Preacher posterSo, after having spent the last few months threatening to “give it to us but GOOD”, AMC finally fulfilled that threat a couple of weeks ago by debuting PREACHER, the launch of a freshman series from two minds known more for subversive comedies, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, based on the graphic novel series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Now before I go any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to having never read the series. This may be a good OR a bad thing, depending on how much of a ‘purist’ you are when it comes to these kinds of adaptations. I know there are certain properties I feel pretty strongly about, but this was not one of them. I went in armed only with the intel I have gleaned from some wiki pages, and from my longtime best buddy, who happens to be my comic and graphic novel ‘guru.’

Just based on first impressions alone, AMC hasn’t served us up anything this “batshit-crazynuts” since Sheriff Rick Grimes had to off a not-so-cute little zombie pre-schooler, in the first season of THE WALKING DEAD. And folks, you know that in terms of TV time, that happened EONS ago.

I’m pretty sure Seth and Evan knew that they had to come HARD with some wild shit right out of the gate, and it seems they had no problem doing THAT whatsoever. The opener treats us to a ball of extraterrestrial force hurtling through the Milky Way, towards Earth, where it proceeds to find itself a suitable living host, in the form of several random holy men. Emphasis here on the word “SUITABLE”, because the unlucky ones who aren’t? Well, the resulting rejections are pretty explosive…as in more explosive than you would be after a 12-taco-5-bean-burrito-binge at T-Bell.

preacherframe1Meanwhile, in what seems like completely random fashion, we are introduced to three vividly unique characters, starting with our titular lead, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, who plays Tony Stark’s dad in the MCU). Jesse is not very good at this religion business and he knows it, barely hanging on to his congregation, spending more time rearranging the letters that some sterling wit chooses to change up each Sunday, to display some pretty raunchy messages. But with his church being in a place like ‘Annville’, Texas, something like that is pretty much par for the course.

Next up is Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), with the smile of a viper and an Irish brogue thicker than an entire bottle of Jagermeister. He appears to be the hosting bartender and life-o’-the-party aboard a private jet seemingly, filled with rich Wall-Street-asshole types, but a marked-up Bible in the men’s room indicates to him that his clients are a lot more than that. Here, we get introduced to one of several intense action sequences that seem to explode out of left field (lots of things exploding in this pilot), and oh, by the way…did I happen to mention that Cassidy is a vampire?

preacherframe2But wait…before you even get a chance to catch your breath, here comes Priscilla Jean Henrietta O’Hare, aka “Tulip” (Ruth Negga), and her introduction is every bit as badass as Michonne’s was on THE WALKING DEAD, if not moreso. Fighting for her life against two men in a speeding muscle car, smack in the middle of a Kansas cornfield, (and the way this sequence is put together is nothing less than amazing), she enlists the help of a couple of local kids to further hamper the efforts of more ‘bad guys’ who try to come for her. The results are not good for THEM, of course, but for Tulip, they are – to quote the two tykes – “AWESOME!”

And that sets the tone and the stage for the rest of this eye-popping pilot, as the dynamics between Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are established, and not to mention that strange force, which reappears to change the game completely.

And you know me…I love my character actors, and I didn’t think I could get anymore excited about this series, until I spied W. Earl Brown (DEADWOOD, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY) in the cast, as the Sheriff of Annville, Hugo Root, whose son, Eugene (Ian Colletti) is a friend of Jesse’s. Eugene’s nickname is “Arseface” in the books, from what I understand, and when you see him…well, you’ll understand why. He’s another of the many colorful characters that will have an important part to play in this majorly messed-up story.

