Fear the Walking Dead Eats It!

If you’re a Black dude you’d better Fear the Walking Dead. You’re gonna die first!

When  Fear the Walking Dead was announced the word on it was it would be so much faster than The Walking Dead and it’s absolutely true!  It only took four episodes for me to be bored stupid by this show.

The Walking Dead peaked with its first episode and went downhill on jet-rocket skis since then.   Here the first episode was glacially slow. None of the characters moved me at all. I was bored until the last few moments. It wasn’t worth the trip to get there. Fear the Walking Dead only has a six-episode run and couldn’t wait as long.  Through five episodes I’ve yet to see a peak.

Something else I’ve always wondered is why are the undead called “walkers?”

Isn’t it about time at least one person said, “Walkers, my butt! Them’s ZOMBIES!!!!

I’m not the only one who’s noticed, Fear the Walking Dead seems to have the same problem The Walking Dead does with Black male characters.

Maybe I need to read some Max Brooks or something, but it’s always bothered me these stories focus on how the zombie apocalypse affects a few people, but the details of how it all falls apart are skipped over.

What happens to all the newborn babies in a hospital as well as all the bed-ridden or comatose patients. Do they become the buffet for the zombiefied doctors, nurses and staff? What happens when someone zombies out in a prison or in the middle of a crowded concert? Does the president hop on Air Force One along with the Chosen Elite to wait out the chaos?

How does civilization come completely apart when the dead rise to eat the living? It’s not that I need to know the why of the zombies, but I do want to know how.

My hope was Fear the Walking Dead would  show how everything turns into a giant shit sandwich, but seeing it happen through the eyes of these characters is a mistake since I really don’t care about these characters at all.

If all I wanted was some gory kills, I’d just pop in a season of The Walking Dead itself. The parent show is how to survive during the zombie apocalypse. The spin-off should be about how the world got there, but if I gotta deal with all the domestic drama, it’s gonna be a real slog between the kills.

My brother who enjoys The Walking Dead hates Fear the Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the former, but the latter has failed for me because it made the dumb decision to take the cheap way out. It made this show about one family dealing with the zombie apocalypse (not the “walker” apocalypse so screw you very much, Robert Kirkman!) because it is cheaper on the budget than staging scenes of chaos and disorder in the street as Los Angeles crumbles beneath an onslaught of the ravenous undead.

Fear the Walking Dead needed movie-sized money to pull that off, but opted for TV-sized talking heads and two-shots.

Interracial relationships are tough with zombies.

Interracial relationships are tough with zombies.

t may seem I enjoy dumping on this dead, shambling, shuffling, trainwreck of a show, (and there’s a small, twisted part of me that does), but truthfully, I’m more disappointed than delighted I have to dump on Fear the Walking Dead. I wanted to like it. I wanted it to be scary and full of dread and sink its teeth into me and bite down hard.

But it hasn’t. It’s just another dysfunctional modern family with smart mom Madison, dummy daddy figure Travis, junkie wasteoid Nick and mopey brat Alicia, and if all of them ended up passing through a zombie’s digestive tract, it would be a better show without them.

No matter how good the last episode is, it won’t be good enough to make up for the five preceding it.

“Ya can’t kill a zombie by talking it to death!”

I’ve pretty much accepted this show is going to be the idiot little brother to The Walking Dead since  Kirkman is all about keeping the family dynamic together even as the world turns to shit. As something to fill the space until the alpha dog show returns, it’s adequate, but it’s not scary, it’s not involving and it’s not very good.

Dead Bodies Everywhere

These are NOT the zombies from "Thriller."

My earliest zombie memory is of going with my siblings to see the original Dawn of the Dead (why, I have no idea) and being laughed at by the audience for walking out in the first 20 minutes.   For a bunch of silly kids who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons a zombie getting scalped by a spinning helicopter blade was a bit much for our delicate psyches.

Much older and somewhat a bit more steeled in nerve, I can watch zombie flicks now and even enjoy a few.   Both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later were pretty good(which some purists sniff aren’t really zombie flicks because these undead don’t attack and eat you; they stop at attacking you and run like Olympic track stars.  “Real” zombies just kind of lurch along s-l-o-w-ly).  If the zombies in  Night of the Living Dead  aren’t scary at all  (and they aren’t)  Romero more than made up for it with Dawn of the Dead which ramped up the guts and gore by the power of ten.   It’s amazing what a slightly bigger budget and shooting in color instead of black and white will to make something a helluva lot scarier.  Years later I rented the movie got through all of it without walking out or turning it off. 

Zombies will always mess with me in a way vampires don’t.  Vampires and crazed serial killers knocking off horny teenagers can be made scary, but not in the way a zombie apocalypse is.  Zombie outbreaks take two of the biggest fears of human beings (death and the total breakdown of society) and mashes it up with an enemy that is implacable, impossible to reason with and is totally relentless.   The only thing zombies want is you and they aren’t willing to settle for anything less than your ass as an entrée.

I’m far from a gore-hound, but there’s something about people you know rising from the dead for no other reason than to feed on your living flesh that makes zombies scary in a way a Jason and Freddy aren’t.  Zombies don’t roll like serial killers.  They don’t come at you with knives, chain saws, pitchforks or any other cutting utensil. They don’t want revenge or act out of sadistic rage and hatred.   They operate on a more primal urge: the need to feed.   They come armed with two arms, teeth and a very bad attitude.   It only takes one zombie attack to  louse up your whole day.

Yep. That's gonna leave a mark.

For the last two years some critics whose opinions I respect have raved about Dead Set, a British version of the zombie apocalypse that centers on a group of reality show contestants who have to fend off the flesh eaters when a particularly virulent undead outbreak breaks loose.   Last week it showed up on the IFC movie channel so I decided to record all five 30 minute episodes.

But I’m still too much of a pussy to watch it all.

Dead Set features fast zombies and they’re just scarier and more vicious than  the slow types.  It’s as if they’re pissed they’ve got to chase down their dinner and when they catch you that’s gonna be your ass—and every other part they can chow down on.   The kills are plenty, the zombies plentiful and the dwindling number of contestants finding there’s nowhere to run, hide or way to avoid the inevitable.    

I have the series on DVR on the chance I pound enough Jack and Cokes to give me the liquid courage to watch all Dead Set, but I doubt I’m going to in the immediate future.   And when I do it won’t be in the dark in the wee hours of the morning.    

AMC takes the plunge and launches its own episodic zombie show with The Walking Dead.  The early reviews are enthusiastic, but it’s not based on the quality of the scripts, dialogue, or acting.  These kinds of stories boil down to a ragtag group of survivors trying to get to a safe haven and the problems they meet trying to get there.  Like hordes of the undead trying to eat them.

Dead Set proved television could deliver moments of “holy shit” splatter and if the Brits can do it, there’s no doubt the same feat can’t be repeated over here with The Walking Dead.  There’s always an appetite for this kind of blood-splattered material. 

In the meantime remember these rules from Max Brooks’ (son of Mel), The Zombie Survival Guide.

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

  1. Organize before they rise!
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don’t need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on

 Zombies may have the edge in superior numbers, but you have the advantage of a superior brain.   Use it.   (Ummm…BRAINS!   Tasty!)

There's absolutely no respect for law and order anymore.