I’ll be honest: Zombie movies don’t do it for me. In my opinion, the best one ever made was Shaun of the Dead, and that’s as much romantic comedy as zombie movie. Part of the reason I’m not a fan is that they’re all largely the same. You’re shown the beginning of a zombie outbreak, then given a couple of hours with a group of characters, knowing that most of them will die or be turned into zombies. It’s a pretty tried-and-true formula. Even when movies break out of the mold in meaningful ways—Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, for instance—you still only see those few weeks of survival after a plague of the undead.
When Robert Kirkman created The Walking Dead, he wanted to fix all that. It’s a comic book that has no intention of ending and deals with all the fascinating psychology of long-term survivors of a zombie-infested America.
The comic, which has gone for almost 100 issues, has explored much more diverse territory than any single film could, and has done it in the best possible way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reading the comic and found myself unconsciously curling up into the fetal position with fear. And it has happened just about as often that a cliffhanger will present itself in an issue, and I’ll just die with anticipation for the next month’s installment.
When Frank Darabont (of Shawshank Redemption fame) managed to get a TV-series version of The Walking Dead on AMC, I was elated, almost as much as the rabid hordes of zombie fans who have risen from the proverbial grave in the last decade. The show aimed to be what zombie movies couldn’t, and it succeeded with flying colors. You’re actually able to invest in some of these characters in the long term and watch their evolution as they realize things aren’t simply going to return to normal.
Even though it’s a long-format TV series, there’s no reason not to enjoy The Walking Dead on the big screen. Big Shiny Robot and Brewvies teamed up to play every episode of the first season on the big screen for free. For the second season, we’re doing it again, this time with the help of City Weekly.
All you have to do is show up each Sunday before the episode airs. I can’t tell you how amazing this show is on the big screen. Having a group of fellow drunken geeks to discuss and experience the show with—on the big screen, no less—is fun beyond words.
In advance of the season premiere, I’d recommend you catch up on the first season. All six episodes of Season 1 are available on DVD and Blu-ray and are some of the best episodes of television ever produced. After that, hit your local comic-book store and pick up some of the collected issues. The show doesn’t follow the books exactly; it takes its own amazing twists and turns.
And for those wary of Darabont’s departure from the show, we’ll have to wait and see how AMC handles it without him. I’m hopeful that this will continue to be one of the best shows on TV (next to Doctor Who and The Clone Wars).
However it turns out, we’ll all be there at Brewvies to watch it together on Sunday nights, starting Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. for the 90-minute premiere. And be sure to come early for the episode on Oct. 30. We’ll be co-presenting that episode with the Geek Show Podcast, which will be screening Creepshow for free beforehand for its monthly movie night.
THE WALKING DEAD
Brewvies Cinema Pub
677 S. 200 West
Sundays beginning Oct. 16, 8 p.m.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.