"Shock Value: Giallo Anthology" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Hellbound Media
Written by Matt Wagner, Mark Adams, and Atlantisvampir
Illustrated by Luca Cicchitti, Ed Machiavello, Ahmed Raafat, Atlantisvampir, Jamie Keys, Abigail Jill Harding, Bartolomeo Argentino, Anna Susanne, and Jamie Chapman
2017, 84 Pages
Every so often I'm reminded that there are a ton of horror movies that I haven't seen, despite writing for HorrorTalk. I'm the comic book guy, so I don't get to dabble too much on the silver screen. After reading Shock Value: Giallo, I realized there's an entire sub-genre that I've been neglecting and I'm going to have to remedy that soon. The anthology series collects a number of stories told in the Giallo style and they're all pretty creepy.
The stories range in length and tone, although each contains an unmistakable feeling of dread. You know from the first page that something dark and sinister is going to happen. It's just a matter of when and how. You always get an answer to the first question, but rarely do you get an answer for the second. Often times something crazy happens resulting in a whole lot of blood and you're left wondering what the hell just happened, but holy crap, did it look good.
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There are a handful of tales that feel like they're just a number of unsettling sequences strung together. This is great from a mood standpoint, but falls short on story. One such example is “Pandamonium!” by Matt Warner and Bartolomeo Argentino, where a crazed man is being haunted by two children in panda masks. He's clearly deranged, yet you wonder if these kids are real or not. It builds to a haunting, blood-drenched crescendo, but I'm not entirely sure what it all means.
As with any anthology, there are highs and lows. Some stories that stick out as the cream of the crop are “3Demons” by Mark Adams and Ahmed Raafat, and “Beyond the Veil” by Adams and Abigail Jill Harding. These two stand out for different reasons. The former is a lighter tale featuring two women watching a 3D horror movie only to have it come to life right in front of their eyes. The latter is like something out of a Lovecraft story with some madness-inducing monsters that defy reality. Harding's artwork is terrifying. These creatures are made of muscle, teeth, and bone. Their very existence looks painful. Just looking at it sends shivers down my spine.
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Ed Machiavello's artwork on “Blood Tears for the Catholic's Daughter” is another highlight of Shock Value: Giallo. It features incredible linework with some very fine details. He changes up the panel layout a bit in the more gruesome scenes, making them more jagged in shape to go with the violence. It's a nice touch.
Although I'm not all that familiar with the sub-genre, Shock Value: Giallo offers something for almost any horror fan. The stories range in terms of subject matter, however they're all creepy from the jump. They waste no time in getting to the terror. It's just that sometimes the endings left me with a few question marks.