If you are more than familiar with Ennis and Dillon’s series, none of this will be new to you. But if, like myself, you haven’t seen panel one of the graphic novels, it will definitely occur to you that PREACHER is not your grandad’s style of storytelling. In fact, we’ve been waiting for some time to see what the next level looks like after GAME OF THRONES and THE WALKING DEAD. This, folks, is just one series that is bringing it. Yes, more questions than answers are provided, as with any good show that you’ll want to follow, to obtain those answers.

preacherframe3From what I understand, PREACHER has been on the boards for a couple of decades, and had been turned down by several major cable outlets before AMC snapped it up. Well, the enthusiasm and love that Rogen and Goldberg have for this property shows in every frame, from casting to visuals, and pulling in BREAKING BAD scribe Sam Catlin ensures that even though they can’t just rip the stories off of the book’s pages, and splatter them all over the screen verbatim, there won’t be the kind of sugarcoating or watering-down that most of the books’ fans feared it would be. Looks like AMC invested wisely.

I know that these guys can count ME as being on-board to see where Jesse and his pals are going with this.

Movie Review: Hush (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan, Writers: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel, Stars: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco |

Hush posterI have scrolled past Hush several times on my Netflix streaming menu. It just did not jump out at me. But after hearing several friends praise the shocker, I decided to give it a try. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Expecting a twist on The Strangers and Hostel, I got something that vaguely resembled that mash-up but was much more.

Maddie (played by Kate Siegel) is a deaf writer who lives in a very secluded spot in the woods. After her close friends and only neighbors are viciously slaughtered by a masked maniac (John Gallagher Jr., in a very surprising performance) Maddie becomes the killer’s target and a senses-deprived game of cat and mouse develops.

hush2frameNow, full disclosure… I am not a huge fan of director Mike Flanagan’s previous work. I expected a very by the numbers slasher flick but when the enigmatic killer removes his mask, things get very different and deep. The whole dynamic of the picture changes, and you get to know the killer in a way that makes the premise much more frightening.

This movie is very stylish, does some very out of the box things, plot wise, and Siegel and Gallagher turn in marvelous performances. There are no clichés, no formulas, no moments of disbelief. Nothing for you to scoff at or roll your eyes. It’s tense, well-written, well-shot and well-acted.

Hush is a winner. I can’t wait to see more from everyone involved.

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2


In 2013 James Wan scared the hell out of millions of people and turned the horror genre on its head by delivering The Conjuring, a superb, terrifying film chronicling a purportedly real life case of haunting and possession investigated by the husband and wife team of Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Now we have The Conjuring 2, which picks up several months after the Warrens concluded their involvement in the Perron case (the basis for the original film).  As the new film opens, Ed and Lorraine (again portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who still share an electric chemistry which provides the film with its emotional core) are investigating the Amityville haunting, the case that catapulted them into the spotlight. During this sequence (which, unlike the original film, actually earns this sequel its R rating), Lorraine has an encounter with something evil, leaving her afraid for the safety of her husband.

While this is going on, we’re introduced to Peggy Hodgson and her four children, who live in a run down council house in Enfield, North London.  A series of terrifying paranormal occurrences (centered around daughter Janet) besieges the family, increasing in frequency and ferocity. These events are witnessed by multiple people and when even the police realize they are unable to provide any substantial help, Peggy turns to the church. News travels across the ocean to America, where the Catholic church again turns to the Warrens for assistance.

conj2frame2Despite Lorraine’s objections, Ed and Lorraine make the trip to London and investigate the events, which would go on to achieve global fame as the Enfield Poltergeist case – one of the most documented paranormal incidents in history.

The cast is superb, with Frances O’ Connor as Peggy Hodges and Madison Wolfe as young Janet being the two newcomers ably holding their own with Wilson and Farmiga. Simon McBurney is also on hand in an effective turn as psychical investigator Maurice Gross, who was one of the first to believe the Hodgsons claims.

Writers Cary and Chad Hayes (along with David Leslie Johnson) deliver a screenplay equal parts smart, scary and involving, taking time to develop these characters as human beings, establishing a connection between them and the audience before unleashing all manner of horrors on both families.

