Written by: John Edward Betancourt
It's a good thing when you're proven wrong. It humbles you when your opinion of a person turns out to be completely off. It forces you to look at things in an objective light, but it isn't always easy to do that.
Merle Dixon is a fine example of this. I saw nothing but scumbag for two seasons on The Walking Dead and I expected an awful death for a worthless man that would have me clap my hands and cheer out with joy. Well, last night I was proven completely and utterly wrong as ol' Merle proved himself to be a better man than anyone expected and he did not deserve such an awful death.
I was stunned to say the least, and credit is due to actor Michael Rooker for pulling off one hell of a magic trick. I have never felt an ounce of pity for Merle until last night. Only because in his final hour on the show he revealed exactly what kind of man Merle Dixon was before the fall of man and what he thought of the man he had become after the fall and the end result was truly heroic.
Let's face facts, in the old world, Merle was written off by everyone and everything. He was a man screaming for attention. He just wanted to be someone in the world, much like the Governor but the difference here was that Merle never harbored anger toward the world the way Philip Blake did. He had no dreams of power, just a need to simply belong. One of the best moments of last night's episode was the scene where Daryl told Merle he wanted his brother back. The tears welling up in Merle's eyes, said it there; he stuck by his brother because Daryl was the only person to ever truly believe in him.
Yet clearly Merle could not live with the man he had become in the new world. While Philip thrived in it, Merle despised it and himself. We learned he had never killed a man until the Zombiepocalypse, but after a wave of walking death swept over the planet, Merle ended up taking sixteen human lives. The world without rules he wanted became more than he could handle. Yet he understood the road he had taken. He was the post apocalyptic era's garbage man and the burden that stayed with him after crossing the line was more than he could bear. His sacrifice, by choice, was an incredible redemption and one that wiped away all the bad that Merle brought to the table.
This was a beautiful and haunting performance by Michael Rooker and the second time in season 3 of The Walking Dead that the title reflected the character it focused on. "This Sorrowful Life". But the saddest part of this episode, which left me in tears, was the ending. To see Merle's heroic act, one that left me cheering, end with his resurrection as a walker was absolutely heartbreaking.
So, vaya con dios Merle Dixon, and thank you for proving me to be the fool by reminding me that there is hope for us all.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
At the end of the world, lies redemption. At least, that's a lesson we learned last night. Yet it was also an evening of hope and loyalty and loss. Once more The Walking Dead dug deep into our emotions and once more, we had to say goodbye to someone that surprised me not only by the fact they were gone, but by the fact I would actually miss them. So without further ado, let's pay our last respects to "This Sorrowful Life".
The Good: Another incredible episode and a stunner that the tension from last week was left behind to give us the swan song for Merle Dixon. Yes, we lost him last night and at long last, Merle finally stopped being a scumbag and actually did the right thing. In fact for the first time ever, he actually helped the group, and even took down a few of the Governor's lackeys before finally saying goodbye.
Of course the show handled his death in the most beautiful fashion, leaving a zombified Merle to be put down at the hands of his weeping brother. There's a lot more to talk about when it comes to Merle, so we will get to that later in the day, because right now we have so much more to cover.
Not only was last night Merle's redemption, it was also Rick's. Saddled with the burden to save lives, he makes the stupid call to hand over Michonne to Woodbury. But his change of heart was a glorious thing. It was handled without a word, just a vision of his late wife who served as a reminder of the man Rick Grimes has always been, a good guy through and through. Hell he even ended the Ricktatorship and is letting the group decide if they want to stand and fight or leave the prison behind.
But the gentlest moment from this episode came from Glenn's proposal to Maggie. It was short and sweet but put a special twist on this episode. I wasn't joking when I said "This Sorrowful Life" was full of hope. We have seen one dark season this year and last night was a bright light shining through all of the darkness. It was unexpected and possibly, the last week we get to see something like that for some time.
The Bad: The core components of the episode get no complaint, in fact I've had to search hard the last three weeks to find something negative, and this is the best I could come up with from last night. If anyone noticed when Merle was hanging out in the parking lot of that bar, The Walking Dead and director Greg Nicotero decided to pay homage to the show's roots with a stunning recreation of an iconic zombie from Dawn of the Dead (1978). Did you miss him? Well, let me help you out with a side by side comparison.
Pretty freakin' awesome huh? So as I gush about this awesome little easter egg, this is the best critique I could come up with, why not do this more often?
