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Picnicking in The Land of the Walking Dead

Starr's Mill, between Fayetville, GA and Senoia, GA at the intersection of GA 74 and GA 85
My favorite place to hang out and relax while exploring the Land of THE WALKING DEAD is on Whitewater Creek at Starr's Mill, located at the intersection of GA 74 and GA 85 about a mile north of Senoia, Georgia, the filming location for THE WALKING DEAD.  

As you can tell from my galleries of THE WALKING DEAD photos this is the spot I always end up for a respite from the crowds.  I've found the best way to get here from Atlanta while avoiding all the strip malls and other crap between is to take I-85 south out of Atlanta to GA 16.  Take 16 east into Senoia and then 85 north to the intersection of 74 and 85.  This way you miss all the traffic, lights, etc.  From this direction (coming in from the south) there is a little church on the NW corner of 74/85.  Drive behind the church and follow the dirt road down into the holler to the mill and park.  There are no signs or anything else to indicate there might be a park in the area.

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THE WALKING DEAD 
PORTFOLIOS







and the recent USA Today feature
which featured a some of our photos and hints.
The old mill was the site of a number of movies including my favorite, SWEET HOME ALABAMA.  There is a nice park that is never crowded and plenty of things to explore around the mill and mill pond.  

Take 85 the other direction out of Senoia, to the southwest and you'll see plenty of filming locations from Seasons 1-3 of THE WALKING DEAD especially around Haralson, Georgia.  

Standing atop the dam at the millpond looking down Whitewater Creek.  There is no "whitewater" currently as the Southeast USA endures yet another extremely hot and dry month as we approach what should be winter.  Barely any water spills over the mill's dam today.
I like this fish-eye shot because it appears to illuminate photons spilling out of the sun.  It was a brilliant sunny late-October day with only a couple of other people in the park.  We spread out and had a great picnic far from the hustle and crowds of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the stars just a couple miles away in Senoia.
One reason this spot is so deserted is because it is hard to find.  The roads (74 and 85) are much higher and the Mill sits down in a holler.  If you don't know what you're looking for, you pass right by.  The mill now appears on Google Maps since we've been writing about it for the past 7 years.  Your GPS likely won't be much help, however.
The creek is so dry that I was able to walk across it jumping from rock-to-rock.  I was also able to go underneath the mill to photograph the old wheel and stone.  Normally the water would be under the mill.

Below, the park around the Mill is full of tall pines which offer some shade.

Standing in the middle of the Whitewater Creek, looking back toward our picnic on the banks to the right.
Land of The Walking Dead:  Senoia, Georgia
Senoia is a quaint, unspoiled Southern town on weekdays.  Weekends can be a bit hectic with Walker Stalkers everywhere and tour guide look-a-likes of the stars of the show leading crowds to all the various shooting locations around town.
The Woodbury Shoppe:  The Official The Walking Dead Store, Senoia, Georgia
After you tire of The Woodbury Shoppe (the official Walking Dead studio store) where you can buy all manner of Made in China crap including some of the flimsiest and tackiest overpriced t-shirts ever made, there is plenty of other stuff to see if you just walk a few blocks either side of Main Street Senoia.
Main Street USA, The Land of the Walking Dead, Senoia, Georgia
A lot of high-priced, what-not shops line Main Street.  There is now a public bathroom underneath the Walking Dead Cafe.  It was clean and tidy.
The Walking Dead Cafe, Senoia, Georgia
Below:  Main Street Senoia from The Walking Dead set at the bottom of the hill on Main Street (directly behind the post office).
Woodbury, Alexandria, or. . . Senoia, Georgia, home of The Walking Dead
Below:  The walls of Woodbury-Alexandria-Senoia snake through the north and west sides of the town where you once could catch a glimpse of the stars.  Today there are guards at every street and many streets are blocked off.  Take a telephoto lens if you really want to see the stars and make sure they're filming before you head down.
Warning Signs in Senoia, Georgia. . .Dangerous Celebrities, not Zombies:  Home of The Walking Dead
Click on the image above for larger view.  Expect lots of guards, lots of closed streets and no photos or autographs.
The Wall, Senoia, Georgia, The Walking Dead's fictional Alexandria and Woodbury
New Filming Locations
Part of Season 7 is being filmed on Jekyll Island, Georgia and on a recent weekend there were no trailers in the lot across the railroad tracks from the Fried Green Tomatoes house (below).  As Alexandria is supposed to be in Virginia we assume that Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island could be acting as a stand in for the Potomac River?