And there is indeed horror. James Wan returns behind the camera to deliver a knockout sequel, a film every bit as terrifying as its predecessor. If some of the scares in The Conjuring 2 seem familiar at times, the execution is anything but. Wan understands better than anyone working today how to use darkness, sound and our instinctive fear of the unknown to weave sequences that will have audiences jumping out of their skin or gripping their armrest with white knuckles.  Moreover, there are entirely original moments of legitimate genius throughout, evoking the best moments of Carpenter and Craven, such as a skin crawling, hair raising conversation Ed is forced to have with the ghastly specter harassing the family with his back turned.

However, that isn’t where the film succeeds. All of those attributes would be meaningless if we didn’t care about the characters. On that score, The Conjuring 2 isn’t just a terrific sequel and a great horror film, it’s one of the best genre entries I have ever seen.

conj1frameAs was the case in the original, these characters are fleshed out. They have substance and flaws, fears and hopes and are not mere horror movie cliches.  The scorn and derision Ed and Lorraine were frequently subjected to at the hands of skeptics isn’t glossed over here (Ed loses his temper on live television at one point), neither is the fact that certain reports emerged from the Enfield case indicating young Janet Hodgson was in fact faking at least some of the phenomena.  These are real people and, as such, their fate matters. I’ve seen a lot of films that put everything into scaring the audience only to have the human quality suffer, but few as diligent about demonstrating the behind the scenes drama inherent in an experience like this as the Conjuring films. Some of the best moments in the sequel are the quieter ones, such as a truly moving and gentle scene where Ed entertains the Hodgson family by strumming a guitar and crooning a respectable rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” It’s a warm, generous moment, representative of this film’s soul.

conj2frame3Going into this movie, I was aware that many liberties had been taken with the case records and that, for the most part, this is a fictionalized Hollywood representation of the real story. That doesn’t matter. This could be made up whole cloth (and there are certainly a number of people who think that’s exactly what this story is) and it doesn’t make a difference. Whether its complete fiction or based on a true story as the titles claim, The Conjuring 2 is a surprisingly effective human drama wrapped inside of an absolutely frightening horror thriller.  The Hodgsons are sympathetic and the Warrens continue to be a likable couple you’ll end up cheering for.

Like the first film, this is one the few movies determined to convey the ideal that love, courage and faith are still the most powerful tools we possess for combating evil in any form. At a time when the news is filled with hideous stories capable of draining people of hope, that’s a message we need to hear. It just so happens it’s been delivered in the form of one of the best horror sequels I’ve ever seen.

***** out of ***** stars. This is the rare sequel that’s every bit as good as the original.

Blu-ray Review: Bride of Re-Animator

Director: Brian Yuzna. Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Claude Earl Jones. Theatrical release: 1989. Company: Wild Street. Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD release through Arrow Video

borframe1If you have read my Night Things books, you’ll see that I have a particular fondness for Herbert West. A character from a throw away episodic series that Lovecraft hobbled together (influenced mainly by Shelley’s Frankenstein), Dr. West has become an iconic horror figure. The first Re-Animator film is easily in my top three 80’s splatter fests. I have seen Bride of Re-Animator a few times over the years, but it never really found a spot in my video library. But when the new Arrow Video edition of Bride hit my player, it became evident to me that I had not really given the film a chance.

In this outing, Herbert (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) continue their mad experiments. Herbert uses a piece of Dan’s departed love (Megan’s heart) to build the perfect woman. Using various dead parts, he uses Dan’s misery over losing Megan to keep his assistant and experiments alive.

You simply cannot envision Herbert West without seeing Jeffrey Combs in the role. He embodies the part perfectly. If you think people threw a fit when Freddy and Jason were cast without Englund and Hodder, just imagine a reboot without Combs. Villages would burn.

Bride-Reanimator-Blu-rayWith this installment, West begins to show how mad he truly is. He takes more of a perverse pleasure in his experiments. You start to see that mean streak exhibited in Lovecraft’s original stories. Abbott works well as Herbert’s straight man, Dan Cain. But a few scenes of Herbert convincing Dan to continue with the work feel very flat. That is really my only complaint about the movie itself. Dan is convinced, fairly easily, to see Herbert’s creation through and I always felt Dan had a bit more backbone. The highlight of the film, of course, is the final act gorefest. The team of Screaming Mad George, Richard Kilroy, Robert Kurtzman and Greg Nicotero (you’ve heard of them, right?) hand in some great, gruesome practical effects.

