Category Archives: zombies

Has The Walking Dead Lost Its Edge?

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is currently experiencing its highest ratings surge ever, beating even the NFL in some demographics, so why are some hardcore fans not happy? There are a lot of big fans who are still watching, but vocal about their dissatisfaction and disenchantment. What s going on?

Things certainly did heat up last night. Lots of zombie killing, characters’ lives at risk, Rick being a man for the first time in a long time, Carl being even more so, and of course, the return of The Governor. Will that be enough to realign old fans? Maybe, maybe not. I think the problem goes just a bit deeper.

I think the problem is Rick Grimes, played by Brit Andrew Lincoln. He’s become not just a farmer, but a huge wuss. I think the powers that be may have forgotten that he is the protagonist of the show, he’s the point of view character. One very big reason we don’t really know how the zombie apocalypse happened is because he was in a coma when it happened. Rick Grimes is our guy. And when he was a badass, shooting zombies, and insisting he was still the law – we loved him. Now, not so much.

This may also be why so many people have become attracted to Daryl Dixon, played by the offscreen sexy Norman Reedus. It not just the ladies and gentlemen digging his down home sex appeal, it’s because he’s a badass, in Rick’s absence. If you have zombies, someone’s gotta be killing ’em, and Daryl is doing more than his share. But still, he is a flawed hero. Not because of his racist brother, or his emotional distance either – it’s because he’s not our point of view protagonist. We’ve never been in his head, never suffered or triumphed through him.

This dynamic is also why it was okay for Carl to shoot an innocent. As viewers we were happy someone in the family was showing some stones, standing up for himself and the others – even if he was wrong. Carol has stood up for herself in recent episodes, and Rick banished her. Not a good move.

Rick did it for himself, not the group. It is a small distinction, but an important one. Had he done it for the group, it would have been a step back toward being the leader, being a man, being the bad ass hero that we want back. Doing it for himself is selfish and whiny. And getting rid of Carol is not a wise move to begin with. Here is a character who has evolved from whiny battered wife herself to a strong leader. Is Rick sending her away because he fears that reverse evolution in himself? Is he sending himself away?

Let’s hope Carol isn’t gone for good, and let’s hope that Rick straightens out. Rick can be the embattled tragic hero, sure, but he’s gotta strap his gun back on and raise hell with the walkers. It’s the law. And yeah, maybe the return of The Governor might spice things up a bit, but let’s be real, it ain’t his show either.

And don’t forget to check out the weekly “The Walking Dead” recaps of fellow writer Marie Gilbert at Biff Bam Pop!.

Videogame of The Walking Dead

Okay, zombies are hot right now, and The Walking Dead, whether you’re talking the comics or the TV series, is really really hot. So you knew sooner it later there’d be a videogame. This one is probably not the first, but this demo for the PS3 is the first one I’ve had access to.

It starts with Episode One : A New Day. You play Lee, a limping survivor of the zombie apocalypse as you explore the new world left behind for The Walking Dead. As you move forward, you meet and save a little girl named Clementine. You move through the scenario, guided, if you wish, by hints on how to play the game. This was good for me, the controller handicapped non-gamer, and in this way, I was pretty good at this. See what just a little help and a nudge in the right direction can do?

Some research on the magical Internet shows your player character is actually Lee Everett, apparently a college professor and a, believe it or not, convicted murderer. His backstory unfolds through the course of the game. Lee comes home from work and finds his wife in bed with another man. Lee kills him, is tried for murder, and on his way to prison, an accident frees him in the midst of the zombie apocalypse happening around him.

Brought to life by voice actor David Fennoy, Lee Everett has been celebrated in the world of videogames as a very human character, both sympathetic in the game story and still reflective of the player’s actions and motivations. A unique character in the gaming arena. This was the first time I experienced gameplay like this in a game I could actually play, I was impressed.

Gameplay is set solidly in the Walking Dead universe, and continues that way episodically, literally. There are a total of five episodes and three characters from the comics/TV series appear. It’s what is known as a point and click game (see, I am learning something), but focuses more on character development than the usual puzzle solving tactics. The writer in me loves this aspect.

