Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Zombies 2015: End

It's the end! No, not of the world: of September Zombies. I hope you all had as much fun as I did with these shambling rotting corpses. Next year will be another September Zombies, so you won't have to wait to long for more brain eating and mindless shuffling. Next up: October and Halloween!!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Cass Dollar is a survivor. She has survived addiction, cannibalistic zombies (called beaters) attacking her, turning into a cannabalistic zombie, losing her daughter, and fighting until finding her again. Now Cass is living in a fairly comfortable life in a community called New Eden of fairly friendly people. She doesn't have to fight every day or worry about someone taking her daughter or keep looking over her shoulder. Everything seems to be going fine except she keeps sleeping with Dor despite Smoke being in a coma and she's started drinking again. Everything comes crashing down when beaters start to swarm the shores of the river bordering New Eden and slowly learn to swim. The inhabitants know they are no longer safe and are forced to travel through a dangerous wasteland full of beaters and unsavory people alike. Can Cass's group overcome their weaknesses and survive to be able to find someplace safe to live?

This is the third book in the Aftertime series and it's still going strong. Cass Dollar is one of my favorite zombie apocalypse characters because of her strengths, her weakness, and her humanity. She was attacked by beaters when she first got her daughter back because she was an addict deemed unfit to have custody. She has no idea what she did when affected by the beater fever, but she has a huge amount of guilt over who she may have hurt. Now, Cass does physical labor to keep her mind off her troubles in addition to some drinking at night when she's not responsible for anyone. She has doubts and sometimes doesn't feel she deserves such a comfortable life. I admire her strength and her ability to persevere through everything: being a beater, addiction, relapse, and everything this post-apocalyptic life can throw at her. She's also one of the most physically capable people to take on the beaters. New Haven has gotten too comfortable and very few people have the skills she and Dor have to protect themselves. Cass isn't the best or most virtuous person, but she does her best. Most of the people in this world are shades of grey rather than stark black and white.

The beaters are frightening creatures who aren't strictly dead, but can sustain crazy amounts of damage to their bodies before succumbing to their wounds. They eat people, themselves, and each other (but only in extreme situations). They don't change too much or at a fast rate, but they slowly learn from their comrades mistakes until they can do things like swim and ambush a group of humans. Their nests are disgusting to behold and their appearance gets less and less human as they age. As always, the disease is transmitted through bites or fluid exchange. The beaters are brutal creatures that match this brutal world.

Two things bothered me about the book. One is Cass's total lack of caring that she saw the beaters in huge numbers AND saw them learning to swim without telling anyone. They could have done something to save their haven rather than having a few people die and then relocate when it became too dangerous. I also thought it was weird that she didn't harbor any guilt about that either. The other is the love triangle situation. It's actually a pretty unique one because both men are well characterized and very different. However, I thought her choice was clear pretty early on and it just seemed to drag out too long after that. Other than that, Horizon is an enjoyable but dark read. There are no sappy happy endings for these characters and I appreciate that Sophie Littlefield keeps that realism consistent throughout the series.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fire and Ash

Benny Imura and his friends have seen a lot in the few months they've been out in the ruin. They've found the mysterious airplane that they saw in their home town so long ago and the city of Sanctuary. The plane is a little underwhelming since the people involved with it refuse to tell them anything and are happy to hide themselves from people who could benefit from knowing they're out there. Sanctuary is more of a hospice than anything else. One hopeful development is a missing box from the airplane that may lead to a cure for the zombie disease, but who knows where it is. On top of these things, the Night Church, full of psychos that want everyone to die, is mounting a huge attack on their friends and family. How can Benny and his friends, still teenagers even after all their experience, do anything in the face of such huge odds?

Fire and Ash is the last book in the Rot and Ruin series and it's a bittersweet experience. I've been reading this series for years and I'm sad it's over, but happy to see where the characters end up. The thing that strikes me most about the book is just how much the characters have grown, Benny and Nix in particular. Benny still has some flashes of immaturity in the novel, but they are much more abbreviated than in the past. He sometimes pushes people buttons just because or acts like he has a huge chip on his shoulder or gets testy when anyone even comes close to contradicting his older brother Tom's teachings. More and more we get mature Benny who can think a situation through, keep his emotions in check, and be a real leader. Looking at how he acted in the first book, he's practically a different person. Nix has turned into quite the samurai warrior. She has seen a lot of pain and death. Despite and because of that, she chooses to fight with her sword to protect people even though it's horrible and unpleasant. She can't justify standing by and doing nothing. Her feelings for Benny have changed and she's not sure about them anymore. They are practically strangers to each other at this point because of their respective changes and they have to get reacquainted and see where they stand. Lila has reverted back to her very quiet, noncommunicative self. She's the only character who I thought had the least amount of change. Her character was harsh, sad, and angry, but that was pretty much it. She didn't have a lot going on outside of being sad and angry about Chong's semi-zombie condition. This was my only complaint about the novel.

