in slips off the cliff and zombies start pouring out of the quarry.  All of a sudden, everything slips into high gear: this was supposed to be a dry run for the plan but now it's for real.  Rick shouts instructions and everyone runs off, knowing exactly what they're supposed to do, but for us, the viewers, it's chaos.  And the walkers, thousands of them, keep coming and coming.  I hope this is a good plan.

Then.  Deana, sitting by the pool of her dead husband's blood, tells Father Gabriel that he was wrong about Rick.  Gabriel nods sadly.  Abraham takes Reg's body to be buried and, sad, starts drinking heavily.  Tara is in the infirmary, conscious now, when Glen and Nicholas come in [after nearly beating each other to death out in the woods].  Eugene comes in and is thrilled to see Tara; she says she's glad nothing happened to his hair.  She asks where Noah is, not knowing that he got eaten because of Nicholas.  Everyone else looks sad.  A bloodied Rick tells Morgan that he's glad to see him and says that he doesn't take chances anymore.  Morgan thinks that sounds good.

Now.  The plan, via Rick's walkie-talkie voiceover is that Daryl leads the walkers out, Sasha and Abraham joining him at the bottom of the hill.  Glen's crew heads to the tractor place to lock that down.  Everyone has their assignments.  Everyone runs with purpose.

Then.  The next morning, Rick (with a distracting number of tiny bandaids on his face) and Daryl bring each other up to speed (what happened in Alexandria; the walkers with the Ws carved in their foreheads).  Rick doesn't think Daryl needs to bring any more new people back into Alexandria; Daryl disagrees but doesn't make a big deal about it.  Eugene is standing guard at the compound's front gate when a long-range run comes back.  Heath is a new named character - perhaps he will survive the episode.  Later, as Rick is showing Morgan around, they see Gabriel and an Alexandrian digging graves for Reg and Pete.  Rick's all, Pete doesn't get to be buried inside the walls and Deana, making a sudden appearance, orders that Pete's body be taken out into the woods and left there.  Rick and Morgan pick up the body, Pete's son Ron watching them from the trees.  As they load Pete's body into the trunk of a car, Rick tries to explain what happened.

Now.  Rick, Michonne and Morgan move into position by a steel wall reinforced by RVs.  Rick:  "It'll hold."  Michonne: "Well, that's good.  You know, considering where we're standing."  Then, moments later, Morgan hilariously asks Michonne if she stole a protein bar from his stash when they met the first time.  She gives him a look: "No."  Because he could have sworn there was one more peanut butter left.  She sighs, "That's how it always is.  You always think there's one more peanut butter."  Heh.

Then.  Rick and Morgan take Pete's body out into the woods.  Rick wants to just leave it there but Morgan insists on digging a grave.  They are interrupted when Rick hears something, though.  They investigate and find themselves on the edge of the quarry.  They stare down at the hordes of walkers, more and more being drawn in by the cries and groans.  The CGI is not all that good but the sight is still terrifying.  From behind them, Ron runs up, chased by several walkers.  Rick grabs the kid before he runs over the edge of the cliff; the walkers tumble over.  Later, Rick tries to tell Ron that it's not safe beyond the town's walls and he'll teach him how to shoot but, not surprisingly, Ron is uninterested in listening to anything from the man who just killed his father.  He is surprised, however, when Rick and Morgan go back and finish burying Pete.

Now.  So, so slowly, Daryl rides his chopper down the middle of the road, leading the huge herd of walkers.  There are thousands of walkers, more than enough to overrun tiny Alexandria.  Meanwhile, Glen, Nicholas and Heath get to the tractor store.  There are a bunch of zombies trapped inside, banging on the windows and growling and the concern is that they will make enough noise to distract the walkers on the road.  They need to keep the walkers on the road.  After a false start, they break a window and walkers tumble out.  At first the three men keep their cool, taking them down with head shot after head shot.  Then there are too many and it gets a little tense.  But they manage to put them all down, each man saving the others' lives in turn, Nicholas redeeming himself by saving Glen.

Then.  Rick and Morgan report to the Alexandrians about what they saw at the quarry and Rick lays out his plan.  "It's not a matter of if, but when."  Carol is still playing her meek housewife role and supports Rick's plans.  New character Carter (played by Ethan Embry) is the voice of opposition but Deana overrules him.  One by one the members of Rick's group show their support; the Alexandrians are slower to agree but some of them do.  Rick explains that walkers herd up and play follow the leader unless they get distracted.  This way they can lead them out and away from the town.   Then they go through the plan again.

Now.  The plan where Rick, Morgan and Michonne are stationed is a trouble-spot, a place where the road bends.  The wall is there to turn the walkers, to keep them on the road.  But walkers are mindless and many walk right into the wall, bouncing off.  Hence the reinforcements.  And Rick, Morgan and Michonne fire off flares, attracting the zombies' attention down the road.  The wall shakes and trembles but it holds and the herd keeps moving.

ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD commercial!  Ooh you lucky Starz subscribers!!!

Then.  Housewife Carol makes the rounds, handing out water as people build the walls.  Rick tells her that she needs to keep the people who remain in Alexandria safe and of course she will (I'm getting tired of Nurturing Carol - I want BAMF Carol back).  Later, when she hands Morgan some water, he asks if she was a cop with Rick before.  Bemused, she says no and asks why he would think that.  Morgan:  "Because you're always watching, always keeping ready."  Carol: "Hmm. Aren't you sweet."

Now.  Abraham and Sasha notice that some of the zombies are wandering off course.  Abraham jumps out of the car and runs into the woods, hollering and waving his arms and capturing the errant walkers' interest, leading them back to the road.  When he gets back in the car, he is splashed with blood and he chuckles, making entirely inappropriate comments about how much blood Reg and Pete were covered with on the night of their demise.  Sasha is all WTF I'M THE CRAZY ONE IN THE CAR.

Then.  When some walkers lurch out of the woods toward some wall-building Alexandrians, including crankypants Carter, Rick encourages the townspeople to use their shovels to protect themselves.  But the Alexandrians are pretty much useless and Rick, Morgan, Michonne and Daryl step up, quickly and efficiently putting down the threat.  Morgan stares hard at Rick and accuses, "I thought you didn't take chances anymore."  Rick shrugs and Carter glares daggers at him.  Later, as he is raiding the storeroom for snacks, Eugene overhears Carter trying to garner support among some of the Alexandrians to kill Rick before he gets them killed.  Eugene is discovered and Carter points a gun at his head.  But then Rick, Daryl and Morgan are there.  Rick easily disarms Carter and points his gun at his head.  Daryl says, "Rick ..." and Rick backs off, handing the gun to Daryl and saying he's fine, he won't kill Carter.  (We're supposed to be seeing Rick's dark side here but the show is too much in love with having him be the hero to really make him go dark.)  Later, Rick and Morgan have a nice moment - observed by an eavesdropping Michonne, who seems relieved to see Rick making a connection with someone - when Rick lets Morgan hold baby Judith.

Now.  Rick, Carter, Glen, Morgan, Michonne and a bunch of others fan out in the woods, paralleling the road to push any wandering walkers back on track.  Carter is amazed that Rick's plan is working and shakes his hand - so of course Carter won't survive the episode.  Indeed, as he moves out on point, Carter runs into a walker and is unable to defend himself, getting the side of his face bitten right the hell off.  It's super gruesome and Carter screams and screams and screams.  Unfortunately, his screaming distracts the walkers in the herd and some start wandering off the road towards the noise.  While others fire their guns to distract them back, Rick runs up to Carter.  He kills off the zombie and knocks the shrieking man to the ground, desperately trying to get him to stop screaming.  But Carter won't or can't stop and, just as Morgan and Michonne run up, Rick runs his knife through Carter's brainstem.  That stops the screaming.  Rick actually has a moment when he looks like he feels bad about what happened.  That moment doesn't last long.  Morgan and Michonne have a little more trouble with it: they know it had to happen but it doesn't make it any easier.

The plan seems to be working.  The herd is moving in the right direction and Daryl, Sasha and Abraham are to lead them twenty miles out and away before ditching the herd and returning home.  The walkers should continue moving in the same direction, away from Alexandria.  But then.  Then a horn sounds in the distance.  Coming from the direction of Alexandria.  And the noise is distracting the herd, pulling them off the road, turning them in the direction of the town.  It's a disaster.  Our heroes start running through the woods, heading back home.  And the camera pulls back into a helicopter shot, showing literally thousands of zombies lurching towards Alexandria.

