Monday, January 23, 2012

Academic mini-reviews - Zombies!

I spent 2011 researching and writing an honours thesis on the changing representation of the zombie in western films, so as you can imagine I read quite a few of the books on zombies available. Here are just a few of the books I read which helped formulate my research plan and provided hours of interesting philosophical, cinematic, and metaphorical debate on the subject.

Gospel of the Living Dead by Kim Paffenroth

my rating: 4/5

This book was an incredible look into the deconstruction of Romero's zombie 'Dead' series through a religious lens. Paffenroth's use of theological beliefs and theories in conjunction with zombie depiction provided an interesting and informative glimpse into modern America and commented on several aspects of today's society and religion. Bonus points were given for working Dante into the analysis.

The Book of the Dead by Jamie Russel

My rating: 5/5

A fantastically detailed look at the evolution of the zombie from its Haitian origins up to its most recent cinematic features. Jamie Russell distances himself enough to talk about the movies in terms of their technical and critical successes and favours, rather than simply talking about the ones he enjoyed the most, which I've found many other zombie film critics to do. As a student doing my thesis on zombies in film this book was indispensable, but it's interesting and entertaining enough to be read by a zombie enthusiast also. Chock full of film reviews and colour pictures of their release posters and film stills too.

My rating: 3.5/5

This book examined Romero's film cannon (not simply his zombie films) with a concentration on the link between his work and literary naturalism, which was a lens I hadn't seen used in conjunction with zombies before. While the analysis on some of the films felt lacking and seemed more like a regurgitation of the events of the films, overall it was a comprehensive, unique and interesting view on Romero's style of film-making.