I really dig this game, both for its innovation and for its handholding instruction. Maybe if Sleeping Dogs or Saints Row were more new gamer friendly, I’d like them this much too.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch ~ At first glance, and from previews, this appears to be an explosion of imagination. Writer/director Zack Snyder makes it seem as if he has constructed a film around the concept that with motion capture, green screen and CGI nothing is impossible. I mean, come on, you can’t get any more genre chill than hot chick samurais and steampunk Nazi zombies. And at first glance, you might be right.

The problem is that only about twenty minutes of the film’s one hundred and ten minutes takes place in the hyper-reality of the story’s fantasy world. The rest happens in a dreary, depressing and relentlessly violent mental hospital reality that makes the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem like a house party. Nothing good happens in the hospital. It is painful to sit through, even worse if you watch. In the theater, I hated this majority of the flick, and at home, fast forward was my friend.

The fantasy scenes are amazing, truly stunning – I could watch them over and over again – and alone well worth the price of admission/rental. The sexy actresses and killer soundtrack are also formidable as well. I fully recommend the movie just for those reasons, but there’s a lot more going on.

On further viewings and discussions with other film fans I have discovered a whole different level to this flick. Pay close attention to the dialogue and the visuals as well, as everything is a metaphor. If you don’t want to get that deep, there is also the Pink Floyd factor. Much like The Wizard of Oz, if you play Dark Side of the Moon parallel to watching Sucker Punch, it lines up much the same way.

So no matter how you watch Sucker Punch, I recommend you give it a second chance, finger on the fast forward button or not.

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 7-18-2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! – the area’s best comics and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ.

Co-hosts Ed (Alpha Lantern) Evans, Allison (Two-Marvel Girl) Eckel, and Glenn (Beyond) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in wicked high definition video, and also available on the YouTube. See it here!

Discussion featured in this week’s estrogen infused episode includes: Odds and Drinking Games, Green Lantern Corps #11, Legion of Super-Heroes #11, Justice League #11, Girls Comics Night Out, Blue Beetle #11, Batman Beyond Unlimited #6, Mars Attacks #2, Star Trek and Doctor Who together make Awesome Sauce, Captain Marvel #1, Uncanny X-Men #16, New Mutants #46, the AvsX books of the week, Marvel Universe World Tour, Allison’s kids comics, including Zombie Kid Diaries, and Ed’s trades and manga.

Be sure to check out the shiny new All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

Special thanks go to Dina Evans who keeps us all in line, and on the straight and narrow, as well as running the show from behind the scenes.

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

Girl power!

The Other Side

It had been a while since I cracked open the PS3. That’s actually a good thing as I’ve been getting some writing done. Life also sometimes gets in the way. I played the prerequisite hour or so of Pain, and then went looking for something else to play.

As our current tabletop DC Comics role-playing game has been stalled by folks’ busy schedule I was jonesing for superhero action so I turned to DCU Online. As I said, it had been a while, so it took forever and a day for it to download updates. Does this happen to everyone, or is it just me because I haven’t turned on the machine in a bit?

When it was done I flew around Metropolis as The Red Sun trying to figure out what’s what when I got a brainstorm. You have options in the game to have more than one character so I thought, just for kicks and giggles, I’d make a super-villain, and see what different. Walking through the steps of creation was easier this time. I think I had a young woman with zombie skin, inspired by Live Wire and the Joker with electrical powers. As last time, the hardest part was the naming. After several misses, I hit on the name Deadshock, although I think it’s spelled ‘dedshok.’

Much like my problems as a hero, I had a hard time getting out of Brainiac’s spaceship, which is apparently the default starting point. Being a villain, at least I didn’t have to fight my way out like before. But I did still have to find a way out.

Once out I ended up in Metropolis, and instead going to the police station I went to the villain equivalent. Same steps, same rules, same old same old, just cooler powers this time. I did take quite a delight in blasting everything in sight. I have to go to a certain place for a mission, yet I can’t find it. I guess I need to buy a GPS.

Is there some sort of guide as to how to play this game? Color me confused, as I’m a DC Comics fan who really wants to play and experience this world – and I’m hopefully just limited by my non-experience with games.

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for 10-5-2011

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Ed (Checkered Shirt) Evans, Allison (Batgirl) Eckel and Glenn (Avengers) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!

