Written by John Edward Betancourt

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Sometimes in life we happen to have the best of intentions, but find ourselves completely out of our league and in way over our heads. We've all been there, stepping in and trying to do something that we know nothing about and often times the result of our attempts to help when we haven't a clue can be disastrous. 

Of course when we are the outside observers to those types of disasters we often wonder exactly what the hell motivated someone to step in and fail like that and the answers will always vary. Perhaps they wanted to play the hero. Perhaps they simply wanted to do something good in this life or in the case of the Tales from the Darkside episode "The Trouble with Mary Jane", they're in it for the money.

Nora and Jack Mills have made a pretty decent living as a pair of Occult enthusiasts. They specialize in Tarot Card readings and the like but a grand opportunity has fallen into their lap. The Nugent family has a problem, as since Grandma Nugent's grand daughter, Mary Jane has found herself possessed by a soul eating demon that identifies herself as Aisha Candisha. Desperate to see her grand baby return to normal Mrs. Nugent has offered $50,000 to Nora and Jack to exorcize the demon, and while they have both said yes to the cash and the exorcism, the two of them will quickly learn that they have no business dealing in such matters and that they are way in over their heads. 

I have to say I enjoyed the mix of black humor and horror in this episode, one that features comedy legend Phyllis Diller as Nora Mills. She adds the right kind of levity and dead pan delivery needed for this story since Jack Mills is nothing short of a greedy idiot. I mean truly, the guy has no clue what he is doing as he moves from concept to concept and spell to spell to make that fifty grand and it's hilarious to watch this couple fail time and time again and make matters worse when they manage to not only summon an elder demon, but project it into the body of Mary Jane as well, doubling the evil within her.

If anything this is a lovely little tale about the dangers of greed because hey, that's the only driving force for the Mills. They don't care about Mary Jane, they certainly don't care if they're successful or not, it's just about the money and that's what makes the ending of this particular episode so completely satisfying when these two morons get exactly what they deserve. I guess the irony in those final moments of the show is the old saying of be careful what you wish for, since the Mills (SPOILER) find themselves possessed by the demons they tried to expunge. I guess in the end these two wannabe experts in the occult finally get the expertise they so desire up close and personal, and we the audience get a fine episode from this wonderful show. Until next time. 

 
 

Written by Scotty

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Small town living might be the life for some people, but it is not the life for me.  After watching what happens in horror movies to people in these secluded areas, I am left to wonder what would happen if something bad went down and you have no trust in your authorities.  It is never good and I would rather have a huge police force at my back, instead of a couple of locals with guns who may or may not be sober enough to come to my aid when they are needed.  Now don’t get me wrong, staying in a small town for a day or two is refreshing as you don’t have to deal with the crazies in the city, but when it comes down to it, it is just not the life for me.

Sheriff Annie Flynn is woken up by her phone after another late night, early morning bender.  Finding out that the power has been knocked out, she has just been told what the reason behind it is.  A gasoline tanker has been knocked off the road and exploded, leaving the small town without power.  After making herself a drink and heading to the scene, she finds a strange animal body part wedged in the grill of the tanker.  But what she finds more interesting is that there is no sign of the driver and there is only one person that might have answers to where he may have gone, but he is on the outs with the town.

Nodin has come back home to take care of her grandfather, but seems to be more interested in continuing her research.  Even when the power is out, she finds a way to keep looking through her microscope at plant cells.  Her grandfather is working on something of his own though and is not letting any of his secrets out.  Getting an envelope from his friend Kale that has a photo of an old Anasazi pot, he takes into account the drawings on the outside of it.  Making notes and sending the photo back, he finds out that there might have been something more to their deterioration as a race than just the lack of the water in the area.   When Kale sees the findings of his old friend, he tears open the body of the tanker's driver and sees a growth that was once unexplainable and is able to give it a face.

Sisters Caya and Ally are on their road trip when seeing a young man on the side of the road with car troubles.  Picking him up and stopping at Nodin’s gas station which has been starved by the recent accident, they are forced to stay in the building until another tanker can come to town. With no power and no gas, everyone is forced to stay put as the accident gets cleaned up and the power is restored, but there is something lurking in the shadows.  As Sheriff Annie brings her strange animal find to Nodin to analyze, she finds out that whatever hit the tanker was not of this earth, but before she is able to make it known to everyone else in the house, the first attack takes place.  Trying to escape whatever creature is chasing them, the group is able to make it to Kale’s dig site and find out what the loner digger has brought back up to the surface.

