Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days of Halloween - The Walking Dead: Companion Shows and Video Games by Beth V

When I read the news announcing a companion series for The Walking Dead my very first thought was “isn't that what Talking Dead is for?”. Upon actually reading the article I was left with more of a “huh...okay I guess” feeling. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't that excited about it. So I started writing this to see if I could understand why I was indifferent to something about one of my favorite shows.

Don't take my apathy as a loss of interest in the show. The Walking Dead has given me some wonderful hours of television despite the many episodes where nothing actually happened. There is enough right about the show to keep me on-board and coming back for more. Sure I had trouble with the last season, but towards the end they really seemed to be pulling it back towards a direction that I can't wait to pick back up on October 13th. I mean no more Woodbury, Rick has stopped all that stupid hallucinating crap, and Andrea's annoying ass will be gone for good. As a side note I can't help wondering how this show made me hate that character so much. I really liked her in the comics, but on the show I was just praying for her to go the way of Dale and Shane. What I'm trying to say though is that this season has the potential to be great. So why another show? I'm sure a lot of it comes down to money. With Breaking Bad over, and Mad Men coming back for its last season (eventually) they've got to do something. And they are making huge amounts of money off this show so I can kind of see why they'd want to franchise it out. From the sounds of it this new show will take place in the same world as the current show, but presumably follow other people and explore different places than the original. I want to be excited about the idea, but again “meh”. And now I think I know why.

Maybe I already feel like I've gotten another perspective on the world of The Walking Dead because I've already followed other characters and explored different places in that world. I saw the devastation in Macon, and the destruction of Savannah first hand. Not through a crazy person's deluded fantasy world (hopefully), but through a video game. I am referring, of course, to The Walking Dead video game which was hands down the best game of 2012. Hands down, it's not up for debate. Just to make myself extremely clear I do mean the Telltale adventure game based on the comics, and not the steaming pile of poop by Activision based on the show. If you like a good video game please steer clear of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. I know that watching Daryl and Merle survive in a pre-Ricktatorship world might sound fun, but nothing could be further from the truth. Other than being voiced by Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker this game does everything wrong. It's ugly, short, and so very sloppy. Actually the length might have to go into the pro column because you wouldn't want to spend more than 6 hours with this hot mess of a game. The only reason I included a picture in here is to try and convince you not to waste your time and money like I did. Trust me. I know my zombie games.

But now on to a completely different rant. 

If you haven't played The Walking Dead by now do so immediately. I mean, after you finish reading this. And maybe go make yourself a sandwich - you’ll be in front of the TV for for a while. It's broken into episodes and seasons, but nothing to do with the show. Character cross-overs from the comics give you a little inside information on how a few characters from the comic/show became the people the were when you first see them in the main stories. Other than that this is all new ground. The story is deep and compelling, the pacing is fantastic, and the tension is deeper than any Resident Evil game ever (sorry RE4). I normally hate fetching missions and babysitting a useless character (looking at you again RE4), but here it doesn't feel like a chore. Besides the one girl who can't figure out how to work a radio most of your team is pretty helpful. When she asked me to find her batteries saying “I honestly wouldn't even know what to look for” I seriously questioned how much help she was going to be against zombies. The bitch was really lucky she was a good shot otherwise she would have been bait in a skirt. Adrenaline junkies will be bored stiff (ha ha, zombie puns) by the story driven style. I am reminded of a conversation with my brother where he was talking about having played a really bad Walking Dead game. All through his description of how boring and repetitive the game was I assumed that he was talking about that awful shooter. It wasn't until he mentioned a specific event that I realized he was talking about the point and click adventure game. I'm sure he's not the only one who did have, or will have, problems with the pacing of this game. After all, in the days of Left 4 Dead, Zombie Island, and countless other thrill a minute zombie games this is a huge shift in gears. You rarely have to worry about killing anything. The few times you do use a gun it's actually quite frightening. Whether through conscious choice or an unfortunate programming decision it's very tough to aim and fire weapons in the Walking Dead. That makes it feel even more real to me. For all of my video game induced zombie bravado I'm sure I'd be just as shaky and terrified if the real thing were to ever happen.

