Comprehensive zombie-movie guide lives again

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Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide (Second Edition)
By Glenn Kay, Chicago Review Press, 438 pp, softcover

There’s no doubt it’s finally fall. With the days getting shorter and the weather becoming gloomier, the idea of curling up with a good book becomes more and more attractive.

And, as we all know, in the fall a young man's (or woman’s) fancy lightly turns to, well, zombies.

Luckily, Glenn Kay has updated his authoritative work on the subject, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, and it’s just in time for Halloween.

From the genre’s Caribbean-voodoo beginnings (the 1932 Bela Lugosi thriller White Zombie is generally considered to be the first zombie movie), through the undead flesh eaters of the 1960s, to modern-day CGI splatterfests, Kay manages to cover it all with intelligence and more than a little humour.

With an easygoing, conversational style, Kay provides descriptions, background, and reviews of every zombie movie he’s managed to exhume. But he also takes it a step further, exploring subtext and deeper meanings within the genre. As Kay notes, “There is often much more to zombie films than meets—or revolts—the eye.”

While Kay does spend time on Hollywood movies, the real focus is on independent and European productions, which produced most of the noteworthy zombie films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was truly the genre’s golden era, with filmmakers like George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci, Jorge Grau, and Dario Argento creating a standard that stands to this day.

With this second edition, Kay also updates everything that’s come along since the book was first released in 2008—including two new Romero films, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, the Canadian Pontypool, Norwegian Nazi zombie shocker Dead Snow, the blockbuster comedy Zombieland, and of course, the TV show everyone loves to hate, The Walking Dead.

Zombie Movies also comes with a myriad of extras, including interviews with everyone from special-effects gurus (Tom Savini and his protégé Greg Nicotero) to directors (Canadians Bruce McDonald and Andrew Currie), to zombie actors such as Jennifer Baxter, who portrayed the fan-favourite softball-player zombie in Land of the Dead. There are hundreds of rare photos as well, culled from decades of gruesome stills and posters. And Kay even provides fodder for hours of argument with his personal list of the 25 greatest zombie films of all time.

With such a wealth of information, Kay’s book is bound to keep any zombiephile entertained for days, reliving the thrill of favourite classics. But be forewarned: it will also cause a ravenous hunger for all those low-budget and obscure shockers still unseen.

As Alejandro Brugués, director of the recent Cuban zombie movie Juan of the Dead, says in his enthusiastic forward: “I just realized that I have a lot of catching up to do.”

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