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Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth Hardcover – August 29, 2006
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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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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.
Books such as this and "The Philosophy of the Undead" are intriguing to me because they provide both insights and opinions that I can appreciate on the undead. I have my own views on the meanings behind it all, since I have read quite a few stories and seen many, if not all, of the movies out there related to zombies. I do not spend a great deal of time on message boards/chat rooms pouring over the minutia of these works though. I also do not have any personal friends or family members who have any interest at all in the genre. So grabbing a book like this and studying it adds shades of complexity to my own understanding of these dead things that have come back to life and how they impact our own society and world.
Does this mean I agree with everything Dr. Paffenroth states in this book? Definitely not, but gaining new insights means you come from a different place than the person who offers new information. Kim did a great deal of research and his proposals are well thought out on the religious and faith based ramifications of Romero's works. I am no academic and I am also a lapsed Catholic so to say I have a different perspective is probably an understatement. But that makes this book all the more interesting because of that.
Zombies are interesting protagonists. They hold up a gritty and cracked mirror, perhaps of a fun house variety, to us and we get a look at what we potentially could become, or maybe already are. The Romero movies all used a pretty harsh tone of criticism of western civilization and more specifically American culture. Our take on religion and faith are a part of that and this books taps into it.
I myself like a good debate. Not just arguing to prove someone else wrong, but being able to just present my own views and go back and forth with someone else. A book vs. face to face is not as satifying for debating various points of interest, but it still gives me something to gnaw on as far as the undertones of the zombie genre.
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