Published by The Chicago Review Press, 2008.
If you're looking for an easy-reading horror flick-oriented guide to give as a holiday gift to a young budding horrorhound niece or nephew, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide makes a great, freshly up-to-date candidate. That isn't a mark against this book, but there's nothing too thought provoking here for seasoned horror fanatics.
The guide is broken up chronologically starting in the '30s to present day tracking the gradual change from voodoo minion to raging infected in the horror subgenre. The foreword by Re-Animator/From Beyond director Stuart Gordon is very short and comes off as a halfhearted history of zombiedom which is the point of the guide anyway. The only thing of value is a small tidbit on Gordon wanting his Re-Animator re-animated to act animalistic as if on a "super meth speedball."
The brief interviews are no great shakes as well. Everyone knows Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini love to talk so you've probably heard their spiel before in numerous other chats. To be blunt, I couldn't care less reading the Q&A's with Dawn 04' /LotD zombie extra John Migliore, LotD's Number 8 Jennifer Baxter, Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness chief Colin Geddes, or Diary of the Dead-EFX handlers Gaslight Studios. I decided not to read the interview with Fido director Andrew Currie concerning his film--still on my unseen wishlist. This leaves only two insightful (yet still condensed) sessions with Braindead/Shaun of the Dead special make-up tech Stuart Conran and Lucio Fulci's daughter Antonella.
Kay's reviews are breezy, well-written, and cover a good number of obscurities (nearly 300 in total) yet are mostly unchallenging. Ratings are denoted by little zombie sketches and you can call which films receive the top "Highly Recommended" rating in your sleep. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but again hardened genreheads probably won't find much to bitch over with the author's critiques. Though fresh meat just dipping their toes into the guide's topic will learn much about the important examples and their place in history. If I had to take issue; The Child (1977), The Video Dead (1987), Redneck Zombies (1987), Sole Survivor (1983), The Dead Pit (1989), Burial Ground (1980), Zombi 4 (1989), and Zombie Holocaust (1980) all deserve not to be avoided "at all costs." Also Jean Rollin's 1978 The Grapes of Death (Les Raisins de la mort) is one damn fine addition to the brain-eater spectrum and I struggle to praise Land of the Dead as highly, Mr. Kay.
As aforementioned, Zombie Movies works well as a great starter for youngsters. The writing is inoffensive, the images are mostly in monochromatic PG-13, and dammit, don't you remember how much fun those dusty horror film books you had as a kid were? Aside from that recommendation, I'd suggest rabid celluloid deadheads seek out Jamie Russell's much more comprehensive Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema published by FAB Press still in-print as of this writing.
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