The Walking Dead – Volume 11 (Review)

_________________________________________________

‘…Hope just got shot in the face’ -Chris Hardwick, on The Talking Dead

_________________________________________________

Thanks for the block quote,  The Talking Dead, AKA The Walking Dead after-show! *

Here’s a very extended, very uncensored version of a review of The Walking Dead, Volume 11, I posted on Amazon last year. There’s really nothing I can say right now about the mid-season premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead that hasn’t already been said, and the graphic novels are much, much too epic to review as a whole, so I wanted to write about one of my favorite volumes. You can read my thoughts below this post’s media, which happens to be the first of Greg Nicotero’s killer TWD webisode series. If you haven’t seen it yet, and have an extra 15-20 minutes free, I highly recommend it.

Soooo, you thought the whole Governor/Prison volumes were as dark and disturbing as things could get? So did I , but I found out that this was, in fact, a case of fucking WRONG.**

A bit of background- my husband gave me Volume 1 for Christmas several years ago. I liked and admired it, but at the time I was already a little off-kilter mood-wise and could get depressed all on my own, no assistance from TWD needed. Then, years later when the series hit AMC, I watched the pilot and every episode aired since then as of this writing. I wanted the story to continue, and I sure as hell couldn’t wait a goddamned year, so I asked for Book Two for a b-day gift (during the hiatus between season one and two on the series) and read it all in one greedy sitting. By the time I could afford Book 3, I was hooked on the story (like Walkers are hooked on… yeah). Than came every book after that, since they were all under $20.00 on Amazon, and even paid extra for Express shipping;  I didn’t want to wait another day.

So, even if you’re hooked as I am, I feel the need to warn you that this volume (which contains several pay-offs so satisfying that any one of them alone would have been enough) is equally as brutal as the Governor story arc and where it leads. It WILL wrap you up in the story, but you’ll be so busy turning pages you’re not going to see the gut-punches coming. Ever read a book or graphic novel in privacy that had you exclaiming and cursing out loud? Last time that happened was when I discovered the graphic novels Crossed and Crossed Family Values***, but I was less enthusiastic about those sick puppies (just mostly muttering or hoarsely whispering a horrified, shocked series of four-letter words and variations thereof). I was giving the characters in this TWD volume (the whole series, but this and one other in particular) advice as if they could HEAR me, the way I do watching a really exceptional movie or series, such as Breaking Bad. It’ll make you pretty sad, shocked, and depressed; in fact I recommend reading it in the daytime. Preferably a sunny day.  This… gets… ugly.

I still remember how an event or bit of dialogue would out of the blue (not in a sloppy way, you just do NOT see it coming) making my jaw drop and my heart break many times. Your throat will almost squeeze shut in sympathy for the characters and every fresh Hell that they have to deal with;  for the impossibly hard decisions they have to make, simply to continue to live and breathe.

Does the above paragraph sound like I’m advising you not to read it? Well, I’m not, in fact I recommend it (just don’t read volumes out of order unless you want to be confused and ‘spoiled’ so much it’s not worth it).   It’s actively frightening, and there are several deaths/kills that are REAL bombshells. I have three series of  horror/fantasy graphic novels that are (so far) my favorites, and this is one of them.

When I wrote the initial review on Amazon, I gave it 5 stars out of 5, and here’s how I broke it down.

  • One star for total inability (except in one case, no big deal) to second-guess the story and how a character will react.
  • Next star is for the writers, who make the situation believable– you could actually see things playing out the way they do if YOU survived an apocalypse and made a couple errors in judgement.
  • Another for the amazing artwork.
  •  Another for the creators “going there”.  When you thought there was no way of things taking place the way you were worried they were, the creators going there.  Really going there.This isn’t done for simply for shock value or writing characters into a corner then regretting it later…they earn it every time, trust me.
  • Speaking of earning things, the 5th out of  the 5 stars is for the incredible payoffs. Some of them are ones you’ve been waiting for for years. If you were watching the events take place in a movie, and the place was filled with TWD fans, there’s definitely a couple ass-kicking perfect pay-offs that would have the whole crowd roaring and applauding.

Very entertaining …just be sure to buckle up. By the way, Volume 12 ain’t no picnic for our characters either, but this is one I’ll remember for a long, long time. The amount of re-reads I do for an exceptional comic/graphic novel? I’d put that average at five. For Volume 11, one re-read –almost entirely for the purpose of going back to see if some brutal twist and/or horrifying event had actually gone down the way iI thought it did– was all I needed. I didn’t pick this volume back up for a re-read for several months.  That’s how intense things get.

