American Zombie Gothic

The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture

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About the Book

Zombie stories are peculiarly American, as the creature was born in the New World and functions as a reminder of the atrocities of colonialism and slavery. The voodoo-based zombie films of the 1930s and ’40s reveal deep-seated racist attitudes and imperialist paranoia, but the contagious, cannibalistic zombie horde invasion narrative established by George A. Romero has even greater singularity. This book provides a cultural and critical analysis of the cinematic zombie tradition, starting with its origins in Haitian folklore and tracking the development of the subgenre into the twenty-first century. Closely examining such influential works as Victor Halperin’s White Zombie, Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie, Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2, Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and, of course, Romero’s entire “Dead” series, it establishes the place of zombies in the Gothic tradition.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Kyle William Bishop is an associate professor of English and film studies and serves as the Honors Program Director at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. He has presented and published on a number of zombie-related texts and has authored two other monographs with McFarland.

Bibliographic Details

Kyle William Bishop

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 247
Bibliographic Info: 33 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4806-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5554-6
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Zombie Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Foreword by Jerrold E. Hogle      1
Preface      5
Introduction—The Zombie Film and Its Cycles      9

1—RAISING THE LIVING DEAD
The Folkloric and Ideological Origins of the Voodoo Zombie      37
2—THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE
Imperialist Hegemony and the Cinematic Voodoo Zombie      64
3—THE RISE OF THE NEW PARADIGM
Night of the Living Dead and the Zombie Invasion Narrative      94
4—THE DEAD WALK THE EARTH
The Triumph of the Zombie Social Metaphor in Dawn of the Dead      129
5—HUMANIZING THE LIVING DEAD
The Evolution of the Zombie Protagonist      158

Conclusion—The Future Shock of Zombie Cinema      197
Filmography      209
Chapter Notes      213
Bibliography      225
Index      231

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “in this seminal study, Bishop navigates well the oil and water-like mix of serious analysis and zombie cinema. It isn’t often that one comes across Marxian dialectics and graphic descriptions of cannibalism in the same paragraph, but Bishop’s understated style makes it work”—Library Journal
  • “fascinating”—Raising the Undead
  • “a very complete analysis of the evolution of the zombie in American cinema”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts