80 Films to Die For

Authors: Dr Arnold T Blumberg and Andrew Hershberger
Telos Publishing
RRP: 12.99, US $22.95, Cdn $29.95
ISBN-13: 978 1 8458 3003 8
ISBN-10: 1 84583 003 2
Available 08 January 2007

his collection examines 80 zombie movies that shaped a horror subgenre and left us all with a mortal fear of flesh-eating ghouls clawing their way out of the cold, dark earth. Zombiemania takes an in-depth look at one of the most popular horror film categories of all time. What is it that makes us so scared of and yet so attracted to the living dead? Why is it that shambling corpses with a taste for brains, or mindless automatons controlled by a voodoo master, still retain such relentless power? Illustrated with many photographs, some published here for the first time, this is one guide that will leave you with a restless urge to walk the night in search of living flesh...

In pretty much the same format as A Vault of Horror by Keith Topping (and also published by Telos) which I reviewed in 2004, comes Zombiemania by Dr Arnold T Blumberg and Andrew Hershberger. Again the publishers have neatly side-stepped possible conflict with completists by using the subtitle 80 Movies To Die For.

Category paragraphs for each listing include: Outbreak Location (the setting); Synopsis; Necrology (the back-story and origins/descriptions of the undead); Quotes (some memorable lines from the film); Ruminations (some interesting facts); 6 Degrees of Necrophagia (influences, links and background); Hey Look, It's The Guy From The One With The Thing (actors and where they've been seen before or since); Behind The Scenes (the people behind the camera); Analysis (opinions); and DVD Notes (what versions the film has been released in).

So very thorough then. However, the first question that occurred to me was what constitutes a zombie movie? Is the true definition someone who has been brought back from the dead? Or is it only a lumbering, lurching, soulless, flesh-eater? My personal view is the latter, but the writers here curiously opt for the former. And that's were the problem lies: where do you draw the line? For example, shouldn't Bride of Chucky have been included, as Chucky is brought back to life using a voodoo ritual? There are many other examples if you sit and think about it.

By the same standards some of the listed titles are not strictly zombie films - at least in my opinion. In 28 Days Later the people are affected by a virus; they are not animated dead. The same applies to The Omega Man, adapted from the classic Richard Matheson novel, I Am Legend. Again, there are other examples, but perhaps I'm simply nitpicking.

I did enjoy being reminded of films I'd long-since forgotten about, such as the weirdness that is Shock Waves, the craziness that is Astro Zombies and, as for Plan 9 From Outer Space (which could fit into any horror or SF genre)... it's so bad it's good. Of course, as anyone with the barest knowledge of horror will tell you, the ultimate zombie movie remains Night of the Living Dead - from 1968.

Zombiemania works well as a casual read for horror addicts, such as myself, so I'm certain this well-presented book will be snapped-up (or should that be devoured?) by fans of George Romero and the like.

Ty Power

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