Friday, January 24, 2014

Gospel of the Living Dead

My research has led me to my friend Kim Paffentroth's book, Gospel of the Living Dead.

In it, he uses theology and Dante's Inferno to critique George Romero's zombie films.  It's incredibly fascinating.  So far, the thought that has stuck with me is this:

"It is not bad enough for our band of survivors that they are surrounded by walking corpses who will never go away until they have torn the humans limb from limb and eaten them alive, for on top of this threat, the humans constantly fight amongst themselves.  Without heroic qualities or virtues, our human protagonists are as much a threat to one another as the living dead are to them." (pg. 32).

He is referring to Night of the Living Dead in this passage, but it really applies to any zombie film.  I've always had a vague notion of how the characters interact with one another in the films, constantly fighting both themselves and the zombies, but it never really occurred to me how prominent the in-fighting was until after reading this.  It's almost ridiculous how the humans interact with one another.  And it's not just in Romero's films.  A lot of other zombie flicks also employ this technique.

Now, I realize that humans don't always get along with one another.  But at the same time, a crisis or disaster usually brings out the best in people.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, bombings, they all bring people together to work for a cause and help our fellow human beings.  Yet when it comes to zombies, we are ready to tear each other's throats out.  It's interesting.

Granted, the point of the films is to show how destructive we humans are and how we aren't that much different from the walking dead.  There is a thin line between us and the undead.  We are primal and driven by base desires.  The only difference between us and the zombies is that we have the ability to make a conscious choice not to act like that.  But how often do we make it?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting that I went and got a copy. Will be intriguing to read something very different.