Thank god Carol is back there.  She'll take care of it.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Strong start but now we falter

I was doing really well for a while with the timely True Blood recaps and getting some movie reviews out there for this year's Scarelicious October Movie Series.  But then Mr. Mouse and I had some well-deserved time off and well, now I'm behind - especially with regard to getting the recaps of the new season of The Walking Dead up here for you.  I have the first episode queued up in my DVR (why oh why do they insist on 90 minute episodes?) and the plan is to watch it tonight and then get the recap up tomorrow.  But the real issue is that the next episode recap is going to be really late and I'm sorry about that.

Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in at least one more scary movie but I'm afraid that the next ten days will be pretty sparsely populated around here.  Sometimes life gets in the way of pop culture consumption - it's just unfortunate timing.  Please check back in and watch some good scary stuff of your own.

P.S. Anyone out there watching this season of American Horror Story: Hotel?  I've seen the first episode and while it had some strong moments - slick and stylish visually, a bunch of intriguing possibilities with storylines, some nice acting (especially from poor Max Greenfield, even though his fate was surprisingly horrible, even for an FX show) - I'm afraid that, like most of the other AHSs, it's just going to tease us with the possibilities and throw most of it away in a tangled mess.  They introduced so much I just don't have faith in the production team to make any sort of sense of it.  With luck, it will end up being a gorgeous, twisted hot mess ... and not just a limp, faded mess.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

True Blood episode recap S6E10 "Radioactive"

After the funeral, Sookie and Alcide take a walk.  His hair (a wig, I'm hoping) is atrocious.  [My dvd then gets stuck so I've fast-forwarded and the next scene is this:]  When they get to Bill and Jessica's, the freed vampires, all still completely high on Bill's/Lilith's/Warlow's blood, are swing-dancing in the front yard, pulling off their clothes and throwing them on a bonfire and generally fucking like bunnies.  Sookie sees Jason being fed on by Violet and runs to see him.  Violet is initially defensive and very jealous but then, when she understands that Sookie is Jason's sister, plants a soul kiss on her.  Jason:  "Uh, Sook?  This is Violet.  She's European."  Sookie makes the rounds, with both Pam and Tara hugging her and glad to see her.  But Sookie has some melancholy to her because in her head, she's saying goodbye as a human before she goes to Warlow.  Bill, watching her from inside the mansion, realizes this and feels bad about it.

Sookie returns to the faerie realm where Warlow is just finishing putting together the most sparkly, flowery May pole you've ever seen.  There's some stupid faerie ceremony to wed the two of them, he explains, but she interrupts, saying that she'd maybe like to postpone their wedding/her transformation, and maybe they could just date a while first, get to know one another.  Like flipping a switch, Warlow turns on her [This character is so inconsistent: first he was all evil and scary, then he was all in love and flowery, and now he's all scary again?  So annoying].  He hits her across the face, grabs her by the throat and ties her to the damn May pole, growling, "Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?"

Back at Bill's, vampires are HILARIOUSLY playing volleyball to "Wishing Well" by Belly - because everyone knows vampires love 1990s alt-pop.  Tara notices Pam, sulking to one side, mood obviously changed.  Pam is going after Eric and Tara is pissed off but can't do anything to stop her.  Pam tells her to take care of Willa (who is so oblivious that she hasn't noticed Eric is gone) and flies way as Tara growls, "You guys are the worst fuckin' makers."  In the house, Jessica finds Bill who is SO SAD to learn that since he was so far drained, he lost all of Lilith's blood and its accompanying powers: "I feel like Bill again.'  He's also sad about Sookie and tells Jess about the deal Sookie made to save the vampires.  Jessica is all, stop moping around and go save her then, for chrissakes.  He is such a twat.

A little bit later, Bill, Jessica, Jason and Violet discuss how to save Sookie.  But because she and Warlow are on that other plane, they need another faerie to get them there - and the only other faerie in Bon Temps is Andy's daughter Adalind.  While Bill releases that scientist he had captive in the basement (glamouring him so he won't remember and giving him a big bag of money for his trouble) Jason and Violet go to the Bellefleurs.  Andy is completely against the idea, of course,  but Adalind stands up to her dad and says that she wants to help Sookie.  So Andy and Jason arm themselves with lots of silver UV light bullets and wooden stakes and everyone traipses off to the cemetery.