The Season 7 premier was filmed partly on a lot and partly on Old Griffin Road, Brown Drive, and Old Highway 3.

The last week of October the cast is filming at Carol's Creepy House of Horrors and at the studio for some Hilltop scenes.  Raleigh Studios is located just south of Senoia.
Fried Green Tomatoes House, Senoia, Georgia, Corner of Travis and Bridge Streets a block off of Main St. at the Railroad Bridge that crosses over to the trailer lot for the stars of The Walking Dead
In the gully between the FRIED GREEN TOMATOES House (at the corner of Travis and Bridge Streets, directly across the street from the railroad foot bridge) and the crew trailer village (below) are railroad tracks.  A 6-foot fence with an additional 4-foot green screen has been erected to keep prying eyes out.  The best place to catch a glimpse of stars coming and going is from the parking lot of the post office, which is public property.

Note:  The FRIED GREEN TOMATOES house is known as the Travis-McDaniel House and is unique because of the corner placement of the front door and sidewalk.  Much of the film was shot in Juliette, Georgia.
Walker Stalkers trying to catch a glimpse of The Walking Dead Stars, Senoia, Georgia
Walker Stalkers (fans) trying to catch a glimpse of the cast (stars) of the AMC TV hit show The Walking Dead.  On this day in late October there were few stars and many tourists.
Senoia, Georgia, 150 years old. . . and overrun by The Walking Dead
One of the most picturesque churches in the South (photos below).  The Senoia United Methodist Church.
Signs of the Season around Senoia, Georgia, home of The Walking Dead
Signs of the Season around Senoia, Georgia, Home of The Walking Dead
Construction ongoing around the cast and crew lot for The Walking Dead, Senoia, Georgia
A lot of construction going on near the Fried Green Tomatoes house and across the railroad tracks from the cast and crew trailer lot for THE WALKING DEAD.  They've added a 4-foot green screen atop the 6' fence surrounding the lot to keep out prying eyes.  A better vantage point is from the public parking lot across the street at the Senoia U.S. Post Office
Lovely Senoia United Methodist Church, Senoia, Georgia
Walking around Senoia you'll see plenty of other sites were movies have been filmed.  In particular I'm fond of the old Methodist Church (below) which has appeared in some favorite films.
Outside Closeup of Stained Glass Window, Senoia, Georgia United Methodist Church
Dead Glenn Talking:  Now that The Walking Dead's Glenn's (Steven Yeun) brains have been bashed out by Negan he's talking and fans are fuming
The Walking Dead Season 7
"The Day Will Come When You Won't Be"
A Review
The Walking Dead Season 7 premier topped 20.8 million viewers.  That's the biggest thing on TV any way you slice (or bash) the numbers.  Those numbers were up in the low double digits from the ratings for the Season 6 finale.  And they beat the holy f--k out of "Sunday Night Football," the next-biggest thing on TV.  That said, there were some major problems with the Season 7 premier.

We won't be the first to say that THE WALKING DEAD has become more about violence for violence sake than any sort of character-driven drama (what made it so watchable in Seasons 1 and 2).  Season 7 started with an epic bloodbath in which Sgt. Abraham "Red" Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun, above) were . . . eliminated in front of all their friends. . . with a barbed-wire wrapped bat wielded by the psycho "Negan" (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  It was unnecessarily gory to the point of being unwatchable.  
Negan The Walking Dead AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan
The Walking Dead
Photo:  AMC

Negan is poorly overplayed by Morgan who seems to be trying too hard and is too clean with too-white, perfect teeth and perfectly groomed stubble; a cartoon villain. He monologues like a cartoon villain, too, going on and on about how he's in charge. I wanted to know his backstory.  What did he do before the zombie apocalypse?  I imagine he was a canvasser for the Donald Trump campaign.  I kept waiting for him to say "Who's next, let me grab one of these women by the p-ssy!"  Yuck.  Negan is just. . . a guy with a bat in charge of an army who loves the sound of his own voice.

