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‘Town of the Living Dead’ recaps: A good night for zombie babies and cat T-shirts

Season 1 | Episodes 5 & 6 | “A Zombie Baby Is Born” & “Don’t Mess with the Money Maker” | Aired October 21, 2014

The first episode gets right to the chase. Lead actor Bryan is getting his first onscreen kiss (with leading lady Catie)—and he’s not excited about it. Remember, this dude has major anxiety issues. In an attempt to help Bryan’s issues, supporting actor Gary tells Bryan they should blow up some stuff with guns. But really, Gary just wanted to see if Bryan would actually do it—and he did. Gary is moving up on my favorite-character list.

Tina making the zombie baby.

Tina making the zombie baby

During this episode’s production meeting, Tina is tasked with creating a zombie baby. While her daughter Catie and infant granddaughter watch on, Tina gets super into the zombification of a baby doll, including smashing the doll’s voice box with a hammer. Tina and Catie proceed to discuss the big upcoming kiss, where they call Bryan a bit of a diva, which leads to …

Bryan gets a facial! It’s okay, though—it’s his wife, Bennett, giving him the facial. And besides, he IS the lead actor; he has to have great skin! We also learn that Bryan has big dreams. He aspires to take on roles akin to the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s filmography. But he understands that he must pay his dues first … you know, by being in a super-low-budget horror movie with zombie penises. Again, the impending kiss is brought up.

Tina, John, and other crew members meet to build some props for the big zombie baby scene. In a rather ingenious moment, a fake belly is created for Catie using her real-life pregnancy belly cast. Brilliant move, crew! Other props to be made: an umbilical cord and, ahem, the afterbirth. At this time, Tina compares herself to Michael Bay.

Terry and Laura kiss.

Terry and Laura kiss.

Later, in an effort to make Bryan’s upcoming onscreen kiss less of a big deal, assistant Laura and gay FX guy Terry kiss … okay, they kind of make out … in front of Bryan and director John. The result? All watching parties are extremely uncomfortable and shocked.

It’s boys’ night out at the bowling alley for Gary, John, and Bryan. And here’s where we learn of tonight’s scene-stealer: Ben Farley, a friend of John’s. He’s the local crazy guy who apparently writes music for the movie and has a connection with the local TV station. If Gary and Ben Farley (it’s not just Ben) volunteer their services for a day, the TV station will let the film use the studio. Problem is, Gary HATES Ben Farley.

Elsewhere, another kiss conversation is to be had between Catie and her boyfriend/baby mama, Michael. The best part of the scene is the setting. Catie takes Michael out to dinner at his favorite place: Jasper’s best sushi restaurant/gas station.

Bryan and Catie's on-screen kiss!

Bryan and Catie’s onscreen kiss!

The day is here—it’s kissy-kissy time for Catie and Bryan. Basically, the scene goes as follows: Bryan gets home to his pregnant girlfriend (?), they kiss, then she goes into labor and has a zombie baby bust out of her stomach. After a couple of mess-ups (where the set’s house phone rings), the big kiss happens and Bryan is ready to take on the world—or, specifically, Rachel McAdams. How fetch.

Meanwhile, Gary and Ben Farley head to the TV station. While I can’t hold Ben Farley to Chance standards, the dude is definitely entertaining. AND he wears an awesome cat T-shirt. The guys are supposed to “help” while the station films a local show, Coffee Time. While Gary tries to be professional, Ben Farley goofs around and messes with stuff. The scene comes to a head when Ben Farley interrupts Coffee Time to ask if the sexy redheaded guest needs anything. AWKWARD (for everyone). After filming, Ben Farley asks the same lady if she wants to be in their movie as a sexy zombie. She laughs it off. Later, the TV station manager says there is no way he’ll let “these idiots” use the studio.

The kiss is done—but now it’s time for the zombie-baby birth scene! Instead of the original blood recipe (coffee, chocolate syrup, and ketchup), Terry mixes up a new and improved batch of blood using laundry detergent and food coloring. The belly prop goes awry during the first take, but the next one works fine. I have to say, for what they’re working with, the effects aren’t terrible.

Next up is Bryan’s “stunt”—a reaction shot where he gets sprayed in the face with the blood. Now, remember what the new blood recipe’s key ingredient is? Yeah, laundry detergent. As can be expected, Bryan is nearly blinded during the scene when the “blood” gets in his eyes. Oh—and they can’t use the shot because Terry’s hands are in it. They reshoot the scene with Tina throwing the blood.  Her hands are even more in the frame, but it doesn’t matter. That’s a wrap!