Blah blah blah.  Warlow is yapping to the captive Sookie.  I DON'T CARE.  And when night has fallen in the real world, he fangs up and bites her.  In the real world, Bill, Jason, Jess, Andy, Violet and Adalind get to the cemetery.  Adalind doesn't know how to use her faerie magic to transport them ("I'm two weeks old!").  Bill muses that fear is what usually rouses a fae's power and Violet's all, why didn't you say so?  She fangs up and gets in Adalind's face, shrieking at her to use her power; terrified, Adalind does, bringing them all into the faerie world.  Bill and Warlow fight while the rest of them rescue Sookie who is unconscious from the blood loss.  They transfer back to Bon Temps, going back to the Stackhouse house.  Jason and Violet revive Sookie while Andy hides Adalind in the basement safe room.  Bill and Warlow transfer back over to the real world, continuing the fight there.  Warlow easily overpowers pretty much everybody, locking them all down with Adalind while he goes after Sookie.  She, meanwhile, has woken up and is hiding in the bathroom.  He corners her there, Jason staggering up the stairs after him.  Just before all is lost THANK GOODNESS Niall (remember him? stuck in that hell dimension so he can be a deus ex machina?) comes out of the portal in the bathroom and grabs Warlow so Jason can stake him.  (I would think that it would take more than a simple wooden stake to kill a 5,500 year old vampire.  But what do I know?  In any case, what an utter waste of a villain.)  Sookie and Jason pulls Niall out of the portal, saving him.  There's a downside to killing Warlow: his magical blood dissipates, leaving all the vampires who used to be able to walk in the sun back the way they were.  This is a problem, especially for Eric who was sunbathing naked on a glacier in Sweden.  He screams and catches fire.  Note: I refuse to believe that Eric is dead.  I also appreciated the full frontal nudity, however brief.


Bill has written a book about Lilith and Hep V and what the former Governor did.  And he goes on a book tour, trying to mend vampire/human relations.  Back in Bon Temps, Sookie and Alcide (who has gotten a haircut, thank god) have shacked up.  Also, Jason and Violet are still together.  She has made him give her oral sex for the last 170 days with no reciprocation.  He's wondering when he gets his turn.  Not yet, says Violet.

What else has happened?  Sam is now the mayor of Bon Temps and has sold Merlotte's to Arlene, who has renamed it Bellefleur's.  And roving bands of Hep V infected vampires are throughout Louisiana, attacking small towns.  The town calls a meeting at one of the churches, taking blood samples from all the humans to see if any of them are carriers for Hep V (which doesn't harm humans but can be transmitted).  The reason for the meeting: Sam and Bill, with the local churches' support, think that the best way to protect the townsfolk is to pair each of them up with an uninfected vampire.  The vampire gets clean blood to feed on (since Tru Blood is still no good) and the human gets protected by their vampire.

Some of the townsfolk think this is a terrible idea but some are amenable and attend a BBQ at Bellefleur's Bar & Grill later that night.  Vampires and humans get paired off (Tara's mom makes amends with her estranged vampire daughter by offering to be her food, for example).  Jessica, noticing that Andy and Adalind are not in attendance, goes to their home and offers her protection, without using them for food.  Andy doesn't want to have anything to do with the vampire who killed his other three half-fae daughters but Jessica is not dissuaded, standing guard long after he has closed the door in her face.

Alcide and Sookie get their blood tests back - clean, of course - but neither is interested in pairing off with a vampire.  As they head for home, Bill shows up and, holy hell, we're all back into let's-save-Sookie mode.  Bill thinks she should hook up with him for protection because she's so delicious; Alcide is all growly and says he can protect her himself.  EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS HER OWN FAERIE MAGIC.  Then, both Bill and Alcide sniff the air: a huge swarm of infected vampires is converging on the party at Bellefleur's.

