Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead (Book)

Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry DeadReviewed by Elaine Lamkin

Edited by John Skipp

Published by Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers

I have to admit that I love zombies. They are the only horror creature that really scares me because THEY were once US, and their only driving force is to EAT us and, in most cases, create more zombies. You can’t reason with them; sitting down for a chat is out of the question. They are remorseless, shambling (or sprinting, depending on your favorite style of zombie) eating machines.

While vampires are having their “day in the sun” (pun intended) lately, zombies have remained around, quietly lurching about in the background and only recently bursting forth with Max Brooks’ World War Z. Quite a number of books, games, graphic novels, etc., have followed, but most have not been of the quality the zombie requires. Now, with John Skipp’s gi-normous collection of zombie stories, both reprints as well as originals, the zombie can shamble to the front of the class again.

Some of you may remember that Skipp, along with Craig Spector, edited the seminal Book of the Dead and its follow-up, Still Dead: Book of the Dead II back in the late 1980s/early 90s. There were some KICKASS stories in those two collections, several of which have been reprinted in this new volume of zombie stories: “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” from David Schow and “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” from Joe R. Lansdale are just two examples. Stephen King’s “The Return of Timmy Baterman”, which ended up as a story within the novel Pet Sematary is here as it appeared in Playboy magazine in 1982.

The collection is divided up into sections beginning with an introduction, The Long and Shambling Trail to the Top of the Undead Monster Heap, from editor John Skipp. Then Part One is Zombies of the Old School, which includes King’s story as well as others from such luminaries as Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Neil Gaiman.

Part Two: Emancipation is the longest section with stories from Poppy Z. Brite, Robert McCammon, Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Max Brooks, Cody Goodfellow, and MANY more. Then, in Appendix A, Christopher Kampe and Anthony Gambole write an enlightening account about “Zombie Roots: An Historical Perspective” (they DID originate in the Caribbean, but references to them date back as far as the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt). Finally, in Appendix B, Skipp and Cody Goodfellow examine “They’re Us and We’re Them: Zombies in Popular Culture”, which is a fascinating examination of zombies in film, art, on TV, in music, comics, and games.

This book is like a box of (poisoned) chocolates, and no true horror fan should be without a copy. Given the size of the book and the number of stories, the price is excellent. Halloween is just around the corner, and this is the sort of goodie I would want to find in my trick-or-treat bag.

4 1/2 out of 5

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