Film Genre: The Zombie Film
131T | CCN: 31743
Instructor: Eileen Jones
In this course we will examine the three main phases of the zombie film genre, which develops as a subcategory of the American horror film. We will consider the historical context of the genre, the theories and common critical analyses applied to the genre, the prevalent narrative structures of the films, and the defining films of the genre as well as the anomalous ones.
First phase: the zombie film of the classic Hollywood studio film era, which was inspired by the American cultural fascination with the Haitian voodoo zombie as reported by journalists and amateur anthropologists during the American military occupation of Haiti (1915 – 1934). Films include White Zombie, I Walked With a Zombie, and King of the Zombies.
Second phase: the zombie film as redefined by George A. Romero in his seminal 1960s-‘80s trilogy Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead/Day of the Dead. Romero’s first zombie film was conceived in terms of the counter-culture movement of the 1960s, and his own believe in an imminent and necessary socio-political revolution, which established the zombie film as working in terms of topicality and cultural critique.
And third phase: the post-Romero zombie films which tend to update and work out the implications of Romero’s vision. These include “classic” zombie film remakes (some by Romero himself), parodies such as Dead-Alive, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland, and genre-revisionist films such as Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. We will also study the extension of the zombie genre into other pop culture forms, i.e. the graphic novel/TV series The Walking Dead, popular novels optioned for film adaptation such as World War Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Breathers: A Love Story, and zombie-oriented video/computer games such as Resident Evil, House of the Dead, (both adapted for film), and Doom 3.
There will be a lot of reading, writing, film viewing, and discussion in this course. The screening lab is required. Class and screening attendance is a must!