American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture

American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture

Kyle William Bishop

Language: English

Pages: 247

ISBN: 0786448067

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture

Kyle William Bishop

Language: English

Pages: 247

ISBN: 0786448067

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Zombie stories are peculiarly American, as the creature was born in the New World and functions as a reminder of the atrocities of colonialism and slavery. The voodoo-based zombie films of the 1930s and '40s reveal deep-seated racist attitudes and imperialist paranoia, but the contagious, cannibalistic zombie horde invasion narrative established by George A. Romero has even greater singularity. This book provides a cultural and critical analysis of the cinematic zombie tradition, starting with its origins in Haitian folklore and tracking the development of the subgenre into the twenty-first century. Closely examining such influential works as Victor Halperin's White Zombie, Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie, Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2, Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, and, of course, Romero's entire "Dead" series, it establishes the place of zombies in the Gothic tradition.

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Zombie Survival Guide: When the living dead triumph, the world degenerates into utter chaos. All social order evaporates. Those in power, along with their families and associates, hole up in bunkers and secure areas around the country. Secure in these shelters, originally built for the Cold War, they survive. Perhaps they continue the façade of a government command structure. Perhaps the technology is available to communicate with other agencies or even other protected world leaders. For all

Christ and the canon of saints, they were far more intimate with the loa (or gods) of the voodoo pantheon. In Métraux’s words, “Voodoo is for [the Haitian] a familiar personal religion, whereas Catholicism often shares the cold nature of the cement chapels which crown the crests of the hills.”32 Yet rather than being at constant odds, the two belief systems synthesized into a new, dialectical faith. The resulting Vodoun religion quickly became an important part of daily life in Haiti, and after

they also function secondarily by repression, even if ultimately, but only ultimately, this is very attenuated and concealed, even symbolic.”82 In other words, societal institutions other than those under the direct purview of the government act to exert control over the populace. In Haiti, the ISA of the zombie threat can be seen working on political, social, and economic levels. Eagleton proposes a broad definition of ideology as “a kind of intersection between belief systems and political

race, class, and culture. Mrs. Rand is the most powerful figure in the film; the widow of a missionary and the person perhaps most responsible for Jessica condition, she is a blend of Halperin’s Dr. Bruner and Murder Legendre in one — yet she is both white and a woman. The only completely passive female character is Jessica. Nevertheless, although she has been turned into a zombie before the film even begins, her relationship with Rand implies that she was once a strong, free-willed figure like Betsy

ically acclaimed follow-up, now focusing on a group of reporters and SWAT team members stuck for weeks in an abandoned shopping mall, also acts as a scathing cultural allegory, this time lampooning capitalism and rampant consumerism. Dawn of the Dead proved even more successful than its predecessor, particularly in Europe, and it was almost immediately followed by Lucio Fulci’s unofficial sequel Zombi 2 (1979), an exploitation film about a global zombie infestation originating on a exotic Caribbean

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