Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Twilight of the Dead by Travis Adkins

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Travis Adkins seems to be one of the darlings of Indie horror.

As something of a poster-boy for Permuted Press, Travis is everywhere zombies are. Bowie Ibarra’s Down The Road, recently re-released by Permuted, features Travis as both editor and Sensai, his introduction bigging-up Bowie as the ‘Tarantino of zombie fiction.’ Again by Permuted, The Undead Anthology is heralded in by Travis, speaking like some old, wise sailor, about all the wonderful variations of the undead theme therein for fans to flick their horror-hungry thumbs through.

Of course, the favour is returned. Dave Moody (he of Autumn novels fame) bigged-up by Adkins in the Undead Anthology, gets down to a little bigging-up himself in the recently unleashed special edition of Twilight Of The dead, demanding we give it our ‘full attention.’ However, back-slapping is what back-slapping does. As a big fan of Moody’s, I was keen to see whether or not I agreed with him – whether or not Adkins’ Twilight Of The Dead would shine in my estimation.

From the outset, it seemed there was nothing new here. Twilight Of The Dead features a fairly run-of-the-mill-blue-faced-wrinkly-zombie-horde doing its fairly-run-of-the-mill-blue-faced-wrinkly thing. All the usual hoo-haa we expect is present and accounted for – the military going corrupt, the rescue centres breaking down… stuff you would find in either Romero’s cinema or other similarly themed books, such as Ibarra’s Down The Road.

Fans of bizarre horror, or a little-of-the-out-of-the-ordinary would probably find what they’re looking for elsewhere, namely Andre Duza’s house, where the zombie cliché isn’t just refashioned but rather gang-banged into the fucked-up mojo that has good ol’ Andre effortlessly soaring up this reviewer’s top-ten reads.

It goes without saying that I like my horror puked-up and pretty.

Yet the trad road ain’t one I’m not partial to, either, and Twilight Of The Dead brings to the table its own innovations, it must be said. Refreshingly, for example, we have a female lead replacing the clichéd-chisel-jawed-Spambo, all too familiar in the genre. Even better, said lead, Courtney is a girl you’ll find it hard not to fall in love with, her sardonic sense of humour playing out as believable and delectable in equal measure.

The plotline of Twilight Of the Dead, albeit fairly familiar to begin with, eventually finds itself straying slightly left-of-centre. The survivors’ quest for visiting scientist, Dane’s so-called ‘cure’, drawing the settled community out of the relative comfort of their walled-city community, Eastpointe doesn’t pan out as grab-and-run as they might have hoped, leading to a more complex threat than at first anticipated.

Twilight Of The Dead, for me, is the Buffy of zombie literature, pasting together post-apocalyptic horror (and all its trimmings) with post-high-school romance, using a gob of gore-stained bubblegum. Adkins writes exceptionally well, making for an accessible and enjoyable slice of fiction, but for me, Twilight Of The Dead falls shy of being a classic. Trad fans are likely to prefer Moody’s Autumn series and quirky horror-ites would be more likely to steer towards Andre Duza’s Jesus Freaks or Dead Bitch Army, before reaching for this.

Whilst I wouldn’t entirely agree with Mr Moody’s description of Twilight Of The Dead as ‘full-on blood and guts and brains and bullets zombie Armageddon’, it does have elements of all of that going on. You’re unlikely to be disappointed, if that’s your bag. But I wouldn’t imagine you’d be blown away, either.

Review by Wayne Simmons (Spiral), of shiny-HOO-HAA.

You can order Premuted Press's Special Edition of Twilight of the Dead right here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Considering the seemingly unquenchable thirst for all things zombie over the last few years, it’s been surprising to me that this publication, Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema by Jamie Russell, has managed to escape the kind of rabid reverence that, say, The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks has. I suspect that, for the majority of people who say they like zombie movies, their real interest is rather limited to a handful of new, slick looking films, and have a preference for fiction only; other zombie films (and there are hundreds of them) pique little interest, and certainly books chronicling them don’t fair as well either. This is a real shame, because this book does such a wonderful and thorough job (certainly the most thorough to date) at registering for posterity the evolution of the subgenre.

Book of the Dead, in a way, picks up where Peter Dendle left off in the introduction to his Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. In that, the books might seem like complimentary backwards twins—Dendle provides us with a brief history and criticism of the subgenre—which was desperately neglected up to that point—and then goes on to do what the title suggests; provide us with an almost encyclopedic account of zombie films from 1932 to 1998. His history is revealing, but regrettably short, in that it was not the primary focus of the book. Russell’s book is like Dendle’s book, flipped. There is a filmography of zombie films in the back, giving each film a short personal comment, positive or negative. The body of the book, however, is focused singularly with recording and relaying the history of the subgenre. Both books are essential and neither detracts from the other.

In addition to the laying out of the undead record, Russell’s text displays a fair amount of cinematic criticism that dabbles in all areas that might affect a zombie movie, including social commentary and historicism, taking into account various themes as racism, sexism, economics, and more. That is not to say that the book is passage upon passage of thick, perplexing, academic-like blathering. Quite the opposite; while Russell educates us on the specifics, he engages us with a down to earth dialog flavored with intellectual analysis and peppered with a healthy sense of humor—a must when reading on this subject.

Another aspect in Russell’s approach to writing Book of the Dead is his unusual insistence in covering that which most fans either know about but aren’t very familiar with, or that they don’t know at all. While Russell covers all the basic zombie staples, and spends significant time exploring them, he doesn’t neglect those films that, while intriguing in their own right, seem to fall by the wayside in light of, say, the Romero Dead films. These films, though they may be popular among hardcore fans, seem to have escaped real noteworthy consideration up until now. For one who reads a lot of zombie-related texts—inevitably reading the same information about the same films over and over—this is enormously welcome. Titles privy to this treatment include Sugarhill, The Plague of the Zombies, Shock Waves, Shanks, and The Serpent and the Rainbow, among others. In some cases, Russell might spend a few paragraphs, and in others, a few pages—the point is that he recognizes these films as important enough in the subgenre for more than just the sideways glance that most who cover these films give them.