This?  This is how you end the season?  After a strong E9, you finish with this crap?  Aaaarrrggghhh.  This show pisses me off so much.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #5: Monsters

A space probe returns to Earth, crashing into the jungles of Mexico and unfortunately bringing with it alien life.  These alien creatures take to their new environment quite well, growing and reproducing and flourishing.  Six years later, both the Mexican and the U.S. military are still fighting to contain the creatures, trying to keep them in an "Infected Zone" that basically covers the top third of Mexico, running up to the southern U.S. border.  As the movie starts, somewhere further south, "San Jose, Central America," a monster has surged out of the Infected Zone into a small city and the military orders an air strike, killing the creature but also killing a lot of civilians, including tourists in a hotel.  Photographer Calder (the wonderfully named Scoot McNairy), down there on assignment to try to get a shot of a live alien, is ordered to track down the wayward daughter of his magazine's owner (Sam, played by Whitney Able) and get her back to the U.S.  He does so, reluctantly, and they slowly get to know one another as they make their way up to the border of the Infected Zone.  There are two ways across to safety in the U.S.:  by ocean-going ferry, in relative safety for $5,000 per person, or by river boats and dirt roads across the Infected Zone itself.  I bet you can guess which route they end up taking.

Here's the thing.  Monsters is not at all scary.  I wouldn't have even included it in this series except for the fact that I am bound and determined to watch more movies this October than I did last year and by the title alone I thought it was going to be a monster-genre horror movie.  The critters are pretty well-done: all CGI, of course, but with a bit of a Cloverfield-vibe in that you basically just see bits and pieces and tentacles and not the whole critter.  Calder and Sam become characters that you get invested in, having distinct personalities and some character development.  No other character gets a name and they, of course, are monster fodder.  There is some destruction and some post-destruction bodies but at no time do you ever worry about the two main characters.  Monsters is a well-done enough creature feature (for all that you scarcely see the creatures) but a horror story it is not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sixth Annual Scarelicious FMS October Movie Series #4: Dead Within

I had never even heard of Dead Within, only finding out about it after it got a mention in the comments on this Final Girl post.  But it was streaming on Netflix and short - a taut 91 minutes - just perfect to watch before bed.

In Dead Within, you really should settle down and watch the opening credits.  There are two couples, one with a baby and a super-cute yellow lab, out for the weekend in a rustic cabin somewhere.  There is making of dinner and drinking of wine and laughter and smiles and it all looks like the start of a really nice weekend away among friends.  Then the credits end and we cut to black.  When the movie starts back up, it is six months later.  One of the couples, Kim and Mike, are still in that cabin but they've boarded up all the windows and barricaded the doors and they skulk around almost silently, clutching machetes and shotguns, flinching away from the horrible shrieks and growls that come from outside the cabin.  They are alone in there: their baby is gone, their dog is gone, the other couple is gone.  It seems the world outside has gotten hit by some sort of rage zombie apocalypse (kind of like 28 Days/Weeks Later, I guess); the virus isn't in the water but it is very contagious.  You can tell the infected (the "trollers" Kim and Mike call them when they are heard outside the cabin) by their black eyes, black blood and general shrieking murderousness.  Mike goes out every few days, armed with the shotgun, to scavenge what he can - canned goods, batteries, soap.  But Kim stays in the cabin, and the movie stays with her, and it is there that she starts to go mad, terrified of what may be outside. She has no idea what's out there - Mike won't let her go out and there are only partial glimpses through the boarded-up windows - and she can't tell if it's scarier within the cabin or without.

I thought this was a solid little low-budget horror flick.  It's a just little gory but the main terror comes from the claustrophobia of being trapped in the tiny cabin with Kim.  We only get her point of view.  She tries so hard to be brave but the noises from outside are so scary, and sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing.  To the movie's credit, it keeps the viewers in the dark right up until the end: we never get a clear view of the world, never know if it's real or all in her head, and that keeps the unease and dread going.  My only complaint was that the sound levels were uneven: the music was loud but the dialogue was soft and I found myself having to adjust the volume a lot, and missed out on some dialogue even so.  Still, I can definitely recommend Dead Within - go watch it!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #3: V/H/S

Well now, that's more like it: another anthology but with scary bits this time!  V/H/S is a collection of indie horror shorts from different writers and directors, consisting of one bizarre framework story wrapped around five self-contained tales.  The linking conceit is that all of it is "found footage" which, if I'm honest, was pretty wearying by the end.  But when V/H/S came out, that style hadn't been done to death yet (I guess) so I'll allow it.

