UK Festival of Zombie Culture (Phoenix Cinema, Leicester, 14/11/2015) – Review

I had an excellent day at the UK Festival of Zombie Culture in Leicester. It was packed and the films we saw all had their own charm, though the overriding feeling was that of community. There’s nothing quite comparable to a cinema packed with zombie film fans cheering as a woman has her eye poked out in the most gruesome of fashions.

As is a common theme at this event (this isn’t my first time here), plenty of time was spent on The Typing of the Dead, an amazing game that is basically The House of the Dead 2 but instead of guns you have a keyboard. The goal is to type words as fast as they pop up on the screen, in particular faster than your partner. It’s well worth playing if you get the chance and really does test your typing speed and accuracy.

 

Just a type-ical shooter

 

There was also a charity challenge to raise money for Help For Heroes, which involved killing zombies on Dead Rising for three minutes. The photo below shows a powerful play by my good wife to kill zombies using patio furniture. Well played. Well played.

 

Pati-OOOOHHHH!!!

The best-received film of the day was Me and My Mates vs The Zombie Apocalypse, an Australian horror comedy set largely inside a telephone communications compound as a group of friends try to figure out how to survive and escape the oncoming zombies. A review will no doubt follow shortly, but it was a truly hilarious film and a huge win for the festival as it was the UK premiere.

I can’t recommend this festival enough to fans of the zombie genre of films. With the added bonus of authors on hand to sell and sign books to you, there’s definitely something for everyone. Even if it’s just to confirm that you’re not a complete loner lunatic, make sure you join in next year.

Review of Maggie
Review of Nightmare City

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UK Festival of Zombie Culture (Phoenix Cinema, Leicester, 14/11/2015)

I’m off to the UK Festival of Zombie Culture, an annual event held at Phoenix CInema and Cafebar in Leicester.

There are six films on offer today:

Maggie
Nightmare City
Darkest Day
Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse
Cooties
A Mystery Sixth Film

There’s also a ton of special guests, book signings, talks and The Arcade of the Dead to check out. It’s going to be a great day. I’ll report back later with how it went.

The Walking Dead Week – Overview

Over the last week Cinema Etc. has been dedicated to a range of articles on The Walking Dead. Hopefully you enjoyed it! In case you missed anything, here are some links to the articles:

The Walking Dead: The Board Game (Z-Man Games)
The Walking Dead: The Game – Season One (Telltale Games, 2012)
The Walking Dead: Road To Survival (Scopely, 2015)
Top Moments of The Walking Dead TV Show
The Music of The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead: Weird and Wonderful Merchandise
Fear The Walking Dead: Series 1, Episode 1 (Scott Dow, 2015)

Enjoy!!

The Music of the Walking Dead

One of the standout elements of The Walking Dead throughout the every series has been the music. Whether it is incidental orchestral music or one of the eclectic choices of alternative rock, there is ample scope to discover new music by keeping your ears out whilst watching.

Jamie N Commons – “Take Me Home”

Perhaps the most memorable track is the Jamie N Commons song “Lead Me Home”. It played over the end of episode 12 of season 3 – “Clear” – as Michone and Rick drive back to the prison after a failed attempt at taking Morgan back there with them. This is quality blues music and the raspy vocals perfectly fit the scene.

Nine Inch Nails – “Somewhat Damaged”

The perfect song for an angry family mourning the death of a beloved relative whilst deciding whether or not to seek revenge for the death, Nine Inch Nails track “Somewhat Damaged” was a genius choice. It featured at the start of the penultimate episode of season 5 – “Try” – and completely altered the mood of the episode. If you aren’t having a great day, why not try to listen to this on full blast?

Emily Kinney – “Hold On”

Wait, is The Walking Dead actually a musical? For this brief moment, it sort of was. Emily Kinney is a singer in her own right and this brief scene allowed her to showcase her talent. Admittedly, it does feel a little wedged in, a platform to promote her album, but when it sounds this good do we care? It’s a beautiful rendition of an excellent Tom Waits song, which fades out to let the main man perform the end of the song over the end credits.

How to Buy

There are a few official The Walking Dead CDs out there, the best of which is titled The Walking Dead Original Soundtrack Vol. 1. Before you rush off to buy it, however, it’s worth noting there are only eight songs on it. You may consider the second release The Walking Dead Original Soundtrack Vol. 2, but that is even worse with just five songs on it. Or you could try the Global Stage Orchestra doing covers of The Walking Dead songs, though they don’t seem overly accurate. My recommendation is that you seek out the individual artists’ respective releases and see if you like other tracks by them before buying.

