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Coming Back from the Dead: Zombie Distribution and the Unofficial Franchise

MCKENNA, Mark (2014) Coming Back from the Dead: Zombie Distribution and the Unofficial Franchise. In: Italian Horror Cinema, 9 May 2014, University of Bedfordshire. (Unpublished)

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Abstract or description

The Italian film industry was largely built upon the success of its export market with a long tradition of adaptation based on successful box office imports. From Leone’s breakthrough A Fistful of Dollars (1964); adapted from Kurasawa’s Jojimbo (1961) to Lado’s Night Train Murders (1975); a re-imagnining of The Last House on the Left (1972). These home-grown versions would often cast with actors from the UK or US to give them a broader international appeal and were then sold back to the territories that had originally inspired them. Dubbed, repackaged and re-titled for an English speaking audience. If a film were successful domestically, there would often be numerous unrelated sequels until all opportunity for profitability had run its course.
In the late 70s and early 1980s these films became increasingly accessible via 42nd Street. Distributors like Terry Levine, who routinely imported and re-titled the most extreme cinema that Italy had to offer and screened them on this now infamous stretch in New York. Worldwide, the introduction of home video, the technology that would eventually usurp the Grindhouse introduced an international audience to Italian horror. To fully exploit the potential profits of the new market, distributors both in the UK and in the US took a creative approach to titling the films – renaming individual films from territory to territory in an effort to ‘localise’ their appeal and prolong their shelf-life. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of the zombie film. In this paper, I will examine how Italy’s adaptive approach to cinema has had influenced distributors worldwide and I will explore the repercussions that can arise when film that once was considered as transitory, designed to create a fast profit, experiences a reassessment in value and longevity beyond that limited intended window of commercial appeal.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Film, Media and Journalism
Event Title: Italian Horror Cinema
Event Location: University of Bedfordshire
Event Dates: 9 May 2014
Depositing User: Mark MCKENNA
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2019 10:27
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:54

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