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(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
I'm writing this for any wannabee writers, comic artists, movie directors, whoever has an interest. If you are before en editor, producer, publisher, and they tell you in their expert opinion that "This zombie thing" is done?
Get away from them. They aren't experts, they have no idea what they are talking about.
They said it to George Romero in the 1980s while zombie interest was clearly growing both in film and comics. Look for Stuart Kerr and Ralph Griffith's DEAD WORLD series.
They, meaning those who don the misnomer of "expert" said it in the 1990s while zombie games from DOOM to RESIDENT EVIL to HOUSE OF THE DEAD took off.
These experts said it in the 2000s to director Zack Snyder when Universal Pictures wanted to release DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 direct to DVD instead of in theaters.
"This zombie thing is over. It's played out."
But the hits kept coming. In books, THE RISING (2003). In movies, ZOMBIELAND (2009). And of course the RESIDENT EVIL movies have played through the course of the decade in live-action and animation. In fact, I'm writing this knowing that a wholly original tentpole zombie feature film will begin shooting this year - 2011.
In 2010 began Writer, Producer and Director Frank Darabont's THE WALKING DEAD. Working at his best as an adapter of other people's creations, Darabont (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, THE BLOB , THE FLY II, FRANKENSTEIN , THE GREEN MILE, THE MIST) found Robert Kirkman's hugely popular comic, and with the help of long-time Hollywood power broker and top SciFi Horror mistress Gale Anne Hurd (THE TERMINATOR [all], ALIENS, ALIEN NATION, TREMORS, CAST A DEADLY SPELL, THE RELIC, VIRUS, HULK) - the woman who gets it done in Los Angeles - brought it to the television screen. Frank did this, while rocking the look and feel of it like a cinematic feature film.
Horror fans can't watch the opening of THE WALKING DEAD without remembering the identical opening for Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's 28 DAYS LATER. Often mistaken for a zombie film, 28 DAYS LATER is a plague film (and don't you forget it, punk!). They make it clear in 28 DAYS LATER that most of humanity is sick, like the sickos in RABID or THE CRAZIES: Not dead but animated like in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
So THE WALKING DEAD starts the same. A man wakes up out of a coma in a hospital and has no idea what is going on. We are introduced to the apocalypse through his eyes. His name is Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln: AFTERLIFE [TV]) and we learn through his memories how he came to be in the hospital. It's in these memories that we meet his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies: WHISPER), his young son Carl (Chandler Riggs), and his law partner, Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal: EASTWICK).
Weak, on foot, and easy pickings, Rick is lucky enough to be rescued from the approaching zombie hoardes by Morgan Jones (Lennie James: SNATCH, THE PRISONER [TV]) and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner). Little by little, Morgan and Duane reveal the true, awful nature of the zombie apocalypse. Worse, Rick becomes aware of his place in it, as the living are intractably connected to the dead. Morgan proves this to Rick by revealing his wife (Keisha Tillis), who isn't who she used to be since the zombies took over.
On both a Horror level and a human emotional level, THE WALKING DEAD is a staggering piece of work. Each episode leaves you ever more amazed at both the emotional power of it which is actually equal to the seemingly unrestrained blood and guts gore of it until you realize that, for television, only AMC would dare to take the risks required to make such a series. Like all good zombie tales, THE WALKING DEAD is a story about traumatized people coming together and trying to find the strength and humanity within themselves to survive and at least hope to rebuild humanity. Whether they succeed by the end of the story is never the point. The point is always in the effort.
The six episodes of Season One, which began on Halloween Night, 2010, end on a cliff hanger, every one.
And every one was at least a 4 Shriek Girl hit.
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