Remember, you won’t be seeing it in a movie theater packed with fellow cheerful and excited fellow fans; you’ll be reading it. Perhaps after dark. Perhaps while you hear an unfamiliar sound in the Perhaps after everyone else in your residence has gone to sleep. Perhaps both of the above.

*Don’t ever have Dave Navarro on again as a guest, please. He didn’t even know the names of a couple of the core characters. Also, he was an arrogant dick to Glenn Mazzara, current show-runner (who was also a show-runner of one of the best TV series of all time,  The Shield). “Superfan,” my ass.

**I know the show runners of the AMC adaptation have confirmed the Governor will show up at some point, (there was a rumor John Hawkes–who, by the way, is an actor I’ve loved in everything I’ve seen him in or on) had been cast, which was officially denied later by Mr. Hawkes’ publicist) but they are going to have to really, really water the storyline and content down if they plan on it even resembling some of THAT–unless AMC wants the majority of the viewers to get in the shower, curl up and wrap their arms around their knees and cry, rocking back and forth. Probably also disturbed enough that they’ll have to call in sick the next couple days because they’re too depressed to get out of bed. If you’ve read that far, you know the series of increasingly horrifying events following are so bloodcurdling, nasty, graphic, and brutal would be rated NC-17 …R at best if they water down the comic’s storyline …and this is AMC, not Starz or HBO. Even FX would probably not be able to show it, and I’ve seen some shocking, raunchy, nightmarish stuff on FX series before (The Shield, nip/tuck) but AMC? No way, no matter how high the ratings are.

***I also want, very strongly,  to write about the Crossed series of graphic novels, but first I have to warn my Dad to *not* read any of those pieces. Hey, would YOU want your parents to read it, or even see one of the splash-panels? There was an …event  …in Crossed: Family Values so blood-curdling and disturbing I didn’t even feel comfortable describing it to my husband. If you’ve read the series, you know the one I mean. I read it about a year ago, and there’s a splash panel that I still cannot get out of my head.  Since he’s not a big horror fan, I’ll just keep that one to myself for the most part.  Oh, and I saw the series of  NSFW alternate covers for the second two volumes  yesterday on the Avatar Comics website. I actually thought of recording my hushed verbal reactions to them because it would have been funny, and I think similar to most fans: “Hoooooooleeeeyyyy….” “Jeeeeeesus, that …is…” “Fuuuuccccck….”

Better Late than Never! Creepiest Scene in the flick…

..Happy Birthday to Me! If you haven’t seen this 1981 horror gem yet and don’t want the ending/climax of the movie spoiled, then move along, nothing to see here.  If you haven’t seen HBTM  yet …well, you really should do it now (especially if you’re an ‘old skool’ 80s horror movies fan). THEN come back for the clip!   Seen it? Kick back and re-watch this end scene.

Aaaaand maaany moooore…. was that cool, or what? What, now? What’s that you said? You hate 80s horror movies? Then you sure as hell came to the wrong blog! Side note: I miss those specific titles they gave to movies (though there’s been a few cool ones– Drag Me to Hell, Gingersnaps, and the upcoming Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter come to mind.  There’s exceptions to this rule, but I’ve noticed the ones with vague and crappy titles like The Happening, ATM, Wolf Creek, The Guest, and zzzzzzzz–whoops, sorry, I dozed off there—are attached to a vague and crappy movie.  Just saying.

Seven South Korean Crime/Revenge Dramas in Seven Days

 

Also known as “the reason I’ve gone, what, a week without posting anything”.  This did not go quite as planned.  Here’s the first thing I learned: don’t watch seven brutal revenge/crime thrillers from South Korea in  seven days! Especially if you’re feeling even just a little off-kilter. In my case, I blew off several facts I’m pretty well aware of, through years of experience with them, mainly:

  • I have Seasonal Winter Depression (also known as SAD , standing for Season Affective Disorder).** .
  • They don’t get less depressing on repeated viewings
  • I had PMS, which tends to make me ‘moody’, but more than moody: tense and VERY jumpy
  • and finally,  that even ONE well-made South Korean gritty crime/revenge thriller is enough to make you bummed out enough all day …let alone doing something really stupid like watching I Saw the Devil and No Mercy back-to-back (yep, I was that stupid).