Fire and Ash isn't all fuzzy and about relationships and feelings. The Night Church is a crazy organization with total human annihilation as their goal. They think further ahead than I thought possible and are quick and clever on top of being completely insane. These villains not only have desperate people who they would have otherwise killed on their side, but they herd and manipulate zombies to do their dirty work for them. As we saw at the end of the last book, the Night Church plan to attack Benny, Nix, and Chong's hometown in a huge assault of thousands of people and zombies. We see a new type of zombie in this installment, one that is super fast and strong, but dies out after a few weeks. I usually don't like fast zombies, but this actually makes sense and  One or two are fine to deal with, but a thousands of them are practically impossible to deal with. The stakes are the highest they have been. Benny and his friends have to decide if they will do anything to beat these zealots, even do some monstrous things.

I didn't realize before that all of Jonathan Maberry's zombie series culminate here. Dez Fox from Dead of Night is one of the Freedom Riders who carries her dead husband's zombified head in her bag. Sad, but it makes sense with her character that we saw in Dead of Night where the first outbreak happened. The disease is the same with the parasite reanimating dead flesh created by that crazed doctor. Joe Ledger is from a different action packed series where he fights international threats of all different kinds. He helps out Benny and his group immensely once he realizes (thanks to them) that keeping their organization secret from the public doesn't help anyone. I love how these seemingly disparate stories come together after already experiencing a taste of this world before the apocalypse happens. Now I have to reread the series now that I realize this and am familiar with the characters to see these connections in the earlier books.

Fire and Ash is a magnificent end to an exciting, emotional series. Everything ends pretty satisfyingly in unexpected ways. It's not without heartbreak or loss, but that's life. I found it realistic and well written. My only complaint is some of the characters' changes were a little too self aware, but it's written for a younger audience. I look forward to anything else Jonathan Maberry writes whether it's about zombies or not.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Zombie Plushies

I just found out that Giant Microbes will be releasing a Zombie Virus plush that I'm totally going to get. So here are some other freaking adorable zombie plushies to cuddle until they eat your brains. Here are the cutest and most cuddly.

* Zombie Jake plush - This is from Slumber Party Panic (the very first episode of Adventure Time!) where candy zombies are eating and infecting candy people. Infected zombie Jake looks adorable.

* Zombie alpaca called Zombpacca (lol!) - I'm not sure where this alpaca trend came from, but every convention I go to has tons of normal alpacas. The zombie one is so freaking cute I would snatch it up in a second. Just adorable.

* Minecraft zombie - These guys may be pixellated, but they are still hungry for brains!

* Zombie plush hat - Don't you want to walk around with a plushy cozy zombie trying to eat your brains?

* Zoms - I also see these guys at conventions and I love them. I usually run out of money there and can't afford them, but I should order one. They are so chubby and adorable and hugable looking. Plus they come in all different designs now. 

Any favorite zombie plushies? 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Zombie Tunes 3

More zombie tunes for your undead music needs.

1) Zombie Song by The PDX Broadsides

This zombie song is cute and cheerful, letting people know to kill them if they become a zombie. Most people would rather be dead than nom on their friends and family, so I can relate. The group sings well in harmony and somehow trained a zombie to accompany them on guitar.

2) Return of the Loving Dead by the Nekromantix

The Nekromantix take a different route and describe the benefits of having an undead lover. Living ones are so willful and hurtful, but the dead will comply with your needs and never hurt you. I always like rockabilly, especially with horror subjects. I love the contrast of the dark subject matter and cheerful, upbeat melody.

3) Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

This song isn't explicitly about zombies, but a lot of phrases and concepts in the lyrics point to it: breathing in chemicals, new age, revolution. Zombies would overthrow the world order and put man at the bottom of the foodchain again. Chemicals and radioactivity are a typical start of a zombie apocalypse as seen in the very first zombie film, Night of the Living Dead. I've visualized these whenever I hear this song and I hope others do too. Plus the video is adorable with battling muppets.