The disc itself is packed with bonuses. The highlight is Brian Yuzna discussing what Bride would have been, given more time and money. The behind the scenes footage of David Gale as dead head Dr. Hill is a lot of fun as well. Arrow Video did a hell of a job with this one, folks. I highly recommend adding this to your collection, based on the extensive added bonuses. The film looks great. The 2K restoration makes this the best viewing you can possibly imagine. This might be one of the best horror film packages I have ever seen.

Check out this video from Arrow video regarding their special edition of Bride of Re-Animator:

Movie Review: The Mirror (2014)

The MirrorThree friends purchase a “haunted mirror” from eBay in hopes of filming paranormal happenings. They set up round-the-clock surveillance, certain their footage will earn them a one million dollar paranormal challenge sponsored by the James Randi Foundation. The results surprised them.

This British “found footage” horror film finds its inspiration from a news story about a mirror in Muswell Hill said to bring misfortune to its owners. Most of the action takes place in Matt’s (Joshua Dickinson, “Opening Night of the Living Dead” 2014) flat. His girlfriend, Jemma (Jemma Dallender, “I Spit on Your Grave II,” 2013) doesn’t believe in ghosts. Steve Higgins (Nate Fallows, “Christmas Eve,” 2014) operates the cameras and drives the experiment, bringing in an Ouija Board when things don’t progress quickly enough for his liking. Their relationship strains when strange dreams, nocturnal happenings, and mysterious toothaches bother them. Although the script dictates the cast lack common sense and the ability to recognition of the need for medical treatment, the acting is believable. However, much of the found footage is dull and unremarkable. The few scares in the film are largely given away in the trailer and film packaging, but the short escalation into gore was done well.

Directed by Edward Boase (“Blooded,” 2011) who co-wrote the screenplay with Theidrych Waslay, The Mirror was released in the UK on 8 September, 2014 to a mixed reception. It was nominated by Total Film Fright Fest for the Best Found Footage Horror.

Movie Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

crimson peak posterGuillermo Del Torro waltzes his viewers through another visually stunning cinematic experience with his gothic tale, Crimson Peak. In it, aspiring novelist Edith Cushing (Mia Waikowska, Alice from “Alice in Wonderland”) asserts, “Ghosts are real.” Her first visitor from the beyond came with a warning when she was a grieving ten year old. Although she had no idea what the terrifying spirit meant, she never forgot its message. “Beware of Crimson Peak.”

After being dismissed by a publisher for writing ghost stories instead of the more socially acceptable romance, Edith asks to use her father’s work typewriters to disguise her feminine handwriting. While thus transcribing her manuscript, she made the acquaintance of Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, Loki from “The Avengers”) who visited Buffalo, New York in hopes of securing an investor in his mining invention. Edith’s father, self-made industrialist (Jim Beaver, Bobby from “Supernatural”) distrusts the smooth-handed, slick-featured Baronet.

Sir Thomas then woos and wins the lovely Edith. They marry after her father is brutally murdered. The newlyweds move to the Baronet’s dilapidated ancestral home, Allerdale Hall in England, joining Sir Thomas’s stoic sister, Lucille (Jessica Castain). Lucille volleys from disdain for her new sister-in-law to fawning, offering tea and comfort to Edith. After taking up residence at her new home, Edith befriends a Papillion dog and is assailed by terrifying visions. She sets out to solve a mystery as her health begins to fail.

