I have to admit I was waiting for the premiere of The Walking Dead like a kid anticipating a holiday. I don’t know why. I have absolutely no rational explanation. I had not even watched a single zombie movie until a few years ago when I realized I had missed out on this entire genre. I started with Night of the Living Dead, with that unexpected, bleak, non-Hollywood ending that makes it so original and have been consuming zombie movies ever since.

The Walking Dead centers on a deputy sheriff, Rick Grimes who is shot in a fiery gunfight during the line of duty and wakes up alone in a desolate, abandoned hospital except for a group of dead people locked behind a chained door. He emerges into the daylight of a world he thinks is a bad dream to find countless bodies littering the streets only to realize he truly is in a nightmare come true.

Grimes is helped by a father son team who clue him in on the “walkers,” which in this version, an adaptation of a comic book series, are the slow-moving kind of zombies more dangerous in a pack than one-on-one. Armed and ready, he heads off to a refugee camp in Atlanta in the hopes of finding his wife, Lori and son, Carl.

There’s nothing new here but what is served up is top notch. The visual style is cinematic with some sweeping wide shots that convey the loneliness and horror of this apocalyptic world more powerfully than words ever could. The story unfolds at an efficient pace that provides both tension and room to breathe. The effects are also excellent. If they’re using CGI, I can’t detect it. What I did catch is the use of really good, old-fashioned makeup work. The show tilts more toward the suspense side with just the right amount of gore to satisfy those who enjoy the blood and guts and not turn off those like myself who don’t. Maybe it’s the voyeuristic, train wreck aspect of zombie movies coupled with the human desire to be reborn that probably makes this and the vampire genre so popular. At the same time, there seems to be a glitch in the collective psyche that makes us feel we need to be punished for this desire. Otherwise, why do we keep retelling this story of coming back from the dead as these mindless, flesh-eating monsters instead of angelic, enlightened beings? Whatever the reason, I’m coming back for more. It’s a season pass for The Walking Dead.

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