The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: Ed’s back, Paul Levitz’ Huntress #1, Penguin Pain and Prejudice #1, number two DC 52 horror comics, Action Comics #2 and the not-so-secret identity, Green Arrow #2, some books that Glenn actually liked this week, the rest of the second issues this week for the New DC 52, and we promise we’ll let Ed talk in the next segment.

The discussion continues in segment two including: Seashell armor, Ed’s indies, the Slave One bank and the ruination of Star Wars, more indies including The Walking Dead, Zombie Night at All Things Fun!, Chew #21, Avengers 1959 #1, other Avengers-related Marvels, Marvel hardbacks for kids, and Ed’s trades.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

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The Zombie Apocalypse and Why I Hate Jeff

One of the games hat I downloaded a demo of from the PlayStation Store was called Zombie Apocalypse. It seemed a natural based on my desire to “just shoot stuff.” I mean, come on, what’s better that shooting zombies? Shooting zombies is the basis for so many fun things – the Night of the Living Dead movies, the House of the Dead games, and even government disaster contingency plans. When I saw this one available as a demo, I went to downloadin’.

The characters provided as your controller-controlled protagonist are intriguing and would do better in a role-playing game than as videogame fodder, but still it adds some charm and flair to the game. Essentially, like most zombie scenarios, you’re left alive and zombies are attacking – you fight back. Every time I tried this one, the zombies descended on me quickly and I died almost immediately. Even if I had a gun, or a chainsaw, it didn’t matter – I became one of the walking dead rather quickly.

I had moved on to other games in the meantime. Jeff and Crystal came over one night and we gravitated to the game console and were looking for something to play. I wanted to show them the demos I had downloaded. First Crystal one-upped me in Nucleus, showing me new games and new levels I was unaware of. See what I mean about needing a PS3 mentor when you’re a beginner?

Next, I showed them Zombie Apocalypse, mostly because the title jumped out at them as much as it did me initially. Crystal first reaction to the player characters was pretty much the same as mine, she thought they would be great for the Call of Cthulhu tabletop rpg. She lasted a bit longer than my sixteen second record. She even managed to tear up some of the zombies with her chainsaw.

Then Jeff took the controller. He immediately began to mow through the zombies. After a bout a minute or two, Crystal and I began to object. Jeff shrugged it off as years of experience and having watched the two of us play first. As he continued to trash the dead and even perform new abilities like save innocents and offer bait to the zombies, I got angrier. I had been watching people play videogames on this thing for months and I’m still not any better at it.

I’m convinced Jeff is a mutant, and his mutant power is an unnatural ability to play videogames. I’m going to report him to the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, or better yet, tell the Sentinels where to find him… after he tells me all his gaming secrets…

I Enter the Portal

I told you earlier about The Bride’s obsession with Portal and Portal 2. Well, I keep hearing, and not just from her, how fun the game was, so, with the thought in mind that I could always mute the sound and not have to deal with GLaDOS or her cake rantings, I thought I would give it a shot. God help me. I popped the Orange Box disc in. (Yes, I have finally learned how to turn the darn PS3 on by now.)

Unlike the The Bride, I wanted to try all the games on the disc, before trying Portal. I tried Team Fortress 2, and quickly learned that this was a multiplayer game. Hmmm… as much I do want to try that someday, I pass that one up for later, and move on. Keep it simple, stupid should be my mantra, after all, I can barely work the controller on this thing yet.

Then there’s Half-Life 2, divided up between regular Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One and Episode Two. I really don’t get it. I was under the impression that Half-Life was some sort of zombie shooting game. In the first version on this disc I was greeted by a creepy Christopher Lee wannabe with multi-colored eyes talking gibberish at me and then dropping me off at a train station. Wow. How about some background, some instructions or something, huh? Anything?

At this point, I just think the videogame companies are just mocking me. I’m old, I wouldn’t understand. I retreat to the instruction manual. It says I am Freeman, and I’m here to shoot the alien Combine who have taken over the Earth. Okay, I’m down with that, but what’s with the subway station and the vague overhead marching orders. Give me something to shoot, goddamnit! Give me a gun to shoot with, and I’m not talking about the aliens, but that guy who keeps ‘welcoming me to City 17.’