Here you make a lot more choices about what to do, how to treat people, and how to stay the hell away from the undead than you do worrying about the killing. Those choices affect everything from how other people feel about you to who lives or dies. Since your main job in this game is to keep a small child alive you'll have a much tougher time of it if she thinks you're an evil d-bag. But then how can you make a small child understand that in the apocalypse sometimes someone has to die so that you can live? There's no true escape, no hope, no happy ending. You just keep running while pretty much everyone around you dies. Did I mention that I really love this game?

Season 2 (remember that it's set up like a series even though it's based on the comics) is due out sometime soon. Probably to coincide with the Christmas shopping frenzy so now is the perfect time to play it. Or to play it again if you've already gone through once. With 3 save slots you can make different decisions to see how it changes the game. I've got them all filled (3 slots filled...chortle, snicker) with different styles of play. I've got a super nice guy, a ruthless bastard, and a game where I pretty much played through making the choices I think I would make in the situation. It came out kind of neutral. Sometimes I took care of people, and sometimes I let people die because the risks of saving them outweighed the benefits. It's all about survival, and the morally ambiguous things you have to do while trying to get through the apocalypse.

I honestly didn't mean for this to degenerate into a video game review, but once you see how I feel about the game you probably understand where I'm coming from a little bit better. I don't feel like I need another Walking Dead TV show. I've pretty much already got one. A live story that I can be a part of and interact with. I'll still watch the new companion show (as long as it's not a Woodbury based story), but it's got some really big bloody shoes to fill. Probably even harder to fill since there's still a few toes left inside. Remember when you only had to worry about shaking spiders out of your boots?


