Written by Craig W. Chenery
Published through CreateSpace
It seems like there’s no escaping zombies these days. Everywhere you look, those shambling harbingers of death are everywhere. Screens big and small, these suckers are the rampant subjects of countless video games, movies and even television shows. So it’s no surprise that author Craig Chenery felt the time was right to take an in-depth look at the cinema of the undead, specifically through the gore FX that make so many of our favorite zombie flicks so memorable in the first place.
Blood Splatter: A Guide to Cinematic Zombie Violence, Gore and Special Effects is appropriately titled because Chenery gives readers a completely satisfying look at the effort involved in bringing zombie carnage to life. One of the most rewarding aspects of the book being the inclusion of script pages to help illustrate the importance of the make-up artist. We see what’s written on the page and it’s juxtaposed against the finished FX work. I wish this had been utilized for more than two films, but it’s a nifty feature. Beyond that, there are behind-the-scenes photos (not as many as there perhaps should’ve been) and a healthy assortment of interviews with genre legends like Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, etc. By the end of this one, it truly feels as if no stone has gone unturned with respects to zombies.
My favorite aspect of Blood Splatter is the detailed collection of zombie films explored. Virtually no stone goes unturned here, with everything from the original Dawn of the Dead all the way to Cowboys & Zombies covered. Best of all, Chenery offers time codes for what are, in his estimation, the FX highlights of each film. Great for folks who want to see what can be accomplished on tight budgets without enduring the dire narrative aspects of, say, Day of the Dead 2: Contagion. It’s also a nice resource for catching some films that might’ve fallen by the wayside. For example, I may be a lifelong genre fan, but I had never heard of Todd Sheets’ Zombie Bloodbath trilogy before reading this book. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but my curiosity has certainly been piqued.
If there’s a qualm to be found, it’s with the interview section of the book. Each interview consists of the same questions (roughly), and it might’ve been more interesting for the reader had Chenery offered some variation, or opted to explore the themes/issues of the subgenre a bit deeper. Maybe this is because the focus of this book is so precise, however, and Chenery didn’t want to stray too far from his intended path. Some good information comes from the interviews regardless; it’s just that things start to feel a bit stale before the reader has reached the back cover. No matter the case, this book is like having a really passionate conversation about zombies with a few friends, that’s never a bad thing.
I recommend Blood Splatter. To those of you out there who love the artistry of special effects, or zombie fanatics in general, there’s plenty to love here (and for you faithful Dread readers out there, there’s even an interview with our own Uncle Creepy based on his appearance in Survival of the Dead). There’s almost 400 pages worth of zombie love in this sucker, enough to sate the most bloodthirsty ghouls out there. A coffee table book for those who love zombie movie make-up, it comes recommended.
4 out of 5