The service that is truly provided in this book is that it is as up to date as one could ask for, considering the recent, and possibly unexpected, zombie boom we’ve experienced. What was once a landscape belonging primarily to those happy few who felt a true affinity for these films became dominated—for better or for worse—by a popularity unprecedented in the subgenre. Up until that point, from Dendle’s Encyclopedia to Gagne’s Zombies that Ate Pittsburgh to Slater’s Eaten Alive!, didn’t we pretty much know the score? Suddenly, we’re accosted by a handful of decent, legitimate films, and sadly, a barrage of Hollywoodized fodder and backyard trash—and they came, one after the other, barely giving us time to catch our breath, let alone contemplate where they really came from and how such a thing happened.

And here’s where Russell steps in. Here is an account of the last few years, covering the fruition of the new zombie, from the Resident Evil Games and films, 28 Days Later, Dawn ’04, Shaun of the Dead, and Land of the Dead. Though little attention is paid to the ultra-low budget jobs (and thankfully, really), we are lead through a chronology that allows us to view the culmination as a whole, putting it into factual perspective. For those who have read extensively on the subgenre before, some of what is in here you’ll know. But, you know not everything—this book is full of interesting little tidbits and insights that will likely be of some illumination to even the most well-read fan or scholar, especially the closer the book moves towards the present state of affairs.

In addition to being informative, enlightening, and simply a great read, Book of the Dead is also an extremely attractive publication. Sporting a fun title adaptation of a promo poster for Fulci’s City of the Living Dead on the front cover and the famous moldering zombie from Andrea Bianchi’s Burial Ground on the back cover, Book of the Dead is also chocked full of over 300 stills, posters, and promo photos. It features two tantalizing color blocks of splendid zombirific images (totaling 62 pages of the book’s 311 pages).

I highly recommend this book. If you’re just a passing fan of zombies because you like how they run and jump, and the awesome film soundtracks, then maybe you don’t care about this book. But, if you’re a true fan of the subgenre, and see yourself being so long after the current craze has died away (and I imagine you are, really, if you’re reading this), then make some room amongst your other zombie books by Dendle, Slater, and Davis—you’ll definitely want to add this.

Review by Kriscinda Meadows.

Please check out our accompanying interview with author Jamie Russell.

Gospel of the Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Kim Paffenroth’s Gospel of the Dead: George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth, despite not being a particularly difficult read, has turned out to be a difficult book to review. If you’re basing whether or not you want to read it solely on its title, you might find yourself a little misled. Written by a theology professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Iona College, a Catholic university, and published by Baylor University Press, a Baptist academy (part of whose mission is “to serve the academic community by producing works of excellent quality that integrate faith and understanding”)—this book is clearly a theological work but only seems so peripherally. The book is made up of an Introduction, a Conclusion, and five chapters in between, each dedicated to a particular film; each chapter contains a synopsis of the film, analysis, and conclusion.

Paffenroth spends a lot of time analyzing sexism and racism (touching briefly on homophobia in Chapter 4) from a socio-psycho analytical perspective. He occasionally refers to these unfortunate human tendencies in the faith-based language of “sinful” and talks about things “divine.” But other than that, you could read about 85% of this book and not think twice about religion. And then he hits you with it, and if you’re not what he calls a “believer” in the Christian sense, frankly, you might feel a little uncomfortable, if not downright insulted. Many of the arguments made against rationalism and for faith could be easily flipped and made against faith and for rationalism, but much of the thrust of the religious criticism is based on pointing out all that is bad with logic and reason, and insisting that the problems that we face with our human faults and difficulties can somehow be solved through faith.

For example, in the first chapter that covers Night of the Living Dead, while we can all acknowledge that due to the characters’ inability to conquer these regrettable natural vices we all have, the characters are equally unable to come together and succeed against seemingly insurmountable odds. Paffenroth assumes that the characters (and assuming other residents of the area trapped in their own houses and attempting to get to rescue stations) basically put all of their eggs in the basket of reason, and therefore, they all die in the end. These characters bickered with each other and were guilty of the sins of pride, vanity, greed, domination, anger, hatred, etc. What isn’t provided is an alternative vision of what the film would have been if based entirely on faith. Instead of people who rely on logic for their survival, let’s make each character a church-goer—but to make it realistic, let’s make them members of different Christian denominations. Now, do we still think that faith will bring these people together and they will somehow survive? Or is physical survival not the point? The book fails to point out how faith would have made for a different conclusion. Though Paffenroth says that religion doesn’t promise physical safety, the general populace of “believers” mostly don’t feel that way, as shown in various tragic disasters. Hundreds may die, but survivors will credit God for their personal physical safety through a “miracle.” So, in those more practical terms, how exactly could faith have saved the characters in Night? To say that the characters were unable to act in a decent, moral manner due to their lack of faith is quite assumptive and completely rules out the facts of morality through means other than faith. Yes, people of reason act badly, but as history has shown us, so do people of faith.

In addition to the failure to take reality into account, Paffenroth also refrains from giving all the important details in some cases. In the case of Ben in Night, he accuses him of not wanting to go into the basement because he is proud of the work he’s done at boarding up windows and doors—hence he’s guilty of being vain. When I watch the film, I can clearly see (and hear in his argument with Cooper) that he doesn’t want to go into the cellar because it is a “death trap”—there’s no Plan B, no back-up escape route. Not the same thing at all. Similarly, he describes Kenneth in Dawn ‘04 as being callous for no reason other than a strong sense of individualism—not wanting to help out the group. It’s not until he has comprehensively defamed Kenneth in this way that Paffenroth off-handedly throws in, much, much later, the reality that this character was indeed looking for his brother, making him decidedly un-individualistic, unselfish, and while he might still be viewed in the beginning as callous, it is not for the reasons stated by Paffenroth.

