Undead Links to George A. Romero Studies

Zombies intruding on the free flow of commerce? Frame grab from Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978)

In [George Romero‘s films], antagonism and horror are not pushed out of society (to the monster) but are rather located within society (qua the monster). The issue isn’t the zombies; the real problem lies with the “heroes”—the police, the army, good old boys with their guns and male bonding fantasies. If they win, racism has a future, capitalism has a future, sexism has a future, militarism has a future. Romero also implements this critique structurally. As Steven Shaviro observes, the cultural discomfort is not only located in the films’ graphic cannibalism and zombie genocide: the low-budget aesthetics makes us see “the violent fragmentation of the cinematic process itself.” The zombie in such a representation may be uncanny and repulsive, but the imperfect uncleanness of the zombie’s face—the bad make-up, the failure to hide the actor behind the monster’s mask—is what breaks the screen of the spectacle. [Lars Bang Larsen, ‘Zombies of Immaterial Labor: the Modern Monster and the Death of Death’, E-Flux, No. 15, April 2010

About a month ago, Film Studies For Free‘s author was delighted to take part in the first of a series of screenings and roundtables on the fascinating and complex subject of ‘Intrusion’ and its ‘specific relation to the visual on the different but interrelated registers of the psychic, sexual, social and political’

This inventive and highly productive series was organised by Amber Jacobs, Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, and creator and presenter of the wonderful Daily Subversions weekly radio show on ResonanceFM (available everywhere online). FSFF will post a video essay contribution on the first film in the ‘Intrusion’ series just as soon as the more mundane ‘intrusions’ of research deadlines and the hectic grading season have subsided.

An excellent podcast of the final roundtable of the series, discussing George A. Romero‘s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, has just gone online. The discussion features Dr Jacobs, along with Mark Fisher (Cultural Studies and Music Culture, Goldsmiths), Gordon Hon (Artist and Lecturer in Visual Culture, Winchester School of Art), Paul Myerscough (Senior Editor at the London Review of Books), and some great contributions from the audience. The podcast lasts just under an hour. 

To accompany this new online resource, FSFF has assembled and updated a scarily good list of links to further, openly accessible studies or scholarly discussions of Romero’s work. Also see previous related entries “Any Zombies Out There?” Undead Film Studies and Zombie Week at In Media Res. And also be aware that you can watch Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead in its entirety at the Internet Archive.

>Horror Ad-Nauseam!

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Image from Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2009) Read Adam Nayman‘s essay on this ‘semiotic zombie film’ at ReverseShot, as well as Steen Christiansen’s article linked to below.

Film Studies For Free has been somewhat stopped in its tracks by an unseasonal cold. But, sustained by its usual missionary zeal for Open Access film and moving image studies, it rises zombie-like (see above) from its sick bed to bring you news of the latest issue of excellent online journal Cinephile (Vol. 6 No. 2 Fall 2010) on ‘Horror Ad-Nauseam’ (note: link to a very large PDF file, as are all the links below).

Normal FSFF service will resume on Thursday…

>Sound on Screen: The Exorcist, Haneke, J-Horror, Warner Bros., animation, Apocalypse Now

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Image from Apocalypse Now Redux (Francis Ford Coppola, 2001)

Film Studies For Free only just heard about the Spring 2010 issue of online journal Cinephile (Vol. 6 No. 1). So, while technically FSFF is ‘rushing you the news’, it red-facedly admits that it arrived a little late to this particular, openly accessible, Film Studies party…

Anyhoooo, it’s an excellent issue on ‘Sound on Screen’, available as one large PDF. The contents are given below.

FSFF earnestly promises to keep its e-ears closer to the ground next time an issue is due…

Table of Contents

>Young and Undead: On Child and Teen Vampire Movies

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Images from Låt den rätte komma in/Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008 – above) and Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010)

Film Studies For Free loves a good vampire movie, like the two relatively unconventional examples of the genre pictured above. 

In fact, FSFF doesn’t turn its nose up at bad vampire movies, either. Let’s face it: this blog is just not that fussy when it comes to vampire movies.

Both kinds of films are represented below, in a fairly short, but terrifyingly good, list of scholarly and other online studies of the recent flourishing of teen and pre-teen varieties of undead cinema (along with their literary sources). 

Please note that the list does not dabble in studies of the televisual versions of the genre. For those, you could no better than to visit the complete archive of Slayage articles on, inter alia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly.

