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Episode Recap: Don't Mess With the Money-Maker


Tina, the fierce and fearless executive producer of Thr33 Days Dead, has emerged as one of the more intriguing characters on Town of the Living Dead. Unlike the (relatively) broader characters, Tina's somewhat shrouded in mystery. Why is she producing this zombie movie? How did she get involved with these roguish young filmmakers? These questions still linger, but Episode 6 provides a deeper look into Tina's zany world.

The episode kicks off at Tina's dinner table, where she's munching on fried chicken wings with her family. Tina has a role in an upcoming Thr33 Days Dead scene and she wants to look fantastic; she informs her family she's on the "Paleo Diet," which she claims involves eating nothing but chicken wings. While I'm certainly not an expert on the various nuances of the Paleo Diet, I'm pretty sure people in the Paleolithic Era didn't eat fried chicken wings (with blue cheese, at that).

In the following scene, we get one of our first glimpses into Tina's past as she rehearses with Laura, her assistant. In her big scene, Tina will be playing Gary's mom, who turns into a zombie (or "mom-bie"), and from there Gary is forced to kill his own mother. Laura says this scene is important to Tina, as the Thr33 Days Dead producer was once a community theater actress. It's a telling detail. Tina proceeds to prepare for the scene by beating the crap out of Laura, who engaged in some rather extreme tactics to get the "mom-bie" all riled up.

The whole crew then assembles for a production meeting to discuss an upcoming graveyard scene. John, the director, wants to shoot the scene at an actual cemetery: "I'm a stickler for realism," John says, which might be the funniest line of the season so far. Chase and Laura volunteer to talk to Jasper City Council to obtain permission to shoot at the local cemetery.

Chase and Laura go to City Hall to meet with Jennifer Smith, the Stepford Wife-like councilwoman who isn't very comfortable with the zombie movie production. Chase asks her if it's OK to blow up a corpse at the Oak Hill Cemetery (and soon after assures her it's a fake corpse). Smith doesn't approve but says if they buy their own plot at the graveyard for $600, they can pretty much do whatever they want with it.

Back at her house, Tina's eating dinner with her husband, Jimmy. She informs him that she's still on the Paleo Diet and that, yes, she's still only eating chicken wings. She also claims the diet worked for "Rock Johnson," Tina's endearing name for a certain pro wrestler turned movie star.

Finally the shooting day of Tina's big scene arrives. Due to the limitations of her interpretation (and practice) of the Paleo Diet, Tina's blood sugar level is at rock bottom and her temper's running hot. "Normal Tina's a little out of touch," says lead actor Bryan, "but this is crazy." In her scene, Tina has to battle Gary, whom she's imagining as a "big block of cheese." She ends up perfectly nailing her gory death moment and rejoices that she can finally eat anything other than chicken wings.

The next scene tackled by the Thr33 Days Dead crew is the grave-robbing sequence that opens the movie. One of the grave robbers is played by none other than Ben Farley - or, as I like to think of him, the "Jasper Jackass," a constant source of amusement and frustration for the crew. In this scene, Ben Farley is robbing a grave and a corpse explodes on him; unfortunately, he dives out of the way of the gory effect, ruining the take. Before the crew can re-set and re-shoot, an actual funeral procession arrives at the cemetery, making for an early wrap. Because she paid $600 for the plot and didn't even get the shot she needed, Tina is angrier than a drop-kicked beehive.

Tina moves the production back to her house, where John and Jimmy dig a hole in the backyard that will, in theory, double for the grave. In a revealing moment, John thanks Jimmy for the help, to which Tina's husband good-naturedly replies, "I ain't doing this for you. I'm doing this for Tina, so you need to straighten your stupid friends out."

The cast and crew show up at Tina's house to shoot the scene in the makeshift grave ... and Ben Farley arrives completely hungover, actually vomiting in the middle of a take. It should be a disaster, but somehow the puking makes the scene even better. Once again, Tina and her crew of zombie-loving oddballs have pulled off a somewhat successful shooting day.