These are a few examples as to how Paffenroth’s perspective, if being read from a secular perspective, might be difficult to swallow. This is not to say that the book isn’t worth reading, for much of the scrutiny, socially and psychologically, is quite good. Paffenroth bases much of his reading on previous scholarship on the films of Romero, and in that sense, some of it may not be new to the reader. That being said, there are few places one can look to find these thoughts laid out in such detail. Furthermore, Paffenroth’s analogous comparisons with Dante’s Inferno are as interesting as they are relevant, and for the most part, thankfully presented in a way that can be appreciated by both “believers” and non-believing students of literature and popular culture, which, to me, is what academic scholarship should be.

Gospel of the Dead can be contradictory in the sense that on one hand, the author champions the virtues of women’s rights, the rights of minorities, and their value in society (he even, contrary to what some secularists might find to be stereotypical Christian behavior, goes so far as to condemn homophobia), while on the other hand he downplays the benefits and good works of those who base their life and moral compasses on something other than religious doctrine. While women should be treated equally, and should have the autonomy to make the decision to have a child (as in Fran in Dawn ’78), he downplays any sense that women might equally have the autonomous right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and control their own bodies. With these things in mind, when you open this book, you should be prepared for wonderful, insightful, and interesting analysis couched within a loose theological framework that, in the end, berates reason without faith, and certainly doesn’t entertain the idea that one can be good, and moral, without having to submit to any particular religion, especially Christianity. This makes Gospel of the Dead, while interesting and insightful in some areas, clearly written for a certain audience—Christians.

On another note, what makes the title particularly misleading, in my opinion, is that gives the impression that this is purely a study of director George Romero’s vision. Much of it is. However, the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake is given its own chapter, whereas the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake is not considered at all. The reason given for this is that the Night remake is practically identical to the original and doesn’t offer anything new to consider. This is surprising; most critics have observed numerous differences, some of them fundamental. Considering Paffenroth’s primary focus on sexism and racism, Night ’90 offers up significant material in these areas, especially when compared to the original, which is not only vastly different, but is from another time and, therefore, context. Here we are able to explore Barbara’s new role as a strong, gun-toting woman who is in control (indeed, the lone survivor), as opposed to the catatonic Barbara of the original, who succumbs to her own zombified brother after spending most of the film staring into space and playing with doilies. Also, in terms of racism, the relationship between Ben and Barbara can now be surveyed in the context of interracial relationships (romantic or otherwise) in the 1990’s, as opposed what was generally acceptable in the struggling Civil Rights era of the 1960’s. It seems to me that there is a lot to discover in these terms when considering Night ’90, and the movie is actually quite different than the original.

What Night ’90 does have in common with Romero’s other films which Dawn ’04 does not is an actual, direct connection with Romero himself. George Romero wrote and produced the Night remake, which, in my mind, makes this film closer to Romero’s creation and thus a continuation of the zombie mythos in evolutionary terms. The Dawn remake—though rife with very interesting commentary and analysis—is only very tenuously connected with Romero himself, or even the original film. The chapter on the Dawn remake, regardless of the film’s detachment from Romero’s direct influence, is still a very worthy chapter—its examination of the film is interesting and in many aspects, poignant. These positive attributes, however, don’t make it any more Romero’s work than Shaun of the Dead or any other film influenced by Romero (which is most zombie movies) could be, and would serve better as a separate piece. It would be my suggestion to cover Night, Dawn ’78, Day, Night ’90, and Land if one wanted to stay true to the title of the book, and completely faithful to Romero’s vision.

These criticisms, as I’ve stated before, do not make the book worthless, as it has many merits in the areas of social and psychological commentary. It’s written in a style that makes it accessible to fan’s and not just fellow professors, and can very easily spark off the average fans very real ability to carry out his or her own analysis of these films. However, the majority of average fans that love these films and know them well enough to partake and participate in this kind of deep thinking about them, according to a survey I recently conducted, are not particularly religious. While they lean prominently in the direction of non-racist, non-sexist, and non-homophobic in comparison to your average American, they do so based on morals either not connected with, or very loosely associated with, the Christian faith. Not all…just most. Because of that, some of the conclusions made throughout Gospel of the Dead in regards to secular thinkers might not come across as agreeable.

Review by Kriscinda Meadows.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jesus Freaks (je'zus freks), n. see ZOMBIE by Andre Duza

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I must admit to having a little beef with that fellow, Jesus.

It’s probably because my childhood, most of which was spent in a small Irish town, once referred to as ’The Alabama Of The North’, riddled with all shades of fundamentalist christian churches, veering from the very black-and-white to the slightly-less-black-and-white-but-still-pretty-fucking-grim. Twice weekly, I found myself suffering hellfire doom-and-gloom and dreary renditions of old, archaic hymns in our family place of worship. There, my little ears were bombarded with stories of people who were one prayer short of glory, waking amidst the flames of hell, crying for just one more chance… And by fuck, was that scary biscuits when you were all of nine years old!

Such were the building blocks of my youth, leading this little reviewer to scurry quickly to the Big Smoke, at the age of eighteen, to a world with a little more grey and frey around the edges. I quickly forsook the horror stories of my youth for a much more palatable kind, that of the Stephen Kings and George Romeros of this world.

So when Andre Duza made noises about his new release, Jesus Freaks, I was excited from two perspectives. Firstly, I absolutely adored the wall-of-death-fairground-ride that was his debut novel, Dead Bitch Army (Haven’t read it yet? Geez, why not?!) and the Indie Gods chapbook starring the same character, her Royal Scariness, Bloody Mary. After reading those little gems, anything the man Duza was releasing was certainly going to be greedily devoure!