On to the next episode …

It’s dinnertime at Tina’s house. It turns out she’s on a new diet, a variation of the paleo diet where she just eats chicken wings. She wants to drop a few pounds because she has a scene coming up in the film!

Later, Tina works with Laura on some zombie training (remember, Laura is the expert). We discover that Tina actually used to do a lot of local theater, but hasn’t in a while—so she’s a bit rusty. In her scene, she gets to play a “mombie” (a mom zombie). During their training, Laura (surprisingly) gets angry at Tina for not getting the scene right. In the end, they work through it and hug.

At the production meeting, we learn that this episode’s big scenes are Tina’s “mombie” death and a cemetery scene. The latter is actually the movie’s opening scene. It was filmed once before in Tina’s backyard, but they want to reshoot in a real graveyard. First, they need to get the OK from city hall. Laura volunteers to go and Chase is selected to join her.

While getting ready for the big City Hall meeting, Chase’s mother berates him for wearing inappropriate clothes. She makes him change into some “wedding” clothes. This includes a shiny black shirt—which is clearly MUCH better than what he had on before.

Laura and Chase at City Hall

Laura and Chase at City Hall

At City Hall, Laura and Chase wait in a small meeting room. Chase is hungry. Seriously hungry, because we hear his stomach growl. A nice plate of pastries sits on the table—so obviously, the two partake. Councilwoman Jennifer (who, incidentally, follows me on Twitter) enters the room and lets Laura and Chase know that the pastries were actually for a later meeting. Whoops! After Laura does a little smooth-talking, she gets approval for the crew to film at the cemetery, provided they buy a grave (for $600).

Elsewhere, Tina is still struggling with her chicken-wing diet. Her husband, Jimmy, tries to tempt her with better food, but Tina resists and vows to never eat wings again after she films her scene.

Good timing—the crew is at Tina’s brother’s house to film her scene! And let me tell you, Tina is cranky! Director John explains that because most of the script is fairly light, he wanted to add an emotional scene: one where a son (played by Gary) has to kill his zombie mother (Tina). They complete the scene—and Tina actually does a pretty convincing job. Those zombie lessons paid off, Laura!

Next: the graveyard scene. It turns out that the first time they filmed the scene, something messed up (shocker) and Ben Farley got injured. Well, Ben Farley is back for the reshoot—wearing the same cat shirt, mind you—and he’s not exactly stoked for the filming.

Meanwhile, Tina (literally) bulldozes a grave for the scene. The scene features a trio of grave robbers, including Ben Farley and Michael, Catie’s boyfriend. Ben Farley opens a casket and finds only a dead body. It explodes on him, and THAT is how the zombie apocalypse begins. Ben’s mind is very much elsewhere (as it always is), and you just know this isn’t going to work out. To make matters even more complicated, they are rushing to beat the clock—a funeral is set to begin in the graveyard VERY soon.

Ben Farley is nervous (remember, he got injured before), but everyone else is super-stoked about shooting some fake blood in his face. In the meantime, shooting is interrupted when a family comes to the cemetery to visit a grave. AWKWARD. Thankfully, Tina halts filming until the family leaves. In the end, Ben Farley gets nervous, and at the last minute, moves away from the exploding effects, causing them to miss the shot. The real funeral begins and the day is lost.

Ben Farley

Ben Farley gets bloodied!

They decide to reshoot at Tina’s house. John helps Tina and Jimmy dig a grave for the scene. He promises that Ben Farley will get it right next time. And cut to Ben Farley enjoying himself at a bar—drinking, playing pool, and dancing (by himself).

It’s the next day and it’s time to try again. Ben Farley shows up hungover, and again goofs off. And he’s wearing the SAME cat shirt! Finally, they get the shot they need and Ben throws up. Justice is served!

With each passing week of back-to-back episodes, my fondness grows for this colorful group of Southern folk. True, I roll my eyes, drop my jaw, and shake my head at their antics and poor decision-making, but they’re living the dream and making a movie.  Good for them.

Oh, and guess what? Next week, breakout star (and explosives expert) CHANCE is back!

Memorable Quotes of the Week

Laura: I’m sorta going to be the Mr. Miagi to her Daniel LaRusso … if Mr. Miagi was a short, fat white girl. So, just like Mr. Miagi.

John: I’m a stickler for realism.

Tina (on her new diet): Somebody told me that if I did this, I could get into shape like Rock Johnson.

Ben Farley: Laughter can cure anything … cancer, depression, diabetes.

Jimmy (Tina’s husband, to John): I ain’t doing this for you. I’m doing this for Tina. So you need to straighten your stupid friends out.

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