CP oneDel Torro combines includes all the classic elements of a Gothic romance. Brooding secrets, an innocent heroine, a dashing rescue come into play. Edith’s friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) provides a foil for the mysterious bridegroom. Lush, Victorian costuming, haunting melodies (including a creepy lullaby), and enormous portraits of deceased family members couple with hidden pasts, secret marriages and murders, and the betrayal of long-held plans to provide the feel of a Hammer horror film. Most important for the genre, though, is the setting which assumes its own vibrant importance within the story; dripping in red and as thick with shadowy recesses as the secrets it holds, Allerdale Hall invites viewers to linger as its tale unfolds. Del Torro adds his own, distinctive touches, including an obvious respect and sympathy for the departed (mostly portrayed by Doug Jones, Paleman from “Pan’s Labyrinth), cinematic views, and a focus on insects.

cp 2Although Crimson Peak is not scary in the “clutch your seats and try not to scream” way, its subtle approach diverges with a few “avert your eyes” scenes of violence that warrant the movie’s “R” rating. Despite a couple of blips, including items dropped by actors that mysteriously disappear (notably a candelabra and a strangled dog) and a few problems with synching the words with the actors’ lips, the film was well-acted and a worthy diversion for an autumn evening.

Movie Review: Devil (2010)

M. Night Shyamalan creates movies with glorious camera work and marvelous twists.devil poster

The twist with his 2010 “Devil” is the narrator tells the premise from the outset. A suicide paves a path for the Devil to take human form and sport with some victims.

Of course, any time the Devil plays, there is Hell to pay.

A group of flawed humans become trapped in an elevator with the Lord of Lies in a clever disguise. Claustrophobia and paranoia prey on them while the building engineer and security staff scramble to rescue them from the situation. Within the car are actors Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, and Geoffrey Arend. Threats are leveled, music enrages, and the lights flicker and die. With the return of illumination, they find a passenger dead.

devil picLuckily Police Detective Bowen (Chris Messina) already on hand to investigate the rosary-clutching suicide comes to their aid.

None of the players lent credence to security’s Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) and his religious foreboding. He admonishes Detective Bowden, “Everybody believes in him (the Devil) a little bit, even guys like you who pretend they don’t.” He explains, “The lies we tell ourselves introduce us to him (the Devil).”

Rescuers need rescuing and the sins of the elevator’s inhabitants become known.

John E. Dowdle directed and Brian Nelson wrote the screen play for M. Night Shyamalan’s story.

“Don’t worry,” Ramirez relates, “if the Devil is real, then God must be real, too.”

Movie Review: Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)

Halloween2-2009There are a few very good reasons why John Carpenter’s Halloween has made such an impact even three and a half decades later:  The music, the mask, and the mute.   No other film’s soundtrack is as recognizable or sets the mood as much as the one Carpenter himself composed for his swan song, Halloween.  The subtleness of Michael Myer’s plain mask helps create a spook factor that has been replicated over and over since.  Mix in a merciless, homicidal madman who never utters a word sporting said mask, and you get this emotionless enigma that can’t be reasoned with.  If you’re in his line of sight, you’re dead.  Plain and simple.  No matter how fast you run, Michael can walk faster.

Rob Zombie took that enigmatic nature of Michael Myers that we all know and very much love and pinched a big steaming loaf on it.  I tolerated his remake of the original Halloween.  I was curious, and I’ll admit there was an interesting back story.  But I never saw any reason for him to do a second, and after witnessing the pile of garbage that is Zombie’s Halloween 2, I understand it even less now.  After sitting through it I felt like I needed to watch Carpenter’s Halloween 1 and 2 back to back while taking a long shower with a toothbrush planted firmly in mouth.  It left a bad taste and ruined an image I’ve had since I was 12.

Where I come from, Michael Myers was a 6-foot tall human Godzilla that destroyed anything in his way—doors, windows, glass, and of course… humans.

Rob Zombie tried adding a more humanistic side to Michael Myers with grunting, being maskless half the movie (and looking suspiciously like Zombie himself), and even giving us a single word in English at the end.  Part of what brings people back to watching the Halloween franchise is wondering if we’ll ever seen Michael’s face (excluding the very dark glimpse of him in the original Halloween) or witness some type of emotion.  We’re waiting for it, but we never really want it.  Like the sexual tension between two characters in a TV series.  You want Jim and Pam to hook up, but when it happens the excitement is gone.  It was a mistake.