There was other bad writing and consistency errors that we could go into but they are overshadowed by the one-dimensional villain and the lines he spouts coupled with the gratuitous violence for no good reason other than to be stomach-churning.  

Other little things didn't make sense.  Why not kill Daryl when he's the one who punched Negan?  Why did Daryl lose his cool like that to begin with?  Even the somewhat touching scene at the end felt a bit melodramatic.  Maggie has no reason to go on alone, and it makes little sense for her to request to do so.

Also, how did the ax get on the roof of the trailer before Rick did?  Maybe Negan tossed it up there, but it sure looked like he tossed it out in to the zombie horde.  whatever the case, this was some weird direction that was confusing.

We'll always be fans of Season 1 and 2. . . and we'll always love Senoia, Georgia where the show is filmed, but from there. . . its been a long, slow slog to Must not see TV for me.
Khary Payton as King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead
Khary Payton as King Ezekiel
The Walking Dead
Photo:  AMC

The Walking Dead Season 7:2
"The Well"
A Review
Sorry about all the violence and death last week, "Walking Dead" fans.  Here, have a tiger.

Or maybe a song.  Or how about a nice pork chop" (Actually, skip the pork chop.  Any physicians out there who can shed light on the health effects of eating pork raised on zombie flesh?)  These were just a few of the delights on offer this week when after las week's night of horror, we returned to the character-driven drama that we all loved with just a little horror and gore.

This was the Kingdom, a place of flourishing gardens, abundant cobbler and Renaissance Faire dialogue, overseen by the beneficent and dreadlocked King Ezekiel.  We learn later that the Arthurian airs were just that—a put on.  But upon the initial encounter with the bombastic amateur thespian I imagine most of us had reactions similar to Carol's:  This place is a joke.  How do I get out of here?

"The Walking Dead" is moving into a new phase, one defined less by the peregrinations and shifting fortunes of Rick and company, and more by the relationships between competing colonies, each with its own version of civilizations.  Season 7:2 represented a notable expansion not only of the players and cast of this story, but also of philosophy.

Viewers put off by 7:1s violence had something special waiting for them:  a sliced walker whose face opened like an old mailbox.  It was part of an impressionistic sequence that illustrated Carol's struggle to reconnect to her humanity, the walkers shifting between their pre- and post-death selves as riders wielded swords with ruthless grace.

At least I think that's what it was supposed to illustrate.  Like many "Walking Dead" set pieces, the line between meaningful moment and "check it out bro" visual effects was as hazy as Carol's perspective.  If nothing else it provided another wallow in fetishized gore for hot-takers to pares.

From, there, we got an introduction to the Kingdom, including Ezekiel's shtick; Richard the surly pig herder; Morgan training gentle Benjamin—a reader not a fighter—in the soulful art of aikido; and the Kingdom Tabernacle Choir tackling the work of freshly minted Nobel laureate (That was a Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, Its Alright" song that was a high point for me but too much for others who prefer the Waylon Jennings bouncy, upbeat version to the soulful Kingdom Choir's melancholy.  Me, I'm a fan of the sorrowful which seemed the perfect compliment to lasting effect from the violence of episode 7:1).

There's a point in Ezekiel's fairy tale trappings about how fear turns people into children.  It deranges them an provokes regression, and makes them crave easily understood symbols, whether you're talking about a man with a tiger or a man with a phallic baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.

I like the tiger, while others found it almost comical.  I wouldn't mind a break from the unremitting bleakness of recent seasons of "The Walking Dead."  A week after Negan's ghastly home-run derby, especially, Ezekiel's ideas about "hope, heroism, grace and love" sound pretty good.

The ending:  The tiger King again attempting to tempt Carole into taking a bite. What's this all about?  I assume Ezekiel's interest in Carole and Morgan stems from their fighting skills, demonstrated in last season's clashes with the Saviors.  (As we saw with the pig handoff, the Kingdom has its own issues with the group.)  For Carole, does the pomegranate represent merely a commitment to comfort, hope and yet another group she'll one day be forced to defend?

Or is there something we don't yet understand about Ezekiel?  We know he's keeping secrets about his dealings with the Saviors.  What else could he be withholding?

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