Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

Posted: 08/06/2011 in Books, Movies

Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay

Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide is exactly what you think it would be after reading the title. This is a truly exhaustive reference guide covering zombie films from the 1930s to 2007. I always like to have it handy when trying to choose a movie for the next month’s Zombie Movie Night or to re-read a review after watching a new zombie movie.

THE GOOD: Like I said, this book covers everything! Foreign, rare, obscure, ancient: if you’re looking for a particular zombie movie, it’s in there. I don’t typically care for anything zombie that pre-dates Night of the Living Dead (1968), but Kay gives a really nice zombie history lesson as well.

The book is categorized chronologically with each chapter representing a decade’s worth of films. The most notable films of each decade get longer reviews followed by shorter reviews for the less relevant followed by a list of poor saps who Kay opted to share no review for (poor Bloody Bill got no review, I can’t say I blame Kay for that one). The reviews are all well-written and even the longer ones are concise. I read through the whole book and it never felt like a chore.

Kay also includes some interviews with various zombie-film players as well as his own essay detailing his experience as an extra in Land of the Dead. These are all nice contributions to the book.

THE BAD: Not much bad here. I do find myself disagreeing with Kay on a number of the movies. Some movies that he rates highly, I simply don’t care for as much. He gives average ratings to some of my other favorites (Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante, Evil).

Kay is a pretty staunch Romero apologist. And while I respect Romero for his (very large) contributions to the genre, I believe Night of the Living Dead is really his only truly great movie. Kay gives all of the Romero films top grades. I do seem to be in minority on that point, so I wouldn’t let it prevent you from buying the book.

But really, that’s all a matter of opinion, not a knock against Kay. His reviews are all solid.

THE UGLIES: This book is pretty comprehensive. Kay covers them all: from voodoo zombies to the running infected. If you have a very narrow zombie definition (they have to be dead, they can’t move fast, etc.) you might be upset about some of Kay’s inclusions. There are some that I wouldn’t classify as zombie movies (Death Becomes Her, Weekend at Bernie’s II, the last six Friday the 13th movies), but if you’re writing a book, it’s probably be better to take an inclusive stance.

I like that Kay included a chapter entitled “Zombieless Zombie Movies” which include all sorts of movies that have either zombie-like creatures or titles that seem to imply the presence of zombies (apparently the film “Zombie Island Massacre” has no zombies in it). * I agree with his classification of the Evil Dead movies as non-zombie, but disagree with him on Demons (I say zombie, Kay says non-zombie).

THE VERDICT: If you’re looking for a really comprehensive, in-depth, well-thought-out book of zombie movie reviews, then you should definitely pick up the Ultimate Guide. It’s evident that Kay is a zombie fan who has done his homework and not just someone trying to make a buck off the recent popularity of zombies. Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide gets a full recommendation and 2.75 out of 2.75 stars.

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