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Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    A much needed addition to the zombie genre

    I think those of us who love zombie stories have always known that there is something more going on in them than just a mindless gore fest. What author Kim Paffenroth, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College, has done is explore that idea with a depth and skill that is frankly as entertaining as the zombie movies he clearly loves. GOTLD focuses primarily on George Romero¿s Living Dead films to advance his thesis that the zombie offers a valuable critique on modern American society, though he also includes some of the more recent entries in the zombie film genre such as Resident Evil, Shaun of the Dead, and 28 Days Later. What impressed me most was his careful distinction that zombies, as monsters, are both horrific and terrifying. The horror is obvious, of course. Shambling, cannibalistic corpses are patently horrific in that they outwardly repulsive. But zombies are also psychologically terrifying because they show how thin the veneer of our cherished moral beliefs really is. We see this over and over again in zombie stories. Survivors and zombies become mirror images of each other, each amplifying the monstrousness of the other. Paffenroth asks questions punishment, American consumerism, and racism with clear, unpretentious prose that I found genuinely refreshing. He eschews obfuscation and talks about very complex philosophical questions in a way that is compulsively readable and engaging. This is a wonderful addition to the zombie genre, but also a valuable piece of social criticism for anybody who has watched the nightly news and been forced to walk away, shaking their heads in dismay. And if you enjoy GOTLD, check out Paffenroth¿s debut novel, Dying 2 Live, due out in the Spring of 2007. I got a sneak peak of Dying 2 Live and loved it. Paffenroth takes many of the themes he explores in GOTLD and takes them to some truly challenging heights. --Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and the soon to be released police procedural thriller Internal Affairs is Hell

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