Secondly, what with the rotting bone I had to pick with everyone’s ‘favourite’ messiah, Jesus (unless you’re Muslim, or Jewish, or Hindu, or Atheist, or me etc. etc. etc.) I was quite intrigued to see what Duza was all about with this one…

I should have guessed, of course…

Not content with one Jesus, Duza introduces his latest tale of woe with two Jesuses-s-s-s (Jesui?), miraculously unleashed on an unsuspecting world, doused in bloody rain and plagued by a spat of folk-rising-from-the-dead. Duza’s principal Jesus hails from the US of A, blonde and blue-eyed, the type favoured by folk like deputy villan of the piece, Rev. Jesse James Dallas. The other …er… Jesus, is found in none other than war-torn Iraq, sporting more of a Middle Eastern pallor, and going by the title of Yeshua. As to how these two prospective messiahs fit into a zombie story would be to spoil the piece, somewhat, save to say that they do. And do very well…

Duza’s Jesus Freaks is a very odd novel, and little fits together quite as you suspect it. There are more twists and turns in the storyline than a sliced-open-intestine, leading the reader through a collage of graphic and gloriously described scenes of gore-stained mayhem, starring characters so comic-book that you can almost see the speech bubbles submerged within the print.

Boy-done-good-anti-hero, Kane, at first seems like the classic bad-ass cop, renowned for getting things done his way (a way which seems a little unorthodox in his 2015 New World) but soon learns to channel this fervour within a society fending off an ever-threatening plague of zombies. Streetwise Jason Williamson, at first appears to be your everyday gang-weary, North Philly kid, before he too is lured into the madness of Duza’s plot, mixing all kinds of chaos up as he crosses paths with Kane.

Duza certainly pulls no punches as he pounds home his latest horror, introducing and manipulating each character with ease, as the zombie tide continues to rise…

As the zombies get their airtime, I begin to wonder if their ever-worrying presence is a parody of how the Western world deals with its poorer residents, or alternatively, a reflection of the simple, blind-faith mindset of those converts flocking to the new millenium Jesus, and his glitzy showbiz miracles…

(Or both? Or neither?)

… But to be absolutely honest, I soon forget about the social commentary that most definitely peeks its head above the covers, in most Duza output, and just get stuck into the blood-and-guts shotgun-pumping goodness of scene upon scene of headshot hoo-haa.

As the novel progresses, shifting curiously from one character to another, the two Jesus-us (JESUI?!) clocking up their respective followers, sporting very different agendas, you might begin to wonder if Duza has the makings of an epic here, a series that could have spawned across a trilogy of novels, perhaps, as opposed to being mixed together in this one outing. Some characters, and perhaps concepts, might seem to get lost within the maze, perhaps taking one twist too many? One might be guilty of wishing, at times, for the constant eloquent explosion, that is Duza’s writing style, to be reined in a little, if only to give a little bit of downtime before the next perfectly choreographed episode is frogmarched across the page. For others, the feverous pace and high-pitched action will be just the ticket, splashed delightfully between Duza’s usual guest list of quality artists’ impressions of the action, lending a definite movie-feel to proceedings.

Yet, few would find themselves not enjoying Jesus Freaks…

To call Andre Duza an author would be like calling Icelandic banshee, Bjork, a singer. It somehow falls short of describing exactly what Duza achieves with a book like Jesus Freaks. As a follow-up to Dead Bitch Army, Jesus Freaks sings gloriously of what pearly gates are in store for him, and has the rest of us all guessing just how the feck he can reach any further beyond our dark, horror-hungry imaginations. For some, me included, Dead Bitch Army will prove that little bit more accessible, and perhaps a better starting point for the Duza initiate…

… But for most, Jesus Freaks should be a pool of blood-soaked zombie goodness for every self-respecting fan of horror literature to dip their pinkies into. Duza does what he sets out to do, tearing up the zombie cliché with a delightful combo of gore, wit and imagination that should appeal to every forward-thinking fan of horror.

And in true comic-book style, ‘nuff said…

Review by Wayne Simmons (aka Spiral)

Monday, April 10, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

First off, I must admit that this is the first chapbook that I’ve ever read and quite purposefully at that, as it is a medium that I’ve had certain predisposed low expectations of. I assumed chapbooks to be scatterbrained collections of varying quality, half-realized stories and unrelated out-of-place drawings. Boy, was I wrong!

To my surprise, Brainchild is presented in a very methodical way with a very clever theme in mind. It is a collection of artifacts, as in evidence left behind in the wake of some catastrophic zombie epidemic. There is a very interactive feel to the way things flow together, as if you’ve stumbled across these personal accounts in some future time and are delineating the ambiguous clues to piece together a fractured history. From one story to the next, there is a growing sense of doom and an overwhelming sense of the horror of it all. One is compelled to continue reading, as if bearing witness, and assuming the mantle of a living chronicle.

Many different aspects of the personal experience are presented, from desperate victims, to stalwart survivors, to the hopeless infected. The pace of these accounts is brisk, as if the authors were pressed and had to impart what they knew and move on. Each story captures a feeling of progression from the previous; from the opening lines that illustrate the initial moments of an outbreak, to “Running” a short story about the instinctual need to flee, to “Black Days: Sandy” an account from a victim’s perspective, to “Black Days: Paul” a story about a survivor relentlessly focused on living in a horrible new world, and finally to “Book Of Matches”, a hopeless tale about soon-to-be zombies taking fate in their own hands. There are many other tales filling the remarkably ample 64 pages, yet these standouts demonstrate the feeling of passing time most deftly.

The recurring artwork in Brainchild offers reflective moments in between each story, and like each story, one assumes the differing pieces of art to be personal observations from casualties and survivors of the zombie outbreak. The artistic styles are as random as the mediums used. From stark paintings, to expressive drawings, to surrealistic altered photos, each piece is engrossing and fits the ambience perfectly. Some impressive skill is shown in quite a few of the works, yet the most simple and most disturbing piece is the crayon rendition of an undead killer drawn by a child. It is a chilling glimpse of a terrifying world through the eyes of innocence and is a harsh reminder of who would be the most helpless of victims.

The one shortcoming of Brainchild may be the inclusion of the essay “My Zombie Girlfriend” about the history of women in zombie literature and film. The essay itself is not so much to fault, although I don’t think it achieved its point too well, but rather it is it’s incorporation into this make-believe world of zombie historian that doesn’t gel. It is the one unrelated piece that does not fit the theme and it detracts from the captivating role-play of the reader. However, one can assume that the essay’s inclusion was for the sake of diversity and as such is forgivable for the sake of the whole.

