Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Academic mini-reviews - Zombies!

I asked you guys awhile ago whether you'd be interested in me reviewing the many, many books I'm reading at the moment for uni. The feedback was positive so I decided to go ahead with it. One change though was that I decided I'd only pick the ones that would be interesting to read for people outside of my study area (no dull textbooks!) and I'd only supply mini reviews since I don't feel like they actually need a really in-depth review. So here is my first collection of books up for reviewing. Let me know in the comments if you think this is an effective way to review this type of book or if you'd rather I put in a more detailed analysis of them.

Gospel of the Living Dead by Kim Paffenroth

my rating: 4/5

This book was an incredible look into the deconstruction of Romero's zombie 'Dead' series through a religious lens. Paffenroth's use of theological beliefs and theories in conjunction with zombie depiction provided an interesting and informative glimpse into modern America and commented on several aspects of today's society and religion. Bonus points were given for working Dante into the analysis.

The Book of the Dead by Jamie Russel

My rating: 5/5

A fantastically detailed look at the evolution of the zombie from its Haitian origins up to its most recent cinematic features. Jamie Russell distances himself enough to talk about the movies in terms of their technical and critical successes and favours, rather than simply talking about the ones he enjoyed the most, which I've found many other zombie film critics to do. As a student doing my thesis on zombies in film this book will be indispensable, but it's interesting and entertaining enough to be read by a zombie enthusiast also. Chock full of film reviews and colour pictures of their release posters and film stills too.

The Powers of Horror by Julia Kristeva (translated copy)

My rating: 3.5/5

This is not a zombie book, it's a psychology text that concentrates on the theory of abjection by examining our reaction to dead bodies, castration, the oedipal complex (though discussed in a way I hadn't come across before) and a myriad of other things. It uses theories by Lacan and Freud as a base and builds upon them with Kristeva's own detailed and engrossing theories. The language is remarkably easy to read for someone not from a psychology background however the theory is quite dense and complex and it took me quite awhile to fully appreciate the ideas she was putting forward.

The Cinema of George A. Romero: Knight of the Living Dead By Tony Williams
My rating: 3.5/5

This book examined Romero's film cannon (not simply his zombie films) with a concentration on the link between his work and literary naturalism, which was a lens I hadn't seen used in conjunction with zombies before. While the analysis on some of the films felt lacking and seemed more like a regurgitation of the events of the films, overall it was a comprehensive, unique and interesting view on Romero's style of film-making.


  1. Brief and effective. An excellent way to deal with course related texts. Kristeva is a fascinating theorist, most criticl theorists are and usually more than a little demanding. I have been having trouble commenting so hope this works.

  2. I wonder what's up with the commenting? Glad you managed to get it through though! I really liked Kristeva's theory and the way she writes but you're right, it can be incredibly demanding! Glad you like the shorter format



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...