A fun monster movie that could make you wonder if something like this could actually exist.  With so many undiscovered species under the sea, how many more have paleontologists not found under the sand yet.  But this movie is not only about the monster, it is about Annie trying to get her life back together after a tragedy left a young girl dead under her protection.  Without a way of coming back from that, Annie turns to the bottle and the entire town takes notice, but it is widely known that she will be voted out of her position of Sheriff at the next town meeting.  Knowing that she needs to step up and protect her people, Annie is forced to come to terms with what she has become and even though an event of this magnitude is taking place, she can step away from the bottle and do her assigned duty.  With plenty of blood and an uncertain way to make the beast dormant once again, this is a good movie to just sit back and enjoy while the regular problems of your everyday life are going on outside of the house.  It could be a lot worse, just saying.  Stay Scared.

 
 

Written by John Edward Betancourt

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Sometimes I think we all forget just how important stories are to us and how much they manage to impact our lives. I mean, think about it. There are books we have picked up that changed our way of thinking and there are television shows and motion pictures that managed to do the same. 

What's even more interesting about this, is the fact that different stories reach us in different ways and stories that were deemed to be nothing special by some, mean the absolute world to someone else. It's a beautiful aspect of storytelling and surprisingly Tales from the Darkside decided to go in a lighthearted direction and explore what stories mean to us in the episode "Distant Signals".

It's been a long time since the show Max Paradise was on the airwaves and for show creator Gil Hurn, that's not a bad thing. The show was cancelled before the story could be finished, and the lack of respect it received, combined with how much the failure of the show haunted Gil at every turn leaves him happy with the fact it is in the past. But a mysterious man named Mister Smith has arrived in Hollywood with a proposition for Gil, to reunite the cast of Max Paradise and finish what they started because somewhere out there is an audience dying to know just how the story ends. But what Gil and actor Van Conway are unaware of, is just how far away these rabid fans truly are. 

Well, I hate to say it, but this is a pretty unremarkable episode of Tales from the Darkside. We already had a guest appearance from aliens in the season premiere and here they are again for an episode devoid of anything resembling a scare. But the idea of aliens coming down to earth to get the end to the story that impacted their lives is a unique idea but let's be honest there's one reason and one reason alone for watching this episode...screen legend Darren McGavin just happens to star as Van Conway in this episode and he truly saves it from becoming a forgettable one. 

In his short twenty some minutes on screen, McGavin does what he does best and completely disappears into the character, and man...what a performance. The script has enough depth to make sure that Van is taken on a complete journey and it's only enhanced by McGavin bringing to life the character's struggle with alcohol and the fears that plague him as an actor. It truly is a treat to watch him on this show and while this episode may not be scary, I loved every second of this story thanks to seeing the late Darren McGavin work his magic once again. Until next time. 

 
 

Written by Scotty

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It is difficult to be able to tell if someone is possessed or just crazy.  Since the church has all but done away with exorcisms these days, everyone that claims to be possessed by the devil is deemed to be crazy.  Even though by taking different medications to keep the voices in their heads at bay, when they are broken free of the pills, their inner demons are likely to come back out.  Do I believe that it is possible that someone could be possessed by a demon?  Although I have never witnessed it, it seems like it could be more likely than not, especially when I have been to haunted locations over my home state that seem to turn people into someone that they are not.

Ellen is trying everything with her husband to get pregnant and start a family, even purchasing pieces of art that are said to improve their sex drive and their chances.  Receiving a mask in the mail that is supposedly a fertility god, Ellen and William are not too keen on keeping it around the house since it looks more like a demon than a god of any sort.  But before it gets thrown into storage, Ellen tries it on and starts having nightmares about a demon that wants to fulfill her wishes of having new life grow inside of her.  It does not happen the way she expects and now she is put on medication to keep the demon inside of her at bay until she is able to receive treatment at an out of the way clinic.

