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BOOK REVIEWS

The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia (2001)

By Peter Dendle


The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia by Peter Dendle
WHERE TO FIND
Search for it on eBay!
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 own shelf.

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!


RATING

(Out of 5)
REVIEW POSTED
March 18 2004


GO-GO'S ADVICE
Don't be afraid to write in it.
ZOMBIE LESSONS LEARNED
Far too many to count.
FAVORITE QUOTES
Referring to Lenzi's City of the Walking Dead (1980):
"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):
"Cordona proves that Mexicans can do industry-standard, post-Night zombies too, and with only a minimum of wrestling."


DETAILS
McFarland & Company, Inc.
2001
259 pages
Dimensions (inches): 0.73 x 9.18 x 5.92
ISBN: 0786408596

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RELEASE DATES

February
-Deathbringer - Bryan Smith
-Fell Cargo - Dan Abnett

March
-Monster Island - David Wellington
-The Ultimate Undead - J G Betancourt

April
-Zombie Bukkake - Joe Knetter

June
-Dead Ends - Nathan Piekos
-Dead Letters 2.2 - Various

Fall 2006
-Reign OTD: Outbreak - Len Barnhart

TBA
-Autumn: Disintegration - David Moody
-The Undead 2 - Various
-Mondo Zombie - John Skipp


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