>New Issue of Scope!

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Image from Good Bye, Lenin! ( Wolfgang Becker, 2003). Read Kevin L. Ferguson’s fascinating article on the film: Home Movies: Historical Space and the Mother’s Memory


Good Bye Lenin!, a film commonly read as a political fable of East German nostalgia, is rather for me a successful example of autobiographical narrative that balances maternal loss and a boy’s coming to manhood, framing this transition in and through home movies. As such, it provides a much-needed positive model for cinema’s use of mothers and memory. [Kevin L. Ferguson]

Film Studies For Free has been far too quiet lately, but that’s about to change, people! Let us kick off the burst of activity with FSFF‘s usual update about one of its very favourite openly accessible, film-scholarly journals, SCOPE: And Online Journal of Film and TV Studies, run by those wonderful people at the Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham. The full Table of Contents is reproduced below for your convenient reading pleasure.

Scope, Issue 18, 2010

Articles

Art Cinema as Institution, Redux: Art Houses, Film Festivals, and Film Studies
David Andrews
The Pinnacle of Popular Taste?: The Importance of Confessions of a Window Cleaner
Sian Barber
Walking the Line: Negotiating Celebrity in the Country Music Biopic
Molly Brost
Home Movies: Historical Space and the Mother’s Memory
Kevin L. Ferguson
An Aristocratic Plod, Erstwhile Commandos and Ladies who Craved Excitement: Hammer Films’ Post-War BBC Crime Series and Serial Adaptations
David Mann

[ALL ARTICLES ON ONE PAGE]

Book Reviews

“May Contain Graphic Material”: Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Film By M. Keith Booker
Reviewer: David Simmons
Investigating Firefly and Serenity By Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran (eds.) & Special Issue on Firefly and Serenity
Reviewer: Ronald Helfrich
Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film By Adilifu Nama & Mixed Race Hollywood
Reviewer: Augusto Ciuffo de Oliveira
Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright By Lucas Hilderbrand & From Betamax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video
Reviewer: Daniel Herbert
Stanley Cavell’s American Dream: Shakespeare, Philosophy, and Hollywood Movies By Lawrence F. Rhu
Reviewer: Áine Kelly
Scorsese By Roger Ebert
Reviewer: John Berra
Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror By James Leggott & Roman Polanski
Reviewer: Paul Newland
Cities In Transition: The Moving Image and the Modern Metropolis By Andrew Webber and Emma Wilson (eds.) & Cinematic Countrysides (Inside Popular Film)
Reviewer: Peter C. Pugsley
Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World By S. Brent Plate & Crowd Scenes: Movies and Mass Politics
Reviewer: Douglas C. MacLeod, Jr.
Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City By Mark Shiel
Reviewer: Tom Whittaker
Independent Cinema (includes DVD of Paul Cronin’s Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16) By D.K. Holm & Declarations of Independence: American Cinema and the Partiality of Independent Production
Reviewer: Carl Wilson
Seventies British Cinema By Robert Shail (ed.)
Reviewer: Lawrence Webb
Photography and Cinema (Exposures) By David Campany  & Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography
Reviewer: Tom Slevin
Russians in Hollywood, Hollywood’s Russians: Biography of an Image By Harlow Robinson & How the Soviet Man was Unmade: Cultural Fantasy and Male Subjectivity under Stalin
Reviewer: Brian Faucette
A Companion to Spanish Cinema By Bernard P.E. Bentley & Gender and Spanish Cinema
Reviewer: Abigail Keating
The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II By David Welky & The Hidden Art of Hollywood: In Defense of the Studio Era Film
Reviewer: Hannah Durkin
Neil Jordan By Maria Pramaggiore & The Cinema of Neil Jordan: Dark Carnival
Reviewer: Steve Masters
Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory By Nurith Gertz and George Khleifi
Reviewer: Omar Kholeif
The Cinema of Jan Švankmajer: Dark Alchemy (Directors’ Cuts) By Peter Hames & Hungarian Cinema: From Coffee House to Multiplex
Reviewer: Jonathan Owen
Movie Greats: A Critical Study of Classic Cinema By Philip Gillett  & Inventing Film Studies
Reviewer: Steven Rybin

[ALL BOOK REVIEWS ON ONE PAGE]

