By MARK TURNER
It seems that horror films have changed drastically over the past few years. Where once there was a cycle that lasted about 10 years between horror films being popular, they seem to be more mainstream now than ever.
Not only that, the horror genre has kicked into gear, crossing over into other areas as well. Books like THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, zombie movies galore and finally the comic book series that has now made its way to TV and DVD: THE WALKING DEAD.
Based on the hit comic book series that continues to this day, this zombie outing is unlike any other in most ways. True, the beginning of the series seems a bit like 28 DAYS LATER, but once you get past that it’s one of the most original zombie tales ever filmed. And unlike most it doesn’t focus near as much on the zombies as it does on the survivors.
The series starts with officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) being shot and put into a coma. When he wakes, he discovers no one is left on his floor of the hospital and most rooms on the floor tossed and turned. As he slowly makes his way through the white corridors, he comes across a chained double door with a warning of what lies beyond spray painted.
Finding clothes and setting out to locate his family, Grimes sees nothing but devastation in any direction he looks. Crashed helicopters and cars are everywhere but no sign of people. Outside the hospital are row upon row of sheet covered corpses. What’s happened?
On Grimes trek to his home, he sees up close what has happened. Though unable to believe his eyes, a half rotted corpse drags itself across the grass. Grimes takes the bicycle that apparently belonged to the corpse and heads home only to be knocked unconscious by someone living there.
A man and his son are staying in a house nearby Grimes old home, since vacated by his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs). He explains what happened, though as with most zombie films we have no idea what caused it to happen. He shows Grimes how the zombies walk the streets, attracted by noise and searching for the living to feed off of.
It’s not long before Grimes helps the man and his son by taking them to the local police station and arming them heavily as well as providing them a place to shower. The station has its own emergency energy source giving them light and hot water. Grimes heads towards Atlanta in search of his family, sharing a walkie talkie with the man on the chance he makes it there later on.
But this is only a part of the story. As Grimes begins his search, we see his partner Shane (Jon Bernthal) among a group of survivors banded together. In this group are Grimes wife and son. And Shane and Grimes wife are now a couple. Eventually we know their paths will meet.
The best part of this show is that the story revolves around people, struggling to survive in a world gone mad. The depth of the show presents us with realistic scenarios of what people would do, how they might react, giving us the more human element of the story rather than focusing on the gore and zombies alone. It is this tale of emotions and the basic instinct for survival that separates this tale from most zombie movies.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of zombies to be seen and enough gore to keep those fans happy. KNB effects have done another outstanding job here. And scenes like a downtown street in Atlanta filled with zombies moving towards our hero truly make your skin crawl.
Tested with just a few episodes the show was a dynamite hit for AMC and was quickly renewed for a second season much longer than the first. Until that season airs, fans will have to be content with the DVD release of season one. Horror fans will find this a must have for their collection. Movie fans will enjoy the horror film done right. And those just curious will find more than they bargained for from a horror series. Well made, well acted, directed with style and featuring a story that unwraps slowly make this one well worth owning in your collection.
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