Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema
Book of the Dead: The complete history of zombie cinema
Author: Jamie Russell
Publisher: FAB Press
Publication Date: 2005
> Charts the history of the zombie film
> Non-academic but detailed
> Easy to read yet insightful
This non-fiction book is a fantastic tool for the zombie fan and undoubtedly provides the best coverage of the history of the genre out there, it is a testament to the passion of author Jamie Russell that he has seen this many zombie and related films and can not only differentiate between them but also articulate the context in which they were made and their relevance to the development of the genre (if any).
While some diehards or newer fans may scoff at some of the inclusions in this book (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King being a key one), their inclusion is justified and where do you draw the line – infected mutants (Nightmare City, 28 Days later) or the possessed (Evil Dead, [Rec]) or even with Romero’s ghouls for not being voodoo inspired, the argument is endless, thankfully Russell side steps this issue, lays out what is included and why and covers it with an objective framework discussing their relevance to the genre and its mythos in a solid chronological order allowing for an easy read as well as a real understanding of the genre to develop.
As such we get a detailed and yet broad look at the development of our favourite genre where fanatics and newer fans can learn something as they gaze with amazement at unseen artwork and learn facts about the production of Zombi 3 and why Rupert Everett was cast in Dellamorte Dellamore all while charting the genres evolution inline with both socio-economic and technological advancements, adding an extra dimension to the films and the context.
However, one thing that this book lacked that some lesser comparative books contained was a defined chapter on the influence on and from computer games and modern literature, as these areas are now closely intertwined with that of film (although Resident Evil is admitedly is covered in some form and World War Z was yet to be released even as a book), although this is only a minor gripe and there is always the internet to find out these things.
Ultimately this is a great read for all fans, which goes into more detail and is much more expansive than you could realistically expect to find online, with a significantly higher standard of writing as befitting of a published book and much more analytical savvy. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have referred back or discovered a new “gem” (term used loosely) from this book and can say this is the definitive guide to zombie cinema.
A revised edition is in the works and if you have not already picked up this copy, I would recommend that you add @jamierussell74 on Twitter and tell him to hurry up so that we may all purchase (or re-purchase) an updated edition.