Next. In Episode One, I’m the same guy, only this time I have a gun, but I can’t make it work. When I try it makes a whimpering sound. I’m really getting frustrated here. The intro to Episode Two is at least exciting, lots of shooting alien creatures. And then it starts… and I’m trapped in a crashed train car with no gun. Remember the old Atari days when the game started when you turned it on. To hell with this crap, I move on to Portal.

Immediately the voice of GLaDOS makes me regret trying this. At least I have a gun, but I can’t kill anything with it. But it does make a noise and show a blast when it’s not making portals. But it’s a puzzle game, and much like the cryptic crosswords that give The Bride so much joy, it gives me a headache. Five games, and all of them a total wash for me. I’m glad The Bride enjoyed this. I don’t however.

Yes, I entered the Portal, and then I jumped right back out again…

AfterDark Horrorfest – Part 1


Hi, my name is Terry Willitts and I’m honored to be guest-blogging at WELCOME TO HELL, Glenn Walker’s pop culture blog. Glenn invited me to weigh in on the most recent AfterDark Horrorfest, the fourth iteration, as I’d just watched all eight movies over the past month. Not being one to turn away a chance to give my opinion, I was more than happy to accept.

I’m a huge fan of horror movies, and while my personal preference tends to either zombie flicks or psychological horror, I do appreciate a good slasher flick, weird monster movie, and even gripping personal suspense. I’ve seen quite a few of the previous AfterDark movies, though this is the first time I’ve gotten my hands on the entire run of a festival and watched them all in a short period of time.

Without further ado, let me start with what I feel are the weakest three of the series. (Yes, this the first of three posts, and I think it best to start at the bottom and work our way up.)

First off, we have ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Now, if you’re like me (reference that bit above about my personal preferences in horror movies if you must), you just had a nerdgastic moment with that title alone. You know you did.

The sad thing is, the title really has nothing to do with the movie, outside of there being zombies. That title is made of unadulterated win and they should write an entirely different movie, maybe a military experiment gone wrong, etc, etc, etc, and use that title. Instead, we get a sleepy New England island that is suddenly, and inexplicably, invaded by zombies.

This movie, directed by Kevin Harnedani (who co-wrote the movie with Ramon Isao), is billed as a comedy-horror, and rightfully so – it takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to zombies. And that’s fine.. however, it suffers from a couple major problems.

First off, the characters, are pretty much two-dimensional caricatures of society. It’s almost as if they decided that what this comedy-horror movie needed was some social commentary. Now, I’m not the sort to say that my entertainment can’t have any depth… far from it, though I’m not sure that anyone going to a tongue-in-cheek zombie movie is going to want a serving of Deep Thought with it. (I don’t think I would, really.)

The only characters that I find remotely interesting AND funny were the gay couple, Tom Hunt (Doug Fahl) and Lance Murphy (Cooper Hopkins) – and while they went with a lot of the easy jokes with them, I didn’t find them to be insulting, but actually cute, clever and they were the only ones I found myself rooting for.

The other problem for me with this movie – pink blood. There’s at least one scene where copious amounts of blood, tinged pink, is involved. I cannot remotely take a movie seriously if the blood is tinged pink. At the sight of pink blood, my suspension of disbelief is just thrown out the window. (Let me clarify something – I’m a big fan of small-budget movies. BIG fan. I’m willing to accept/forgive a lot of things, but pink blood is not one of them.)

Unless you’re intent on watching all eight movies, I strongly advise staying away from this one. There are plenty of other zombie movies out there that are much better. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 3, and mostly for the gay couple.

Fortunately, that was the only true “dog” out of the eight movies. From there, we’re going upwards and onwards.

Next, KILL THEORY starts off with an inmate being released from a psychiatric facility. From the discussion with the administering psych, you can tell that he’s not one hundred percent… which, of course, begs the question why is he being released? (Though, it’d be a short movie… or at least a different movie, if he hadn’t been let go.)

We then jump to a trope of horror movies – a group of students getting together for a last weekend together in a secluded house on the lake. And, after meeting all the characters (most of them are stereotypical ones, too), the killings begin. This is a directorial debut for Chris Moore, though he’s produced quite a few movies (notably the first three American Pie films and the Project Greenlight show.)

