By Leon Hunt
Leading writers on Horror and cult media examine the attractive vampire and the ugly zombie, in addition to hybrid figures who don't healthy well into both class. those are tested throughout more than a few contexts, from the Swedish vampire to the Afro-American Blacula, from the lesbian vampire to the homosexual zombie, from the Spanish Knights Templar driving skeletal horses to dancing jap zombies. Screening the Undead sheds new gentle on those icons of terror - and wish - whose well known toughness has taken them 'Beyond Life'.
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Extra info for Screening the Undead: Vampires and Zombies in Film and Television
But the flip-side to all this love and acid invokes a set of images just as, if not more, firmly imprinted on the public imagination, such as the killing of Meredith Hunter at a free Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont racetrack in California, violent anti-war demonstrations and the shootings at Kent State. By 1970, John Lennon was singing that ‘the dream is over’, as the mind-expanding psychedelic Summer of Love was swiftly followed by a harsh comedown best symbolised by the Manson murders.
Two films from 1968 also had an important influence on this collection of films. 2 In contrast, George Romero’s ultra low-budget Night of the Living Dead (1968) refashioned elements of vampire lore, presenting undead flesh-eaters spawned (it is suggested) by science rather than supernatural blood-drinkers. Although the stark black-and-white faux-newsreel approach used by Romero is far from Polanski’s use of a luxurious brightly-lit Manhattan apartment building, both films have the same irreverent tone, a revisionist approach to their genre and a sour cynicism that would become commonplace in the horror of the 1970s.
There is a hunger in her eyes, even though the zombie is not yet given to feeding on the living – her destruction (beheaded with a shovel) may even put us in mind of Van Helsing’s decapitation of Lucy in Stoker’s Dracula. Two closely connected texts – Richard Matheson’s novel, I am Legend (1954), and Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (US, 1968) – bring our two undead archetypes closer together. On the DVD sleeve for The Last Man on Earth (Italy/US, 1964), the first of three adaptations of Matheson’s novel, the infected creatures are described as both ‘vampire-like’ and as zombies, while the film is identified as a ‘primary influence’ on Romero’s film.