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G.O.R.E. Score: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (Film)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies FilmOriginal Release Date: February 5, 2016
Run Time: 108 minutes

As the saying goes: everything old is new again.  Whether it is trends in fashion, styles of music, or even the food and drink we put in our bodies (the “Paleo diet” is from how long ago?), our society has an interesting penchant for liking something, forgetting that something for a while when newer and flashier somethings come along, and finally rediscovering that something and saying “y’know, this something is actually pretty cool.”  Even though a timeless work of fiction – such as a Jane Austen novel – is really never truly forgotten, sometimes it does take an infusion of a new idea to bring a classic “back to life,” as it were.

Ironic, then, that the catalyst to reanimate wide-scale interest in Austen’s bourgeois-eschewing “Pride & Prejudice” is a creature that is, by its own nature, reanimated in and of itself: the zombie.  Yes, the separate components of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies may not break any new ground on their own, but when these two disparate pieces are “mashed up” together, they become much like Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, with opposites attracting in the most delightfully random of ways.

The film is based on the 2009 novel of the same name, which itself was created by author Seth Grahame-Smith inserting scenes of zombie mayhem directly into Austen’s original text (score a win for the laws of “public domain”).  As the plot lines for both go, zombies roam the countryside in Regency-era England, the result of an unwelcome plague brought to England by heavy trading with the rest of Europe and the Orient.  Elizabeth Bennett and her four sisters live in the English countryside, doing their best to maintain a semblance of daily normality with their parents; in this world, though, one must balance manners and social graces with the ability to defend oneself from “the stricken,” and as such, the Bennett sisters are all highly trained in Chinese warrior defense.  The arrival of a rich, young bachelor to the area sets off not only the need for the family to be social and presentable, but also an uptick in the area’s zombie activity.  It seems that trouble may be brewing for England (and the world at large); can the girls balance a social calendar and the possibility of true love with the ever-increasing undead threat?

Let’s alt-history our way into the Score:

G: General Entertainment – The film moves along at a fairly brisk pace, not wasting any time right out of the gate with getting the zombie action going.  A convenient overview/recap of the situation occurs during the opening credits, set to an entertaining “pop-up” style presentation and the smooth dulcet tone of current “genre old-guy authority figure” Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Childhood’s End, Dracula Untold).  Most everything that happens on screen “makes sense” in terms of the larger plot line – although readers of the original P&P&Z book will notice a large subplot added to the film.  This addition (that of the zombie’s potential “intelligence”) is necessary for a feature film, as there needs to be a designated “bad guy” antagonist to help drive the action.  While there were a few stumbles with this addition – including the eyeroll-inducing mid-credits scene (stay seated, folks!) – overall, the movie is very entertaining.  Of special notice is former Doctor Who lead actor Matt Smith, who absolutely steals every one of his scenes as annoying girly-man Mr. Collins.  7/10

O: Original Content – The novelized version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies pioneered the “mash up” genre when it first came out seven years ago; in the time between, however, we’ve seen LOTS of mash-ups from a variety of different genres, so to say that the idea is starting to feel a little worn out is not an unfair statement to make.  However, give credit where credit is due: P&P&Z was incredibly pioneering in its original form, and the film is easily justified in riding those coattails a bit here.  8/10

R: Realism – The fact that Austen’s original work was contemporary when she wrote it lends itself to the believability of some of the more “normal” things the characters do.  This, in turn, makes the viewer feel that it’s a perfectly normal part of the characters’ lives when their carriage is attacked by zombies and the riders have to dutifully get out and fend off the undead scourge.  The dialogue, wardrobe, and set pieces are all believable in their presentation; I particularly appreciated the wide shots of stately English manors ringed with bloody pikes and painful-looking barbed-and-mace-lined fences.  8/10

E: Effects and Editing – while the visual presentation of the film is excellent, points are detracted here for the disjointed vibe that quietly permeates the film.  The acting itself is quite fine; highlights include Lily James doing her best Natalie Portman impersonation as Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley relishing playing aloof-warrior-with-a-heart-of-gold Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Lena Headey being sorely underused as kickass super-warrior Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Rather, it’s the “flow” of the story that hurts the film.  Director and adaptive screenwriter Burr Steers has the challenging task of adapting to the screen not only a 1800s-era novel, but one that’s been injected with the mayhem of the living dead, so to be sure, he had no easy task.  The film nabbed a PG-13 rating at the expense of much of the gore & violence that zombie fans are used to seeing on screen, and this may hurt the film’s standing with fans just as much as getting the “lower” rating will open it up to being seen by more all-aged viewers.  The Walking Dead and some of the finer zombie films of our time have spoiled audiences into expecting to see the “best of the best” when it comes to the frenetic pacing and emotional roller coaster of the living’s interactions with the undead, and in this realm, P&P&Z doesn’t quite stack up.   6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 7.25/10
VERDICT: A’IGHT

All in all, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is an entertaining film – deliciously irreverent and a great mix of high-brow presentation and everyday humor.  I would stop just short of calling it a “must see” for zombie fans, however, but don’t let that stop you from shambling out to the theater and checking this one out.

