Jessica Rajs,
Gorgeous & Gory: The Zombie Pinup Collection
(Schiffer, 2014)

Gorgeous & Gory: The Zombie Pinup Collection is sort of what you'd expect, once you hear the title. It's a book of glamour photography -- most but not all of the pictures are safe for work or mixed company -- but the doe-eyed models here are dead, rotting and hungry for brains.

The project, as progenitor/photographer Jessica Rajs explains in her introduction, started as a calendar fundraiser for the New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park. A handful of calendars -- and a Guinness World Record -- later, she decided to collect the fruits of her labors in book form.

The fruits, in this case, are putrefying girls in revealing outfits, covered in blood, scabs and torn flesh.

It definitely works, if you're into that sort of thing. (Personally, I prefer girls with healthier skin tones and fewer gaping bite wounds.) The photos are artfully done, drawing inspiration from the glamour photography of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. (One photo even borrows from the famous Bettie Page/Christmas tree shoot, although Bettie was naked and the zombie is not.) One chapter also blends the zombie and mermaid motifs, and this is the only chapter the doesn't really work. It's not so much that I mind the crossing of horror and fantasy genres, it's just that fishtails are expensive and the moneysaving PhotoShopping of these portraits is a little too obvious.

The book ends with a cool behind-the-scenes look at the sets and makeup process.

Overall, this is an unusual but clever photo collection. There's a little bit of nudity but not a lot -- you decide whether or not that's a good thing. The models are, by the way, extremely attractive but, as I said, they're dead, decaying and scabrous. If these pictures turn you on, please keep that information to yourself.

book review by
Tom Knapp

14 May 2016

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