sun 20/09/2020

The Walking Dead, FX | reviews, news & interviews

The Walking Dead, FX

The Walking Dead, FX

Director Frank Darabont brings Hollywood gloss to ghastly zombie odyssey

Andrew Lincoln (right) as Rick Grimes with his faithful horse, Blade
You’re casting a deputy sheriff from Kentucky who wakes from a coma to find the landscape littered with corpses and overrun by flesh-eating zombies, so who do you call? Well obviously Andrew Lincoln, the irritatingly drippy English actor from Teachers and This Life.
You’re casting a deputy sheriff from Kentucky who wakes from a coma to find the landscape littered with corpses and overrun by flesh-eating zombies, so who do you call? Well obviously Andrew Lincoln, the irritatingly drippy English actor from Teachers and This Life. But it’s amazing the difference a reasonably plausible Southern accent and a hunk of iron from Smith & Wesson can make.Right from the opening of this pilot episode of director Frank Darabont’s ghastly horror saga, Rick Grimes (Lincoln’s character) was shooting zombies point-blank through the head or coolly battering them to a pulp with baseball bats. Come to think of it, Lincoln did appear in Chris Ryan’s SAS yarn Strike Back on Sky1. Maybe he’s in the midst of the biggest career turnaround since Hugh Laurie went to medical school (zombies on promotional visit to London, pictured below).
London_zombies_smallThe Walking Dead clearly owes a debt to George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and subsequent school-of-zombie flicks, but the specific source was Robert Kirkman’s comic-book series, also called The Walking Dead. Darabont, best known for his big-screen adaptations of Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, has brought a sense of Hollywood scale and polish to the series, with locations, design and camerawork all distinguished by a quality and detail which make it pretty obvious that everybody had at least one eye on the Blu-Ray box-set release.
The major hurdle the show has to surmount is the over-familiarity of its basic theme, which is the survival of a grizzled band in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event (in this case, a virus which kills everybody and then causes them to rise again in zombified form). We’ve recently been there or thereabouts in the movies, most recently The Road and Zombieland, but also The Book of Eli, The Crazies and Carriers, not to mention TV series Survivors and Jericho. The Walking Dead hasn’t made it any easier for itself by the way the man-awaking-from-coma set-up so closely mirrors Danny Boyle’s horror-virus nightmare, 28 Days Later.
Then there’s the absurdity of semi-decomposed cadavers lurching around making hissing and growling noises as they search for live flesh to eat, when surely their rotting innards wouldn’t be able to digest food anyway? They’re dead, for ****’s sake. And how come the full might of the US military couldn’t overcome a bunch of unarmed semi-skeletons moving at half a mile an hour? The spectacle of a half-corpse dragging itself and its straggling entrails across the grass (pictured below), still gamely trying to sink its teeth into something warm-blooded, was sheer Monty Python. “I’m sorry this happened to you,” said Grimes earnestly, before putting a bullet through its putrescent head in a caring sort of way.
half_corpseNevertheless, the notion of being trapped in a petrified wilderness where you can’t even find a wifi network for your iPad and the only people you meet are walking corpses does possess an undeniably chilling quality, and Darabont has cunningly worked in some effective man-against-the-unknown archetypes. The best scene was when Grimes had abandoned his search for non-existent gasoline, mounted a horse called Blade (the very same horse that appeared in George Romero’s latest zombie movie Survival of the Dead, as it happens) and set off for Atlanta, where supposedly there was a secure survivors’ camp. In one iconic tableau, Grimes and the nag clip-clopped up the deserted side of the freeway towards the distant towers of Atlanta, while the outbound carriageways were choked with ossified, abandoned vehicles. It was a certified Planet of the Apes moment. Unfortunately Atlanta turned out to be crawling with zombies, and the bastards ate the horse.
So… probably nonsense, but possibly addictive nonsense. The Walking Dead debuted on Halloween in the States, scoring over five million viewers on the AMC cable network (which also gave us Mad Men). There's life in the living dead yet.
The hurdle the show has to surmount is the over-familiarity of its theme - the survival of a grizzled band in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event

Share this article

Comments

These are "running" zombies, not slow ones, by the way. Did you actually watch the show? It doesn't sound like it from the rather patchy article, which barely counts as a review, so reliant is it on referencing other films and TV programmes. I could have written this from watching clips on YouTube.

Did you actually watch the show? - Yes. Thx for info.

Thanks Arthur. Why isn't it called "The Running Dead" then? I mentioned the other films and TV shows to make the point that the idea behind this series is unoriginal to the point of cliche, even if the programme is well made. I wonder how it will hold up over a series.

1. They're walking not running. 2. It's not known how they became zombies. It's never said! Excellent program. Very little music which really ups the suspense. Unfortunate that it'll be shown with breaks from now on. Hope it doesn't detract from the overall feel! Can't wait for next week!

I feel you are wrong about the best scene. I enjoyed the acting of the main character as he woke up in the hospital. And the whole section while he walked around in a stupor up until he was bashed in the head with a shovel. I think it was well played. I am looking forward to the next installment of this show. I understand the feeling of we have been there,seen that.. but really, we haven’t. Yes it is going to have a lot of “sameness” but we now have time to flesh out characters. Something you don’t have in movies. This series is going to be character driven instead of grab and chew horror. I just wish there was some message board somewhere where I can talk to other like minded people about this show. I do have to agree with the others that posted it doesn't sound like you watched the show and it shows a lack of enjoyment in the horror field. Someone who enjoys zombie novels or movies can see this series is full of potential for the future. That isn't to say it doesn't have to be careful about a few things but this was done well. I also find it interesting that you said "Then there’s the absurdity of semi-decomposed cadavers lurching around making hissing and growling noises as they search for live flesh to eat, when surely their rotting innards wouldn’t be able to digest food anyway?" To me this was proof that you are not a horror fan.... or at least a zombie fan. Maybe someone who is should write the next article.

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters