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'Town of the Living Dead' premiere recap; plus recipe for fake blood

Season 1 | Episodes 1 & 2 | “Jasper Needs Zombies” and “Premature Explosion” | Aired Oct 7, 2014

Syfy’s newest show, a little docuseries called Town of the Living Dead, is six years in the making. It’s about a group of small-town, amateur filmmakers attempting to finish their zombie flick, Thr33 Days Dead. And like I’ve said, they’ve been at it for six years. SIX YEARS. When Syfy heard about their project, the channel awesomely agreed to air the film—if they finish it in time.

Director John Wares

As the show opens, we quickly begin to meet our cast of characters (and they certainly are characters). Tina Teeter, the film’s producer, confesses to never having done anything like this before. She is the film’s sole source of funds—and she even has her own catchphrase (but I’ll get to that later). John Ware, the director (and a Radio Shack employee), fills us in on the plot of Thr33 Days Dead. It’s pretty straightforward for this type of movie: Three dudes go fishing, and upon their return, the world has been overrun by zombies. It’s the apocalypse! And finally, the flick’s lead actress, Catie, is Tina’s daughter—oh, and she just had a baby (another cause for delay in the film’s production).

The Jasper community appears to have rallied in support of the film. We hear from a couple of zombies—er, I mean, citizens, who think the movie is great for the town. But the horror genre is not without controversy, and Jasper has had its fair share of dissidence as well, including a handful of protesters carrying signs that read, “Jasper Needs Jesus, Not Zombies.” Ouch.

Time to meet lead actor Bryan, an interesting fellow who’s prone to anxiety attacks. A true thespian, Bryan actually turned down work on The Walking Dead to be in his town’s low-budget movie! OK, OK, it was just an extra role, but still! Next up: Laura, Tina’s assistant. She seems to be the catch-all for odds and ends. She does makeup, sound, and perhaps mostly important of all, zombie training for the film’s extras.

This weekend’s shoot centers on an important scene: While the actors flee, a zombie is going to get hit by a truck. Tina and John go shopping for supplies—at a party store. This is where we learn how much Tina has actually invested into the project: $25,000. That’s a tiny drop in the bucket by movie standards, but for one amateur investor, that’s a whole heck of a lot. Now she’s in the hole, and her credit card gets declined. Sadly, Tina and John leave with only a portion of the needed materials (including a foam head).

Later, at a restaurant, we meet our supporting actor, Chase, and special effects guy, Terry. Chase informs us that nipple-pierced Terry is, surprisingly, an IT guy, and even more surprising, Terry is gay (his words)! But don’t worry: Chase also lets us know that he knows a lot of gay people because of working in the theater (again, his words). Chase’s own story is that he still lives at home with his colorful mother.

It’s zombie recruitment time! Terry and actress Catie head to the grocery store in full-on zombie makeup to scout for extras. Customers are quick to say no and hurry away. Actors Chase and Bryan take a different approach and head to a retirement home for undead recruits. I am sure there is a joke in there somewhere. Predictably, they are turned down. In the end, the first group manages to enlist one very enthusiastic lady at the grocery store.

Town of the Living Dead - 1bIt’s shooting day. Laura mixes up a special batch of blood using ketchup, chocolate syrup, and coffee (for a better recipe, go here) to splatter the zombies. Tina advises the crew that they don’t have time for a lot of takes, while Bryan stresses over character (“The essence of the movie is in the dialogue.”). After the extras are battered in blood, Laura motivates the group with acting tips, including the phrases “dead puppies” and “dead mother.”

In an effectively low-budget animation graphic, we learn the layout of the scene: A truck smashes into a zombie. But before the filming can really take off, traffic intervenes, and the group repeatedly gets interrupted by oncoming cars—and the local law enforcement. See, the cops have received numerous 911 calls about a dead body (a prop dummy). But it’s cool. He just tells them to make sure they are with the dummy at all times to avoid confusion. They finish the first piece of the scene. On to the next!

There is a little concern over the lead zombie actor. It appears she’s underage and, as it turns out, a really bad actor. But the latter is a nonissue, so the filming commences. Director John has an awful time trying to figure out how to film the actual scene, and in the end, Tina takes over. The shot is ruined when the dummy’s head explodes on a very angry John, but he comes around and says they’ll just fix it in editing.

Without interruption, the next episode begins …

The cast and crew gather for a production meeting. Because the next shoot is at the local lake, Tina feels it’s time for bigger and better stunts. Effects guy Terry says, “Let’s blow up a boat!” Sure, why not? Apparently Terry’s ideas aren’t the safest, as we flash to a previous scene of John nearly getting scalped by having something glued to his head. I’m confused too. Terry is giddy with dreams of chaos and explosions, while John says they should really focus on shooting the script before adding extra (expensive) scenes.

In the end, Tina agrees to the exploding boat scene. After all, it’s a way to raise the production value, she says.

Tina meets John for lunch in a mall food court. Tina lays out her grandiose ideas for big stunts—explosions, people jumping from windows, setting people on fire—you know, the usual stuff. She then hands John a check for $17,000. Tina is pretty serious about the film; she took a small mortgage on her house to continue funding it.

Town of the Living Dead - 2Terry heads to the library to research explosions—I kid you not. He gets a little overwhelmed and decides it’s time to call in backup: Chance, his sister’s boyfriend and and “explosives expert.” To quote Chance, he’s only into three things: girls, food, and blowing stuff up. This guy is awesome and totally reliable. Spin-off?

Tina heads to a city council meeting to let them know about their big boat scene. The movie’s history with local government isn’t exactly stellar. Past issues include citizens thinking there was a sniper on a building and “dead” bodies in the road. The city council may have beef with the production; however, they are eager to get the movie finished.

Meanwhile, Terry and Chance go shopping. They both agree that there’s really no point in an explosion unless it’s BIG. Chance gets a little too excited when the store owner pulls out a large box of dynamite. Yes, dynamite—because that’s a good idea.

Back at the city council meeting, Tina gets the OK to continue with the explosive shoot. Tina is thrilled and lets us know the council got “Teetered!” Yep, that’s her catchphrase. Tina Teeter. Teetered. Get it? Don’t worry; it happens again.

Actor Bryan heads to the pharmacy for some medicine that might relieve or cure his anxiety. Meanwhile, he has anxiety thinking about the meds.

Today’s the day! It’s time to explode a boat (Tina’s words). At this time, Terry confesses to not wanting to be known as the town’s token gay guy; he’d rather be known as the token gay guy who blows stuff up. And again, Chance is SUPER-excited about today’s stunt. He even calls the day “miraculous.”

As before, we see an animated graphic of how the scene should play out. The actors (including director John) practice a bit where they coolly put on sunglasses and walk away with their backs to the about-to-happen explosion. Because the explosion can only happen in one shot, it’s crucial that everything go right. But of course, it doesn’t, and the boat explodes off cue. On the upside, Chance thought it was awesome. He is quickly becoming my favorite character.

It’s unclear what went wrong, but Tina gets incredibly upset and storms off, only to return a few moments later, completely mellow again. They film the burning boat and start to hatch a new plan: They’re going to need a new boat.

Tina meets with a boat salesman and strikes a deal to only borrow a boat (that looks nothing like the original boat) in exchange for eight movie T-shirts (even though they only have four) and free tickets to the premiere. To quote Tina, the boat guy got “Teetered!” Obviously.

Town of the Living Dead - 2bTo make sure all goes smoothly this time around, Terry and Chance practice blowing up more stuff. Here we go again. The shot is set up; it’s time to blow up the new boat, and—boop. It explodes, but it’s a small, disappointing explosion. And it’s kind of hilarious. In the end, the group yields and decides to use the new explosion shot.

OK, I am a huge fan and supporter of the horror genre—the good, the bad, and the very bad. So, it’s quite charming to see small-town residents of Jasper working together on a (very) low-budget zombie flick. The movie will undoubtedly be horrible—based on the interwoven clips we see in each episode—but the passion and drive the filmmakers have will make the road to get there quite fun. And let’s be honest—bad movies can sometimes be great movies. If Tina, John, and Co. meet their deadline, I will most assuredly be watching (and live-tweeting) the premiere of Thr33 Days Dead. Are you rooting for the film’s finish? Or are these quirky characters just a bit too much to take?

This show lends itself to some pretty quotable lines, so each week I will be featuring some of my favorites. Share yours in the comments!

Memorable Quote of the Week

Chance on explosion practice: “I feel like a welfare child on Christmas Day!”

Town of the Living Dead airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on Syfy.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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