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What Film is your Film Like? : Negotiating Authenticity in the Distributive Seriality of the Zombi Franchise

MCKENNA, Mark (2020) What Film is your Film Like? : Negotiating Authenticity in the Distributive Seriality of the Zombi Franchise. In: Critical Studies in the Horror Film Franchise. Routledge. (In Press)

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Abstract or description

Unlike its archetypal cinematic contemporary’s such as the vampire, the werewolf,
and even the mummy - the creature to which it is perhaps most indebted - the modern zombie has had a relatively short existence, with modern conceptions of the monster almost universally derived from George Romero’s influential series that began in1968 with The Night of the Living Dead. Where previous renderings of the zombie were drawn Haitian mythology and the undead slaves that are often linked to voodoo tradition. The Romero’s zombie was an entirely different creature, an apocalyptic cypher that provided social commentary in times of political upheaval. Released in the wake of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, the film is often read as a civil rights allegory and is almost universally seen as both a response to the Vietnam War and a commentary on the American civil rights movement. Romero’s later entries comment on capitalism, consumerism, gender roles and social media and have ensured that the zombie has remained a resolutely political creature.
Outside of Romero’s series and since the dawn of the new millennium, there has been a perceived rise in the visibility, success and profitability of the genre across all media, with many continuing to draw political parallels, and most keen to accept that modern depictions of the zombie are Hollywood’s amplified response to trauma of domestic terrorism and the events of September the 11th. However, alongside these overtly political readings, the visibility of the zombie can also be attributed to the eagerness of distributors, who were keen to capitalise on the success of the creature, this evident in promotional strategies that began long before the events of 9/11. This chapter will trace the adaptive approaches distributors have taken globally, to the distribution of a series of unconnected zombie films, films that were retitled with the explicit aim of capitalising on the success of earlier canonical releases. It will consider the narrative precedent pioneered by Romero that allowed this to happen and will examine the ways in which these different series can be considered to be part of the same commercial franchise, and how despite offering no narrative continuity, they still contribute to an expanded understanding of the franchise that draws heavily on theories of genre taken from a specifically Italian cultural experience.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Film, Media and Journalism
Depositing User: Mark MCKENNA
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2020 15:59
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/5281

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