Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead (Book)

Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead

Written by Jovanka Vockovic

Published by St. Martin’s Press

The first and most important thing anyone needs to know about former Rue Morgue editor-in-chief Jovanka Vuckovic’s new book is that YOU MUST OWN A COPY!! This is an essential and probably the quintessential guide to all things zombie, and Vuckovic’s meticulous research, along with every sort of illustration/photograph/screen still/movie poster/book cover/etc., puts this book at the top of the zombie non-fiction “heap”.

From the original cover art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn as well as the foreword by George Romero himself, Vuckovic’s book puts zombies in their historical perspective as part of Haitian voodoo (you might want to add the word “tetrodotoxin” to your zombie vocabulary) and follows the progression right to the present day with the massive popularity of Frank Darabont’s cable series “The Walking Dead”. In between, fans are treated to almost all of the zombie films, books, music, video games, TV shows and comics, including a very useful “100 Zombie Fiction Titles” for fans to use to catch up on their zombie reading and a list of film titles from the “putrid 80s” that Vuckovic includes with a caveat that many of the films could be downright “rotten”.

The book is also chock-full of both vintage voodoo images from the 19th century as well as movie posters from nearly every zombie movie ever made and images of early pulp magazines such as Weird Tales that brought zombies to mainstream America. Where they have remained ever since. Vuckovic also “dissects” foreign zombies beginning with the popularity of Spaniard Armando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series; the infamous Fulci era; the Japanese craze for zombie films that had its roots in video games, one of the earliest being Resident Evil, which launched a viable franchise in the US; and winds up with discussing some of the best of the new millennium zombie films (Pakistan’s amazing Hell’s Ground [I loved this film], Norway’s hilarious Dead Snow, [pissed off Nazi zombies anyone?], the wonderful Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead to the completely horrifying Spanish entry [REC].

Vuckovic’s writing is very accessible and obviously VERY well researched, and while there are always a few omissions in any book of this nature (Dan Simmon’s horrifying coming-of-age novel Summer of Night has enough zombies that it should have been included), she clearly loves and respects the subject matter, and that comes through in her writing.

So, what are you waiting for? I myself am looking forward to the next book from Vuckovic – she is clearly an expert in the horror genre as well as a fervent fan, and we can all appreciate that.

5 out of 5

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