Brainchild is obviously a very ambitious project and a labor of love by some very talented people. It certainly should meet or exceed anyone’s expectations of a work of this kind. I was quite surprised with the professionalism, presentation, and well-crafted execution. Everyone involved with the project is disserving of praise and hopefully will have much more to offer in the future.

Brainchild is published by Omnibucket.

Review by !Vision! (Brandon Begley)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Undead Zombie Anthology

Image hosting by Photobucket

I love zombies...

... So too does Travis Adkins, author of the recently released novel Twilight Of The Dead. He says just that very thing in his gloriously back-slapping introduction to Permuted Press' growing fan favourite, Undead. As a zombie-loving (hmmmm.... best rephrase that, maybe...) mover-and-shaker on the indie horror circuit, Travis' praise, so vibrantly relayed, is difficult to ignore. Certainly all the ticks are in the right boxes, familiar fan favs such as Dave Moody, Andre Duza and DL Snell all queuing up to deliver the goodies, but has Permuted Press been thrown the shredded marrow of these indie-heavyweights' produce or the juicy, fleshy, gore-happy delights we come to expect?

As something of a fan, I must admit to having sidestepped the first few stories on getting my mitts around Undead, going straight to Dave Moody's Home without passing go. I was thrilled to learn that Dave's contribution was indeed based within his very own highly acclaimed (and muther-feckin' excellent) Autumn series, a world spawning four novels thus far, with a fifth on the way. Home didn't dissappoint. Set within a traditional zombie landscape (they-die-they-rise-up-again-they-shuffle-they-smell-flies-buzz-around-them) Moody's offering could be seen as one of Undead’s more (ahem) conservative reads at first. It tells the story of one man's journey through zombie-infested countryside, heartily chopping up those pesky living dead along the way, as he strives to reach his wife's side. Like most of Undead's content, I was soon to learn Home isn't as straightforward as it at first seems, winding its way through all manner of bloodshed and hoo-haa to reach a truly chillin g twist at its bitter end. You could almost imagine Dave tipping his top hat (do you own one, Dave?) at us as we read his last few sentences... Yes, folks. It's that good...

Secondly, of course, the call of Andre Duza's twisted yarn lured me like a son of a (dead) bitch. Ridiculously titled, Like Chicken For Deadfucks, Andre serves up more than just a taste of the bizarro-lit he's (in)famous for here, with his meshed up cyber-age-zombie-with-purpose causing all sorts of merry mayhem, teasing the hell out of us Duze fans in the process. What we have here is an excerpt from Duza's forthcoming novel Jesus Freaks, no doubt yet another barrel of (sick) laughs to please fans of his previous work. However, Duza's offering is as far away from Moody's Home as Spain is to Pluto, leaving me wondering just what Undead had to offer paced slightly left of Moody's centre and right to Duza's insanity.

Enter DL Snell's Pale Moonlight, of course. Again seeming at first to be a fairly standard farmhouse showdown with the undead locals, Snell builds the tension, employing his ever-finely-polished prose to pour one hell of a metaphysical twist into proceedings....

... All this innovative-zombie-goodness was getting too much for me to stomach, of course, so I hastily retreated to the beginning of the collection, hoping for a more subtle lead-in. No such luck with David Wellington's Chuy and the Fish. Wellington, a growing genre favourite since the release of his Monster Island series, couldn't have been thinking straight when he cooked up this little gem about a huge zombie fish. A deliberately strange tale, Chuy and the Fish sets the scene for what I had already discovered to be a weird and wonderful cocktail of all things zombific. Unlike its peers, such as the exceptionally mischievous Hotline by Russell Calhoun, Meghan Jurado's what's-it-like-to-be-in-their-shoes Dead World or Eric S Brown's Sci-fi slice, Reapers At The Door, Chuy and the Fish doesn't even try to seduce us with quirky-and-effective restyling of the genre, choosing instead to gore us out with its slick-and-sick description of what it would feel like to get nibbled on by a ruddy big zombie fish. Yes... barking mad, but also damn entertaining...

... And that's what we could say about Undead in its entirety. Don't come looking for too much in the way of your typical movie fodder here. Undead has much, much more than that in store for you, fellow zombie lover (hmmmm...still doesn't sound right... ). Expect the unexpected, crave the delightfully diabolical and laugh merrily in the face of the frankly ridiculous... all in one gore-stained anthology. Undead breathes new life into our much loved zombie genre, thrilling and chilling lovers of horror and damn good writing alike. I'm just left wondering what the bleeding hell Permuted Press could have left in store for us with Undead 2.... Zombie Amoebas From Hades????

By Spiral (Wayne Simmons)

Dead Men Tell No Tales #1-4

Image hosting by Photobucket

While pirate comic books are not a complete rarity, I doubt they have ever been done as well as Dead Men Tell No Tales. The work is complex, original, and thoroughly entertaining. The exciting yet dangerous world of the pirate is oftentimes hard to depict. If it’s too serious you lose the sense of adventure. If it’s too raucous it just becomes campy. Dead Men Tell No Tales is a mix of faithful pirate history, supernatural pirate lore, and just plain good storytelling.

Image hosting by Photobucket
#1 Cover

The plot is an intricate interweaving tale involving a cursed treasure map that leads to nothing other than the lost Relics of Christ. It is a prize that anyone would do anything to possess, especially heartless cutthroat pirates. From it’s origins with the Knights Templar all the way through the hands of three of history’s most nefarious pirates the map drives all who touch it mad with the desire to possess the treasure even after death. The writer is definitely to be commended for even among this immense plot he was still able to throw in interesting details about the day-to-day life of the pirate which gives the work such an authentic feel.

Image hosting by Photobucket
#2 Cover

The pace of this spanning story moves along briskly and the brief flashbacks to the Knights Templar cement a fascinating backstory that adds all the depth and sense of scope needed. The supernatural zombie/ghost angle is underplayed and most of the evil actions are left to the whims of mortal men. Violent battle scenes abound and are a real highlight as the action jumps right off the page with their ferocious portrayal.

