The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Walking Dead Superfans React To Season Premiere At Walker Stalker Convention

By aaroncynic in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 29, 2016 3:14PM

Just after the brutal season 7 opening of AMC’s The Walking Dead, fans, cast, crew, cosplayers and thousands of others are gathering in Atlanta for the nation’s largest fan tribute to the show.

For fans of and casual watchers who caught the episode, the opening was a special level of traumatic—even some of the most die-hard fans found themselves cringing (warning: spoilers ahead).

While it’s to be expected that a show focused on day-to-day living during the zombie apocalypse is going to have plenty of blood, guts and gore, when the show’s newest villain Neegan’s (Jeffery Dean Morgan), introduction of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) to Lucille—a baseball bat lovingly wrapped with barbed wire—was particularly graphic.

Watch the Lego version (which is arguably also TV-MA):

Reactions from fans and even the cast were mixed. “My first viewing of it was watching it on my phone, and I finally had to put it to the side. It was too much,” Morgan told the L.A. Times. “For me, it wasn’t even the gore. It was what Andy did, seeing it all through his eyes, seeing our hero break."

Cecil Garner, a cosplayer who looks so much like Rick we actually thought he was Andrew Lincoln when we first saw him, said that, while it was shocking and tough to watch, he loved it.

“It hurts we lost some good friends that we were used to seeing every week—but the brutality, the special effects—they’ve got to top themselves every time," he said. "And the gasp of that—a lot of people got nauseous, but it shows you the level we can do special effects. The’ve read the comic, they kind of toned it down for TV.”

Bob Bean, from Brookhaven, Georgia, a member of a zombie response team that was on-hand to give quick tips and pointers on how to properly hunt the undead, also enjoyed the premiere’s ultra-dark opening.

“I thought going evil like that, him laughing about it and working in the nod to his role as the Comedian (the Watchmen), there was a lot of stuff in there I enjoyed," he said. "A lot of people I know were upset but I really like the fact they just went total nasty mean and evil.”

Dave McGee from Huntington West Virginia another cosplayer that was a very convincing Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) who watches the show with his teenage grandson said the episode went a little over the line.

“I thought it was a little over the top,” said McGee. “I feel like when the show started it was kind of PG, then it turned to R and now it’s MA. It’s a little intense. Sure, it’s a show about zombies, they’re monsters, they’re make believe. There’s been real people killed on the show like Hershal in a brutal kind of way but it was quick and kind of expected. I think they dwelled on it too much and it was a little too graphic.”