Now here’s a crazy thought – try to see every single zombie movie ever made. Wait, not just every single zombie film, but also the television specials and animated films that have come out over the years. Either you’re a masochist, a completionist, or someone who just genuinely loves zombies. Glenn Kay must be all three. Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide is a compendium of very nearly every single zombie film ever made (and also those that are only borderline zombie, like vampire demons and the like) – in this second edition, Kay updates with even more reviews for more current films.
Here’s the thing with zombie films – they can be pretty solid, or they can be unbelievably crappy. A lot of amateur filmmakers set out to make zombie flicks because the initial setup is fairly consistent, and it requires little actual thought to create a framework for a narrative. Nearly anyone, it seems, can write a bad zombie film: take a bunch of characters, throw them into the apocalypse, add some gore, and you have a bare-bones approach the genre. This is why I don’t envy Kay’s job at compiling reviews of these films – there are way, way more terrible movies than there are good ones, and I don’t think I could intentionally sift through them all without becoming biased.
Still, that’s what Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide is for. Glenn Kay has sat through all of the really bad zombie films so that you don’t have to, and he’s also compiled a list of what he considers the best zombie movies of all time – and if this guy doesn’t know, then I don’t know anyone who does.
The guide is split up into years for easy access. If you’re looking for something from the ’50s, there’s a placce for it. If you’re into something modern, have a gander at that section. There’s also a nifty index and an appendix with non-zombie films with zombie themes.
Kay provides very detailed reviews of each film, along with a symbol rating for each. There’s the great, the good, the bad, the very bad, and the laughably bad. If I had to make an estimate, I’d say the majority of the films here are in the “bad” category. That doesn’t mean that Kay’s a tough reviewer, or that he’s an elitist giving only the most popular movies the best score. It simply shows a normal ratio of horror films in honesty – for the most part, they’re not that great, but there are standouts.
However, attempting to read Zombie Movies in its entirety like I did might result in a zombie hangover. There are so many reviews that it’s best to use the book as a consulting guide rather than a fun and pulpy read. It’s kind of like taking the encyclopedia and trying to read it passage by passage – the education might be great, but it’s not necessarily an entertaining read.
Still, this compendium is such a huge and encompassing book of zombie media that you can’t pass it up. Kay might be a sucker for the bad films, but he does have an eye for the best zombie flicks out there. I can say for certain that I have seen probably about 10% of the zombie films featured in the book. Now, I have another 200 to watch before I reach the esteemed level of Glenn Kay. And as of the writing of the second edition of Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, there are a lot more for Kay to get his hands on. Good luck to you, sir, and may your brain never fall prey to the monsters you love so much.