So hey! it’s winter and I’m not getting enough sleep, so now would be a perfect time for an in-depth writing project consisting of an a series of reviews and general observations. Plus there’s that whole ‘7 in 7 days’ thing goin’ on! That sounds easy enough!

I’m organizing my articles now, and I can post the in-depth pieces in seven days in a row after. I actually  learned other things (besides  think twice before you watch seven of the most brutal Korean crime flicks ever made all in a short period of time). I learned other things that will actually be interesting, mostly cultural. Since I was too busy listening to and thinking about The Ramones when our classes covered it, I accidentally learned some history and culture along the way after I started seriously watching Asian horror/thrillers. I even learned cultural differences between mostly South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.

I’ll rattle off the movies I plan on covering, in no particular order of importance (or brutality):

  • Chaser
  • I Saw the Devil
  • No Mercy
  • The Unjust
  • The Man from Nowhere
  • Bedevilled
  • Memories of Murder

Why no Chan-Wook Park films? Because my  husband thoughtfully bought me, as a surprise gift,  the “Vengence Box Set” which I think has six discs (Rick, can I marry you AGAIN?), and I plan on doing a piece on all three. A  loooong  project there (or at least a very long series of articles).

Only one of the above does NOT have an exceptionally dark ending which ends up with multiple character’s lives being destroyed.  OK, possibly two, but by the end of the rest of these movies, there’s really no winners among the characters here. Though if the audience counts, then we win for getting to see some of the most brilliant, suspenseful crime movies ever made! Now here’s some cool dialogue I hope you enjoy. I know I did!

the Man from Nowhere

Tae-Sik Cha: You live only for tomorrow.
Man-seok: What?
Tae-Sik Cha: The ones that live for tomorrow, get fucked by the ones living for today.
Man-seok: What are you babbling about?
Tae-Sik Cha: I only live for today. I’ll show you just how fucked up that can be.

I Saw the Devil

Kim Soo-hyeon: I will kill you when you are in the most pain. When you’re in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That’s a real revenge. A real complete revenge.

So, it turns out that most of the movies I listed above HAVE no quotes on the IMDB. Good thing I wrote them down!

And finally, here’s the best trailer for I Saw the Devil. This is the trailer that had me searching online for a work print. There was only one on you tube, and it only had English subtitles for the first 10 minutes. After that, it was all in Korean, and I’m hardly fluent. I still watched it online, though, because I was so psyched about this movie I couldn’t wait 5 months to rent it on DVD. It was worth it, and because of the excellent storytelling you still get the general idea. Also, I got to see a couple scenes that aren’t on the DVD release, because they had to be trimmed to get the movie released AT ALL in South Korea.

This isn’t a Red Band trailer, but it is pretty intense. If you’ve been on the fence about seeing this movie because you’re worried about it being too violent, then here’s a good way to find out; if the trailer disturbs you, I highly recommend that you skip the movie. Up to you, everyone has their own level of what crosses the line for them. I wouldn’t blame you for avoiding the movie due to this trailer. However, I can’t help saying too bad, because you’re not just missing a jaw-dropping, carefully crafted revenge flick  from South Korea, you’ve simply missing one of the best modern crime thrillers ever made.

After I watch a couple more cartoons featuring Yosemite Sam (and maybe a repeat watch of 30 Minutes of Less),  to lighten up after OD’ing on brutal South Korean revenge movies, I’ll start posting about them!

**Even when everything in my life couldn’t be going better, and I’ve got nice happy positive vibes, I get SAD to some degree. “You’re just not getting enough light,” is usually the advice I got. Makes sense, okay. In college, in fact, I recall a therapist urging me to go get a special UV light. Unfortunately,  no-one bothered to mention the fact that you can’t use it just any time of the day. Furthermore (and we’re talking about people with normal sleep cycles who have coffee to get them going in the morning), back then at least, you needed to set your alarm an hour early, turn on the BRIGHT light, then sit there trying to stay awake for an hour. Even back then, I really, really hated mornings. I tried to avoid registering for any class starting before 9:30 AM. “You only can use it before the sun comes up in the morning and if you do it after dark, there’s a 99% chance it’ll cause insomnia,” my doctor (who waited way too long to convey this info) patiently explained.  Oh, and it “doesn’t really kick in for 3 months”.  At that rate, it’ll be time to set the clocks forward an hour and I’d feel way better regardless. This year, I think right around the time Spartacus: Vengeance wraps up the season (sniffle) is when it’ll kick in. So, this year hasn’t been too bad. And update-Daylight Savings starts this weekend. Yay.