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

Overview


Winner of the 2006 Bram Stoker Award, Gospel of the Living Dead connects American social and religious views with the classic American movie genre of the zombie horror film. For nearly forty years, the films of George A. Romero have presented viewers with hellish visions of our world overrun by flesh-eating ghouls. This study proves that Romero's films, like apocalyptic literature or Dante's Commedia, go beyond the surface experience of repulsion to probe deeper questions of human nature and purpose, often ...
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Overview


Winner of the 2006 Bram Stoker Award, Gospel of the Living Dead connects American social and religious views with the classic American movie genre of the zombie horror film. For nearly forty years, the films of George A. Romero have presented viewers with hellish visions of our world overrun by flesh-eating ghouls. This study proves that Romero's films, like apocalyptic literature or Dante's Commedia, go beyond the surface experience of repulsion to probe deeper questions of human nature and purpose, often giving a chilling and darkly humorous critique of modern, secular America.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Whether readers agree with Paffenroth or not, this book will make a person think.... Paffenroth does the horror world a service by taking the subject of one of its luminaries and treating it as seriously as its fans."
--Dread Central

"Despite [Night of the Living Dead's] bleakness, the author finds spiritual hope. By attacking human arrogance, the movie reveals the first part of redemption--when 'we realize our weakness and insufficiency.'"
--Chronicle of Higher Education

"Paffenroth weaves Christian theology, social criticism and allusions to Dante's Inferno throughout his discussion of films that feature cannibalism, mayhem and terror-a feat that probably has to be read to be believed. This is an excellent resource not just for fans of low-budget zombie films, but for anyone who wants to understand the appeal of the genre."
--Publishers Weekly

"Well written, well researched, a strong and edgy book."
--Craig Detweiler, Associate Professor and Chair of Mass Communication, Biola University

Publishers Weekly
You don't have to be a fan of zombie movies to learn from them, but it probably helps. Paffenroth, an associate professor of religious studies at Iona College, is one fan who has turned his fascination into a detailed narrative analysis of the George Romero zombie films (Night of the Living Dead; Dawn of the Dead; Land of the Dead), which he calls "secular descendants of Dante's Inferno." He finds ample social criticism and illustration of old-fashioned "sin" in each film, which gives him optimism for the future of the zombie genre. Written with academic rigor but not with academic jargon, Paffenroth invites us to search the sometimes silly and profane zombie films for deeper religious meanings about how we, the living, act with less humanity at times than the "undead." Paffenroth weaves Christian theology, social criticism and allusions to Dante's Inferno throughout his discussion of films that feature cannibalism, mayhem and terror-a feat that probably has to be read to be believed. This is an excellent resource not just for fans of low-budget zombie films, but for anyone who wants to understand the appeal of the genre. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932792652
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Pages: 195
  • Sales rank: 1,218,382
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


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