Mia, her boyfriend Ed, her best friend Trinity and Trinity’s fiancé Jack are all at the cabin for the weekend.  As Trinity is about to get married, Mia wants to send her off in style with fun and games.  But Mia and Trinity have a secret that Jack has not been made aware of yet and the two start to beat around the bush about what happened back in their college days.  Wanting to loosen up the mood, Mia gets the group to play erotic truth or dare so some of their inner most fantasies can be revealed.  As the game progresses, Mia hears something outside and goes to check it out, but what she and the group finds will change their weekend plans, for the worst.

On their way to the clinic, William runs out of gas and has to leave his wife in the car while he goes to get some help.  As Ellen sits alone in the darkness, she starts to hear things in the woods.  Thinking that it is just her imagination, she pops a pill and knows it will all go away, but after the car starts to be attacked, she sees the face of the Nightmare Man and knows that she is far from crazy.  Running for her life, Ellen finds Mia’s cabin and is able to get some help, but the group does not truly understand what is happening around them.  Knowing that there is someone following Ellen, they band together to try to keep her safe, but when they start to believe she is crazy, the let their guard down and start getting killed off one by one.  Being cut off from civilization for the most part, the remaining group members have to find a way to survive the attack while having to listen to Ellen’s rants about the beast that is inside of her.  Knowing that there is something worse in the woods, they find out that the crazy rantings are just the beginning of a night that no one will ever forget.

It has been several years since I first saw this film and I kind of regret it now after watching it again. With a great storyline attached to it, even the subplots are entertaining, especially when members of the group start dying off. It is always safe to assume that there is some truth to someone’s stories, even if they seem kind of outlandish.  Ellen and Mia have to be my two favorite characters in this movie, Ellen because she has to go through more than one transition while being helped by strangers, and Mia, well because she is a bad ass and knows what to do to protect herself from whomever is hunting them in the woods.  It is always good to get out of your comfort zone, but it may not be the best idea to do it in the woods.  Stay Scared!

 
 

Written by Scotty

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There is nothing wrong with wanting to be someone different and leaving behind your old life.  Needing to escape and find something new may not be the easiest thing to do, but if you are in a bad situation in life, it is the right thing to do.  Now I did not say run away from your problems, but what I will say is that a life changing experience could be more than worth it and more people need to try it.  If you are not happy or stuck in a rut and have the means, do it, what do you have to loose?  Life is no fun if you are not happy while living it…or at least making someone else happy.

Norma has a big night ahead of her and is looking to make the most of it.  Going out with a boy from school, a higher class boy that does not live in a trailer park, Norma is getting endless amounts of crap when trying to make it up the hill to see him.  Nobody in the park is willing to say one nice thing to her as she is making her walk, they all know that no matter who she dates, she will never leave the park and just be poor old’ Norma.  When her date get pushed into a rail and dies in front of her very eyes, Norma loses her cool and will no longer play nice with others.  Pulling out a propane tank and lighting a smoke, Norma takes out the entire trailer park in a blaze of glory.

Years later, Pastor Lewis is taking his troubled youth on a little trip.  Saying that the kids are not bad, he is not able to contain them during a normal pit stop.  Talking to the waitress at the diner, the Pastor is trying to find the quickest way the next town, but the road he points out is not advised by anyone in the diner and they beg him to get the delinquents out of the building.  Having to pay for everything, Lewis gets back on the road and tries to beat the oncoming storm, but gets caught in it while on the road.  Hitting a truck in the middle of the road, he sees a large illuminated sign for a trailer park and heads in to find shelter for himself and the kids.

When a stunning blond answers the door, calling herself Norma, Pastor Lewis is grateful for the help she is willing to provide.  Norma is able to house everyone in the group in a different, empty, trailer so they will have a fine visit.  But that is not enough for the young woman, she is looking for something in the way of payment from the Pastor and gives him all the right signals.  The Pastor is not a strong man and finds his way into Norma’s trailer during the night.  Having his head pulled off while exploring the pleasures of the flesh, he is not able to warn his delinquents about what is about to happen.  As the night pushes on, more inhabitants of the trailer park start to emerge and the kids have no idea what they are up against, except for their only goth member, Bridget who will not go down without a fight.  Not knowing how long they will have to hold out, the night is full of dark and many fears…of the undead coming back to sacrifice the living.

