Robert Kirkman and AMC’s series
1.) THE DRAMA Since George Romero, everyone and their mama thought they could make a zombie movie with depth. Sure, there are also those films out to deliver a gut-churning, visceral thrill – and I’m a fan of nipple-biting, shark-fighting, scalp-biting, punk rock and oatmeal-faced zombies as much as the next dude sporting a Lucio Fulci’s Zombie t-shirt. But if you want something more to chew on, you didn’t have to look that much further than Romero’s original trilogy. That is, until Kirkman came along to expand on Romero’s themes of survival, love, loss, betrayal and starting over. The Walking Dead covers it all. It’s fearless and direct, revealing the horrors of not just a world overrun by zombies, but humanity under duress.
2.) FRANK DARABONT Spinning off that statement, who better to handle “humanity under duress” than the man who brought us the similarly-themed The Mist? Like The Walking Dead, the creatures of that Stephen King adaptation took the back seat to the searing conflict amongst the characters and Darabont handled it quite well. Not to mention he directed The Shawshank Redemption, arguably one of the best films ever, and The Green Mile. Darabont loves his drama, but he’s a massive genre fan to boot. He’ll bring a certain pedigree to the material and it helps that Kirkman himself is writing two episodes. Yes, The Walking Dead is in great hands.
3.) ZOMBIES! ZOMBIES! ZOMBIES! To be fair, the meaning behind the moniker of this series is two-fold. Crawling beneath the surface, like a maggot finding its way under the flesh of an open wound, “the walking dead” refers to those still alive after the zombie apocalypse. But don’t worry, the series won’t disappoint those looking to have their desires to see undead carnage sated. Darabont has stated in the past that television censors are a bit more merciful these day. There’s no bending of the zombie rules put forth by Romero long ago, either. To kill a zombie, you have to shoot it in the head, or at least deliver the ol’ noggin’ a fatal blow. Furthermore, they are slooooow. For genre fans, this is the first time zombies have been given their due on television (vampires and werewolves have, respectively, been featured in their own shows). The mayhem might be compressed from the big screen zombie fare we’ve seen in the past, but from the images of the undead hordes that have leaked out show a lot of promise.
4.) RICK GRIMES This is the series’ main protagonist who is reborn into a zombie-populated world. When Kirkman’s first issue hit stands, the writer came under fire from many saying his introduction to Grimes was too similar to 28 Days Later. You see, Grimes is a police officer who is shot in the line of duty. When he wakes up from a coma, he finds he has completely missed the destruction of society and he sets out to find his wife and son. Coming out of a coma is about the only comparison you can draw between Grimes and 28 Days Later‘s Jim. Grimes quickly taps into his inner survivalist and, as we’ll see in the television series, he’ll be strapped with overwhelming responsibility and challenges. I can’t wait to see how actor Andrew Lincoln rolls with Grimes’ emotional flux.
5.) THE SURVIVORS & THE TWISTS The tapestry of characters Grimes meets, and reunites with, is a complicated lot. The fact that Darabont has cast Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale, one member of the group, has already won me over. You’ll also see Laurie Holden as Andrea, Jon Bernthal as Grimes’ police partner Shane, Steven Yeun as Glenn, Sarah Wayne Callies as Grimes’ wife, Lori, and Michael Rooker in an unspecified role (at the time of this writing). They’re amiable, however, as time and concern begin to wear on them, their dynamic fractures – and this is where The Walking Dead‘s strength comes from. Some characters make destructive decisions, bonds are strengthened and some will die. The twists that spin out from their actions are absolutely jaw-dropping, to say the least. Perhaps more shocking than the idea of the dead returning to life.
6.) PRACTICAL FX The fellas at KNB FX know the walking dead, having done many zombie films before, and thankfully, Darabont is relying on tried and true practical special effects to pull off the decaying, sometimes limbless, meandering threats we’ll meet. Let the pictures of the dead do the talking here. Take a peek in our gallery to see some of KNB’s work!
Do yourself a favor. Image has been collecting issues of The Walking Dead into multiple volumes. Find the first one and start catching up!
Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor