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Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: European Flesh Eaters
This is a special edition of COOL ASS CINEMA BOOK REVIEWS. It will be four books on zombie cinema plus one on cannibal movies. Well, actually, one of the other books covers both Italian cannibal and zombie movies. The reviews begin below. Enjoy your meal...
Edited by Allan Bryce (contributing authors: Allan Bryce, Alan Jones, Maitland McDonagh, Adrian Luther-Smith, Nigel J. Burrell and John Martin)
Softcover; 164 pages; Color
The publishers of Britain's terror-ific gore periodical, Dark Side Magazine compiled this sumptuously mounted book on all things zombie in both the "real world" and the cinematic incarnations. Little time is spent on the Haitian legends as the book quickly gets down to business.
All the main points of interest are covered from Romero's movies to the Italian inspired undead adventures. The Templars get their own chapter and other American zombie flicks are included such as the EVIL DEAD films, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and RE-ANIMATOR. The book is written from a fans perspective and never gets too analytical.
ZOMBIE has a more than generous amount of pictures all of them in glossy, gore drenched color. Among them are ample pics of various lobby photos from around the world and a poster gallery. This edition (one of numerous Dark Side tomes) is a little pricey, but it's worth it for fans most especially those who appreciate a wealth of photos. Although it's an incredible amount of style over substance, it's a good read for fans of zombie cinema. The chapters are as follows...
THE DEAD THAT WALK
SHOOT 'EM IN THE HEAD
SULTAN OF SPLATTER
THE LIVING DEAD AT MISKATONIC MORGUE
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK...AGAIN
ZOMBIE POSTER GALLERY
EVIL DEAD TRILOGY
THE GROSS OUT FACTOR
BEYOND THE BLIND DEAD
HIPPIES SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS
MAESTRO OF MAGGOT MAYHEM
ZOMBIE MOVIE GUIDE
Next up is what could possibly be the last word on the subject....
BOOK OF THE DEAD: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF ZOMBIE CINEMA
By Jamie Russell
Softcover; 320 pages; color & B/W
Russell's hefty tome is a magnificent and exhaustive read on the cinema of the undead. The cover is eyecatching combining elements from classic zombie film posters for DAWN OF THE DEAD and Lucio Fulci's maggot infested CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka GATES OF HELL).
It's not as glossy as the above Dark Side book, but it doesn't need to be. One of Britain's FAB Press books, the company truly puts out the most awe inspiring books on cinema this writer has ever seen. I have a handful of FABPress releases and all of them are heartily recommended. Although the price is steep on some of them, they are all well worth the investment.
For BOOK OF THE DEAD, the price is very reasonable for such an undertaking. When compared to the above reviewed book, Russell's edition is far more in depth and vast in terms of information. The book is also populated with many photos most of them in B/W, but an excellent selection of color pics are also present throughout the book. Highly recommended for zombie cinefiles, particularly those with an interest on information as opposed to those who prefer mostly flashy photos.
The chapters are...
INTRODUCTION: DEAD MEN WALKING
THE ZOMBIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
DOWN AND OUT ON POVERTY ROW
BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME
DAWN OF THE DEAD
TWILIGHT OF THE DEAD
AFTERWORD: SOMETHING TO DO WITH DEATH
EATEN ALIVE! ITALIAN CANNIBAL & ZOMBIE MOVIES
By Jay Slater
Softcover; 256 pages; color & B/W
Jay Slater, a contributing writer of such genre mags as Rue Morgue and Dark Side delivered his first book back in 2002. It's one of the best reference books on the subject and one that warrants frequent returns. It's quite entertaining and loaded with reviews and interviews with those who starred and worked behind the scenes on such goofily gruesome outings as ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980); classy entries like THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE (aka LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE) 1974; the bizarre peplum horror of WAR OF THE ZOMBIES (1964) and also Umberto Lenzi's energetic zombie/vampire epic, NIGHTMARE CITY (1980).
Cannibal movies are also on the splatter platter covering the gamut of such films as the first of that sub genre, THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER (1972) and others such as THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD (JUNGLE HOLOCAUST) 1976 and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Even those with minor cannibalistic sequences such as the nauseating production of THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1976) and the occasionally grim disaster picture, CYCLONE (1977), are included for your perusal.
What's interesting about this book is that sometimes a movie will get more than one review. These are sometimes a positive/negative take on the film. Italian horror actor and fan favorite, Giovanni Lombardo Radice even reviews one entry! Lloyd Kaufman of Troma also partakes one review of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Interviews include Ian McCulloch (ZOMBIE), Giovanni Lombardo Radice (CANNIBAL FEROX), Catriona MacColl (THE BEYOND), Robert Kerman (CANNIBAL FEROX) and director Jorg Grau (LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE) among others. It's not as exhaustive as Russell's edition, but it doesn't need to be. It's a great read and a must for fans of nasty Italian horror productions.
Then we have this....
ZOMBIE MOVIES: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
By Glenn Kay
Softcover; 342 pages; Color & B/W
Kay's book has a foreword by Stuart Gordon and is endorsed by none other than the late Dan O'Bannon. It's chock full of probably every zombie film ever produced. It's not the best book on the genre. It doesn't really divulge much that you won't already find in the above books, but what sets it apart from the pack is that it covers zombies in film from countries outside the more familiar confines of Europe and America.
There are also interviews sprinkled throughout to spice up the hundreds of mini reviews found amongst the books dense 342 pages. Some reviews are longer than others and some films have only a title listed (this being relegated to the harder to find and obscure titles).
There's nothing at all wrong with Kay's ode to all things dead, but if you're looking for something with some meat on it, you may want to give this one a pass for the moment. But if you are looking for a quick and easy reference guide on zombie flicks, you will enjoy this one. The plethora of Asian zombie entries is also notable. There's just little else to recommend to readers who are seeking something new on the subject. Still, if you're a die hard fan, or completist, this one warrants a place on your shelf.
And finally, the bonus review of......
CANNIBAL: THE MOST SICKENING CONSUMER GUIDE EVER!
By John Martin
Softcover; 162 pages; Color
Another in a splashy line of film books from the writers of Dark Side magazine. This one covers cannibal movies with an occasional mention and pics from zombie productions. Martin's book sets itself apart by including some choice interviews with a number of Italy's most revered genre personalities such as Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Antonio Margheriti and Aristide Massachessi (Joe D'Amato) among some others. Oddly enough, Quentin Tarantino provides a very laid back introduction.
Like the ZOMBIE book (and others from Dark Side), the splashy and bloodily offensive pictures dominate the guide being the most attention grabbing aspect once the reader has opened the book. That's not to say this edition hasn't much to say, it's just that it's a prime picture plate of excess on a subject that will never be known for good taste.
If you have the above reviewed ZOMBIE book, you'll surely want to add CANNIBAL to your collection. Both make nice companion pieces. Also like the ZOMBIE edition, the plethora of pictures makes for an attractive package that fans of the more sadistic side of Italian horror will likely not want to pass up.
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I've been a huge movie buff since childhood catching old horror and monster flicks on Shock Theater and kung fu movies at the drive-in during the late 70's and early 80's. I've had a long time fascination with, and appreciate all genres of fantastic cinema, good and bad. One fans cheese is another fans juicy steak. I like both equally and seldom find a film I truly dislike as I will find something of interest in just about anything. The bulk of the films or tv series' seen here are mostly from my childhood, or films I own in what has become an Amazing Colossal DVD collection.