More zombie fun to come!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Burying the Ex

Max and his beautiful girlfriend Evelyn move in together. At first, it seems pretty awesome until she reveals herself to be controlling, overbearing, and manipulative. It starts out with small things like freaking out over an ice cream server talking to him and then escalates with removing any trace of him from their apartment (including his valuable horror movie posters), replacing it with hideous but environmentally friendly decor. Max has had it and prepares to break up with her, but she dies in a horrific bus accident before he has the chance. He's still sad of course, but is now free to date someone else perhaps with similar interests. Max randomly bumps into the ice cream shop girl who is clearly better suited for him and they hit it off. Unfortunately, Evelyn returns from the dead and expects to make him into a zombie so they can be happy together forever. How can he break up with her now when she's a zombie?

You might find this plot familiar as it is extremely similar to Life After Beth, which I watched last year. While many of the plot points are the same, I enjoyed this film's execution much better. The main character is better portrayed here. Max loves horror films and dreams of owning his own horror themed store. This is a great decision because it automatically makes most of the audience at least a little sympathetic to him because they share that love of horror. I still found him a little annoying. He wants to keep both girls in the dark while having the benefits of being with them both. Admittedly, the benefits of keeping Evelyn happy include living, but he ultimately doesn't want to be turned into a zombie to be with her forever. The emotional benefits to be with Olivia are better and he truly enjoys being with her. I guess if he actually had conviction from the beginning, there wouldn't have been much of a movie.

The plot is extremely basic and predictable, but what makes this film so much more enjoyable than others like it is the actors. Max is all right. He's the quintessential "nice guy" that actually isn't all that nice. He's indecisive, immature, and just not in charge of his life. He also lets everyone push him around and doesn't assert himself at all. It got on my nerves especially when two women are vying for his attention. Ashley Greene is delightfully annoying as Evelyn. I just can't help but enjoy how passionate she is about her issues and how manipulative she can be towards Max. While Aubrey Plaza let that opportunity slip by in Life After Beth, Ashley Greene delights in her role and makes it fun to watch. Alexandra Daddario as Olivia is just a ball of sunshine. She's a bit quirky, a little morbid, and seems like a fun person. I would totally frequent her ice cream shop with obscure influences, horror references, and fun flavors. Olivia and Evelyn contrast nicely with their respective passions and contrasting attitudes. The only character I didn't really like was Max's half brother Travis. He was simply a womanizing misogynist who didn't really add much to the movie.

Burying the Ex is a fun, but formulaic movie. It's a better film than Life After Beth, its carbon copy, only because of the actors infusing life into the pretty thin characters. The underlying theme is clear, but relevant. The ex-girlfriend is rotting because there isn't anything to be gained from that relationship any longer. They can choose to stay together, become undead, and be miserable together or they can move on and live happier lives. As a zombie romantic comedy, it's fine, but nothing special.

My rating: 7/10

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Martin has only survived the Nazi zombie attack out of all of his friends. He hasn't gone through unscathed as he was brutally attacked and was forced to cut his own arm off after being bitten. After thinking he had returned all the gold to the Nazi zombies, Martin takes his own car away to try to get on with his life, but he still has one coin. Herzog, the Nazi zombie leader, loses his arm in an accident and leaves when that last coin is returned to him. Martin wakes up with Herzog's arm attached to him and in handcuffs as the police think he went on a murderous rampage and killed all of his friends. The arm has a mind of its own and starts killing people left and right, but it also has the power to raise the dead under his own control. Can Martin and his not-so-trusty zombie arm beat the zombie before they wreck havoc and complete their decades old quest?

Dead Snow 2 ends right where the first film left off: with Martin discovering the coin in his jacket and then escaping from the murderous Nazi zombies. This film takes the goriness and goofiness from the first movie and turns it up to eleven. The plot takes right off with no messing around with happy, idyllic scenes to ruin. Martin is saved, but he's immediately accused of murdering his friends and his beloved girlfriend. His stories of Nazi zombies are ignored and he's left handcuffed to a hospital bed with a zombie arm attached to him. The ensuing scenes of him fighting his zombie arm and accidentally killing people everywhere is comedy gold. It's reminiscent of films like Idle Hands and Dr. Strangelove and accompanied with a giant torrent of blood. The blood and gore effects are over the top enough to be comical, but are also really disgusting and gruesome.