Film Reviews

Generation Kill
Reviewer: Sheamus Sweeney
Diary of the Dead
Reviewer: Sigmund Shen
Rich and Strange & Stage Fright
Reviewer: Judy Beth Morris
Blood: The Last Vampire
Reviewer: Kia-Choong Teo
Coraline
Reviewer: Alice Mills
Before and After
Reviewer: Clodagh M. Weldon

[ALL FILM REVIEWS ON ONE PAGE]

Conference Reports

Bloodlines: British Horror Past and Present, An International Conference and Film Festival at De Montfort University and Phoenix Square, Leicester, 4 – 5 March 2010
Reporter: Michael Ahmed
IMAGEing Reality, University of Navarra, Spain, 22– 24 October 2009
Reporter: Stefano Odorico
The Moving Image: Reconfiguring Spaces of Loss and Mourning in the 21st Century, Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Cambridge, 26-27 February 2010
Reporter: Jenny Chamarette
NECS 2009 3rd Annual Conference: Locating Media, Lund, Sweden, 25 – 28 June, 2009
Reporter: Andrea Virginás
New Waves: XII International Film and Media Conference, Transylvania, Romania, 22 – 23 October 2009
Reporter: Hajnal Kiraly
Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, April 16 – 17 2010
Reporter: Darren Elliott-Smith
Re-Living Disaster, Birbkeck College, London, 29-30 April 2010
Reporter: Ozlem Koksal
SCMS @ 50/LA (Society for Cinema and Media Studies): Archiving the Future, Mobilizing the Past, Los Angleles, California, US, March 10-14, 2010
Reporter: Jason Kelly Roberts
SCMS @ 50/LA (Society for Cinema and Media Studies), Los Angeles, California, March 10-14, 2010
Reporter: Martin L. Johnson
Straight Outta Uttoxeter: Studying Shane Meadows, University of East Anglia, 15 – 16 April 2010
Reporter: Emma Sutton

[ALL CONFERENCE REPORTS ON ONE PAGE]

>"Any Zombies Out There?" Undead Film Studies

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Image from I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)

The zombies in these films are a kind of revolutionary force of predators without a revolutionary program. Their only concern is to satisfy an instinctual drive for predation; a drive which, as is pointed out in Day of the Dead, serves no actual biological purpose. They appear and attack without explanation or reason, violating taken for granted principles of sufficient cause and rationality. Because of this, they are especially threatening to the surviving human beings. Enemies such as Nazis or Communists are comprehensible in terms of their historical backgrounds, economic interests, religious, political or philosophic beliefs. But these zombies are a new breed of enemy in that they do not operate according to the same underlying motivations human beings share in common. They are a nihilistic enemy which, as lifeless, spiritless automatons, exemplify the epitome of passive nihilism. They wander the landscape exhibiting only the bare minimum of power that is required for locomotion and the consumption of living flesh. They must steal life from the strong because they possess such a depressed store of innate energy. They are, literally, the walking dead. [John Marmysz, ‘From “Night” to “Day”: Nihilism and the Living Dead’, First published in Film and Philosophy, vol. 3, 1996] 

In [George Romero‘s films], antagonism and horror are not pushed out of society (to the monster) but are rather located within society (qua the monster). The issue isn’t the zombies; the real problem lies with the “heroes”—the police, the army, good old boys with their guns and male bonding fantasies. If they win, racism has a future, capitalism has a future, sexism has a future, militarism has a future. Romero also implements this critique structurally. As Steven Shaviro observes, the cultural discomfort is not only located in the films’ graphic cannibalism and zombie genocide: the low-budget aesthetics makes us see “the violent fragmentation of the cinematic process itself.” The zombie in such a representation may be uncanny and repulsive, but the imperfect uncleanness of the zombie’s face—the bad make-up, the failure to hide the actor behind the monster’s mask—is what breaks the screen of the spectacle. [Lars Bang Larsen, ‘Zombies of Immaterial Labor: the Modern Monster and the Death of Death’, E-Flux, No. 15, April 2010

The fear of one’s own body, of how one controls it and relates to it, and the fear of not being able to control other bodies, those bodies whose exploitation is too fundamental to capitalist economy, are both at the heart of whiteness. Never has this horror been more deliriously evoked than in these films of the Dead [Richard Dyer,  White: Essays in Race and Culture (London: Routledge, 1997)].

Film Studies For Free is quaking in its digital boots as a whole host of freely accessible zombie studies gathers menacingly on the online horizon and shuffles ever nearer…. No, no, no, nooooo…

Yes.