But that's not all, folks! We still have the gargantua-sized Weekend Edition of

Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween
I’m changing the format a bit this year in order to more accurately portray SyFy’s schedule and also to preserve my sanity. I had the genius idea to cut and paste the schedule directly from SyFy’s page rather than typing it out in my own format. This has saved me an awful lot of time and also means that individual episodes are listed rather than blocks of programming like previous years. So what I’m going to do is provide commentary where I feel it is needed rather than posting next to every single entry. Don’t worry – you’re getting the same amount of hilarious, then kind of funny, then labored, then thoroughly disenchanted Phantom content. Just in a different way.
Like last year, I am covering the programming from the time this posts until the time of the next post. That means that on Fridays you are going to be treated to a shit-ton of this stuff.
Let’s do it!
Oct 4 11:00 AM - Forever Knight Last Act
Oct 4 12:00 PM - Forever Knight Dance By The Light Of The Moon
Oct 4 01:00 PM - Forever Knight Dying To Know You
Oct 4 02:00 PM - Forever Knight False Witness
Oct 4 03:00 PM - Forever Knight Cherry Blossoms
Oct 4 04:00 PM - Forever Knight I Will Repay
Oct 4 05:00 PM - Forever Knight Dead Air
More Forever Knight! I don’t think this is the show that I thought it was. I believe I’m getting it confused with another vampire show about different clans of vampires. The one I’m thinking of had that spiky-haired douche in it that was in, like, everything in the late 90s and early 2000s. He looked kind of like a cross between Christian Slater and that little shithead on 90210. But I think that’s a totally different show. If Blogger wasn’t such a piece of shit about comments I’m sure one of you Phantomaniacs would help me out.
Oct 4 06:00 PM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Resident Evil: Afterlife
Well, we know by now what Beth wrote about. Was it Resident Evil or was it one of her other topics for the month (she has four and they’re all great)? I’m writing this on Monday night, so I have no idea.
Here’s a piece of Resident Evil trivia for you – I have never, ever finished a Resident Evil game; though I came close on the third one (which is still my favorite). The last one I played was the first GameCube one (not the rereleases) and I only played the demo. I just knew that thing would be too hard. I’m not the best at video games and the RE franchise is not exactly user-friendly.
Oct 4 08:00 PM - WWE Smackdown
I took all of the wrestling programs off of my DVR schedule.
Okay, I plan to as I am writing this. And if it goes unchanged then it means I did 
(yeah - I did). I don’t even really watch anymore. And I’d much rather spend that seven(!) hours a week watching horror movies than watching something that has, quite frankly, become a chore. I’m not going into it here because this is Halloween stuff, but damn. I just don’t get televised wrestling anymore.
Oct 4 10:00 PM - Haven Lost And Found
I have still never watched a single episode of this show. It’s based on Stephen King stuff and stars Edge, one of my favorite wrestlers. But that guy is in it. You know who I’m talking about.
Oct 4 11:00 PM - Being Human The Teens They Are A Changin'
I haven’t watched this either, but I think my reasons are more solid. It’s a total drama show. It almost doesn’t even make pretenses about being a horror show.
Oct 5 12:00 AM - Haven Lost And Found
Oct 5 01:00 AM - Fangasm Beam Me Up, Stan
Oct 5 02:00 AM - Fangasm A Date With A Supermodel
Oct 5 03:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Fertile Ground
In darkest night the last survivor of a terrible fire at the Miskatonic Institute for the Criminally Insane stumbles into a circle of mysterious obelisks. His burned, crackling body has reached its limit. Just inside the ring of huge stones, he falls face down on the ground. Not knowing why, he uses the very last of his strength to drag himself to the center of the strange formation, leaving a trail of peeling flesh and bodily fluids behind.
Once he finally reaches the clear spot in the center of the stones, he feels a reassuring warmth from the ground. Not warm like the fire he so recently escaped; but warm like… a woman’s warmth…
I think you see where this is going. Dude fucks the ground and some kind of druid/crazy person crossbreed is born and kills a bunch of people. I dunno. I just made all of that up. Who knows what this movie is really about.
Oct 5 05:00 AM - Deals From The Darkside Houdini Handcuffs
Oct 5 05:30 AM - Deals From The Darkside The Axe Head
If this show is about some shitbag selling “cursed” or “possessed” stuff to dum-dums I totally want to watch it.
Oct 5 06:00 AM - Paid Programming
Oct 5 09:00 AM - Fangasm Beam Me Up, Stan
Oct 5 10:00 AM - Fangasm A Date With A Supermodel
Oct 5 11:00 AM - Syfy Original Movie Boogeyman
Don’t confuse this with that crappy theatrical The Boogeyman. This is a SyFy Original starring the awesome Eddie McClintock. It’s not the best movie ever, but it’s definitely worth watching. Honestly, it might be the best take on the Boogeyman I’ve seen in the last twenty years.
Oct 5 01:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Headless Horseman
A month ago I would have sworn that I’d be mocking this SFO (this is how I’m going to refer to SyFy Originals for the rest of the month because I am tired of typing it out) in favor of Sleepy Hollow. Apparently I would have been wrong.
Oct 5 03:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Carny
This is a terrifying concept that pretty much sells itself. I don’t even have anything funny to say about it because it’s just fucking terrifying.
Oct 5 05:00 PM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Husk
It looks like today’s theme is “Provincial Horror”. Which is honestly a pretty solid kind of horror. I was born and raised here in the South and while I have a certain amount of love for Southern things and a certain level of disgust for people who dismiss this region out of hand as being full of racists and morons; there’s a lot of creepy shit to be found in the more rural areas. It’s definitely unnerving to be driving around at night on some of the more far-fling highways and thoroughfares.