Herzog and his Nazi zombie army aren't just around to get their gold back; they died without having completed a task given to them straight from Hitler to completely wipe out a Norwegian town as punishment for their betrayal of the Nazis. The expansion of their backstory made the story was unexpected. In such a silly film, I expected them to just create havoc for havoc's sake, but this is better. They travel across Norway slaughtering people along the way, adding them to their army, and hijacking a World War II tank. The zombies have a further history with a group of Russian POWs they executed and buried. Martin of course exploits this fact. He accidentally finds out he has the same power as Herzog to raise and control the dead and it's a mad dash to amass an army to compete with the Nazi's and make the finale as bloody and ridiculous as possible.

One other addition to the film is a "professional" Zombie Squad from the United States. A child that finds Martin in the hospital puts them into contact (before Martin accidentally crushes his chest in a hilariously gory attempt at CPR). They turn out to be 3 unbelievably attractive nerds who have never seen a zombie before. They immediately fly over, spend a ton of money on zombie killing tools, and turn out to be unrealistically good at killing zombies. They succeed in distracting the Nazi zombies enough so that Martin can amass his zombie army. Some parts are a little cringy and one of the team members makes as many Star Wars references as possible, but they were a nice addition to the cheese in the film.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is bloody good fun. I laughed out loud so many times. The only part I could have done without is the love scene at the very very end when Martin resurrects his dead girlfriend. I guess the filmmakers just had to top the outhouse sex scene from the first movie. Other than that, I loved this movie even more than the first one. The pace flows well and doesn't drag anywhere. Everything is pretty funny or over the top gory. It's a perfect, fun horror comedy. Recommended if you want a silly movie with gallons of blood and gore.

My rating: 9/10

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Upcoming Zombies Sneaking Up Behind You: Part 2

These zombies aren't quite here yet, but will try to eat your brains very soon. Keep an eye out!

1) Antisocial 2

I watched the first installment about the social media virus zombifying everyone. The followup's plot is as follows from IMDB: "Years after having her newborn child stolen from her, Sam searches a world infested with infected users from the Social Redroom website. After befriending a young girl named Bean, Sam is captured and locked in a facility dedicated to finding a cure for the Redroom Virus. Trapped and tortured, Sam tries to escape the facility before in impending update on the Redroom site hits 100% and unleashes its final phase of attack."

I liked the first film, so I'll definitely give this one a try and hope that it's as relevant and well executed as the first. Michelle Mylett returns as Sam and Cody Calahan returns to direct. It has debuted at Fantasia Film Festival in Canada. No word on a US release yet, but cross your fingers for this year. Check out the trailer below.

2) iZombie Season 2

The happiest zombie show on TV returns for another season already! The second season will also have 13 episodes and answer such questions as to how will Liv act when she eats frat boy brains? How will her parents react after she refuses to donate zombie infected blood to her severely injured brother? Will Ravi be able to replicate the zombie antidote? Will Major be as badass and/or annoying as he was last season? I have to know these answers! I will be tuning in on October 6 for the premier and reviewing that season for next year's September Zombies. Check out the trailer below.

3) The Walking Dead Season 6

Rick and company are back this October 11 with another 16 episodes to pick up where they left off: Rick and company at the have after he just killed the wife beater and murderer of the leader's husband. I can't wait to see the new villains called the Wolves. Signs of them were all over the first season at first with the walkers with W's carved on their foreheads and then with depraved tableaux of cruelty and torture. There also seems to be dissent in Rick's ranks after his mostly unilateral decision to kill murderer guy and essentially take over their new home. I can't wait to see what happens! Check out the trailer below.

More zombie fun to come!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zombies in Theme Parks

Lots of theme parks have Halloween themed mazes and festivities. Here are ones (some that I went to and some that just look really cool) that included zombies. 

1) Corpz Scare Zone at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

It's a small section, but it was the best scare zone in the place with zombie soldiers and creepy props.

2) The Walking Dead: Wolves Not Far maze at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

This maze heavily features zombies and takes you from the beginning of the 5th season to presumably the start of the 6th season. Enjoyably frightening.

3) Zombie Mob at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Japan

Zombies dance to Thriller and a medley of other songs. I wish this were at the American version instead of the Jabbawockees, who didn't really have much to do with horror or Halloween.

