So, this was an event I attended last Tuesday on behalf of a website. I know, I know. This should have probably gone up before the premiere date of Fear The Walking Dead, but better late than never, right?
What started off as an innocent viewing event on a Tuesday night turned into a full-on start of a Walking Dead nightmare, when the dark surroundings of our cinema suddenly flooded with bright lights. The large movie screen before us was no longer showing us promo clips of shows available on AMC. Instead, a bio-hazard sign among the words, ‘WARNING CONTAINMENT AREA’, had taken its place.
You would have expected panic to run through the theatre but, everyone in the venue were Walking Dead fans so in place of that emotion was excitement. As for me, I was both excited and slightly terrified at what AMC had in store for us. Was there going to be a stray Walker gracing us with its presence? Or were we all going to be subject to a decontamination shower? The latter was definitely not the favorable outcome and I definitely do not want to experience that. The questions in my head were finally put to rest when I noticed four men in yellow hazmat suits enter through the right and left doors before sealing them shut.
An announcement comes on informing everyone that they may have been infected as they entered the theatre. The stamp they had given us on the back of our right wrist had been infected with a virus. To ensure the virus doesn’t infect the entire country, we were confined in the theatre for a check. That’s when the men in the hazmat suits come in. Armed with a UV light each, they start doing a check on every single person, row by row. If there were small dots located around the stamp area, that person might be infected. As the friendly man in the hazmat suit approached me next after clearing my friend of any sign of infection, I was expecting mine to be a quick check. ‘Lucky’ for me, when the UV light shone upon my stamp, three small dots said hi. I obviously wasn’t sure what was going to happen because they did say these people were going to be dealt with accordingly. Sure, I shouldn’t be scared as it wasn’t real. But what if it was? I don’t like being a rule-breaker so I’ve never experienced the ‘dealt with accordingly’ part before.
So, what was I to expect from this?
Calmly, Mr Friendly-Yellow-Hazmat asked, “Ma’am, have you been overseas recently?”
I wanted to say, ‘Yes, I’ve been to Georgia to visit my friend, Rick. You might have heard of him?’ But not knowing the eventual outcome of this, I decided not to be a smart ass and said, “No.”
To which he asked, “Are you okay? Do you feel unwell?”
I merely shook my head and said, “No.”
He gave me a once-over and nodded slowly before moving on to the next person. If that had been a real life situation, I would have been sweating like a pig and exclaiming, ‘Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I’m going to turn! I’m going to turn into a Walker!’ There were a couple of other people playing along, pretending to be sick but knowing it wasn’t real probably added to their ability to make it a joke.
But when it comes down to it, would you really be laughing or faking sick in a Zombie Apocalypse?
Once the rows have all been checked, the men in yellow headed back down to the doors as the brightly-lit theatre turned dark and the silent screen came back to life. A clip played, telling us that instead of showing us what it was like to experience fear, they wanted to let us physically experience it. Cue a video footage showing us a group of people who went through the theatre doors just like us before taking their seats. Unfortunately for them, they had no idea what they were in for. As soon as the friendly hazmat dudes appeared, panic ensued. There were people getting out of their seats heading towards the sealed doors; even when they were told to stay in their seats. Fear was literally written all over their face. Eventually a mob started charging the doors and that’s when the whole experience was over. Relief washed over their faces as they realized just what they had been a part of. The footage changes and everyone in our theatre were told that we had just gone through the Fear Experience as well. Everyone clapped; thankful for AMC giving us this experience and also thankful we were not one of the unsuspecting viewers from the footage.
Aside from the Fear Experience, which wanted us to understand what fear being a contagious emotion meant; we were also there to view exclusive clips from Fear The Walking Dead. Most of which were 30-60 second snippets from the show including messages from Robert Kirkman. A four to five minute long featurette with interviews from the cast was shown as well, where they further explained the idea behind Fear The Walking Dead.
Explained by the producers of the show, Fear The Walking Dead is very much a prequel to The Walking Dead because it is set in the few years between the time Rick Grimes went into a coma and when he got out of it. The producers wanted to show viewers that the characters from The Walking Dead didn’t just acquired their skills overnight. They had gone through a long and arduous process that eventually made them who they are in The Walking Dead. The Walkers that we see in The Walking Dead also don’t just look like they do – with skin and limbs missing with bones broken in impossible ways. In fact, in Fear The Walking Dead, they look very much like ordinary people but just with terrible walking abilities. A fair amount of years had changed the way they look, which gives them the rotting look that we see in The Walking Dead.
I liked that they came up with this prequel because I don’t think I’ll be able to master Michonne’s bad-ass Katana swinging skills overnight. It not only makes it more relatable but it sets us thinking – what if this scenario isn’t too far off? We have a middle-income family staying in a highly-populated city with real day-to-day problems that they are trying to overcome. To make matters worse, a pandemic breaks out and no one knows what is going on. The police and government officials alike suddenly start tightening up the information being released and soon, everyone is at risk.
Sounds very much like a possible scenario in today’s society, right?
Needless to say, like The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead is going to be another exciting series to catch. Because of the time difference (living half-way around the world here), I am stuck at work unable to watch the first episode. But I can tell you that I am excited to catch it when I get home tonight. This is an added bonus for me as I countdown to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando where I get to face the Walkers from The Walking Dead!
So, here’s a toast to Robert Kirkman for bringing his genius creations to us and creating another likely scenario where our world might end with a Zombie Apocalypse! We couldn’t have imagined it without you!