SEX, DRUGS, ROCK-N-ROLL…UNDEAD!  What about those four words do not get your engine going?  This is the perfect horror movie, you have a back story that you start off with, you have a flash back that shows you how messed up someone is, you have a group of troubled kids that are only looking to raise hell…and they found it.  I can tell you one thing, this movie may not have won any awards, but it was done right and I still get the itch to watch it again. With plenty of gore, you have a group of the undead being held together by duct tape, DUCT TAPE!  I am also a huge fan of the strong female lead and once the Pastor checks out, Bridget takes over and does more damage than anyone could have ever expected from a goth chick that wanted love from everyone at the same time.  Stay Scared!

 
 

Written by John Edward Betancourt

THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...

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I've watched a lot of zombie films in my time because I simply cannot get enough of them. The good news is, the wealth of zombie media out there always manages to entertain in some special way because when it comes to plot and concept each one brings forth something special, but there is one thread that tends to tie together a majority of the genre...we have rarely seen a sweeping look at mankind's demise at the hands of the living dead.

Fear the Walking Dead obviously plans to separate itself from that particular pack by being a full on representation of man's final days on earth before the dead inherit it and quite frankly the last time I saw a decent telling of such a tale was George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. The good news is Fear is already putting itself into a class all of its own by paying respect to the genre's rich history and adding a few twists of their own.  

First and foremost, let's talk about the homages because last night's episode was quite literally a love letter to George Romero and all the amazing zombie flicks of the 1970s and 1980s. Hell, it even looks like one. There was that certain glow you only find in a flick like Dawn of the Dead and the film that came from that era. So that was nice touch number one. Second to that, the pilot played as thought it was a low budget zombie film, focusing on a family drama and keeping the living dead in the shadows. By doing this, holy cow did it build some incredible tension, because when the scares came they came fast and hard.

Another incredible way that the show is managing to stand out and quite frankly this makes it a pioneer in the zombie genre is their unique work with special effects makeup. Greg Nicotero gets applause from me because he has managed to reinvent the reanimated corpse completely for this companion series, something I haven't seen since 1985's Day of the Dead. These walkers are completely incognito, fresh and quite frankly resemble anyone you'd meet on the street. It's the slow gait that turns into a giveaway...along with the fact they'll try and rip your throat out. 

All those elements have left me quite impressed with Fear the Walking Dead. I like how the show runners are already taking chances and trying new things with his tale and the fact that the living dead are downright scary when it comes to this show, making it everything I hoped it would be. But what matters most to me is that after all these years we will finally get a big budget, zombie filled end of the world extravaganza. The dead walk, and the world will never be the same and I couldn't be happier. 

 
 

Written by Daniel and John

THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...

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Let's face it, we've all been damn curious about Fear the Walking Dead. We as fans have been dying to know whether or not it can hold a flame to the original series, and of course our curiosity has been piqued by the fact that this series will at last show us how the world came to its proverbial knees at the hands of rotten and reanimated corpses. So without further ado, let's get right into breaking down the "Pilot" episode of this highly anticipated show.


John's Take
The Good: Well let's get right down to it...I was completely and utterly impressed with this show. This was for all intents and purposes a classic 1970s/1980s zombie flick come to life in modern times and what amazed me more, is that this sucker managed to be pretty creepy. Case in point, the first three minutes of the show. It set the mood with screams, and blood and oh yeah, the living dead are already among us. It was an episode of peaks and valleys after that, giving us the good old fashioned family drama to go along with snippets of the pending apocalypse and I really enjoyed that mix. It gave the other scenes with walker encounters a lot of strength because while we know what this is all about the characters do not and that some how makes everything worse.

Outside of that, I do have to say there was some solid acting last night as well, especially from Frank Dillane, the actor who played Nick. He was simply amazing and I cannot wait to see what he does with this role as the apocalypse gets underway. Another important piece that was on everyone's mind when it came to how this show would turn out is whether or not it would be scary. The answer to that is a resounding yes. The walkers are genuinely creepy in every way and when they're on camera it's done in such a fashion that you seem to experience meeting them for the first time, and that's a wonderful thing.

