Pitching your book as the “ultimate guide” to anything is a risky move, especially when there are nerds involved, and there’s not much nerdier than a good zombie film. For that reason, I’m guessing movie reviewer Glenn Kay’s claim to an authoritative zombie-film text has already earned him more hate mail and snotty error-spotting than he would’ve gotten had he written The Ultimate Guide to Denying the Holocaust. But fortunately for non-obsessive fans, Kay is a brave, brave man, provoking certain film-geek wrath in his admirable effort to catalog and critique every important zombie movie from 1932’s White Zombie to 2007’s Planet Terror.
Kay most certainly makes some omissions, and his peculiar and specific definition of exactly what constitutes a “zombie film” leads to some unexpected choices, including films such as 28 Days Later, Friday the 13th: Part VI, and Weekend at Bernie’s 2, while relegating Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Evil Dead films, and even Valley of the Zombies to an appendix of films that don’t quite make the cut. But before you start bitching about obscure silent-era films that should rightfully hold the “first zombie film ever” title, or the snubbing of your brother in law’s backyard-filmed masterpiece, give Kay credit for taking the time and effort to review and rate nearly 300 freaking zombie movies — including hordes of ultra-low-budget and foreign productions — many of which, you have to assume, are incredibly godawful. For every lost classic, Kay uncovers, he seems to find about a dozen piles of cinematic shit including zombie porn, undead chickens, and a film titled, really, SARS Wars.
Kay’s reviewing style is funny, conversational, and occasionally fan-boyish, humorously ridiculing the genre’s most embarrassing efforts while shamelessly geeking out over classics Shaun of the Dead and I Walked With a Zombie. Kay’s choices for the 25 Greatest Zombie Films Ever Made is sure to set off a debate between you and your weirdo internet friends, but the list makes a great start for beginners, and it’s hard to argue with a dude who’s seen 300 zombie movies. This might not be the “ultimate guide,” but I haven’t seen one closer, and spending the time required to make a more complete reference would most likely drive you insane.