The Verdict: Stellar episode. That's really all there is to it. Once more this show made it look like I was cutting onions on the couch, and next week may or may not be worse as we come to the end of Season Three and it judging from last night's teaser...it's war.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
The zombie apocalypse continues to permeate all levels of entertainment. We have seen it return to film with a vengeance, the living dead invade our living rooms every Sunday night and yes, in their own special way the undead have even managed to shuffle into literature with their appearance in the 2006 best selling novel by Max Brooks; World War Z.
The world stood on the brink. Mankind faced extinction. There was panic in the streets, governments were helpless to act when the unthinkable had come to pass. The dead had returned to life. Yet during this darkest hour, as humanity faced extinction, the tide at last turned and man reclaimed the world from living death. But to ensure that man will never again face such a horrible fate, one man will reach out to learn the truth of what went so horribly wrong.
I'll just get this out in the open right now, I loved this book. Yes, I know, I'm a zombie fanatic and it is exactly why I picked up this book in the first place, but the follow up to Max's first satirical zombie novel; The Zombie Survival Guide is an incredible work of horror. Filled with homage to all the great zombie stories that came before it, World War Z does an outstanding job of showing us what a pandemic of any kind might look like. The bickering, the ignorance, the profiteering are things we see discussed on the nightly news the instant anything in the world goes wrong.
Of course such stupidity is amplified in a book like this, but there is a level of discomfort while reading this novel for one simple reason, it reminds you of all the bad things we've seen unfold on television in recent years. But most importantly, this is a scary little read. There are sequences, specifically the Battle of Yonkers, that evoke utter terror in the reader with Brooks' smooth writing style and realistic approach.
This is definitely a must read for any horror enthusiast or book worm in general. The story is gripping, and even though you learn up front that man managed to survive this awful plague, there are times where you wonder exactly how we made it out alive.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
As of today there are only two episodes left for season three of The Walking Dead and last night was filled with incredible suspense as Andrea finally made her choice when it comes to who to stand with. In fact this episode revolved primarily around Andrea, the Governor and the consequence of her decision that turned her into the title of the episode; "Prey".
The Good: Wow. Just wow. This show continues to surprise and after all seemed lost for Andrea, in fact she seemed to be turning into the village idiot this year, she goes and stuns us all by finally picking a side for all the right reasons for the first time in the series and she has chosen to defend the Rick Grimes gang. Of course in order to be apart of the fight against Woodbury, she had to escape that tiny little town, but it was a costly decision indeed when Philip Blake hit the road to find her.
We spent most of the night on the road with Andrea as she did her best to escape Woodbury, and at last, the Governor is becoming as evil as we expected. The warehouse scenes were nothing short of terrifying. In fact every single time I heard the Governor do his little whistle, chills ran down my spine. The last two weeks this show has left me on the edge of my seat, but the most gratifying scenes of the night came from the insurrection directed toward Philip.
Andrea's moment where she smiled ever so sly before hiding behind a metal door and unleashing her own Walker Bomb on the Governor was absolutely brilliant. Plus to see Milton get fired up and firebomb the living dead along with Tyreese standing his ground means there is hope for Rick and his crew.
We do need to spend a moment though and discuss the two moments in the episode that were creepier than that whistle. First, the "BBQ" pit left my stomach turned. Can't remember the last time I've ever seen something like that on screen. But the most disturbing visual of the night was Philip's new "Man Cave." The little house of horrors he is building lets your imagination run wild, and I'm really not good with where my mind took me when he busted out the stitching needle.
The Bad: The show ended after an hour.
The Verdict: We are two episodes into what I believe is a four part finale and so far so good. This episode left me worried and hopeful for Andrea all at once. It's fantastic that she finally has purpose, but oh man, I tremble at what will happen to her in the torture chamber. But it makes me wonder if her stay in that awful little room is also a clue that maybe, just maybe, Andrea is the one who gets to put a bullet in Philip Blake's good eye.
Written by: Scotty
December 20th, 1970 two black Cadillacs pull up to the Belasco house, also known as "Hell House" with an investigation crew of four that are ready to find and unlock the secrets of the house's cursed past. Leading the charge, Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist that is dabbling in the studies of parapsychology is ready to disprove all of the stories and hearsay that the "Mount Everest" of haunted houses has to offer. The second researcher, Barrett’s wife, Edith, is along for the ride to assist and support her husband during his venture is not ready for what the house has in store for her. Third, medium Florence Tanner, a spiritualist and ex Hollywood starlet knows that she can find and unravel any deep dark secrets the old house can throw at her with her knowledge of love and how it affects the deceased. The fourth and final member, Benjamin Fischer, is a physical medium and the only survivor from a failed investigation back in 1940.