The Walking Dead – Series 05, Episodes 01-03 (Spoiler Alert)

When we left Rick Grimes and Co., they had been forced into a giant shipping container against their will at the hands of a seemingly untrustworthy man called Gareth. I don’t know why they agreed to go in there, but it was a great way to leave us on a cliff-hanger for about six months. If there’s one thing that The Walking Dead does well, it’s cliff-hangers. Oh and gore. Lots and lots of gore.

When we re-join them, things are looking just as bleak. We don’t know exactly how long they’ve been in there, but we’re guessing quite a while. They’re all a bit grumpier and hairier, plus they’ve had enough time to fashion some rudimentary tools to ambush their captors when they next pay them a visit. Unfortunately for them, things don’t quite go as planned and we wind up with four of our main characters – Rick, Bob, Glenn and Daryll – along with four throwaway extras, all lined up and ready to be put to the slaughter. Literally. Yes, we all guessed right, these guys are cannibals and our favourite zombie killers are going to become someone’s dinner. Unless something happens to divert their attention, which it inevitably does.

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As opening sequences to series go, this is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. Indeed the only one I remember being as good in recent years was the first episode after last year’s mid-season break of The Walking Dead, when we found out what happened to the Governor and the people of Woodbury. Both were equally intense and I was on the edge of my seat hoping no harm came to them. What a way to welcome us back to the series.

As the next couple of episodes pan out, we’re reminded that nobody is safe from harm and can be dropped at any point, and the particulars of this are absolutely horrific (especially for Bob). We’re also treated to some extremely fast pacing, especially considering the bad guys move so slowly. But that’s the critical point, the reason they’ve kept us interested for so long. Over four seasons, they’ve evolved the main threat from being the easy to recognise zombies to the not-so-easy to spot untrustworthy survivors. By now, all of our team are more than capable of fending for themselves and they could just head off to Washington D.C. in their mini bus. But that wouldn’t make for an interesting story. We’re constantly looking around the corner for the next threat, but I can’t remember the last time they were genuinely under threat from zombies.

I wonder how we’d feel if we joined our main survivors now, without prior knowledge of how they got there. I think we’d be far less if we didn’t know that Rick used to be a good person, a sheriff no less, and that his wife died in childbirth, or that she was giving birth to the baby that came as a result of an affair she was having with Rick’s former partner in crime-fighting Shane, or that Rick is now looking after this child. In reality all we’re coming across are other clones of our characters, all of whom probably lived perfectly normal lives before the zombie apocalypse, and who have had to make a series of insanely difficult decisions to survive. The only difference is that we don’t know their back story and we have been on a long journey with Rick Grimes and Co. Yet we cheer along as they murder potentially innocent people without a trial, because that’s what our people need to do to survive. In many ways it brings up questions for the way we live our own lives, making decisions often to maintain the status quo, fearing change and the unknown. I predict over the coming series these questions will keep coming back to us as more groups are encountered, which is pretty hefty work for a series ostensibly about bludgeoning zombies.

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There were a couple of occasions where I thought the show let itself down. Main characters are losing the ability to make rational choices with seemingly the only purpose being that the writers need an interesting plot twist. The biggest example of this was when Glenn and Maggie decided to ditch all their friends and join some people they barely know and go on a road trip to Washington D.C. Clearly the only reason to do this was to keep the viewers interested when they flick to the scenes with this half of the group, but it was completely unbelievable that they would ever make that decision on three levels: Abraham would never push the group into making a stupid or hasty decision that is clearly detrimental to the group as a whole; Rick would never back down so quickly when he risks losing their only means of transport and two critical group members; and Maggie would never leave with the group when the reason to stay is to find out the whereabouts of three of their fellow survivors, of which one is her sister Beth. It is this final point that really is the killer for me. It is a blatant way to twist the plots up and make the season interesting but it’s a shame it had to be via such a blatant loss of integrity to three strong characters.

That said, there are plenty of open ends at the moment (Where is Beth? Do we trust Father Gabriel?) and with a character-driven plot, plenty of blood and gore to keep us shocked and enough deviations from the comic book to keep everyone guessing, I predict I’ll still be on the edge of my seat in five months when this season comes to an end.

The Walking Dead screens in the UK on Monday nights on Fox and Fox HD at 9pm. All three episodes covered in this review are available on demand, with the first one expiring on 9th November 2014.