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Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth Hardcover – August 29, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A fascinating, insightful tribute to the man who started it all. --Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Finally, a scholar who takes zombie movies seriously. In his nonfiction masterpiece, Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth, Kim Paffenroth explores how legendary filmmaker George A. Romero uses the living dead to criticize American society, covering topics from racism to materialism, from individualism to theology. Paffenroth describes and analyzes each movie in separate chapters, and makes comparisons to Dante's Inferno. But most disturbing, he indicates parallels between Romero zombies and humans; I've long known the sharp teeth that can undercut our hearts and consciences, but nothing has exposed our fangs quite like Paffenroth's deft scalpel of analysis. A must read for zombie fans and for those elitists who demean horror movies as thoughtless escapism--Paffenroth has taken a huge step in proving these critics wrong. --D.L. Snell, Editor/Contributor, The Undead: Skin & Bones

The author provides terrific insights into an underexamined facet of American popular culture: the zombie films of George Romero. His grasp of the zombie myth and his analyses of the films should inform all future work on the subject. --David Wellington, author of Monster Island: A Zombie Novel

About the Author

Kim Paffenroth (Ph.D. Notre Dame) is Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932792651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932792652
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Finally, a scholar who takes zombie movies seriously. In his nonfiction masterpiece, Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth, Kim Paffenroth explores how legendary filmmaker George A. Romero uses the living dead to criticize American society, covering topics from racism to materialism, from individualism to theology. Paffenroth describes and analyzes each movie in separate chapters, and makes comparisons to Dante's Inferno. But most disturbing, he indicates parallels between Romero zombies and humans; I've long known the sharp teeth that can undercut our hearts and consciences, but nothing has exposed our fangs quite like Paffenroth's deft scalpel of analysis. A must read for zombie fans and for those elitists who demean horror movies as thoughtless escapism--Paffenroth has taken a huge step in proving these critics wrong.
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Format: Hardcover
Kim Paffenroth, Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Vision of Hell on Earth (Baylor University Press, 2006)

I have to say that just about the last book I ever expected to see would be a religious deconstruction of George A. Romero's zombie flicks. And yet that's exactly what we have here; divinity student Paffenroth (who has since graduated into horror-writing himself) offers up a dissection of Romero's films that is quite unlike any other I've ever seen-- he's looking for the religious side of Romero's messages about life, the universe, and everything. And while Paffenroth does make some of the same mistakes a number of other amateur film critics do, especially when discussing Night of the Living Dead (there's this odd belief among amateur film critics that the casting of Ben Jones was some sort of attack on the evil empire, rather than a last-minute casting decision because Jones happened to be the only guy around who could act well enough--the guy originally cast for the part was white, and the racial element of the film is entirely accidental, as has been repeatedly stated in more scholarly discussions of the film), it's hard not to be impressed with Paffenroth's logic. The guy's obviously done his homework. Most of it, anyway.

Paffenroth opens his chapters (each is dedicated to a specific film; he considers Romero's first four zombie films and Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead for comparison purposes) with a summary of the film he's looking at, and then a pretty standard deconstruction of Romero's criticisms of contemporary society. (This is where the whole overrating of Ben Jones' stature comes into play, obviously.) Where Paffenroth differs from most critics is that he's looking at all this through the lens of being a divinity student.
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Format: Hardcover
Kim Paffenroth (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Iona College) presents Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth, a literary exploration of director George A. Romero's hellish zombie horror films such as "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), and "Day of the Dead" (1985), as well as the more recent "Land of the Dead" (2005). Written with scholarly rigor, Gospel of the Living Dead inspects how Romero uses Christian imagery from the Bible and Dante in the macabre examination of the dark sides of human nature - both living and unliving. Romero's zombie films comment upon man's cruelty and inhumanity to man, as well as the degeneration of the social contract into the strong devouring the weak into ruthless individual anarchy. A thoughtful scrutiny of the underlying artistic expressions driving Romero's pop culture horror films.
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Format: Hardcover
Paffenroth's treatment of Romero's films offers much by way of theology, something that [....] before in this great of detail. Anyone who has studied/read about Romero will naturally have heard some points made here, but the insights and comparisons to Dante's INFERNO are quite interesting. This one gave me a new interest in the DAWN remake (04), and a new respect for LAND OF THE DEAD (05), despite it being the weakest of the series.

Some people have complained about all the footnotes presented here (there's about 50 pages worth), but I believe it strongly enhances the book, and serves as a fine bibliography (although there's one included, too) for those seeking more material on Romero.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The worldview and theological implications of zombies, specifically Romero's zombies, matter. Very insightful and thought provoking read. Would love a sequel including the author's take on both the television and movie versions of The Walking Dead and World War Z and the graphic novel and books respectively. Well done.
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Format: Hardcover
Paffenroth's analysis of Romero's zombie films is nothing if not original. Poring over the plot details of each film, he shows the developing vision of Romero through his career, particularly as the work gives voice to the ways in which humans are corrupted. Getting past the sheer gore factor and plumbing to the deep structure messages of Romero's canon, Paffenroth show that what Romero is after is more than gross-out, but social criticism and indictment.
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By Cube on September 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently finished Kim Paffenroth's Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth and enjoyed it. It helped me understand what Romero's artistic motivations were.
This book examines the zombie movies of George Romero. All of Romeros films deal with the end of the world and this scholarly book reads like a text book study of those films. Lots of references are made to Dante's Inferno, American Consumerism and imperfect human survivors. This author has a highly developed understanding of religion and incorporates that into this articulate work.
Some characters in Romero's films, who survive the apocalypse , as in many PA books become filled with malice and are filled with a predatory sense of self importance. They feel no guilt in robbing and killing other survivors in order to steal what they have. If you enjoy zombie genre novels you may enjoy this book? It is a study of the influential post apocalyptic zombie movies that most such novels are based on.
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