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AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” Will Not Reveal the Origin of the Virus

From HNGN:

Some disappointing news for fans that thought “The Walking Dead” spinoff show “Fear The Walking Dead” would separate itself from its predecessor: there still won’t be any answers about how the zombie virus actually started.

“Fear The Walking Dead” has been billed as a (sort of) prequel to “The Walking Dead” so viewers were hoping to get more information regarding the initial zombie virus outbreak. The early phases of the virus and societal breakdown would make for fascinating examinations of human nature but producer and comic creator Robert Kirkman revealedthat there are no plans to delve into “Patient Zero.”

During a NAB panel with AMC President Charlie Collier and actor Steven Yeun (Glenn), Kirkman expressed his disapproval for “fixing” or “learning the cause” of the outbreak because he finds those story lines hackneyed. Instead, this companion series will center on the struggles of the characters.

Kirkman noted that the spinoff “pays homage” to the original but teased that “it’s possible that the people that we’re following in the show are maybe a little bit more deadly in certain ways. “Fear The Walking Dead” will premiere sometime this summer.

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TRAILER TUESDAY: Maggie

***This film has not yet been reviewed nor is being endorsed by The G.O.R.E. Score.  If you are a creator of a zombie-related film and would like to see your movie featured on the site, either via a Trailer Tuesday post or through a full 4-category G.O.R.E. Score review, please contact us for more information.***

Film Summary:

By the time a necrotic viral pandemic spread cross-country to small town America and infected the film’s titular character, 16-year-old MAGGIE (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), authorities had established a protocol for patients infected with the deadly virus: they are removed from society and taken to special isolation wards to complete the agonizing and dangerous transformation into one of the walking dead. The authorities do not speak about what happens after that.

Wade Vogel (ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER) is not ready to give up his daughter. After weeks of searching for Maggie when she runs away following her diagnosis, Wade brings his daughter back to her home and family – stepmother, Caroline (JOELY RICHARDSON), and her two children–for whatever time may be left as the teenager begins an excruciatingly painful metamorphosis. Having lost Maggie’s mother years earlier, Wade is determined to hold on to his precious daughter as long as he can, refusing to surrender her to the local police who show up with orders to take her. As the disease progresses, Caroline decides to take their two younger children and move out, leaving Wade alone with Maggie to watch helplessly as she suffers.

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New Music Video Features Zombie Short Film

Recently, I was sent some information by a producer at Lazy Monster, a production company based in Paris, France.  A French pop-rock band called Erevan Tusk are launching a new album, and their first release from the record is a track titled “Growing.”  The video for the song is essentially a short film about zombies – with some social commentary built in – so I thought it definitely warranted sharing here on the site.  Please give the video a watch below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

 

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7 Travel Tips for Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

From Yahoo Travel:

As part of a epidemiological experiment to model the outbreak of a fast-moving contagious disease, a team of four researchers at Cornell University created a statistical model showing what might happen if zombies descended upon the United States. Luckily for us, it reveals exactly where you should run and hide during a zombie apocalypse.

Far-fetched? Maybe, but preparing for an impending zombie apocalypse is the perfect excuse to quit your job and start exploring the far-flung corners of this big, beautiful country.

Knowing where to go is the key, and these seven travel tips will help you map the best places you should head to if you want to survive.

image credit: Nathan Siemers/Flickr

image credit: Nathan Siemers/Flickr

1. Get out of the cities:  Sorry, urbanites, but according to scientists, you hardly stand a chance in any of the cities. Given their high population density and tightly packed quarters, New York, Boston, or D.C. would fall in a matter of days — hours even. And you thought the high rent would be the death of you.

2. The suburbs aren’t safe, either:  Leaving a city means really leaving, even the areas just outside of it. Take Bakersfield, roughly between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s not too crowded, so it might seem the ideal place to escape to. Think again. Scientists say that the city’s proximity to both major cities make it just as much of a breeding ground for zombies. Same for northeastern Pennsylvania, which, in the researchers’ calculations, is at greater risk than anywhere on the East Coast of being hit by zombies within a month of any outbreak, thanks to the sprawling metropolises nearby.

