‘Walking Dead’ premiere kicks off AMC’s Fearfest


Halloween is still more than two weeks away, but scary business will fill plenty of TV hours.

FX already HAS started another round of its American Horror Story series, this one subtitled Coven. And at 9 p.m. Sunday, fans of The Walking Dead will be clustering around their TV sets for the fourth-season premiere of that series.

AMC, which airs Walking Dead, further believes that fans of its zombie show cannot get enough scary business, and is using Walking Dead to begin its latest Fearfest of horror movies. In its 17th year, the festival will include more than 70 movies, especially ones from famous franchises such as Friday the 13th. The third through 10th movies in that series will air beginning Monday; there will also be showings of half a dozen movies from the Halloween catalog, four from the Tremors cycle, plenty of Chucky and the Candyman, some Stephen King and even the revisionist-horror of Scream. Also scary snakes, awful aliens, and good and bad Omens.

Two big reasons account for all that horror on AMC. One is that horror has proved to be a durable attraction to young adults who cannot get enough bloodletting; the school’s-out days of summer invariably include some modestly budgeted big-screen nastiness certain to get young moviegoers, at least on the first weekend.

The other is that The Walking Dead has become a big hit for AMC, making it even more of a destination for audiences seeking frightening fare, The third-season finale drew a reported 12.4 million viewers, a number most TV series would envy, and was especially popular in the 18 to 49-year-old demographic that advertisers prize.

And the fourth-season premiere finds the show with plenty of creative steam. The series involves a world in which surviving humans battle for their lives against endless mobs of “walking dead” — monstrous, cannibalistic former humans who do not stop attacking even when various body parts have been sliced and diced. As the new season begins, the main group of people has found shelter inside an old prison, its fences keeping the walkers at bay.

But the walkers remain pressed against the fence, and waiting outside if any of the humans go forth. While some people are feeling safe — including children — others know that you can never let your guard down. And the premiere makes clear in several incidents (especially a couple of bloodbaths) that the perils are not over, and might even be taking new form.

Scared yet? AMC sure hopes so.