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Get on your knees and thank your lucky stars that AMC
exists, for it is within these digital walls, with their juggernaut series THE
WALKING DEAD, that you will find the only place on earth where zombies are
still scary. Not just scary, but vulgar, grotesque and nightmarish echoes of
what we are reduced to; slowly moving, collapsing yet feral shells. You
know…the way zombies used to be.
Sliming into its third season, THE WALKING DEAD is still
tops when it comes to cannibal corpses and that’s not just because the KNB
make-ups are without peer—pushing the physical architecture of ghoul aesthetics
into realms that Savini first perfected and in many cases, beyond—but the
entire tone of the show is affecting: morose, desolate, broken down and yet
blindly hopeful. From the urgent theme music on down, this is bleak, stomach
turning and yet always sensitive, always human, television.
It’s that humanity that split fans during the second season,
when our not-so-merry band of survivors camped out at Hershel’s farm in search
of a child that, frankly, we all knew was dead anyway. But it wasn’t life or
death that mattered. It was hope, or at least the delusion and illusion of it
that kept them there. And despite the gripes it kept us there too, kept
Personally, I loved the moody, sensitive and earthy second
season and like you, had my mind blown during the tragic mid-season reveal and
the punishing final episode. Still, no matter how swept up you were or
astonished by its tricks, none of that stacks up to the primal scream of an
opening episode that kicks off season three.
In “Seed”, Rick, Lori, Hershel and what’s left of our heroes
continue dragging their tired selves through the ghoul riddled new west. Hacking,
slashing, shooting and chopping their way like a crack team of assassins;
confident and lethal and yes, that includes the ready-to-pop pregnant Lori.
Their adventures in corpse killing lead them to a fortress-like state
penitentiary, filled with the living dead. Rick, despite mild protest from the
team, has a mad idea to infiltrate the prison à la the mall in DAWN OF THE DEAD
and set up camp.
We also meet Michonne and catch up with Andrea. And yes
indeed….this is some hyper-violent shit. In fact, I was astonished at the sheer
level of bloodshed and gore in this one, the nastiest most shocking zombie
abattoir since Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD. Each killing means something, is
disturbing and painfully executed, including
few FX gags that I have not only never seen in any other ghoul movie but
that I would never have even considered (SPOILER ALERT: what would happen if a
zombie cop wearing riot gear for months upon months, rotting and moldering in
the heat of a helmet, suddenly had that helmet ripped off? Well, you’ll find
out and rest assured it’s a sickening and outstanding gag).
Ernest Dickerson (director of the underrated TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT) kicks off this season with a blood splattery bang, loading
shock upon surprise and packing in enough action to fill five episodes. Glenn
Mazzara’s script is also filled with that distinct eerie poetry, evident in the
previous installments, but also the spine of Kirkman’s comics. In fact, the
first 20 minutes of this episode play out with very little dialogue, eliciting
physical performances from the cast and relying on mood and extreme violence.
If “Seed” is evidence of things to come, then THE WALKING DEAD has truly found
its footing, firing on all cylinders and pushing Berger and Nicotero to work
overtime to earn their keep.
I’m hooked. So will you be.
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