(Johnny Ray Huston)
JILLIAN MCDONALD: MONSTROSITIES
Through July 22
Michael Rosenthal Gallery
365 Valencia, SF
Brain appetit: Fine reading and viewing for the discriminating zombie lover
Twilight (haven't read it) and True Blood (haven't seen it) are grabbing all the headlines, including a fawning New York Times story entitled "A Trend with Teeth." But fuck this newfangled passion for vampires. (Apologies to Let the Right One In: you are awesome, despite the massive English subtitle fail on your DVD.) Go back to the graveyard, sexy supernatural critters. There's a far more terrifying and fiendishly disgusting army of coffin-rockers afoot these days. And though they'll happily drink your blood, they'll also help themselves to the rest of your delicious mortal flesh.
Granted, zombie movies are almost as old as cinema itself. Glenn Kay's recent Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide (Chicago Review Press, 352 pages, $25.95), which features a forward by Stuart Gordon, director of 1985's Re-Animator, is a pretty good jumping-off point for the uninitiated and a steal for anyone who's shy about paying $280 on eBay for Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci (FAB Press). Generously illustrated chapters with a full-color photo section in the book's center cover the genre's history, starting with 1932's White Zombie (fun fact: star Bela Lugosi earned $500-ish dollars for playing the sinister plantation owner improbably named "Murder.") There are spotlights on the turbulent 1960s (the era that spawned 1968's immortal Night of the Living Dead), the insane 1970s (with an index of "the weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things" seen in zombie films, including my own personal fave: the underwater shark vs. zombie battle in 1979's Zombie), Italy's reign of terror in the 1980s (the decade that also brought us, lest we forget, "Thriller"), and the rise of video game zombies in the 1990s. Sprinkled throughout are interviews with horror luminaries like makeup master Tom Savini.
Zombie Movies' biggest chapter is devoted to the new millennium, with shout-outs to Asian entries like Versus (2000), cult hits like 2004's Shaun of the Dead, and mainstream moneymakers 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake brought in $59 million. Less successful (in my book, if not apparent George Romero fanatic Kay's) was 2007's Diary of the Dead, the least-enjoyable entry in Romero's esteemed zombie series. Blame it on an annoying cast, and an even more annoying reliance on the hot-for-five-minutes "self-filming" technique. Aside from producing a Crazies remake (nooo!), Romero's next project is titled simply ... of the Dead, release date unknown, zombie subject matter an absolute certainty.
Still, ammo enough for walking-dead fans sick of all this fang-banging comes in two forms: the hilarious trailer for Zombieland (due in October), featuring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as slayers of the undead, and the eagerly-anticipated arrival of Dead Snow. Currently available as an On-Demand selection for Comcast customers (in crappy dubbed form), this Norwegian import a comedy with plenty of satisfying gore opens July 17 at the Roxie (in presumably superior, subtitled form). Nazi zombies, y'all. Get some! (Cheryl Eddy)
Zombie playlist: Music to eat flesh by
For whatever reason, America is possessed by a another wave of fascination with the living dead.