The zombie craze has been around for a couple of years; I am admittedly a late-coming fan. I'm only luke-warm for horror as a genre, but as a sub-genre, zombie movies and writings have struck a chord with me. I can't explain its mass appeal — there's just something about the idea of "living dead" that makes ones spine tingle.
I enjoyed the first season of Walking Dead, which I stumbled upon by accident. So I was very much anticipating the season premiere of the second season, which I saw in a movie theater with about 100 other fans (a good way to see it, if you can stomach all the commercials, which are twice as annoying in a crowd viewing).
It did not disappoint. It had all the fist-clenching suspense of the first season, such as when the cast had to hide under a highwayful of abandon cars as a "herd" of zombies tredged its way through. That scene alone is already being acclaimed as a classic zombie scene, one worthy of a zombie film.
But there was also the elements of senseless gore (how does basic cable get away with that?), and, unexpected end-of-episode plot twists that make you want to see the next installment.
It also had — and I think this is one of the "fun" parts about any zombie entertainment — its fair share of hokey lines and implausible plot developments. Yes, it's fun to laugh AT "Walking Dead" — not at the planned humor (there isn't much there), but at the ridiculous things the charactors do. For example, does the mother allow her 12-year old boy to join the men as they go hunting zombies in the woods? Suuuuuure, of course she does. ("Walking Dead" is, if nothing else, a textbook on bad parenting skills).
There were also some rather unexpected dramatic (perhaps overly so) moments, such as when the lead, Sheriff Rick, has a conversation with a Jesus statue in an abandoned church. Jesus, it turns out, knows a thing or two about raising the dead, as well as leading a small band of outcasts to a possibly bloody fate. (Ironically, shortly after Rick asked Jesus for an acknowledgement that he was "doing the right thing" as leader of the group, Rick's son was shot while approaching a deer in the woods. I guess that answers the question?)
There were rumors that the second season was going to suck because the show's creator, Frank Darabont, would no longer be running the show. The second season opener was written by Darabont, so it remains to be seen whether or not the whole show gets silly, or stupid, or redundant. Darabont has "storied out" the next several episodes, but with the show being run by someone else — someone who says "the material will not be an attempt to emulate Darabont’s style" — there is still cause for concern for Walking Dead fans.