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Monday, January 11, 2010

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...




ZOMBIE

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...

INTRODUCTION

THE DEAD THAT WALK

MORTI VIVENTI

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

CONTRIBUTORS


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

CARIBBEAN TERRORS

THE ZOMBIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

DOWN AND OUT ON POVERTY ROW

ATOMIC INTERLUDE

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME

DAWN OF THE DEAD

SPLATTER HORROR

TWILIGHT OF THE DEAD

AFTERWORD: SOMETHING TO DO WITH DEATH

ZOMBIE FILMOGRAPHY


Then there's.....



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.

The chapters are....

PLEASED TO EAT YOU

THE CANNIBALS ARE IN THE STREETS

DAWN OF THE DAFT

TOO MANY COOKS

THE LAST SUPPER

THE PERFECT VICTIM

CULINARY CONJURERS

THE FULL MENU


5 comments:

Carl (ILHM) said...

What perfect timing, right when I have been making a ton of book purchases!! Thanks for the heads up on Zombie Movies, I was tempted by it but went with The Book Of the Dead instead, I know I will be much happier with it based on this review. Will be sure to look into the other two as well though, then I am planning on going back to the Godzilla titles you dropped on ILHM a few months ago

venoms5 said...

I have one or two other zombie reference books, Carl. One of them is The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia from McFarland. It's okay I guess. It's hardcover with a lame cover. It has some super rare entries but for the most part, it can be passed over unless you're totally unfamiliar with zombie cinema. I was gonna include it, but time kept me from doing so.

Since you mentioned the Big G, I was also thinking of a doing a special edition book review of a few of the G reference books I have, too. But I'll tell you, that Japan's Favorite Mon-star is a must own. It only covers up to the end of the Heisei series, but it's a wealth of information. Even though Toho got an injunction to halt the sale of the book, I think you can still find copies of it.

Carl (ILHM) said...

adding it to the wishlists immediately, the official book looked interesting as well but I am all in on this one

Carl (ILHM) said...

$12ish on Amazon, come some saved allowance I will be all G'd out to the feet out

venoms5 said...

For so cheap a price I'd jump on it. Most likely, I'll buy myself another copy in case the one I regularly look through should fall apart on me.

You should see some of the actual Japanese books on giant monsters. They really know how to put together an attractive package. They're really quite unique. I picked up a few of them at a Chiller Con once.

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