Halloween 2 pic 1Zombie also destroyed the image of Dr. Loomis—the lovable doctor that did everything he could to help Michael and everyone around him, dedicating his entire life to the monitoring and treatment of Michael, all the while reminding us time and time again that Michael Myers was pure evil.  In Zombie’s Halloween 2 remake, Dr. Loomis is nothing but a greedy-eyed, selfish monster himself with no real regard for anything but a bigger paycheck and a girl in his bed.

In my opinion, Zombie isn’t a horrible filmmaker, though I think he misses the mark several times with all but maybe The Devil’s Rejects.  You can tell the man has a great artistic eye, but he also likes to trash up his movies to where even the hardcore audiences wonder where he’s coming from.  I believe he feels he’s bringing some unique element to something that doesn’t need it and instead distracts the audience from a potentially decent film.

I think one day Zombie may just get a homerun with one of his films.  But I’d really like to see him stay clear of tainting any other franchise that so many hold dear.

TV Review: The Strain Season One (2014)

The Strain pic 3With the second season having started this summer, here are a few words about a show that I noticed a lot of people are missing out on.  The Strain is a horror drama TV series based on the book series of the same name written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  This particular review covers the entire first series as a whole.

Though I’d heard of the TV series as well as the books, I’d never actually dove into either until Hulu had the complete first season available.  I saw a few mentions of it via Facebook friends, and when I noticed el Toro’s name attached to it I decided to give it the ole’ three-episode trial run–something my wife and I came up with.  Giving a series a three-episode chance should develop the characters enough for you to be emotionally invested in the show and be enjoying the experience.  And if it doesn’t, well then it’s probably not worth your time or anybody else’s and it’s time to move on.  After watching the pilot, there was no need for the three-episode trial.  I would be completing the season.

TV and video streaming series have become addictive, dark soap operas.  The writing and character development in many of these shows in the last decade have been quite impressive.  People are revolving their social and recreational activities around episodes of American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Hannibal, and others like it, more than ever.  Though The Strain may not be reeling in the masses like a few of the aforementioned, in my opinion it rates up there with one of the best made-for–TV horror series to ever grace a living room screen.

The Strain pic 1The show contains all the gore we’ve been accustomed to in today’s modern TV that The Walking Dead brought with it.  The story brings your traditional Nosferatu type and fuses it with a modern-world apocalypse via viral infection–a strain that turns you into a blood sucking nightwalker with a tongue that truly shames Gene Simmons’ own appendage in comparison.

The Strain beings with a mysterious event involving an idle commercial plane that has safely landed but with no signs of life on the inside.  Enter the Center for Disease Control, and the main characters it brings, with an attempt to make sense of it all.  Things slowly unfold, and in the meantime New York City is being taken over by the spread of the evil-born strain.

The series bounces around various characters and their subplots.  And while some shows bore their audience with at least one subplot that feels more like filler than a functional building block, The Strain manages to keep us interested in each person’s life.  The characters in The Strain feel nearly equally exciting as we explore their background, their flaws, and their struggles with each playing an important role in the unfolding of the story.  However, I do have one problem with the show:  The computer hacking mastermind.  This is where using a stereotype would have helped the believability.  I’m more apt to think someone who can take down the internet on a global scale is most likely filled with abhorrently awkward social skills and is probably not all that familiar with makeovers, exercise, or even the sun.  But we’re presented with a toned sex symbol with long, flowing locks and a great complexion.  It’s bothersome, but not enough to change the channel.

The Strain pic 2I’m one of these people who read and watch with pessimistic eyes.  I look for the bad in everything.  I’m just searching for an excuse not to like something.  It’s my own personal test I put things through.  I have high standards.  I’m drawn to loop holes and weak characters and stereotypes that don’t work; the whole time longing for originality, particularly anything that takes me for an unsuspecting ride.  The Strain provides a very enjoyable ride.