The Bad: Only one scene didn't work for me last night, the evacuation of the school. Not because it wasn't intense, it was definitely an edge of your seat scene to say the least, but because in a pilot episode that had 90 minutes to tell a story, this whole scene was rushed. It was the only moment where events didn't feel believable, which is a lot to say about a show where corpses come back to life. it just seemed so odd that everyone was ready to head home and close the school for the day because of a shooting that yielded little info for our characters and well, that no one seemed to believe was real. But, this was a pilot episode and there were so many other great moments, that this is really a tiny complaint. 

The Verdict: We've got another quality zombie show on our hands my friends. This was a pilot episode filled with the right mix of gore, a quality story and some colorful characters. But most importantly, this premiere was downright terrifying at times, so much in fact that I was genuinely creeped out after it ended and there's a chance I may sleep with the lights on tonight. Until next time. 

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Daniel's Take
The Good: In a “Real World” scenario it’s hard to say how quickly things would go from bad to worse to all hell breaking loose in an apocalyptic situation; but tonight Fear the Walking Dead took this head on. “Some say the world will end in fire some say ice”….well someone should really start to rethink that because desire to live and run like hell was never part of that equation.

To be honest neither happened tonight on Fear the Walking Dead, it was more like the world is going to be taken over by junky zombies from an abandoned church that is serving as a shooting gallery. Ones that are ninjas and have found some way to just slip away when no one is watching and escape locked buildings. As I watched the season opener for Fear the Walking Dead I felt a bit of the older horror films step in. If you have sex or do drugs your bad and you’re next to die, or become a Zombie which is a much worse ending when you think about it. With how the show opened you would think the end of the world had already happened but it turns out to be just another day in the life. What I find engaging about the first half of the show was knowing what is coming. How quickly the world problems dissolve and it all changes to something different, something you can’t control and just surviving, that is one hell of a rehab program. 

What I did like, as I was engrossed in the story was the little hints. Just what happened to get us to this point, the small little statements you get as a kid comes to school with a knife for protection because of what he saw on the internet. Worried about the end of the world and he needs it to protect himself because there is no tomorrow. Sure it was maybe a little Terminator-esque but it gets the message across. The clues to what brought this about. The flu shots? Did that bring about Z Day? Five different cities suffering from strange events, they never mention what cities or what it could be building to some greater mystery and just where ground zero might be. It’s hard to believe that it would be California raising the question; how did it spread across the rest of the country and to our beloved Atlanta. There is enough mystery in tonight’s episode to hook you. To want to know more and just how it all happened. Will we ever know? I hope not, ruins the fun of it all like in Tremors. Who cares how the creatures got there, they are just there and you have to deal with them. 

The Bad: What I didn’t like about tonight was it being focused on just one family. One point of view as the world crumbles, I would have liked a few different perspectives as things go south and maybe we will as the show moves along and more people are introduced but it is following the Rick (Walking Dead) model of events through his eyes approach and I was hoping for so much more than that. Even if we lose a few characters along the way I would be fine with that, it would be a great way to intertwine story lines as people cross paths. Is it a good choice doing it this way? Hard to say, puts you all in with just them and no one else cheering on the home team approach. The other problem I had with the show was just how the Zombies would just disappear, no noise no trail, no other zombies lurking about; not even one waiting in the background to chomp. The church especially bothered me with that as they all just vanished after the slaughter. 

The Verdict: In the end nature always wins, or that’s the message you get from tonight. Good or bad, how can you fight nature and I guess we will find out in the weeks to come. Not a bad start, building to something bigger I hope because in the bigger picture this was a rather mellow start to the end of the world. 

 
 

Written by Scotty

THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...

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Sometimes doing the right thing can land you in more trouble than it is worth.  Not knowing how far others will go to do what needs to be done can leave you wondering who you can really trust.  As there are always drawbacks to doing what needs to be done since there are always people out there that are looking to benefit from your mistakes.  You should never give up on your mission, no matter how difficult it can be, if you are doing the right thing, then you will never have any regrets. 