3. Avoid cars and trains:  For those of you with your bags packed, ready to make a run for it when the apocalypse hits — well, you’re not going to make it. The team over at Cornell predicts that, “Transportation would likely break down in an outbreak,” leaving you stuck wherever you are. Once again, this one is really for the city peeps out there. Man, this whole apocalypse thing is really cramping your style, isn’t it? #zombieproblems

credit: Scott Kemper/Alamy

image credit: Scott Kemper/Alamy

4. Head to Vermont and New Hampshire:  If you’re really gunning to stay on the East Coast, then don’t wait to start exploring the beautiful, bright foliage that lights up Vermont or New Hampshire come fall. Hide out in some of the nooks and crannies in these two states, and you’ll be among the last to make it on the East Coast.

5. Set up shop in Nevada and Montana:  Sure, you might be hanging your head in despair, thinking, “What on God’s green earth is there to do in Nevada and Montana?” Aside from some of the most spectacular scenery, these two states are also home to the best hideouts in the United States, if ever there is a zombie attack. Even four months after the start of an attack, the Cornell team said that the more remote areas of both places would still be zombie-free. That old saying, “If it’s free, it’s for me,” seems mildly appropriate here, albeit in a zombie takeover, of course.

image credit: Steve Dunleavy/Flickr

image credit: Steve Dunleavy/Flickr

6. Get to higher ground:  Snowbirds may be frowning at this one, but if you want to survive the apocalypse, then start making your way to the Rocky Mountains — the far reaches of the Northern Rockies, to be exact. You can escape all the zombie bites, but be prepared for the cold to be nipping at you, too.

7. Just leave the country altogether:  We hear that Switzerland is the best place in the world to be an expat, so why not start plotting some international moves? You’d be as safe as ever heading out overseas. Why? Because zombies don’t fly airplanes — duh! If an outbreak happened here in the United States, you’d be watching the carnage unfold from the warmth and comfort of your Swiss chalet, perched on a picturesque mountainside — all while eating the finest cheeses and chocolates.

Regardless of what move you make, the study brought one incredibly maddening reality to the surface: You can run, you can hide, but eventually, “We are all doomed.”

There’s that, and then something else about zombies being totally made up.

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G.O.R.E. Score: Afterlife with Archie

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from RiverdaleOriginal Release Date: Oct. 2013
Number of Issues: ongoing series
Publisher: Archie Comics

***Editor’s Note: “Afterlife with Archie” is an ongoing comic book series, but it’s the trade paperback collection “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale” (issues 1-5) that is specifically being reviewed here.

First things first: if you’ve never heard of Archie, it’s probably best that you stop reading this review, go find the childhood that you seem to be missing, and join the rest of us red-blooded American types (special exemption to our overseas readers, although you may very well be familiar with Archie as well!).

Archie Andrews is the fictional, prototypical “all-American” teenager, first appearing in comic-book form all the way back in 1941, in Pep Comics #22.  (Fun fact: the Pep Comics series has several other claims to fame in addition to the first appearance of Archie, including: the first “patriotic” hero, The Shield, who predated Captain America by over a year; and the first superhero to die, The Comet.)  Since his debut, the perpetual-seventeen-year-old has starred in over 10,000 newspaper strip and comic issues (seriously – with over 2 billion total copies sold!), six animated television shows, a radio show that ran for 10 years, and a live-action TV movie (Google it, it’ll blow your mind).  He’s been a super-hero (Captain Pureheart, natch), sang a Billboard #1 hit song (believe it or not, the 1969 song “Sugar, Sugar” was an original creation for his band, The Archies), and has “met” such other pop culture icons as President Obama, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, KISS, the cast of “Glee,” and even the ultimate Marvel Comics vigilante killing machine, the Punisher.

And of course… he also fights the undead.

That’s right, true believers: the vanilla-as-all-getout, 7-plus-decades-as-a-do-gooder Archie is now stuck in a world of reanimated corpses.  At least, he is in the “alternate reality” existence of Afterlife with Archie, a side-series of ongoing monthly comic issues that is, interestingly enough, the first title in the 70-odd years of publisher Archie Comics’ existence that not only was sold only in comic shops and not on newsstands, but is also their first-ever comic to feature a “teens and up” rating.  Keen!