Current house owner William Deutsch has heard all of the stories about the Belasco house and wants to know once and for all if it is haunted or not before he dies. Hiring the best in their fields, Deutsch has assembled the best chance of finding out the true secrets the house is still holding onto. Two past investigations were conducted with the same type of crews in 1931 and 1940, with both ending in tragedy, eight people had entered the house, and only Fischer had walked away alive. The man behind this evil venue, Emeric Belasco, is said to have been the driving haunt that remains in the house. A large man by any standards, standing 6’5” Belasco earned the nickname from his patrons as "The Roaring Giant". Belasco was infamous for throwing large parties where his guests would never want or get to leave the house again.
Welcome to Richard Matheson’s Hell House. You follow the four investigators as they try to battle and survive with unseen forces in the house. They do not all see eye to eye on their opinions of what or who maybe tormenting them, but they all can agree that something strange is and will be working them to their last nerve. The house knows their individual weaknesses and is more than willing to pray upon them, if it is skepticism, pride, longing, or even the thought of love, the house will pull no punches. From the first entrance of the group into the house, strange things from footsteps to voices that cannot be explained and the events only escalate from there.
Pick this book up and give it a read. Great ghost stories are hard to find and a story so captivating is next to impossible. Matheson has a great story telling style that does not allow you to get too much information upfront, but is more than willing to give you enough clues so you don’t feel so bad at the end of the book. This is one of the greatest horror novels I have read to date, you feel for every character, even your villain, not easy to do by any writer.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
Here we are ladies and gentlemen. The buildup has been slow and steady, we've seen good people fall along the way and likely more will come. The Walking Dead has never been afraid to push the envelope and last night set the stage for what will likely be a punishing four part story arc to wrap up season three with the excellent "Arrow on the Doorpost". So let's get right down to it because as the Governor said; "we have a lot to talk about."
The Good: The first thing that struck me immediately about last night's episode was the incredible amount of tension that permeated through every scene. Even in the lighter moments, the tension was ridiculously thick and with good reason, things are getting ugly quick.
I am thankful we had a little bit of time amid the tension to develop our characters a little further. Andrea finally seems to be coming into focus after spending most of this season lost. I still stand by my point that she is a leaf in the wind waiting for a place to land, but for the first time she seems to have an idea of where she should land and that her current "home" is one dangerous place. The question now is what will Andrea do with her newfound knowledge of just how disgusting a man the Governor really is now that Rick and Hershel have spilled the beans on his little incident with Maggie? I also love the fact that for the first time, Milton is finally seeing the light on his beloved boss. Judging from next week's teaser he may end up being a powerful ally to Andrea and through her the prison gang in the days to come.
But of course, this episode's main focus was the long awaited face off between Rick Grimes and Philip "The Governor" Blake and the show did not disappoint. Everything Philip did in these scenes oozed pure evil. My favorite part of the show, was the Governor at last confirming the fact that in the old world he was indeed a nobody. His one line where he described his idiot boss finally let us know that this was the guy who went into work every single day, fantasizing about the horrible ways that boss would die at either his hands or whatever his imagination would muster, but when he went home at night, those day dreams came and to an end, only to be replaced with new ones where he was finally somebody that mattered. Sure he loved his wife and daughter but he clearly dreamed of power. Philip Blake lived in the shadows, but when the end of man came to pass he stepped into the light and now every sick fantasy he ever had can now be brought to fruition without penalty.
For some time now, I've been debating in my mind which version of the Governor I like more, comic or television and after much deliberation, I like the television version more. Don't get me wrong, the comic one is a twisted monster. But the television Philip Blake has a sense of realism to him. We have met men like him, those weasels that you can't stand and avoid at any cost, and that is absolutely terrifying. This man will get his just desserts, and I'm glad that there are so many possible candidates on the show who may get the honor of putting this piece of garbage down.
The Bad: Everything in between the Governor and Rick was mostly fluff and I guess it wasn't exactly terrible, but it did nothing to advance the story along. It was just filler, plain and simple.
The Verdict: This episode gets an incomplete and I will tell you why. This is just the beginning. I see this episode and the next three as one giant episode and I can't quite give you a thumbs up or down until we see the credits roll in the series finale. Really I think the only way to summarize this episode is to quote Rick Grimes himself, only because we are along for the ride my friends and like he said: "we're going to war."
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
The 1980's proved to be an incredible time for horror. From slashers to zombies, it was a golden era for all the awful things that go bump in the night. In fact the wonder of horror even managed to extend to television.
