The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
By Peter Dendle
Reviewed By Zombie-A-GoGo
I write in my book. I take a pen and mark the hell out of it. This isn't something I would normally do, especially in a book I shelled out $35 for. But I do and I can justify it. How else can I keep track of what I've seen, what I own, what I need to look for? And more importantly, how many more I need to go to catch up with this Dendle fellow? Sometimes you can see me, stalking the video shelves of my local video store, either with the book itself, or with a little scrap of paper, with a dozen titles I could never remember on my own. This is how useful this book has been in my quest to see what I can, as much as I can, good, bad, and ugly.
The back of the book (which features cover art that both
repulses and delights at the same time) boasts more than
200 movies. This is not entirely true. There are 194, twelve
of which are either shorts or episodes of television series.
This error does not detract from the comprehensive guide.
Face it. Dr. Dendle is one of the very few (and undoubtedly
proud) people who have watched at least 182 zombie films.
I mean, really, that is impressive. I have no idea how many
zombie films are staggering around out there, but I assume
it's quite a few. A complete reference would not
be a book, it would be a numbered set. It would need it's
After his acknowledgments, there is the Introduction, which
consists of History and Evolution in five parts.
The Early Film Zombie (1932-1952), The 50's and 60's: Tension
and Transition (1952-1966), The Stabilizing of the Contemporary
Zombie Mythos (1966-present), The Golden Age (1968-1983),
and The Mid-80's Spoof Cycle. Sounds very academic, and
it is, but fear not, zombie-lover, it's all perfectly understandable.
From here he moves onto Significance, touching upon
the zombie's analogous aspects relating to everything from
Romero's fight against materialism in Dawn of the Dead
to Re-Animator's suggested probing into certain concerns
in medical science. Dendle then goes on to explain himself
in Definition, Scope and Principles of Selection.
This section, if read carefully, will clear up any questions
or doubts you might have as to why some films were covered
and some were not. There is a method to his madness.
The body of the book itself is The Films. It is listed
alphabetically, including many alternate titles, which refer
you to where you want to be. Hence, if you were looking
for Bloodfeast of the Blind Dead and you are looking
in the B's, you will find that it directs you to the N's,
where you will locate Night of the Seagulls. Does this sound
like work? Far from it. With films like Living Dead at
the Manchester Morgue (listed under L for Let Sleeping
Corpses Lie) having seven titles total, you'll be glad
to have this handy reference. It might keep you from buying
the same movie twice (or more!). Each film is provided with
a list of director, producer, screenplay, cast, country
of origin (if outside the US), production house and year
it was made. If the film's title was originally in another
language, that title is also provided. Dendle's reviews
are straight forward easy to follow and very often funny.
My favorite part of this guide, however, is the fact that
each film has a zombie review. Yes, following a description
of the film itself is a description of the zombie(s) within.
From The Alien Dead's "zombie with perfect hair and
his shirt tucked neatly into his pants" to Zombie Rampage's
"the undead limp along stiff-limbed and contorted, suffering
from an epidemic of apoplectic over-acting." From Garden
of the Dead's "their favorite attack is a rather complicated
sprint and pick-axe swinging technique" to La Cage aux
Zombies "a transvestite zombie standing around in a
bathroom pats himself on the stomach for maybe two full
minutes while a woman (well, could be a woman) watches from
a wheelchair." Some people like their zombies slow and starchy,
while others like them fast and squishy. This guide will
help you find the films you want to see.
When all is said and done, we are provided with two handy-dandy
appendices, a bibliography and an index. Appendix A lists
films by year from 1932 to 1998, while Appendix B lists
them by country (Canada, Egypt, England, Finland, France,
Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal,
South Africa, Spain and Thailand...the US is omitted, which
might be a loss from those in other countries using this
guide.) The Bibliography, which is a wealth of information
for anyone looking to become an expert, is broken up into
three sections: Horror Film Guides, Histories
and Encyclopedias, Studies of Particular Zombie Movies
and Directors and Zombies and the Living Dead:
Folklore and Anthropology. So if there is something
you feel Dr. Dendle has missed or excluded, there are sources
for this information, but you'll have to do the work. And
why not? He did.
I bought my Zombie Movie Encyclopedia two years ago
and still use it actively today in my day-to-day search
for zombie fare that I have yet to sink my teeth into. I
was able to track down titles that I probably wouldn't have
heard of otherwise. I can thank, or blame, Dr. Dendle, depending
on what it is I find. The fun, though, is the effort to
catch up to him!
(Out of 5)
|March 18 2004
|Don't be afraid to write in it.
||ZOMBIE LESSONS LEARNED
|Far too many to count.
| Referring to Lenzi's City of the Walking Dead
"The veritable Waterloo of zombie cinema, this lamentable reel-stain is, at
its best moments, and forced and pointless test of endurance."
On Invasion of the Dead (1972):
that Mexicans can do industry-standard, post-Night
zombies too, and with only a minimum of wrestling."
|McFarland & Company, Inc.
|Dimensions (inches): 0.73 x 9.18 x 5.92
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