Eph has made it safely to Washington D.C. and has found his friend Rob Bradley right where he left him.  As Eph comes clean about what has happened in New York to his friend, Rob has plenty of contacts to make something happen.  Calling Leigh Thomas, an old friend, Rob is able to match her up with Eph so something can be put in the works.  Leigh is able to make an appointment with one of the bigger drug firms to get Eph’s new bioweapon looked at, but she knows that it will take more time.  While Leigh is working her magic, Eph and Rob talk to the head of the National Guard and are able to get him to agree to a small scale test in New York before the weapon gets mass produced.  Eph is flying high with everything that has gone his way, but nothing is ever as it seems.

Nora is left in the apartment to take care of Zach as his father is away on business again.  As Nora talks to the young boy, she sees much more of his father in him than Zach would like to admit.  Heading down to the police station to see what is happening with the Red Hook cleanup efforts, Nora is happy to see that everything is going off without a hitch.  But when heading home for the night, a ‘feeler’ sacrifices itself in front of the car causing Nora and Zach to take refuge in the nearby church.  Kelly rises from the shadows since she has found her son, but Nora will not allow the vampire mother to claim the boy.  Calling for help, Nora and Zach have to find a way to stay safe until reinforcements arrive and take care of the threat that is hunting them.

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Gus is grilling Angel about his past, knowing that the old dishwasher is actually the legendary wrestler, Gus will not allow him to back off.  Gus is holding up in the restaurant since he does not have a home to go back to and wants to make himself useful while there.  When Aanya gets a delivery request from her father, Gus and Angel decide to accompany her since the city is far from safe.  After making it to the apartment, Gus gives up his story to gain the trust of the two, but before the group is able to leave they are attacked by a couple of roaming vampires.  Gus jumps into action with all that he has learned over the past couple of days and makes sure that Aanya and Angel understand what is happening to the city and why they should be afraid.

Eldritch Palmer is getting fed up with being put on the back burner.  Eichorst keeps leading him on, but now with the next phase of the plan about to take place, Palmer wants his assurances that the Master will do his part as well.  Eichorst is not willing to divulge any information about what is happening with the Master to Palmer, but knows that time is growing thin and the Master’s transformation needs to take place quickly.  Heading down to the Master’s crypt with Bolivar, Eichorst is ready to receive the power that he has been promised by the Master.  Kneeling to his god, Eichorst is shocked to see that Bolivar has become the chosen vessel for the Master.  Not understanding completely why he was not chosen, the newly bodied Master wants to make sure that Eichorst will always be by his side.

With so much that happened in this episode, you only get a couple of moments of the core characters Abraham, Fet and the new member of the team, Reggie. Since the storyline is mostly focused on Eph getting his virus into production, you don’t get a ton of New York time, but you do have a new Ancient hunter that is ready to take to the streets and defeat the Master.  Needing more human hunters to take to the streets by day, he is not too happy in being called in to kill the thorn in the Ancient’s side when they could have taken care of the problem many years ago.  I can see Gus getting called back into service for this, along with Angel since the old wrestler has a ton of fight left in his heart, even though he has a broken body.  It is also apparent that Eph has a bullseye on his back when his two new friends in Washington have been gunned down because of his bioweapon.  Now Eph will have to find out where the information got leaked from that alerted Palmer’s men to his whereabouts, along with his plan.  The season is almost halfway over and the story just keeps getting better and better every week.  I cannot wait to see what happens with Angel and the little relationship between Nora and Zach that seems to becoming more of a mother and son story, even after seeing Kelly and her new children.  Stay Scared.

 
 

Written by John Edward Betancourt

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I still remember the long and sleepless night that I experienced mere hours after watching the original Dawn of the Dead. I told myself it was just a movie, zombies weren't real and to go to sleep, but the instant I closed my eyes, those blue-gray faces were staring back at me and that was it. I was awake, I was terrified and as I look back now, I realize that the living dead are still to me the most terrifying monster on the planet.  

Yet on the eve of the premiere of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead I've seen a few articles concerned that we may be experiencing a zombie overload. That the living dead are overexposed and that this may mark the end of their popularity. For one I think that's just silly, The Walking Dead franchise as a whole is showing no signs of slowing down, and I think there's good reason for that. It goes beyond the gore and the awesome zombie kills that we enjoy week in and week out. The fact of the matter is...the living dead are terrifying for all of us and still relevant today.

