[30 October 2008]
PopMatters Features Editor
Remember your first zombie flick? Remember those bone-chilling moans as that decaying corpse dragged its lifeless limbs from the murky shadows and vacantly called for brains, brains, more brains? Remember as the hordes of undead clawed sluggishly at the shutters as the last of the terrified survivors boarded themselves inside the abandoned house, nothing but a single shotgun for protection?
Now readers can reminisce about the putrid punks in Return of the Living Dead (1985) and the mauled mallrats of George Romero’s original Dawn of the Dean (1978) with Glenn Kay, author of Disaster Movies and most recently Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide.
Fast, slow, reanimated, bloodthirsty, decayed, dismembered, entranced, infected, zombies of all walks have stolen (and devoured) our pop culture hearts. Almost a century has passed since the first voodoo zombie movie White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi, first played in theaters, and these ravenous creatures continue to split our sides with terror and laughter to this very night.
Nowadays, there are almost too many zombie movies to name, and that’s the reason Kay’s ultimate zombie guide is so important to horror lovers as well as zombie fans. More than 350 pages worth of the goriest and most hilarious cult classics, Zombie Movies catalogs, reviews, rates, and theorizes not only about the seemingly endless supply of undead thrillers decade by decade, but postulates about the movie-going trends that made these relentless creatures so yummy.
Take the 1950s when the atom bomb was all the buzz, and there were radioactive zombies that limped away from the mushroom cloud. Or retreat with the undead into video games like the crazed Resident Evil in the 1990s, games that ultimately led to the resurrection of the zombie in the new millennium. One things for certain—there’s no stopping these bitten, these infected, these brain-hungry monsters from their rightful place in the spotlight.
Basically, Kay’s guide is the zombie movie bible for the film student and horror moviegoer. Starting with the Haitian vodou concept of the drugged zombi, Zombie Movies chronicles the undead stars over the generations, reviewing each by Kay’s unique taste for blood. He even interviews movie legends such as Stuart Conran, makeup artist for Braindead (1992) as well as zomedy Shaun of the Dead (2004), and even Andrew Currie, director of Fido (2006). Readers will enjoy the full-color miniatures of authentic posters and stills, all dated with captions and production studio logos.
Devour the underground details of obscure Spanish, Italian, Japan, and Hong Kong titles by bizarre independent producers. Plus, learn the secrets of the most gruesome of undead cinema, such as: I, Zombie‘s (1998) masturbation scene or the zombie chickens of Shanks (1974).
The only drawback to Kay’s Zombie Movies is the sheer amount of movies he needs to cover within the guide. Of course you get great scoops on Michael Jackson’s music video Thriller (1983) and Romero’s Dead series, but you also get rotten reviews of the sourest cinema, like Teenage Zombies (1958) and Troma’s Redneck Zombies (1987).
Worried that zombies are down for the count today? Just listen to Kay’s commentary for the future of the horror flick and these lovably ravenous creatures, a metaphor onto itself:
Despite the zombie movie’s continued popularity with filmmakers and studios, the public’s interest has once again started to fade…But if it happens, there’s no reason to worry. It’s all part of the endless cycle of the zombie film. Regardless of what developments the next few years bring, one things is certain: sooner or later the zombie will return from the grave, to thrill, amuse, and maybe even make us think—just as it has since cinema began.
Better, more current, and cheaper than Peter Dendle’s infamous Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, Kay’s Zombie Movies captures the satire, the fear, the politics, and the humor of both classic and modern horror flicks. From Night of the Living Dead (1968) to Cemetery Man (1994) to Wild Zero (2000), you can’t go wrong with this guide. Fun for the whole undead family, just in time for World Zombie Day (26 October) and Halloween.