Image hosting by Photobucket
#3 Cover

The amazing storyline is not the star of the show however; the biggest strength in the work is the characterization. All three of the historically infamous pirates depicted where unique and full of complexity. From the uncompromising cold-hearted savagery of Captain Kidd, to the humorous sociopathic antics of Blackbeard, and finally to the aristocratic elitism of Black Bart, their motivations were suitably portrayed and quite believable. The supporting characters were equally as colorful, from treacherous first mates, to mutinous crewmen, to beleaguered cabin boys.

Image hosting by Photobucket
#4A Cover

The art is suitable to the subject matter, dark and atmospheric with thick inks and vibrant yet muted colors. There is a certain murkiness to it that draws you into the desperate shadowy world of the pirate. The pencil work is outstanding, with great detail and touches that highlight each individual’s qualities.

Image hosting by Photobucket
#4B Cover

So many good things are crammed into these four issues it’s hard to disclose them all in this simple review. Suffice to say, the work is one of dedication and great enthusiasm for the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the books and give them the highest recommendation I can.

Publisher: Arcana Studio
Story: Dwight MacPherson
Pencils: Fernando Acosta, Mike Fiorentino
Inks: Tony DeVito
Colors: Michael DeVito, Jon Conkling

Review by !Vision! (Brandon Begley)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Le Sangre

Le Sangre
Saranna DeWylde

Image hosting by Photobucket

Part I.

The sea air was a courtesan, practiced and soft as it slid into Saint Augustine with the scent of exotica and the lure of the unknown. There was a subtle malevolence that threaded through that sweetness, a hidden chill that fought through the cloying humidity of the afternoon.

Morning tide had brought the trader ship Reliant into port and with it, foreign goods. There were spices, silks, teas and flesh.

It was the flesh that caught the eye of young Martine Bartlett, the newly named master of Casa de la Sangre.

She was dirty, this slave, her exact ethnicity impossible to determine beneath all of the grime. Slender and young, obviously some gentleman’s by-blow, judging from the green of her eyes. Her hair fell in matted knots to her waist and a simple muslin shift did little to hide her body.

But it wasn’t her woman’s charms that caught his attention. It was the tattoo on her arm, though barely visible through the layers of filth, it was there nonetheless. A serpent’s tail began on her wrist and wrapped around her arm several times until the animal’s head came to rest on her collarbone.

There was something intriguing about her- the tattoo, made him want to touch her, to have her. He stepped forward and was about to inspect her further when a bulky form inserted itself between Martine and his intended purchase.

“That’s not one for a fine gentleman such as yourself.”


“She’s bound for hard labor in the cane fields. Not a man’s bed.”

“And what did she do, this terrible felon?” He nodded to the girl, amused.

“She slit her master’s throat as he slept and bathed herself in the blood of his children.”

“Indeed.” The explanation may as well have been an account of the weather for all it mattered to Martine. “And where is she from that such terror could occur? That a slave could murder her master?”

“The Revolution, Haiti.”

“I will have her.”

The trader eyed him carefully. “There were many offers before you. Why should I sell her now?”

“Because you’re afraid of her. The others were afraid of her and of the Revolution that she might seek to bring here.” He looked to the girl again. “But I am not afraid. There will be no Revolution at Casa de la Sangre.”

“Sangre?” He paled visibly. Casa de la Sangre was cursed. A brave man would not venture there in the light of day under the full view of God. It was a white-marbled monstrosity that in the fading light of dusk looked as if it were drenched in blood. Terrible things had happened there.

“I see you’ve heard of my home.”

“Take her.” The man wanted nothing further from either of them.

“Your fee?”

“I will take nothing that comes from Sangre. Nothing.” He hurried away, taking the rest of his merchandise with him.

Martine turned his attention to his property. The girl said nothing, though she did not cast her eyes down. She met his stare boldly and unafraid.

Je vous maudis,” she hissed.

“Speak English.” He struck her casually, drawing blood.

Je vous maudis,” she hissed again.

Martine Bartlett laughed. “I am the master of Casa de la Sangre. There is no stronger curse.” He paused, studying her for a moment. “I will tell you one more time to speak English.”

Je ne parle pas anglais.”

“You will. Or will your curses protect you from my wrath?”

He wrapped his hand around a lock of her hair, as if feeling the texture. Her eyes narrowed, as she knew the actions that preceded a man’s lust. But suddenly, he jerked hard and she yelped as he yanked her hair. “Did your gods protect you just then?”

“No.” Her voice was soft, but not defeated.

“I’m not a cruel man. I will be good to you, but you must obey.”

Part II.

Casa de la Sangre rose up in the distance like some great heavenly tower knifing through the landscape, incongruous against the backdrop of weeping willows draped in Spanish moss and the lush green of the cane fields.

But dusk was falling and Ghislaine peered over her new master’s shoulder as the sunlight faded into dusk and splashed against the glittering marble like so much blood. It was beautiful. There was so much power here. She shivered.

“Are you afraid, girl?” The man asked her.

No, she wasn’t afraid. But maybe he should be, because if he struck her again, he would find himself a witness to the wrath of Aida-Wedo, the rainbow serpent.

“No. I am not afraid. And I am called Ghislaine.”

“Your speech is educated. Who was your master?”

“I had no master. The man I killed was my father.” Ghislaine was not ashamed of her act, it had to be done. “It was demanded by the spirits. He was a bad man who did bad things.”

“And his children?”

“Were mine. Abominations.”

“And did the spirits demand this as well?”

“No. I did. It was unnatural.”

“I see.” Martine was conciliatory.

“I don’t think you do, but it doesn’t matter. It is done.”

“And if I keep you to share my bed, will I find my throat slit?”

Ghislaine concluded that his physicality was not altogether unpleasant. He was well made, strong and handsome. She could have done much worse for herself, she could be in a brothel, working the cane fields, or dead.

“No. I would not kill you.”

“What would you do?” He asked, as he pulled her from the horse.

“Whatever you wish.”

“What if I desired to watch my biggest and strongest field hands plow you like the cane?”