In fact these creatures have been on quite an evolutionary journey when it comes to storytelling. In the George Romero era of living dead filmmaking they were merely the device to exposing a larger problem in our world. They helped to symbolize consumerism, geo political conflicts, you name it. They had become quite literally, our problems personified as soulless, flesh eating corpses. But modern times call for a modern zombie and what makes them so scary today...is that they represent fears that are more grounded in reality. 

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What The Walking Dead has managed to do, is focus upon perhaps one of our greatest fears of all time...our fear of death. The living dead in Rick Grimes/Daniel Salazar's world personify a bastardization of our natural purpose in life to go out, live a good life, say goodbye to our loved ones and pass on so that we can be remembered fondly. This new universe denies the world of that foundation to our society, and now these poor people have to not only fear the end of their lives, but the horrible fate that waits for them after they pass away. That cerebral concept and take on the genre is why these creatures make us shudder.

But I also think it goes a little further than that. The living dead now represent as a whole, the horrible events of our world, the unstoppable forces of nature that we all fear will badly disrupt our lives and our societal norms, allowing us to shiver in fear of seeing it all come crashing down and then return to the safety of a world that may be on the brink at times...but still has hope for a future. In so many ways, the destruction of these creatures, the fight for survival by a handful of people represent that hope and the struggle to bring order to chaos. 

Truthfully I could go on for hours about how the zombie has evolved over the past few years, but maybe we will save that for another time. The important thing is that after so many years of lamenting in the darkness of VHS these powerful creatures are now at the forefront of pop culture, entertaining us and scaring us all at once and while some may think they are outstaying their welcome or have become boring, I have a feeling tonight's companion series to The Walking Dead will prove otherwise as it brings new life to the already rich mythos of the living dead and no doubt finds new ways to terrify all of us. 

 
 

Written by John Edward Betancourt

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I think it is safe to say that we all wonder what will become of us when our time has come to its end on this earth. It goes without saying that we should live life to the fullest to make sure there are no regrets in those final moments, but what comes after we have taken our final breaths remains a mystery. 

A common belief is that we will head to a heaven or hell based upon our actions in life and while that is often enough to drive us into being better or worse people...that concept still leaves a lot to the imagination, especially what the afterlife might look like. Thankfully shows like Tales from the Darkside are there to help us explore the possibilities, much like they did in the extremely cerebral episode, "The Devil's Advocate". 

Luther Mandrake has enjoyed a colorful career on the radio. In fact for thirteen years he has been the host of "The Devil's Advocate" a nightly talk show where Mandrake's "colorful" personality gets to shine through. It's on the air where Mandrake unleashes the fury and anger in his life upon the world, ripping the people that call in to pieces with insults and hatred that they never see coming. It's been his routine every night for all these years, but tonight as it turns out will be different. After finding a dead man behind the wheel of Luther's car in his own highly secured apartment complex the whole night seems to be going off of the rails, the calls keep getting stranger and stranger and there's a perfectly good reason for all of it...one that will change Mandrake's life for all of eternity. 

So, this episode was a loaded baked potato if you will and brilliant as well because it just so happens to be penned by George A. Romero. This is the second time he has written a script for the show and while his first outing in the series premiere merely got the job done...this script unleashes all of his talent as a writer and it is greatly aided by the acting of Jerry Stiller as Luther Mandrake. This is a story that challenges our notions of quite a few things when it comes to the afterlife, first and foremost, what it looks like since Mandrake (SPOILER) has no clue he has passed on and made his way to hell and what do you know, hell looks just like his studio.

It also digs deep on the notion of what earns us a place in heaven or hell. In this case, Romero poses the theory that the challenges we face in life and how we react to them is the deciding factor since Mandrake turned further into bitterness and anger with what the world threw his way. We do see some of this appearing more often now in fiction, but as my memory serves it was almost non existent back in the 1980s. Either way, this was one of the slickest and smartest episodes of the show I have seen thus far. It's a shame they didn't turn Romero loose more often because while this episode may not feature traditional scares it is genuinely disturbing and I may need to watch it one more time to soak in all the nuances. Until next time.