4) Special Ops: Infected interactive maze at Knott's Scary Farm

This is a pay to participate maze, but you get to go through and shoot zombies in real life. It looks pretty fun, but I didn't pay the extra money when I went. It looks like it's possible for you to die and then no longer participate which sounds pretty horrible especially because of the extra cost. The rest of the park is sadly zombie free except for some scare zones. 

Next month, I'll review both parks I went to and break down what I liked and what I didn't like. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Zombie Stuff: Kitchen and Decor

Here are just the items to decorate your home, eat off of, or drink that feature zombies.

* This cup comes from Trader Sam's Tiki Bar at Disneyland when you get a zombie drink. The drink is pretty strong and heavy on rum, but the cup is the huge draw for me because it's just fun. It's not super huge, but it's fun to use and good quality.

* This zombie head cookie jar from Think Geek is cartoony enough not to put you off of the cookies within and just fun to look at. Plus it's on sale right now, which is always nice. Kids might find it too scary which will keep their paws of your delicious cookies.

* Think Geek has lots of cute zombie decor like these zombie flamingos for your lawn. I don't usually go for a lot of lawn decorations, but I would make an exception for these adorably sinister ornaments. These are perfect for Halloween or just every day if you're brave enough.

* Zombie Zinfandel is the perfect wine to save and share with your fellow survivors during the zombie apocalypse. I prefer the previous label at the top, but the bottom label is a little more dirty and apocalypse-like. Either way, this California red wine is a deep purple and pairs well with whatever red meats you choose to eat.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Zombie Stuff: Accessories

Who doesn't want some adorable zombie bags and wallets to brighten up your day? These Iron Fist designs are vibrant and adorable. I featured the shoes a year or so ago and I had no idea the same design graced bags and wallets too. I prefer the green design because the pink has no contrast between the pink and red. These designs are creepy without sacrificing femininity. The bows add a little something cute. I especially like the heart shaped clasp clutch. It's super impractical, but also super adorable.

You can find these on eBay for around $20-$30, which isn't bad for stylish and adorable designs.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zombie Tunes 2

More zombie songs!

1) No Work Today by Mae Martin

This is the happiest sounding song about the zombie apocalypse. Mae saw this coming and uses her zombie movie knowledge to survive. Some good things come out of it like no work and not having to deal with your annoying roommate who then gets eaten by zombies (probably). Maybe you shouldn't have left passive aggressive notes or put your crap on the shared space of the apartment, Janine! Anyway, this cute, mellow song almost makes the zombie apocalypse seem pleasant with some helpful tips.

2) Stop, I'm Already Dead by Deadboy and the Elephantmen

This is the super catchy theme song for iZombie. I actually prefer this shortened version over the full song. I think it captures the great parts of the song without being so repetitive. The driving, rhythmic guitar and drums makes it something I want to dance to and the lyrics are perfect. The visuals pay homage to the comic that shares the title and not much else with the show plus it captures the whole concept in a fun, colorful, stylized video.

3) I'm Killing Zombies by Brysi

I'm Killing Zombies is a straightforward song about killing zombies. I can understand the change of opinion. When they aren't beating down your door trying to kill you, zombies are pretty interesting and cool even. I would kill them in a heartbeat if they attacked me too no matter how interesting the media around them is. It's a cute song with fun references.

More zombie fun to come!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Current Zombies Coming to Get You: Cooties

Cooties is an independent horror movie featuring teachers fighting against zombie children caused by eating contaminated chicken nuggets. I actually saw this movie about a year ago in an advanced screening. I held off reviewing because I wasn't supposed to talk about it until the release, but I didn't expect it to be so far away. I remember enjoying the movie and I would love to watch it again. I think I'll also have a slightly different perspective since I'm a teacher now, so it'll be interesting to see if my opinion changes. Elijah Wood stars as a meek substitute teacher and Rainn Wilson is hilarious as a gruff, tough PE teacher. I remember the ending being pretty open for a sequel, so hopefully the film does well enough to warrant one. We'll see! Cooties has a limited release in the US, so check if it's playing near you.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Z Nation Season 1

Z Nation is a zombie show in an apocalypse situation. Although there are inevitable similarities to The Walking Dead, it treads very different territory with a completely different attitude. It starts in an outbreak situation with inmates being experimented on to create a vaccine for the Z1N1 virus. One actually works, but the recipient gets mauled by zombies right afterwards. Fast forward three years and society has collapsed. A hodgepodge group of survivors commits to transport the immune man, Murphy, to a CDC facility in California. The other part of the group is Citizen Z, a sole survivor in Arctic's Northern Lights NSA listening post. He uses his high-tech equipment to tap into cameras everywhere to help the group. They start in New York and slowly but surely making their way to California and encounter friends, depraved groups, and lots of zombies along the way.