Freddy Krueger had his own show, so did Jason Voorhees, even though Jason never made an appearance. Syndication did wonders for any one who wanted to bring something scary to the airwaves, and thankfully for all of us, George Romero wanted in.
In 1984 George brought forth an extension of Creepshow; the brilliant Tales from the Darkside. Every week we were treated with an individual tale of terror. From ghouls and ghosts to things that lived within our closet, the show was a cornucopia of horror, providing breathtaking visions of our nightmares week in and week out. In fact the series was a draw for even the big names, with Stephen King penning a couple of episodes, Harlan Ellison and Clive Barker each wrote for the show and Tom Savini cut his directing chops stepping behind the camera a few times as well.
This show oozed the best parts of the genre, from the creepy opening sequence to the top notch special effects, clearly something this ambitious will never find its way to broadcast television again. Sadly, after the first season or two the show did begin to run out of a little bit of steam, leaning toward campy and downright silly with some its episodes and in the end it only survived four seasons. Yet it still managed to bring a feature length film based on the series to theaters in 1990.
If anyone is wondering where to see these classic gems of horror you can now find the entire series on DVD. I have to say every episode is worth watching, just to enjoy the raw creativity that the series had to offer. For every episode similar to the goofy "The Grave Robbers" there is another "Inside the Closet" waiting to surprise you.
For those who have never heard of this series, I do advise caution when watching. Some of these tales are genuinely terrifying. In fact there a few of them that leave me unsettled when I turn off the lights. So I leave you with an image of just how far this show was willing go and the sound advice of the show's narrator: "try to enjoy the daylight."
Written by John Edward Betancourt
There are many reasons why The Walking Dead has been referred to as the best show on television, and every last one of those reasons were on display last night. In fact this one will go down as one of the finest episodes of the show in its short history. What made it so great? Well let's get right to it as Daniel and I discuss the incredible piece of work that was "Clear".
The Good: So many words come to mind when I reflect on this particular episode. Devastating, heartbreaking, incredible and hopeful. A return home for Rick Grimes in an effort to gather weapons and ammo for the upcoming war with Woodbury would seem like the premise for a boring episode, instead we got the biggest surprise of the season. But more on that later, instead let's start off with the bold decision to only focus on only three characters this week; Rick, Carl and Michonne.
It's the second time this season we have seen most of the cast left behind and just like last time with Woodbury, it worked quite well. There were some great father and son moments that I think the show certainly needed but at long last, Michonne finally did more on the show than just scowl and growl. We now have better insight as to what kind of person she is, and while it was obvious that she had trust issues, her being isolated from good people for so long has clearly had a major effect on her. Her time with Rick's group is quickly paying off, and I like where her character is headed.
I also loved Carl's reasons for coming home with Rick. His mad dash for the last picture of his mother spoke volumes as to how Carl sees this world. For one his thought that Judith a.k.a. "Lil' Asskicker" will survive long enough to see the picture of Lori is the most hopeful moment the show has given us to date. Carl clearly believes there will be a day where the world is once again free of walking corpses, and that his little sister will grow up in it.
But the centerpiece of "Clear" was the surprise guest star appearance of Lennie James, reprising his role as Morgan. We all wondered what happened to Morgan and his son Duane after season one and unfortunately last night, we found out. Duane died at the hands of his reanimated mother long after Rick had gone, and Morgan flat out lost his mind. It was a powerful performance on Lennie James' part and I will not lie to you, it left me in tears. In the back of my mind, I expected Morgan and Duane to reappear somewhere down the line, still alive and kicking and happy to see Rick. Instead Morgan was a destroyed man, unwilling to die of his own accord but unhappy to go on. Perhaps the most telling line of the night, was when Morgan told Rick that the good people will keep on dying while the weak ones like him had inherited the earth.
Yet despite the weight of this, yet again there was hope, mostly for Rick. I got the feeling that this might be Rick's wake up call. That if he continues to let the guilt revolving around those he has lost grow, he too may end up like Morgan. Robert Kirkman has said it before that the show's title refers not to the corpses that feed, but to the characters, and if you ever had any doubt that the humans were the walking dead in this show, just go back in and remember that image of Morgan, working hard to unload a gurney full of his future.
The Bad: There are no complaints from me this time around. But as always, I feel compelled to put something in this part of the review. So I guess the only bad thing last night, was Michonne's taste in trinkets. That rainbow cat was as ugly as sin.
The Verdict: I've said it before and I will say again, this episode was world class. While it only had a few minutes of action in this episode, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I expect the same quality next week when at long last, Rick Grimes finally meets Philip "The Governor" Blake face to face.