“I’m not a whore.”

“You are whatever I want you to be. When you learn that, when you surrender your will, such things I will give you.”

Ghislaine bit the inside of her cheek to keep from responding. She would never surrender her will, no matter how kind he was. And until she had the freedom to roam the grounds and find the herbs that she needed, she had to do whatever he demanded of her.

His smile was wicked, almost an aberration. “Even if I did, they are no longer capable of such an act.” Martine schooled his features. “This was but a learning tool. If you do not obey me, terrible things will happen to you here.”

“Is that a threat?”

“Look to the fields, Ghislaine.”

The girl’s eyes followed where her master pointed and there, in the fields, the other slaves were still toiling diligently. There was no overseer, no one to crack the whip, no foreman- there was no one. But still they worked and labored over the cane, even though dusk had fallen.

There was something in the way that they moved, something familiar in that silent unison that she couldn’t place. She wanted to ask him again if he was threatening her, if those terrible things he spoke of would be working the cane fields, or being given to those slaves for entertainment. But he’d turned from her now and though she did not know him, she could tell by the hard set of his jaw that he would discuss it no more. Some things were universal in all men.

If she was surprised when he opened the door to his home himself, she didn’t show it. There was no butler, no maid; Casa de la Sangre was seemingly deserted. It was another question that she wanted to ask, but the throbbing in her head reminded her to keep her mouth shut.

“Up the stairs and to the left you will find my apartments. There is water for washing. Make use of it.”

Ghislaine did as she was told, though several times during her bath, she felt as if she were being watched. There was a cold sensation on the back of her neck, but when she would turn around, there was nothing there. Several times, she thought she’d caught a glimpse of a shadow in one of the mirrors, but always it was gone before she could define it.

The prayers of her ancestors came to her lips softly now, invoking protection and strength. She called upon loa after loa to serve her, defend her and protect her against the evils of Casa de la Sangre.

Even though there was a darkness to the place, she was grateful to be clean. And the bed in which Martine Bartlett would indulge his depravity, it was soft and decadent. She lay against the overstuffed pillows and waited.

She must have slept because when she opened her eyes, the candle had burned to nothing. The shadows were thick and heavy, blanketing the room with a deeper darkness. There was someone in the bed next to her, laying atop the blanket.

“Shh, my lovely.”

A woman’s voice.

“Such a prize my son has brought home to us.”

“I,” she began, until a cold and waxy hand closed over mouth.

“He would be very angry if he knew I was here.” That hand now cupped her cheek and smoothed her hair away from her face. “So beautiful.” Another touch slipped down her naked shoulder, caressing the carefully inked snake. “The rainbow serpent once guarded you, but she has no power here at Casa de la Sangre.”

And suddenly, she was gone.

Ghislaine was on her feet in seconds, a scream dying in her throat. Her breath was coming in short, hot puffs and she was wide eyed and frightened like a child. This was no way for a priestess to behave. She who could command the dead was not to be frightened of them.

Her breathing slowed and she forced herself to take calm, slow breaths- though she still fought to penetrate the darkness. A shaft of light pierced the oppressing dark, and Ghislaine flung open her window to welcome the light of the moon.

But the light hadn’t come from the heavens, there was only an inky blanket of endless black above her. The illumination was coming from somewhere within the cane fields. And there were shadows there too, shadows of the slaves. They were still working the fields.

The master of Le Sangre was indeed a cruel man.

It was clear to Ghislaine why she’d been brought here. Another bad man who’d done bad things. Very bad things.

She ran from the house, her blood in a heady rage. She would not wait to make the powder, but would slit his throat just like her father. But this time, she wouldn’t be caught. She’d bury him beneath the cane, a sacrifice to the land.

But when Ghislaine found Martine Bartlett, her rage died.

He was working the dirt on his hands and knees with his bare, bloody fingers. His eyes were sightless as they stared forward, blank, but yet his body was animated. He didn’t speak, didn’t blink, only continued to dig into the soil though his fingernails had broken and there were cane weevils swarming up his arms and crawling about his face.

She realized now that the cane weevils thrummed a terrible, almost purring rhythm and the other slaves moved in time to the cacophony unhindered by the teeming parasites.

Ghislaine opened her mouth to scream, but there was no sound.

Martine turned to her then, his mouth opened, a parody of her own silent scream. For one terrible moment, she expected the weevils to pour from his mouth. But it wasn’t weevils.

Martine’s mouth stretched until his lips split and bled, the sound of crunching bone as jaws were pried too wide- his throat pulsed from the movement of something squirming within. A great snake, viscous and shiny, pushed itself from his mouth to wrap around Ghislaine, its body contouring to the tattoo.

But instead of blessing her; whispering to her of arcane knowledge, it rammed itself down her throat and into her belly.

Part III.

Martine Bartlett watched his last acquisition in the moonlight. He took another long pull from his cigar and sipped his brandy thoughtfully. She could have been mistress of Casa de la Sangre. She’d had a power within her, something that would have let her master the evil here. If only she’d waited. If only she’d obeyed.

But she hadn’t. So now she must serve.

Her new dress was nothing but a rag now, her beautiful skin desecrated, and her eyes, that green that had once caught him was faded and opaque. Sightlessly, she toiled in the earth, fed her blood to Casa de la Sangre. And every so often, her shadow writhed and her flesh shifted.

It would be a good crop this year. The yield would be more than enough to buy a hundred vodun priestesses if that’s what it took. There was a price to be paid for everything, and if he didn’t break the curse, his would be to rise and serve the land. But perhaps if Martine painted it with enough red, Le Sangre would let him sleep quietly within her dark arms.


Read more Saranna DeWylde, and other fine authors, at the Cult of the Bloody Quill.

Monday, January 09, 2006

When There's No More Room In Hell by Ryan Travis

When There's No More Room In Hell by Ryan Travis

The dead are rising
eating flesh of the living
the world in chaos

Two police snipers
become friends in a basement
to kill the undead

news anchor and her Flyboy
prepare to escape

Both groups join forces
utilizing all their strengths
in hopes to survive

Taking to the skies
in hopes to find a shelter
they land on a mall

Building a fortress
eliminating zombies
a shopping playground

Living like they’re kings
complete with an apartment
spotted by bandits

While re-enforcing
one cop is bitten on leg
turning to zombie

Renegade break-in
zombies and bikers unleashed
utopia gone

Zombie cop is killed
Flyboy is also bitten
becoming undead

Entrails are scattered
the dead feast on human flesh
escape must be made

Flying once again
black cop and girl reporter

search for safe haven

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Down the Road by Bowie V. Ibarra

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Ok, so I read about this book on the forums and thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately as yet it's not available in the UK yet so I had to order it from the States which took about a month to get here, during which time I was thinking, "is it gonna be worth the wait?"
Well, was it worth the wait? In my opinion, Yes it was thankfully!

The plot centres around George Zaragosa, a school teacher from Austin, Texas, who after outbreak of zombies attempts to get back home to his family in San Ulvade.

Now the road trip is nothing particularly original when it comes to zombie novels (at least the few I have read) and for good reason. If there was an outbreak I'm sure there are many of us who would attempt to get to family or friends. So it's as good a starting point as any.

Is this road trip worth your while reading? Yes. The book is only 167 pages long so the story flies along at a good pace. The characters, especially George, are well written, his sense of loss during the story being brought across very well.

There is a fair amount of gore in the book, but it never detracts from the story, which I think was the goal here. There are also some nice touches I didn't expect such as race segregation within one of the camps.

I did have one or two issues with the book but nothing too annoying. One being that the story is set within the first few days of an outbreak, yet camps have already been set up (not just military either). I would have liked to see a little more chaos before these had been established.

Aside from a couple grammatical annoyances I thought this was a great read and have it with me at work now to read again! I would recommend this too anyone, and although I'm sure some will disagree with my review, I think more will possibly agree with me.
I for one am looking forward to Bowie's next book, more zombies please!

Overall 4 1/2 (out of five)

Oh yeah, loved the ending!!

Review by Pain (Jude Felton)

Risen by J. Knight

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
We are residing in the sleepy little town of Anderson. It's a town so sleepy as to almost render itself completely unconscious, and it seems as though a little zombie action is just what they needed. Enter town newcomer (if you've been there less than two and a half years, you are still fresh and ripe for harassment from the townsfolk) Brant Kettering, once a calloused journalist in the "big city", now running Anderson's weekly rag, just barely. Peg, a local waitress and mother of two. Her daughter Annie, who is about five and in a vegetative state following a car accident, and her son Tom, 17, who does what most 17 year olds do. He sits around a lot, being angry, and dreaming of someday blowing that town and heading for something bigger, better. Where he could make something of himself. Like a Springsteen song (I'm still trying to figure out if the whole book is actually just a metaphor for the exact type of thing).

It begins when battered wife Madge Duffy slits the throat of her rat-bastard husband John, thus murdering him as he slept drunkenly on the couch. That night, at midnight, after Madge is locked away and resting peacefully in her cell, John wakes up on a cold slab in the morgue. Healed and confused, he doesn't know much, but he now knows "Seth". From here it's a chain reaction of people dying. The more people that die, the more people they kill to bring into the whole Seth cult. The townspeople are shocked by this whole coming back from the dead business, yet seem to accept it easier than you'd think, most likely due to the fact that this is the most exciting thing that's ever happened in their town since…ever.

The story itself isn't too far a throw from your average horror story, the difference being made in the writing, which finds Knight capable. He creates a world not far from reality, where incredible things are allowed to happen without much question, and also without making you feel stupid for buying into it. This aids in one's suspension of disbelief, which is something that anyone who reads horror should be able to appreciate in a writer. Knight knows exactly where he's leading you, even if you don't---like being blindfolded and lead, you feel in front of you, afraid of bumping into something unpleasant. Regardless of that generally uncomfortable anticipation, he doesn't bump you too much, and he does keep you walking.

Now, I know what you're asking. How about the violence and gore? Well, lot's and lot's of people die, sometimes more than once (what a treat!) There is violence and there is gore, quite a bit actually. Again, the desired effect is achieved in the writing. Knight tends to kill his victims in first person, not third. While this might sometimes be bothersome in it's shifting, the result makes it less jarring and the actual death more effective. Maybe you're not affected by this whole first-, second-, third-person thing. Imagine watching a man drown in a lake. Now imagine drowning in a lake. I'm sure you'd agree that your own drowning is much, much worse. That's the effect.

Also adding to the overall heebie-jeebieness about this book is the feeling of paranoia, which begins in a subtle way with Brant, still considered an outsider, building to an all out, watch-your-back sensation, when no one, not even the reader, knows who is alive, who's dead, who doesn't know Seth and who does. You now find yourself living in a town where your loved one, who you just saw an hour ago, may now be trying to kill you. How can you tell what's happened to that person in the last hour? Maybe they died and came back. It's probably safe to assume the worst.

Is J. Knight's Risen a zombie story? Good question. The living dead, in this case, are never called "zombies", though they are dreamt of by one character and referred to by another stating, "This isn't some horror movie where zombies start eating peoples' brains." They are simply the "Risen". Regardless of how horribly they die, they are healed in coming back and seem to be much as they were before, with the exception of a shared, newly acquired belief and compulsion to follow a man, or thing, called "Seth." I am of the opinion that this is a zombie novel in the same way that Dead & Buried is a zombie movie. They're walking, they're talking, but it doesn't change the fact that five minutes ago, they were deader than, as they say, a doornail.

Risen is wrought with well formed characters, seemingly random acts of violence (that aren't random at all) and best of all…well…lot's of Risen. If you're not too particular about your zombies and are open to them moving in a slightly different direction, this book could very well be for you.

Footnote: I appreciate Knight's use of the Edmund Burke quote: "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I also like the fact that he chose the 1968 Charger over the more popular 1969 model. It's all in the details, you know.

The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia by Peter Dendle

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
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 four 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!