Recently it feels like every production attempt at making a halfway decent (and watchable) zombie program always inevitably ends the same: horribly. In the effort to make a quick buck on the genre, studios keep turning out fart factory after fart factory, leaving loyal zombie fans cringing in their undead wake. Well, for all the fans who have survived the cheap imitations this long, it appears your reward is only a few short days away. I’m speaking of course about The Walking Dead: the proverbial “REAL DEAL” in a land of imitations. Featured as part of AMC’s Halloween Fearfest, October 31st will mark the premiere of director Frank Darabont’s (The Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, The Mist) 90-minute pilot episode of the series.
Based on the comic of the same name, The Walking Dead looks so promising that I almost feel like making it wear a virginity ring around me. Taking Frank Darabont’s talent, mixing that with the 2010 Eisner Award winning comic work of Robert Kirkman and then rounding it all out with the talent of producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss), it’s hard to not get mildly turned on when considering the potential they helmed heading into this production.
Waking up in an empty hospital after weeks in a coma, County Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) finds himself utterly alone. The world as he knows it is gone, ravaged by a zombie epidemic. The Walking Dead tells the story of the weeks and months that follow after the apocalypse. [AMCtv]
As Rick sets out to find his wife and child, he eventually crosses paths with a struggling caravan of survivors, each character offering a different psychology of the zombie experience. The comic makes a particular effort to showcase the emotions and interactions between the characters, something that is far too overlooked in survival horror. These people aren’t heros and its obvious that they’re scared, offering a realistic depiction of characters who would usually otherwise be written cavalier; Kirkman’s comic focuses on its characters first and the bloody action second -a payoff with the story and structure of The Walking Dead.
AMC has some balls on them and I couldn’t be more proud. The zombie genre has been eating itself whole for such a long time now, I feel like AMC should receive a ribbon for participating, regardless of the success of the series; the ambition alone deserves rewarding. For a channel that prides itself on solid programing (Mad Men, Breaking Bad), optimism is at an all time high for The Walking Dead. Complain all you want about having to stay home Halloween night in order to tune in and catch the premiere, it sure beats the hell out of robbing pillowcases for candy corn.