The show is made by The Asylum production company, responsible for films like Sharknado, so the tone is sometimes cheesy and silly plus the effects at times are not good quality. The humor is nice because people aren't all serious all the time. The tone also sets it apart from other movies and shows that have similar situations. Some scenes are so ridiculous I can't help but laugh. A few of such scenes include a zunami (zombie tsunami), a zombie bear I could have photoshopped better, a horrible looking zombie baby, Viagra zombies, and a tornado that everyone improbably survives. Also, so many of the villains are over the top caricatures who should be tying a girl to some railroad tracks. I don't always like these parts, but it is nice to have a less than serious show in an apocalypse situation. I simply roll my eyes at the bad parts and keep enjoying the good parts. Another part of the cheesiness is the over the top gore of zombie killing, which meshes well with the horror-comedy vibe.

Z Nation has a lot going for it: an interesting premise and especially the intriguing, well developed characters. I didn't expect to even like any of the characters because movies like Sharknado are all about being really cheesy and fun with not much substance underneath it. These characters are all different and interesting in their own right. My favorite is Murphy, the zombie immune curmudgeon. His mental and physical state changes throughout the course of the season. He starts out as an asshole and that part doesn't really change. However, as the season goes on, he becomes more zombie like and does things that range from morally questionable to downright evil. About mid-season, zombies don't register him as human and near the end of the season, he discovers his zombie immune state comes with some interesting powers. I love that such a gray character who does some awful things might actually save the world. The season is one of self discovery for him and he has to decide what to do with his new found power. Roberta Warren was surprising. Her relationship with Tom first reminded me of Mal and Zoe from Firefly, but it organically evolved into a romantic relationship. After he died, she hurt and made some bad decisions, but she successfully took his place as badass, no-nonsense leader. Addy is my last favorite character, accomplished zombie slayer and tortured by suppressed memories of the first zombie day. She gets a different character arc from the others and works through her debilitating trauma.

The episodes get better as they go along. The first few episodes have absolutely painful dialog, but the writers get to know the characters and actors better as it goes along. Some of the episodes are typical zombie apocalypse fare (cannibals, weirdos, running out of supplies, etc.). Others are much different if a bit over the top. The group encounters radioactive zombies, nuclear bombs, zombie worshippers, a society of misandrist women, a Russian astronaut, and of course Murphy. Episode 8 is where I really needed to see the next episode. In the previous episodes, characters were a little uneven or the cheesiness was too great. In one particular episode, Doc somehow avoids being crushed by a giant flaming zombie and in the few minutes the group actually think he's dead, no one even seems to care. Moments like that made it hard to watch, but I'm glad I kept with it. I do like that unlike the Walking Dead, sometimes people just die with no buildup. It's just a split second decision or mistake that takes someone's life. The Walking Dead builds up the character more to make it hurt the audience more, but if the characters are competently written and not forgotten in the background for most of the seasons, this shouldn't be an issue.

Z Nation is a bit of a mess, but it's fun, different from the zombie shows out there, and has some of the most interesting characters. The second season has just started and it's literally explosive beginning had me on the edge of my seat. I hope the show continues to get better and better and amasses a faithful audience. I was first interested in it because Rhiannon Frater, author of the As the World Dies series, wrote about it every week and now is involved with a podcast that comments on each episode. Z Nation season 1 is available on Netflix and season 2 airs on Friday nights on SyFy channel.

My rating: 7/10

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Walking Dead: Season 5

Well, I couldn't wait and bingewatched season 5 as well so I could be all caught up for season 7 and Fear the Walking Dead. Here are my spoilerly thoughts on the season,.

The Good

* The Opening Scene of Episode 1

Fuck. No punches are pulled. It's crazy and gory. I have so many questions yet I'm so horrified by everything that's happening. Terminus is obviously a super fucked up place and what Woodbury really should have been two seasons ago. I'm glad they finally explored an organized place that is nefarious and uninterested in doing anything but survive at any cost.

* Carol

I didn't think I could like her any more than I already do. She singlehandedly saves Rick and the group from the Terminus psychos. She is smart and capable, but still has feelings, old wounds, and a caring side. She makes mistakes, gets exhausted, and always stays human, but her bravery despite her fear and against such odds is wonderful. I'm so glad of her existence after the abhorrent treatment of Andrea a few seasons ago. Her past confronts her when a wife beater is allowed to continue his abuse at the Community. It really highlights how much she's changed in addition to the deft way she manipulates people into finding her inconsequential and weak,

* What is moral?

At the time, Rick's drive to kill all the Terminus psychos seemed a little extreme. After Bob's leg is on the spit being eaten by those same people Rick wanted to kill, his fervor doesn't seem so misplaced. Carol wants to at least injure a man for stealing her and Daryl's weapons, but Daryl stops her. Is she right to do so? Should she just accept dying due to lack of resources instead of fighting for her livelihood back?

* Bob

I kind of hated him last season when he got people killed to get alcohol to fuel his addiction. He completely turned it around this season and became a productive member of the team. So then of course he dies. But before he did, his cackling at the cannibals eating his tainted meat was priceless.

* Beth

Beth used to just be there: not a horrible character, but not great either. Last season, she became someone interesting and now she's a badass. She may not be the most physically strong person, but she's clever and knows how to survive. Her quiet strength in the face of the idiots at the Grady Memorial Hospital earned her so many brownie points. So of course she's killed and I cried everywhere.

* Grady Memorial Hospital

Beth is essentially kidnapped and held hostage by a group of delusional people who think the world will just get better one day. It quickly becomes clear that there's something rotten there. The police officers are the ruling class and can do whatever they want: hit, rape, kill, and even enslave people. The worst is that they manipulate people into buying into their bullshit. The leader, Officer Dawn Lerner, seems earnest, but then doesn't hesitate to beat a man for something she knows he didn't do or force medical attention on someone who clearly doesn't want it. It's interesting to see how people with dubious morality cope and control others in this situation.

* The nonlinear plotlines

It's cool to see a little bit of what everyone is doing. I liked the variety and it was much better done than in past seasons. It jumps to each group pretty evenly without staying with anyone too long.

* The struggle to trust people

Lots of people along the way have been evil or cannibals or just batshit nuts. When a new opportunity at a community pops up, they aren't as eager as they were before. Terminus and Woodbury really burned them, so it's surprising to me that so many of them are eager to risk their lives.

* The first gay couple on the show

Eric and Aaron are just adorable together. Aaron fights to sleep next to his boyfriend during the night despite Rick's concern and his itchy trigger finger. I'm glad the show didn't change just because some homophobes went on Twitter to complain.

* The Alexandria Safe Zone

Deanna just exudes genuine niceness and I do believe she nice, but too nice.. She puts her idiot, privileged son in his place and seems to succeed at being fair and good at managing the community. Later in the series, she's shown to be just terrible. Her idiot son and her inept people cause deaths. Deanna allows corrupt people do what they want because of their usefulness to their community. She allows a woman to be beaten because her disgusting husband is a surgeon. Her solution to wrongdoers is to exile them instead of kill them. The whole thing is revealed to be horribly run, easy to circumvent their rules, and ripe for taking over. I hope Rick's group takes over and runs it competently. They know how things work and have tried being merciful before. It always bites them in the ass with people coming back for revenge.

It's so bizarre to see clean people, normal looking houses, and nice clothes. It broke my heart when Carl seemed lost when the other teens wanted to do normal teen things. It's also interesting to see if they really do have good intentions or not. So far, they've proven themselves to be inept and are just waiting around for someone to take them over. Sasha's reaction at the dinner party was perfect in showing the absurdity of these people's inane worries over life on the outside. That life that can quickly become their lives with only a few mistakes. These people have been insulated from reality. They simply haven't had to be brave or make hard decisions. When things go bad, these people are quick to let others die and save their own skins.

* Rick

Rick may sound crazy, but he's right. He's become broken a little (maybe a lot), but it's made him strong and he knows how to survive. How far is too far though?

* Wolves

New villain for next season!  W's on walkers' foreheads and mutilated corpses have been present in the last half of the season. They seem creepy as fuck and super bad news. Can't wait for next season!