The framework story, "Tape 56," directed by Adam Wingard: a group of truly gross (all white, all male) thugs like to film themselves doing reprehensible things - sexual assault in parking garages, vandalism - and have the video camera (how quaint!) rolling when they do some B&Eing.  They've been hired to find some rare VHS tape.  They find a dead body in a room full of televisions and VCRs.  While most of them split up (don't do that!) to search the house, one sits down with the dead body (WTF - why would you do that?!) and watches a video.

#1, "Amateur Night," directed by David Bruckner:  This was probably my favorite as it made sense, had progression, went to a weird and bloody place and had resolution.  Three hard-partying bros, one wearing camera eyeglasses (to get the "found footage"), go out for a night on the town that ends very, very badly.  Moral of this story:  when you're out to pick up some strange, make sure it isn't TOO strange.

#2:  "Second Honeymoon," directed by Ti West:  I liked this road trip one pretty well too and found it uneasy enough to watch through my fingers for a bit.  A young couple road-trip through Arizona, doing young couple-y road-trippy things and videoing each other (to get the "found footage").  They get their fortune at a kiosk a la Big (Big is actually referenced) and things get sketchy from there.  At first I was all WHY DON'T YOU DEADBOLT/CHAIN YOUR MOTEL ROOM DOOR and then I realized that it just didn't matter.

Framework: We keep popping back in to the B&E as the thugs keep disappearing as they search for the videotape.  The dead guy also keeps disappearing - he's not always in his chair.  Yikes.

#3:  "Tuesday the 17th," directed by Glenn McQuaid:  Four unlikable and, frankly, uninteresting young folks go up to a remote rural lake.  One of them is the survivor of a massacre there from a couple years ago and she's brought her friends along as bait to try to catch the maniac.  She videos it all for proof that the maniac exists (and also to get the "found footage").  It all ends as well for these kids as you might imagine.  There are some interesting shots, when the video camera glitches to show the previous massacre's victims, but it all ends up muzzy and confusing: why does the killer only show up in the static?  And then everyone gets killed before there's really any time to care.

Framework: Dead guy is back.

#4:  "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger," directed by Joe Swanberg:  The found footage here is all via Skype chats between a girl and her boyfriend who lives some states away while going to medical school  She thinks her apartment is haunted - and keeps digging and scratching at her arm, yuck - and calls him at night so he can see, via the computer, what is going on.  I didn't see the twist coming and, quite frankly, don't know what the hell was going on.  This is one that I wish had been a little more explain-y because I liked it up until that one point when the lights came on.

Framework:  From my notes:  "Where's the dead guy? NOT SO DEAD"

#5: "10/31/98" by Radio Silence:  This one is one of the stronger offerings with very nice special effects for such a low budget piece.  Four buddies head out for a Halloween party (one guy is dressed as a teddy bear nanny-cam ... to get the "found footage").  While their driving around lost to find the party goes on a little long, once they get to the place - or what they think is the place - things start to get fun (for the viewer) and weird (for the characters).  There is no one actually at this Halloween party and tension slowly ratchets up as the guys go through all the empty rooms, looking for the party.  They finally find people in the attic but those people are absolutely not right; as it turns out, the house is haunted/possessed and, as the guys try to rescue the screaming woman they find tied in the attic, they find that things are not as they seem to be.

V/H/S is a mixed bag.  I liked the short form story-telling, I liked the indie/low budget/practical effects and I liked the scary bits which, when they worked, worked well.  In the end, however, found footage is difficult to do well and I was over it by the end.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #2: Tales from the Darkside

At some point in this "scarelicious" movie series I should probably watch a scary movie, right?  Tales from the Darkside: the Movie (1990) would not so much be classified as scary.  (Also, I realized twenty minutes into it that I'd seen it before, which also lessens the scare factor.)  Set up as an anthology, TftDtM has three story chapters, surrounded by an overarching framework story in which a little newspaper boy keeps telling stories to the witch 1,001 Nights/Scheherazade-style who has captured him to keep her from stuffing him in the oven, Hansel and Gretel-style.  (The witch appears to live in Brookline, Massachusetts, as you do.)  Timmy the paperboy is played by Matthew Lawrence (Blossom's Joey Lawrence's little brother - ah, the 1990s!) and the witch is played by Debbie Harry, who is not much of an actress.

The first story-within-the-story is "Lot 249," in which dweeby college student Edward orders a mummy (from a catalog?) to get revenge on the popular students who are tormenting him.  Dweeby Edward is Steve Buscemi; two of his tormenters, preppy Andy and Andy's sister Susan, are played by Christian Slater and Julianne Moore respectively.  This vignette is more funny than scary although there are some gooey moments when the mummy recreates his own mummification process on his victims.

The second story-within-the-story is "Cat from Hell," a pedigreed tale with the story by Stephen King and the screenplay by George Romero.  In this one, rich old man Drogan has hired a hitman to take out the titular cat who he believes is killing off his family.  The hitman thinks this is a ridiculous thing to do (although for $100,000 he's game) but things do not go well for him - or the old man, for that matter.  Again, not so scary but the hitman's demise by cat is great fun.

The third story, "Lover's Vow," is not really scary at all.  A broke and despairing artist comes across a real life gargoyle one night.  The gargoyle kills his friend (swipes his head right off his shoulders) but promises to spare the artist's life if he vows to never, ever tell anybody about their encounter.  On his way home, the shaken artist meets up with a pretty girl (Rae Dawn Chong, wearing a trenchcoat - ah, the 1990s!).  They hit it off and the artist's life immediately gets better.  His work starts selling, they get married and have kids.  But at night he keeps drawing and sculpting gargoyles, haunted by his encounter.  Finally, after ten years of success and bliss, he tells his wife about the gargoyle.  TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD MOVIE SPOILER-ISH:  He shouldn't have done that and it ruins everything.  Not at all scary, scarcely gory and hilarious practical gargoyle effects.

This movie is extremely dated looking - hair- and clothes-wise.  It barely registers as horror but is worthwhile as a collector's piece, I guess, especially if you are fond of anthology series.  I am, because I like horror short stories.  But in essence this is a pretty silly collection.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #1: Storage 24

And we're off!  Rather with a muffled moan, which is better than a whimper but not so good as a bang.  To start this year's October scary movie series, I began with Storage 24, a British import monster movie.  It was astoundingly mediocre and yet I persevered.

Set in London, Storage 24 takes place in a 24-hour storage facility (see what they did there?).  At some point there's a plane crash, a military cargo plane going down just around the corner from the storage place.  Vehicles are crushed by debris, the electronics start to go wonky and a dogwalker loses her dog to SOMETHING that appears to have escaped from a crushed cargo container.  That evening, due to the wonky electronics, several people get trapped inside the storage facility when the metal shutters won't retract.  The parties in question:  Charlie (whose girlfriend has recently dumped him), Mark (Charlie's buddy), Shelly (Charlie's ex), her friend Nicki, Nicki's douchey boyfriend Chris, the storage facility's clerk, the maintenance guy trying to fix the stuck shutters and a crazy guy living in the storage facility because he's hiding out from his wife.  Also stuck inside the storage facility is the SOMETHING that got out of the crashed plane.

There's really not much story here:  people stuck in a place with a monster; people trying to escape from the place with the monster; the monster picking them off one by one, especially when they get separated from the group.  It's also not that scary because the movie reveals the monster far too soon.  SPOILER: it looks like a cross between the Predator and the prawns from District 9.  I did get a little tense towards the beginning of the movie, when Nicki goes to the loo by herself and could hear something moving about in the bathroom just outside the stall door.  But after that, there was really no suspense, not many jump scares and really not that much gore.

One thing I found particularly annoying was the cinematography.  Almost the entire film was shot with very tight close-ups so that it was nearly impossible to see what was going on.  I understand that the point was to induce claustrophobia and make it seem like everything was from the point-of-view of the characters, but a little more judicious use of varied shots would have been nice.  One thing I did appreciate was that the character of Charlie was played by Noel Clarke, who also played Rose's boyfriend Mickey on fifteen episodes of Doctor Who, so that's fun.  Charlie is also the only character who experiences any growth through the course of the movie, going from whiny schlub to hero.  So that's fun too.