The show’s overall concept isn’t exactly innovative.  It takes our fascination with a zombie apocalypse and gives it to the vampires in the form of a visible contagion that at one point gave me an actual nightmare with the strain’s infectious worms burrowing in my own flesh.  The cursed worms…quite possibly the most disturbing element of the show.  For fans who have taken to The Walking Dead and are looking for another horror series, this show does not hold the same dark tone, and perhaps it’s even a bit more unbelievable.  But I think you’ll find that by even attempting to apply that three-episode trial run you’ll want to ride it all the way to the end.

Television Review: The Walking Dead Season 5 (2014)

norman-reedus-steven-yeun-the-walking-dead-season-5-01-2000x1000The fifth season of The Walking Dead picks up quickly from where the previous finale left off with our survivors discovering the terrible truth behind Terminus and quickly marches ahead almost like an odyssey through the zombie infested wasteland as characters meet tragic fates and an almost too good to be true opportunity tests their resolves as they struggle with the reconciliation with what life has made each of them over the last two years do to survive and whether they could ever reintegrate within civil society again. The zombie threat continues to be great as some characters are graphically eaten alive with shockingly greater amounts of gore than has been previously exhibited before. Perhaps it not really more gory, but it is the close ups in particular with one character that is simply disturbing because the actor playing the victim was the star of a popular sitcom on American broadcast television for several years.

The performances and casting are all up to the same quality we have come to expect from the previous seasons and one is left with great wonder for the sixth season to come which will debut in the States on AMC this October of 2015. All sixteen episodes are spread out across four Blu-Ray Discs with the majority of the extra value features found on the fifth disc. Each episode is presented in a gorgeous (1.78:1) broadcasts aspect ratio in full 1080p24fps, (where available), high definition resolution and English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround Sound as well as a French Language Dubbed Dolby Surround Soundtrack with English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and Spanish Language Subtitles encoded as options too.

The audio commentaries are informative and in some cases were recorded during the production of the sixth season with speakers sounding like they are in the same room despite very often the participants may be talking with one or more in Los Angeles and the rest on location in Georgia where the series is shot. The fifth season premiere features two episode length audio commentaries. One with Executive Producer Scott M. Completely and Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd while Makeup Effects Master and Series Director Gregory Nicotero does the other track with Actress Melissa McBride. On disc two, Steven Yeun, Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos, Lauren Cohan, Josh McDermitt, and Allanna Masterson participate in the commentary for the episode, “Self Help.”

wd5Chad Coleman and Gregory Nicotero deliver a screen specific audio commentary on disc three for the episode “What Happened and What’s Going On” while Norman Reedus, Sonequa Martin-Green participate with series Director Julius Ramsay participate in an episode commentary track and a third audio commentary with Greg Nicotero Tom Luse and Danai Gurrira making it a total of three episode length audio commentaries on disc three. The season finale episode features optional audio commentary with Gregory Nicotero and Scott M. Gimple on disc four.

A reel of deleted scenes (16:01), sixteen making of spots as well as sixteen inside featurettes are also included along with featurettes covering the making of Alexandria (9:45), the character arcs of Beth (4:20), Bob (4:54), Noah (4:28) and Tyreese (6:33), featurettes of a day on the set for Actors Michael Cudlitz (7:58) and Josh McDermitt (7:56) and the liquified walkers sequence (4:35) encompass what is on the fifth disc. A few short AMC TV spots for the upcoming season premieres of Comic Book Men and The Walking Dead and series premieres of Fear The Walking Dead and Into The Badlands are on the first disc too. The interactive menus are all well rendered and easy to navigate. An insert containing a limited time only redemption code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of Season Five of The Walking Dead and a twenty page booklet of tie-in merchandise are included within the blue BD case too.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season is available now at retailers on and offline either on Blu-Ray Disc or DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.