The Bad

* Gabriel, the Idiot Priest

Father Gabriel hid in his church and allowed people to die outside of it before Rick's group even met him. The priest is icked out by everything that reminds him of reality: the hard decisions, the necessity of weapons, protecting themselves, etc. He treats Rick's group like they are monsters when he is in reality much more monstrous because he stood by and let his people die. There's way too much of him. He runs around scared outside and then expects the group he just escaped from to come and save him. He offers Maggie solace, but he doesn't know anything about her grief. Ugh. Just annoying. Then he tells Deanna that Rick and his group are literally Satan and they want to destroy the community. Really??? But wait, there's more. He lets walkers into the community and then goes all crazy on Sasha when she just wanted some reassurance.

* Tyrese's, Bob's, and Noah's Deaths

Tyrese's death seems unnecessary and anticlimactic after Beth's death plus the hallucinations of other dead characters just came off as gimmicky. All the others are just more contrived emotions and don't really give much to the story.

* Super fast character development right before their death

The Walking Dead writers seem to only care about character development for minor characters right before they die so it hurts more. It would be nice if they just organically developed instead of using something that should be an inherent part of the story to hamhandedly emotionally manipulate the audience.

Overall, The Walking Dead is the first season in a long time that I had so few complaints about. I'm glad I powered through season 4 and I can't wait to see what season 6 holds in store.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


* spoilers *

Sam's New Year's Eve starts out horribly. Her boyfriend dumps her over text message and blasts it all over The Social Red Room, the social network everyone uses. To forget her problems for a little while, she decides to go to a party her friends are throwing. Then the world goes insane. Earlier, there were a few violent murders in the news, but nothing out of the ordinary. Now, people everywhere are becoming wildly violent. The group of friends is under attack and suspicious of each other. They surf social networks to connect with other survivors, but what is the catalyst for the uncontrolled rage? Can Sam and her group of hapless friends figure it out before it's too late?

I had no idea going in that Antisocial was a zombie film, so it was a nice surprise. The premise is essentially that Facebook (or Red Room) is turning people into zombies. The film is part convention film and part found footage. The beginning credits features a montage of two teenagers getting ready to do a video review of some clothes they bought. Then one of them attacks the other and a series of horrific images follows as they battle it out. I loved these little found footage moments illustrating what's going on outside of the main characters. I actually found the teenagers' story to be more compelling than the college age main characters. When each of the characters is introduced, their Social Red Room profile is flashed across the screen and we can see all the ridiculous and cliche stuff they post on there. Except for Sam and Jed, the other characters are fairly interchangeable and shallow. I don't really care when they start dying and making dumb decisions. Throughout the film, most of the characters are stuck on social networking still. It makes the situation more real for them and shows how many people are dying and losing their minds.

The zombie disease starts with bleeding from the ears and nose. Then the delusions come, typically shown with calls from unknown people, flashes of weirdness on their phones, people encouraging them to attack, and ropy tentacles bursting from various body parts. Then, the infected turns into a rage fueled machine that attacks anyone around it. The afflicted aren't dead and the disease is similar to the one in 28 Days Later. The disease is caused by the Social Red Room. A new update strengthened a subliminal pattern in their website. It was always there to fuel the addiction to the site, but this new one causes all these new symptoms in the form of a tumor. This development also critiques business practices that sell a product, but put their customer base at risk.

Every single person I talked to about this movie asked if it was a documentary, which I found hilarious. A lot of people let social networking negatively affect their real lives and focus way too much on their profiles and online friends rather than what happens in real life. Just look at people tied to their phones in every situation: out with friends, driving, at school, watching a movie, etc. No thought is given whether this use is rude or flat out dangerous. The dark side of social networking also includes cyberbullying and harassment. On the other hand, constant social networking is how the main characters quickly found out something was much worse than a few isolated attacks. They also connected with another survivor, figured out the initial symptoms, and eventually discovered the cause and cure. The message seems to be that social networking is much too prevalent in the typical person's life, but can be very useful in regard to communication and relaying information.

Overall, Antisocial is a decent film. The acting is tolerable. The story is unique and very relevant. The cinematography is on point, particularly the scene with ditzy Caitlin attacking her friends wrapped in Christmas lights. Jed was my favorite character because he was the most realistic. He didn't let his love for his friends get in the way of his survival. It sounds callous, but there was nothing he could do for them. My only problems with the film are the fairly bland and interchangeable characters and Sam's pregnancy. The pregnancy didn't really add anything to the story and seemed out of place. Other than that, Antisocial is a solid zombie film. The sequel comes out later this year and I'm eager to see if it's as good.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins