Blood Splatter: A Guide to Cinematic Zombie Violence, Gore and Special Effects is certainly what I would call a zombie curiosity. Being still relatively new to the zombie genre and all its derivations, I am continually amazed by what people are coming up with. Magazines, self-published books, shorts, brick comics to only name a few. And just when you think you have seen it all – bam! – you get something like Blood Splatter on your plate!
Ok, enough preamble; what is Blood Splatter? From the author description it’s “A Guide to Cinematic Zombie Violence, Gore and Special Effects… a detailed look into the bloody special effects that have defined the zombie genre for decades.”
The book is divided in three main sections, I’ll try to give you an overview of each.
The first section is a 200 pages long list of Zombie movies (seriously, I did not even know there were that many out there), and for each movie you get a short synopsis and a detailed analysis of the Zombie and gore effects featured in the story. Looking at the entry of Land of the Dead, for instance, will tell you that the first zombie encounter happens at 2:30, and that you will enjoy your first human death at 23:00. Based on these facts, the author then pulled together ratings such as “Zombie Effects”, “Gore Quality” or “Human Deaths”.
Now the real originality of this list is that it does not give you a critic of the movies – reading this list will not tell you which movies are the best and won’t spoil the stories. What you get is a neutral perspective of the effects featured in the movies placing de facto a master piece like The Night of the Living Dead at the same level as an obscure Z-series movie. If you get a kick out of graphic violence from zombie movies, this list will tell you where to find the best ambassadors of it.
Now, what do I think of this? Well, it’s a tricky question because it’s pretty much like asking what I think of a dictionary. It’s useful if you need it. I personally tend to perceive the graphic aspect of a movie as a mandatory element of the story but I fail to see it a goal in itself, so I am probably not the best person to evaluate this work.
The second section of the book is the part I enjoyed the most. It is a compilation of interviews from professionals of the genre conducted by the author himself. There are actors, special effects specialists, and directors. Famous and less-than-famous people that all have interesting experiences to share.
It’s pretty much like watching the bonus features of a DVD, only without the editing of the production company. Reading this will allow you to uncover some of the techniques used to make a zombie, but also to act like one and along the way you will learn some funnies taken from the sets of the most famous movies of the zombie genre.
What I found most interesting was comparing the influences of these different people; what draw them into the genre. I knew that a piece like The Night of the Living Dead was a cornerstone, I did not realize it was also the reason why so many people one day wished to make zombie movies.
The last section of the book is the journey of the author in becoming a zombie. Craig decided at some point that his analysis would not be complete unless he became a Zombie himself… so he did! He got in touch with Toby Sells and he became a walking corpse for one day.
This part was interesting not only because it gave great insights on the make-up process, but also for the unique perspective it gave on the zombification of someone. Seeing yourself slowly become a decayed corpse is quite a reflection on your own mortality – a very nice way to wrap-up a book on the zombie theme.
To conclude I also wanted to give a mention to the book’s illustrations. It is unfortunately not a colored print but the 300 (!) pictures are still worth the while. Pulled from the personal archives of the people interviewed, you get a collection of exclusive behind the scenes shots and storyboards – a treat for the fans.
Grade: B+ (although the analysis section is difficult to rate)
Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I would have loved to have done the entire book in color, but I couldn’t find a publisher who could get it out without pricing me out of the market. The printing costs on a 380 page color book that size made my eyes water. Fortunately I was able to get all of the images in high resolution which really helped and I think they still pack quite a punch and does tie into the black and white visuals of NotLD. I LOVE the attached image. Was Shaun coming for my autograph or just to “bash em in the head”?
Thank you Craig, glad you like the review. I really enjoyed reading your book and I must say that I learned a lot from it. I totally understand the challenge of making a color print, I only mentioned it in my review so that people would not be surprised by it. As you point it out, Black and White works very well for this subject – much like TWD comic – the impact can even be stronger sometimes.
… Shaun can never say no to a good zombie bashing party!
This book sounds incredible. I’m putting it on my wish list.
Oh yeah it’s an impressive piece. What makes it unique is the variety of point of views in the interviews – a must read for the fans of the genre.
Even if this is not the main goal of this book, I’m also glad I have it for the list of Zombie movies featured in the first part (300 movies!). I was amazed to see how many there are and the variety of topics covered, it’s a great reference material.
Actually the film reviews were the main goal of the book. The interviews were just an added bonus! As a fan of the zombie I got tired of buying zombie movies that had no zombies and no gore. This is a guide to help fans find the best in zombie blood and guts!
Sure, the movie analysis is the purpose of the book! What I meant is that even without looking at the gore/zombie effects detailing I was interested to check the short synopsis and see all the different angles used to tackle the genre. For instance, if I ever want to watch a movie with nazis zombies, or vampires fighting zombies (!?)… well, now I know where to look!
So before I read this I have to say that the build is hilarious!! Good job Yatkuu.
Thank you Angie! I’ve never been to a ZomBcon but this is how I picture it in my head.. must be really fun to attend one. Maybe we can ask Dave to send us there as reporters for BotD?
I think that is a great idea!! Dave….
Sure, just as soon as this site stops operating in the red.
If it helps, I don’t mind flying in coach.
ZomBCon was canceled after last year for they too were running in the red. Shame….
bummer, I see that they have just annouced that a week ago!
And yeah its a shame about zomBcom. We were going to go but it didn’t look too good when they needed donations. I guess it was too narrow focused.
This sounds like such a cool book; like a “must read” for armature movie makers.