Oh, and I’m not saying the South isn’t full of racists and morons; it just isn’t any more than any other region.
Oct 5 07:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Children Of The Corn
Movies about evil kids just creep me out too much. Evil kids and Greys are probably my main creep-outs.
I think it’s very odd that SyFy would choose to reboot a franchise that already had, like, fifty sequels rather than just making another sequel like they do with other series. Return of the Living Dead, Anaconda, and Lake Placid have all gotten the SFO treatment with varying degrees of success. I just can’t imagine them looking at the original Children of the Corn and thinking, “Well, we can do that better”.
Oct 5 09:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Scarecrow
Scarecrows are tricky. They can be some of the creepiest figures available if handled right, but if the portrayal is off at all they just come off as stupid. Oddly, I have faith that SyFy got it right.
Oct 5 11:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Mothman
Okay, Mothman freaks me the fuck out, too. I was way into Cryptozoology and aliens and mythology as a kid (well, I still am, really) and Mothman was one of the few creatures that seemed directly related to Greys. I do not need that shit in my life. However, Jewel Staite is in this so I might have to check it out.
Oct 6 01:00 AM - Syfy Original Movie Scarecrow
Oct 6 03:00 AM - Syfy Original Movie Headless Horseman
Oct 6 05:00 AM - The Twilight Zone One For The Angels
Oct 6 05:30 AM - The Twilight Zone Mr. Denton On Doomsday
The Twilight Zone is one of the greatest shows that has ever been made. But I still feel very strongly that SyFy should reserve it for New Year’s programming. It’s their thing and it makes it feel special. If they want something for Halloween they should show Tales From the Darkside or even the Twilight Zone reboots. That late 80s (I think) run featured some of the scariest stories I have ever seen.
Oct 6 06:00 AM - Paid Programming
Oct 6 09:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie 100 Feet
One hundred feet – but seventy-five people!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!
One hundred feet – but twelve people!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!
I think I might be way off-base on this one. Wait – I know I am! This is that freaky movie featuring the delicious Famke Janssen! This is actually a good one – you should watch it!
Oct 6 11:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Pulse
I didn’t like this or the Takashi Miike original. Which is kind of weird. There aren’t many of his movies that I don’t like. Plenty I don’t love, but few I outright dislike.
Oct 6 01:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie Children Of The Corn
Oct 6 03:00 PM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie The Skeleton Key
This kickass Louisiana voodoo tale stars the talented and easy on the eyes Kate Hudson as a caregiver that gets into a spooky situation. I genuinely dig this movie for its atmosphere and mild but well done plot twist.
Oct 6 05:00 PM - Syfy Original Movie House Of Bones
I watched this last year because it stars Charisma Carpenter and Corin Nemec. I do not remember one thing about it except for a scene where Charisma Carpenter is running from a car into a house. Take that as you will.
Oct 6 07:00 PM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Psychosis
I wish so, so badly that this was a movie about professional wrestler Psicosis. Sadly, it is not. When you can’t get a movie starring WWE Legend Mil Mascaras off the ground I can’t imagine one starring WWE Future Endeavored Psicosis would be an easy sell.
Oct 6 09:00 PM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie The Ninth Gate
I have only seen this movie twice. I did not like it the first time and I loved it the second time. I’m still not sure if it’s supposed to be about Stephen King or what, but I’d like to watch it again. I saw a promo for this showing the other day and even got a little excited about seeing it again.
Oct 7 12:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Drag Me To Hell
I absolutely love this movie. No, it isn’t a return to the horror of Evil Dead. But it is totally Sam Raimi through and through. As soon as this one ended the first time I saw it I wanted a sequel about Justin Long traveling to Hell to rescue Alison Lohman. Maybe he’d even find help in the form of a certain experienced S-Mart employee.
Yeah, sometimes my casual fan-fic thoughts get out of hand. But how awesome would that be?
Oct 7 02:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie The Skeleton Key
Oct 7 04:00 AM - Fangasm A Date With A Supermodel
Oct 7 05:00 AM - The Twilight Zone The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine
Oct 7 05:30 AM - Tz: Cable In The Classroom Come Wander With Me
Because The Twilight Zone is so educational? I find it weird and awesome that some kids somewhere are watching this as part of their schooling. And I suppose stories by American legends like Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, and Ambrose Bierce are good things for kids to be exposed to.
Oct 7 06:00 AM - Paid Programming
Oct 7 08:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Wes Craven’s Dracula II: Ascension
I am totally confused by the gamut of Dracula movies that have come out since Dracula 2000 (which I will discuss below). I have no idea which ones are related or what order they go in or anything. I just know that there are a shit-ton of movies with “Dracula” in the title and that they all vary greatly in quality and use of logic and that, quite frankly, it makes me question Public Domain just a little bit.
Oct 7 10:00 AM - 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Dracula 2000
This movie has exactly three things to recommend it – Christopher Plummer’s performance as Van Helsing and Vitamin C’s boobies.

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