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On The Walking Dead
Violence and Viscera on The Walking Dead
Half a dozen or so people are gathered around a campfire under the starry night sky. There are stories being whispered in low voices, hot coffee being sipped, and marshmallows being roasted. A fresh-faced college-bound blonde named Amy, on the eve of her birthday, emerges from a nearby camper expressing to the group her disbelief that they’re out of toilet paper. By all measures, the scene is unremarkable, eminently familiar. A typical group of family and friends on a camping trip to the casual observer.
Then, in a nanosecond fused with sudden movement and a low, aggressive moan, a zombie enters stage right and grabs the girl’s arm, sinking its teeth hungrily into her flesh. A graphic spray of blood whips across our television screen.
AMC’s series The Walking Dead has made healthy, unapologetic use of gore, with intestines spilling out of torsos like candy from a piñata, strips of flesh being peeled from the faces of screaming victims like banana skins, and limbs being torn from bodies with gleeful abandon. The show’s special makeup effects—courtesy of Greg Nicotero and company—are a lavish buffet of the macabre, gruesome to the eye of the casual beholder and impressive to even those of us who’ve already journeyed through a zombie apocalypse or two.
All the more remarkable, then, that the predominant bloodletting on The Walking Dead—a given on a show about the flesh-eating undead—really takes a backseat to . . . wait for it . . . character and storytelling. And perhaps it’s the show’s uncanny ability to seamlessly integrate graphic …
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