“A strange virus is going around…” Fear the Walking Dead premieres Summer 2015.
Good news, via popgoescultureblog:
For the record, I’m among those that question AMC’s decision to split the final season. To me, it smacks of either artistic vanity, or business concerns trumping loyal audience. I understand it’s a demanding show to produce, and maintain the extraordinary quality, so it benefits the creator and his crew. I’m inclined to think that AMC’s got a valuable property, they know it, and they’re milking more advertising dollars out of Mad Men. Enjoying a more relaxed writing and shooting schedule isn’t likely the primary driver of season-splitting decision.
[For collectors, Amazon has Mad Men: Seasons 1-4]
If the final episodes can be delivered with as much audience-pleasing closure as Breaking Bad, these complaints will dissolve. The show is already on track to become an enduring TV masterpiece.
Claire Suddath writes: China loves zombies—specifically, American zombies. AMC’s The Walking Dead is currently the most popular Western television show in the country, racking up more than 250 million views on Youku, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. The series’ fourth season, which launched earlier this fall, is already up to 27 million views. That’s much smaller than the show’s American audience—The Walking Dead has been pulling in an astounding 13 million viewers per episode in the U.S.—but its popularity on Youku keeps growing. Read the rest of this entry »
“We thought we changed the world,” Romero says in the new documentary Birth of the Living Dead. “All of a sudden, it wasn’t any better, any different.”
It’s a traditional “making of” feature, leavened by Romero’s liberal leanings and the guerilla nature of his landmark genre classic.
“It spoke to its audience in ways few horror films had done before,” the film’s narrator boasts, and it’s hard to argue.
The dawn of Romero’s Dead seem almost too precious to be true. The director, like many other artists in Pittsburgh, got his start on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Romero directed shorts for the avuncular kiddie show host, but eventually he yearned to make a film of his own. His attempt at a tortured teen romance went nowhere, so he decided a horror film had more commercial potential. Read the rest of this entry »
By any observable metric, zombies are totally hot right now. Look at movies like “Warm Bodies” and the coming “World War Z,” the ratings for AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” (12.9 million viewers for its recent season finale) and $2.5 billion in annual sales for zombie videogames. Over the past decade, between a third and a half of all zombie movies ever made have been released. A glance at Google Trends reveals that in the past few years, interest in flesh-eating ghouls has far outstripped popular enthusiasm for vampires, wizards and hobbits.
Any species that invented duct tape, Twinkies and smartphones stands a fighting chance against the living dead.
Why are the living dead taking over our lives, and why have so many other domains of American culture, from architects to academics to departments of the federal government, been so eager to jump on this macabre bandwagon? Is it all just good, scary fun—or something we should worry about?
First we have to appreciate why zombies are so terrifying. The classic ghoul of George Romero films seems awfully slow and plodding. But what the living dead lack in speed, they make up for in other qualities. Zombies occupy what roboticists and animators call “the uncanny valley” in human perception—though decidedly not human, they are so close to being human that they prompt instant revulsion. Another common feature of zombie narratives is that 100% of the people bitten by zombies eventually turn into zombies. Even the most virulent pathogens encountered in the real world (say, Ebola or HIV) have infection rates below 50%.
These qualities matter because they map so neatly onto the genuine threats of our day. Zombies thrive in popular culture during times of recession, epidemic and general unhappiness. Traditional threats to U.S. security may have waned, but nontraditional threats assault us constantly. Concerns about terrorism have not abated since 9/11, and cyberattacks have now emerged as a new anxiety. Drug-resistant pandemics have been a staple of local news hysteria since the H1N1 virus swept the globe in 2009. Scientists continue to warn about the dangers that climate change poses to our planet. And if the financial crisis taught us anything, it is that contagion is endemic to the global market system.
Zombies are the perfect metaphor for these threats. As with pandemics and financial crises, they are not open to negotiation. As with terrorism in all its forms, even a small outbreak has the potential to wreak massive carnage.