|Zombies intruding on the free flow of commerce? Frame grab from Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978)|
In [George Romero's films], antagonism and horror are not pushed out of society (to the monster) but are rather located within society (qua the monster). The issue isn’t the zombies; the real problem lies with the “heroes”—the police, the army, good old boys with their guns and male bonding fantasies. If they win, racism has a future, capitalism has a future, sexism has a future, militarism has a future. Romero also implements this critique structurally. As Steven Shaviro observes, the cultural discomfort is not only located in the films’ graphic cannibalism and zombie genocide: the low-budget aesthetics makes us see “the violent fragmentation of the cinematic process itself." The zombie in such a representation may be uncanny and repulsive, but the imperfect uncleanness of the zombie’s face—the bad make-up, the failure to hide the actor behind the monster’s mask—is what breaks the screen of the spectacle. [Lars Bang Larsen, 'Zombies of Immaterial Labor: the Modern Monster and the Death of Death', E-Flux, No. 15, April 2010]
About a month ago, Film Studies For Free's author was delighted to take part in the first of a series of screenings and roundtables on the fascinating and complex subject of 'Intrusion' and its 'specific relation to the visual on the different but interrelated registers of the psychic, sexual, social and political'.
This inventive and highly productive series was organised by Amber Jacobs, Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, and creator and presenter of the wonderful Daily Subversions weekly radio show on ResonanceFM (available everywhere online). FSFF will post a video essay contribution on the first film in the 'Intrusion' series just as soon as the more mundane 'intrusions' of research deadlines and the hectic grading season have subsided.
An excellent podcast of the final roundtable of the series, discussing George A. Romero's 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, has just gone online. The discussion features Dr Jacobs, along with Mark Fisher (Cultural Studies and Music Culture, Goldsmiths), Gordon Hon (Artist and Lecturer in Visual Culture, Winchester School of Art), Paul Myerscough (Senior Editor at the London Review of Books), and some great contributions from the audience. The podcast lasts just under an hour.
To accompany this new online resource, FSFF has assembled and updated a scarily good list of links to further, openly accessible studies or scholarly discussions of Romero's work. Also see previous related entries "Any Zombies Out There?" Undead Film Studies and Zombie Week at In Media Res. And also be aware that you can watch Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead in its entirety at the Internet Archive.
- Birkbeck College Roundtable Discussion on ‘Dawn of the Dead’, May 26, 2011 (with Amber Jacobs, Paul Myerscough, Gordon Hon and Mark Fisher)
- Michael Bloom, 'Reanimating the Living Dead: Uncovering the Zombie Archetype in the Works of George A. Romero', Offscreen, April 30, 2009
- Matt Cardin, 'Spirituality in Romero’s Living Dead Films', TheoFantastique, December 3, 2009
- John Cussans, 'Tracking the Zombie Diaspora: From Subhuman Haiti to Posthuman Tucson', First published in Monsters and the Monstrous: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil edited by Paul Yoder and Peter Mario Kreuter, May 2004
- Erin Burns Davis, 'To Say Death’s Name: The Ever-changing Definition of the Zombie in Popular Culture', Academia.edu, 2006
- Jennifer Whitney Dotson, Considering Blackness in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead: An Historical Exploration, MA Thesis, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, 2006
- Stephen Harper, '"They’re Us": Representations of Women in George Romero’s ‘Living Dead’ Series', Intensities, 2003
- Stephen Harper, 'Zombies, Malls, and the Consumerism Debate: George Romero's Dawn of the Dead', Americana, 1.2, Fall 2002
- Stephen Harper, “Night of the Living Dead: Reappraising an Undead Classic”, Bright Lights Film Journal, Issue 50, November 2005
- Philip Horne, 'I shopped with a zombie', Critical Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 4, Winter 1992, 97-110
- Lars Bang Larsen, 'Zombies of Immaterial Labor: the Modern Monster and the Death of Death', E-Flux, No. 15, April 2010
- John Marmysz, 'From "Night" to "Day": Nihilism and the Living Dead', First published in Film and Philosophy, vol. 3, 1996
- Marco Maurizi, '“Just in Case Society Crumbles”: George A. Romero and Marxism', Historical Materialism Conference, 2006
- Kim Paffenroth, 'Religious Themes of George Romero’s Zombie Movies', Golem: Journal of Religion and Monsters, Spring 2006
- Kim Paffenroth (Iona College), 'Dawn of the Dead (1978): Zombies and Human Nature', In Media Res, Wednesday, September 30, 2009
- Pinewood Dialogue with George A. Romero
- Steven Shaviro, 'Survival of the Dead', The Pinocchio Theory, September 25, 2010
- Steven Shaviro, 'Diary of the Dead', The Pinocchio Theory, April 26, 2008
- Jasie Stokes, Ghouls, Hell and Transcendence: the Zombie in Popular Culture from Night of the Living Dead to Shaun of the Dead, MA Thesis, Brigham Young University, April 2010
- Jesse Stommel, '"Pity Poor Flesh": Terrible Bodies in the Films of Carpenter, Cronenberg, and Romero', Bright Lights Film Journal, No. 56, May 2007
- Margaret Twohy, 'From Voodoo to Viruses: The Evolution of the Zombie in Twentieth Century Popular Culture', MPhil Thesis, Trinity College Dublin, October 2008