And what about the story itself, you ask?  It’s serious fare, your age-old tale of love lost, really.  Hot Dog, the faithful mutt of Archie’s best pal Jughead, gets hit by a car and dies.  Jughead asks his neighbor Sabrina (of fellow Archie-published comic book Sabrina the Teenage Witch) if she might be able to do anything to help.  As luck would have it, the angsty sorceress and her two pagan aunties just happen to have the Necronomicon laying around their house, so Sabby goes against her aunts’ wishes and reanimates the pup.  (Sabrina’s aunts banish her to the nether-realms as disciplinary action for disobeying their orders; who says corporal punishment doesn’t work?)  Wouldn’t you know it, something goes wrong: Hot Dog is just not his former happy-go-lucky self, and after getting a sizable bite taken out of him, Jughead becomes the King of the Zombies and starts to infect the humble residents of Riverdale.  All on the same night as the big school dance, darn the luck!

Let’s 23-skidoo on into the Score:

G: General Entertainment – In a nutshell: you take a wholesome icon and throw him into the typical setting of a horror movie, the juxtaposition alone is going to make for some wildly entertaining moments.  Afterlife with Archie – much like my all-time favorite comic in my personal collection, Archie Meets the Punisher – definitely does not disappoint.  I actually put off reading this book for a few weeks after I bought it due to the sheer terror I had that the story wouldn’t – couldn’t – live up to the ridiculously high expectations in my head.  Whether it was my expectations confirming reality or reality confirming my expectations, I had a blast reading this book.  9/10

O: Original Content – Let’s be honest here: where else are you going to see the iconic citizens of Riverdale making their last stand against the flesh-eating hordes?  If done with the appropriate balance of respect for the original material and appreciation for the genre being dabbled in, I’m a huge fan of these crossover/mashup type of tales, and it seems to me that even though Archie and the gang have had their fair share of genre-bending adventures over the years with varying amounts of success, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have pretty much nailed it here.  8/10

R: Realism – In the context of the frozen-in-time burg of Riverdale and its residents, the action and plot points actually do a fairly decent job of staying consistent and reasoned. I credit a lot of this to writer Aguirre-Sacasa’s knowledge of and focus on what can truly make a zombie outbreak scary: less a thought of our personal survival and more of an emphasis on the safety of those we care about.  There are some matters of convenience that I felt detracted from the storyline – the most glaring being the handy inclusion that the butler for the Lodges (Riverdale’s token wealthy family) is somehow a borderline survivalist/secret agent type, even though he’s been nothing but a servant for the family for the last few decades.  Overall, though, the quibbles are fairly minor in a story of this nature.  7/10

E: Effects and Editing – Tons of credit has to go to artist Francavilla for absolutely nailing the retro-horror vibe in his designs throughout the book.  Gone are the usual bright-and-cheery color palettes and pop-art-esque character designs to which Archie comics have held steadfastly for decades; in their place are dark and foreboding color schemes mixed effectively with artwork reminiscent of the old EC Horror comic books.  While I personally enjoy this style of art, I can see, however, how it might be off-putting to the “average” comic reader these days, as it is a style that doesn’t depend on the artist filling in every little detail.  Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale is the first five issues of the ongoing comic series, and while it is definitely cool to see a ton of characters from the Archie universe get their moment in the apocalyptic spotlight, at times the story does feel a little rushed and hectic in an attempt to squeeze everyone in.  8/10

 

TOTAL SCORE: 8/10
VERDICT: SWEET

 

Variant cover for "Life with Archie" #23

Variant cover for “Life with Archie” #23

All in all, not too shabby for an ongoing comic series that sprung to life pretty much on a whim from an editor after Francavilla delivered a “zombified” alternate cover for Life with Archie #23 back in 2013.  I’m particularly interested to see where the series goes from here and how long it can viably sustain not only a coherent storyline but also the readers’ interests.  If Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1 is any indication, they should have plenty of rotting leg on which to shamble forward.

And now, my friends, you know the Score!

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Reviewed by Tony Schaab

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REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead S1E6, “The Good Man”

fear-the-walking-dead-episode-106-madison-dickens-935

The intentionally-short first season of Fear the Walking Dead draws to a close with this episode, leaving viewers firmly split on whether this series is a worthy successor/companion to The Walking Dead – or even if it’s a series they want to continue watching at all.

 

WARNING: What you’re about to read contains spoilers about this episode and possibly this season of Fear the Walking Dead.  Proceed at your own risk/reward!

