Thursday 2 June 2011

Undead Links to George A. Romero Studies

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.

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