I had a huge problem with this movie – focusing the camera tightly on a person and having them scream so loud it hurts your ears while you’re watching the movie does not equate horror for me. It equates aggravation. This movie was borderline obnoxious with the fat guy (one of the stereotypical characters in this movie) just screaming at everyone, at the camera.

However, despite all of that, there is a tension to this movie that cannot be denied. The plot, though nothing original, has a couple little twists that are interesting enough to keep you hooked. And the twist at the end really made up for a lot of flaws. (I’m the sort of person who can find a movie to be kinda disappointing-ish and then have a good ending save the movie. For me, this is what happened.)

This is straight slasher-gore with a good deal of tension-suspense. Nothing extraordinary, but a decent flick in general, once look past the flaws. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 5.

THE GRAVES is the story of two sisters who, on their last weekend together before the eldest sister goes to New York, go on a random drive into the desert and end up at the Skull City Mine roadside attraction. There, they find themselves struggling to survive against a threat both physical and supernatural.

The movie is written and directed by Brian Pulido, a comic book creator known for Lady Death and Evil Ernie. I guess this explains why the main characters are shown to be comic book geeks, though it serves absolutely no other purpose. (Well, perhaps to appeal to the geeky fan boys – the idea of two hot and sexy comic geeks is a good one – and the girls ARE very attractive.)

My biggest problem with this one is that it seemed to want to cram too much into too short a movie. (Ironic, considering that most super-hero movies do just that, and Pulido is known for being a comic creator.) I mean, this could have likely done well enough with the crazy blacksmith in the mine killing people, and perhaps a touch of the supernatural just to explain things and give it that extra edge. Instead, we also have a cult of delusional worshipers (led by a priest, played by Tony Todd – Candyman to most of you, but he’ll always be Sgt Warren to me) that just kinda… I feel that the plot meanders a bit too much, to its detriment.

In short, it’s a good movie. Not great, but certainly much better than ZoMD. Don’t go out of your way to watch it, but if you can get it for free through a free rental code for Redbox or Blockbuster Express, give it a shot. You might be more forgiving than I. On a scale of 1-10, it barely makes it past 5 to a 6.

And that’s it for part one; in the next installment, we’ll touch upon the middle 3 for me – The Reeds, Dread and Skjult (Hidden).

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The Other Side of the Coin

Okay, I wrote over six hundred words yesterday about how much Wizard World Philly sucks. It never being my purpose to trash the con, let’s turn it around. How can we improve it? How can we save it?

The number one thing to be done, unfortunately I don’t know how to do, but you have to bring the comics people back. Get Marvel and DC back here. That Young Avengers announcement earlier this week should have been made at a convention, ideally this one, why didn’t it? Whatever happened to make the big two not be here has to be fixed. Get Image and Dark Horse here. Get Dynamite here – they are right across the river after all. Get the comics back and get the comics pros and guests back. Come on, it’s not a comic book convention without the comic books.

Befriend the comics press. In a world of Twitter and Facebook, they can destroy you before you even open your doors. I know for a fact that there are folks who did not come yesterday because they heard how lame the con was from Twitter. Whether it was true or not, they still did not come. You want excitement from the Twitterers, not derision. Use the tools. I saw many Tweets from folks at the con, but none from the con. Wizard should not only be Tweeting, but also replying to Tweets.

Embrace the press, don’t just befriend them. I can’t tell you how annoyed I was at the locked Press Room. Wizard was so proud about the number of press at the con, so why don’t you treat us better? Yes, I know you let us in for free, but how about just a little help along the way to giving you good coverage. Letting us know there’s a Press Room is a good start. Water and wireless would be a bonus, you’ll get high marks just for that. We’re cheap and easy. In a good way.

More outside events would be a step in the right direction. Let me tell you, there were folks like me who were disappointed by the con, but were sooo psyched about the zombie party and Kaiju Big Battel. More stuff like that would be fun. How about some bands or maybe stage shows? Perhaps even let folks know about that Philadelphia treasure next door, the Reading Terminal Market, instead of forcing them to eat those high-priced hot dogs at the Convention Center. Have some Philly pride.

These are just ideas, and they are given out of love. I don’t want to lose our comic con. I want it here for years to come, and I want it to be more popular and successful than ever before. Let’s do it.

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