Resistance is futile on this the Night of the Living Links.

(The only comforting thought is that film zombies also grow old and win the undying loyalty of their fans…)

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ncIbd-Uch28C&lpg=PA211&ots=e9P9NK1sNM&dq=%22Richard%20Dyer%22%20White%20zombie&pg=PA211&output=embed
    http://books.google.com/books?id=AmvQWHa0WKAC&lpg=PP1&pg=PT101&output=embed

    >On Japanese Cinema

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    Last updated: August 3, 2010

    Film Studies For Free wanted to make sure its readers didn’t miss the video embedded above. It’s another great offering from Fora.tv, this time a very entertaining and informative interview with Donald Richie about his internationally celebrated work on Japanese cinema and culture. FSFF heard of this via David Hudson and the Japan Society Film Blog.

    In addition, FSFF has assembled some links below to openly accessible and very high quality scholarship on Japanese cinema (including numerous full-length studies), with work by Donald Richie, and many other excellent items which are indebted to his studies of Japanese cinema.

    This was quite a broad category to research online, so FSFF will inevitably have missed some good resources: suggestions for any high quality additions are, therefore, even more welcome than usual! (Update: See comments  below for some of these, including the tip to link to Eigagogo’s bookmarks at Delicious which lists some further great resources).

          >More Film Authorship Studies: Romero, Welles, Portillo, Mamet, and the studio system

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          Film Studies For Free brings you some more great essays on film authorship (a favourite topic at this here blog), following the serendipitous discovery that a special issue on that subject by the (normally) subscription only periodical The Velvet Light Trap was chosen to be that journal’s free online sample.


          Do also check out FSFF‘s earlier related posts if this is a topic of particular interest: On Auteurism and Film Authorship Theories, film authorship Orson Welles

          >Paranormal cinematic activity: ghost film studies

          >

          Latest update: April 27, 2010

           Publicity still for The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961). See an excerpt from this film in Nicolas Rapold and Matt Zoller Seitz‘s L Magazine video essay ‘Bad Seeds: Creepy Kids on Film’, embedded towards the foot of this entry

          Film Studies For Free has gone and spooked itself, today, with its own scary persistence in compiling a list of links to openly accessible, online, scholarly articles, chapters and theses on international ghost film studies. Oh, and there are two related video essays lurking at the bottom to scare the scholarly bejesus out of you for good measure, too (added April 27) .
          Like all the best posts at this blog (IOHO), the list below owes its hefty materiality to its connections with FSFF‘s author‘s own (hauntological) research, some of which, hopefully, will be directly shared with her fearless readers very shortly. So do please be a revenant, won’t you?

            >B for Bad Cinema: Colloquy from Monash

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            Image from Snakes on a Plane (David R. Ellis, 2006); Read Kirsten Stevens’s article Snakes on a Plane and the prefabricated cult film (pdf) from the new issue of Colloquy

            It’s going to continue to be a little quiet around here at Film Studies For Free as its author busies herself with finishing off a couple of video essays that will be posted here very shortly.

            The essays will also form the basis of two talks to be given in the next few weeks: on March 8 at Liverpool John Moores University; and on March 17 at the University of Sussex (details to follow).

            The title of both talks, as per the following abstract, is:

            Quote/Unquote? The “Unattainable [Film] Text” in the Age of Digital Reproduction

            Following the lead of scholars Christian Keathley, Eric Faden, Jason Mittell, Andrew Miller and Craig Cieslikowski in the summary of their conference panel on The Scholarship of Sound and Image: Producing Media Criticism in the Digital Age (MIT6, Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission, April 24-26, 2009), in this talk Catherine Grant will revisit Raymond Bellour’s essay on ‘The Unattainable Text’ (Screen, Vol 16, No 3, 1975: 19-27), as well as Laura Mulvey’s more recent considerations of film ‘possession’, and ‘pensiveness’ in the digital age (Death 24x a Second (London: Reaktion, 2006). Then she will examine the issue of film quotation in audiovisual work, as well as, more generally, the possibilities offered to film studies by the rising generation of online digital-video essays about films and film theory.

            All articles are in pdf format. To download the whole issue as one file, click Issue 18.
            Front
            Contents
            Editorial

            B for Bad Cinema from Colloquy (Monash University), Issue 18, December 2009