 

RECAP:  For fans of The Walking Dead or any zombie/monster/high-stakes type of tales, this “it’s a final episode, so something big has to happen” season finale goes pretty much exactly as planned: survivors take action, zombie hordes attack, main character dies.  As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, Daniel is thinking about letting the zombie horde out of the locked arena… and he does, while leading them all right to the medical center/military facility.  This, of course, occupies the military’s attention, so the rest of the group of main characters are able to sneak into the compound the back way.  For some reason, Kim, Travis, Daniel, and Ofelia leave the two teenagers (Chris and Alicia) to guard their escape vehicles and escape route – further solidifying last week’s observation that these two are definitely the “throwaway” characters.

ftwd2

During the confusion of the horde attack, Strand and Nick are able to escape their holding cell.  Elsewhere in the compound, Dr. Exner calls for an airlift removal for her and the medical team, but when it becomes apparent that won’t be happening anytime soon, she tells Liza to get the Hell out of Dodge.  Eventually the gang all gets back together again and high-tails it on out of there – minus one of the cars, which Chris and Alicia were forced to give to some escaping soldiers.  Oh, and Ofelia gets shot by her ex-boyfriend National Guardsman that Daniel had been torturing, because Travis showed mercy on him and let him go earlier.  The show didn’t bother to tell viewers how badly Ofelia had been wounded or if she had even survived until several minutes and a commercial break later, so I’m treating it here as about a big a deal as they did.  Wound in the arm and “she’ll be fine” from Liza, for the record.

So, the group decides on a whim to abandon their plan of heading to the desert, instead making their way to Strand’s lovely beachside mansion, where they appear to all agree instead to head out to his lovely yacht that’s parked just off-shore.  And that’s about it, really – oh wait, almost forgot about the “shocker! A main character dies” part.  It’s Liza, who was bitten/scratched/whatever in the fracas of escaping the compound.  Either Travis or Madison shoots her in the head – kept deliberately vague on purpose, obviously – Travis gets angsty about in the sand, and the helicopter camera flies away…

 

OBSERVATIONS:

>>> It’s odd how a six-episode season can feel so rushed and yet so sluggish at the same time.  We the viewers get absolutely plowed through the fall of civilization, which really sucks because that seemed like one of the most intriguing parts of the show that we would get to see.  On the flip side, things sloooow dooooown so much for moments of character development that it almost seems like the audience is actually being given more time to decide how much they like the characters or not.  When you give people the opportunity to take their time in deciding whether or not to dislike a character, you have to be prepared for the backlash that comes along when the verdict comes in and the results are negative.

ftwd1

>>> Why on God’s Green Earth would Andy choose to shoot Ofelia instead of Daniel?  Yes, she betrayed him and allowed her father to go all Guantanamo Bay on him, but he had Daniel dead in his sights – the man that wasactually torturing him, and all he had to do was pull the trigger!  For a military man, this seems like a dumb and out-of-character choice, and was likely done to cause more drama in the context of the story, which harkens back to the Observation I made in previous weeks about the plot driving the characters instead of the other way around.

>>> For as much as it seems like a dumb choice, I’m actually looking forward to a high-seas version of the zombie apocalypse, if that’s the route the story does indeed go next season.  Think about it: the group popping into unknown ports for supplies, dangerous other seafarers – okay, I’ll come out and say it, pirates! – all could make for a relatively untold spin on the zombie apocalypse.  We’ll see.

 

CLOSING THOUGHTS:  While not the home-run that AMC was hoping for, Fear has done enough on its own and has enjoyed enough of a connection to one of the best shows on television to warrant its story being able to continue.  Since it’s already been renewed for a second season, I’ll see you back here in a few months for more analysis and observations about the show.  Until then, check out the Season 2 teaser below, enjoy The Walking Dead – which premieres its new season next week – and pop over to AMC’s website for a 16-part webisode-series, Flight 462, to help keep you connected to the world of Fear the Walking Dead.

 

PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:

Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa

Kim Dickens as Madison Clark

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark

Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris Manawa

Elizabeth Rodriquez as Lisa Ortiz

Mercedes Mason as Ofelia Salazar

Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar

Colman Domingo as Strand

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TRAILER TUESDAY: Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead

***This film has not yet been reviewed nor is being endorsed by The G.O.R.E. Score.  If you are a creator of a zombie-related film and would like to see your movie featured on the site, either via a Trailer Tuesday post or through a full 4-category G.O.R.E. Score review, please contact us for more information.***

Film Summary:

Set in the WWII it tells the story of a bunch of american soldiers fighting against a horde of zombies created by the Nazis using the prisoners of the camps… They have only one night to save their own lives but the enemy is stronger and stronger…