Item description for Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth...
Overview This volume connects American social and religious views with the classic American movie genre of the zombie horror film. This study proves that George Romero's films go beyond the surface experience of repulsion to probe deeper questions of human nature and purpose, often giving a chilling and darkly humorous critique of modern, secular America.
Publishers Description Winner of the 2006 Bram Stoker Award, Gospel of the Living Dead connects American social and religious views with the classic American movie genre of the zombie horror film. For nearly forty years, the films of George A. Romero have presented viewers with hellish visions of our world overrun by flesh-eating ghouls. This study proves that Romero's films, like apocalyptic literature or Dante's Commedia, go beyond the surface experience of repulsion to probe deeper questions of human nature and purpose, often giving a chilling and darkly humorous critique of modern, secular America.
Awards and Recognitions Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth has received the following awards and recognitions -
ForeWord Book of the Year Award - 2006 Second Place - Popular Culture category
Citations And Professional Reviews Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 05/29/2006 page 53
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.22" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.88" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Oct 30, 2006
Publisher Baylor University Press
ISBN 1932792651 ISBN13 9781932792652
Availability 0 units.
More About Kim Paffenroth
Kim Paffenroth is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.
Kim Paffenroth was born in 1966.
Kim Paffenroth has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth?
Good Book, But Incomplete Mar 4, 2008
I'm a longtime fan of Romero's work, so a philosophical look at the living dead and what they have represented over time seemed a welcome treat, and for the most part, it was. Most of the comparisons I'd overheard over the years were mentioned within this work, and made me quite happy. I won't mention them specifically here as to do so would be a Spoiler. The book is good...but in my opinion, a whole movie, AND it's philosophical value, go completely missing. The Remake for Dawn of the Dead got it's own chapter, just like the original. But. The Night of the Living Dead remake (1990) that Romero had Tom Savini direct, was not given equal treatment. If the 'Night' remake were no different from the original, I would certainly understand it's absence in this book, but because there were some VERY specific differences...differences equally representative of the changing cultural times, and most certainly deserving of analysis...I cannot say I'm pleased about the absence.
Worth reading, but there's room for improvement Jul 3, 2007
If you enjoy zombie movies, especially the work of George Romero, I recommend that you read this book. It's a pretty quick and easy read and holds some interesting insight -- sociological, economical, philosophical, religious, and otherwise. However, it wasn't exactly what I expected going into it, and while I made some pleasant discoveries while I read, I also met with a bit of disappointment.
Based on the title and the description in the book jacket, I was expecting more talk relating these films to Dante's "Inferno", which the author mostly mentions in passing. I think "Inferno" is one of the most interesting and unique pieces of literature around, and I would have liked for him to focus a bit more on the similarities between it and the zombie movies. If someone were reading this book who had little or no knowledge of Dante's "Inferno", I'm sure the parts where he mentions it could be pretty confusing. He doesn't elaborate on it enough for those who like "Inferno", but he doesn't ignore it enough for those who don't know much about it either.
One reviewer wrote, "At times, I felt this book was overreaching a bit in its textual analysis, which irks me." I agree. While George Romero's movies certainly have plenty of Christian undertones, I feel that Paffenroth overthought and over-analyzed a couple of his interpretations. For example, he interprets Big Daddy and the other zombies in "Land of the Dead" crossing the river to Fiddler's Green as analogous to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea with the help of Moses in the Old Testament. I can certainly see why one would make this analogy, but the zombies crossing the river could be more easily and simply interpreted as a purification process, such as a baptismal ritual. Earlier in the book, he interprets the human desire to bury the dead, zombie or not, as a human desire to have a personal relationship with God. This is also a fair interpretation (merely one sub-par out of many great ones), but I just feel like Paffenroth grasps at straws sometimes in this book. Most every culture has some sort of burial ritual, and they do not necessarily seek a close relationship to the Christian God.
These are really my only complaints about this book, but I feel they are significant ones. If I could give this title 3.5/5 stars, I would. If you love zombie movies and seek deep, philosophical and/or religious insight into the world of zombie movies, it is definitely worth your time. But just check it out at the library and give it a quick read, rather than buy a copy to keep on your bookshelf.
Worth it for the summaries Jun 13, 2007
At times, I felt this book was overreaching a bit in its textual analysis, which irks me. Still, I really liked it. The idea is great, and the movie summaries are worth the price alone. I think some Christians might be upset by Paffenroth's compassionate, anti-Fundamentalist Christian beliefs, but I guess if you're buying this book that probably won't be an issue. (It actually really pleased me to find that that was the case.)
A nice addition to any Romero fan's library May 4, 2007
Paffenroth's treatment of Romero's films offers much by way of theology, something that [....] before in this great of detail. Anyone who has studied/read about Romero will naturally have heard some points made here, but the insights and comparisons to Dante's INFERNO are quite interesting. This one gave me a new interest in the DAWN remake (04), and a new respect for LAND OF THE DEAD (05), despite it being the weakest of the series.
Some people have complained about all the footnotes presented here (there's about 50 pages worth), but I believe it strongly enhances the book, and serves as a fine bibliography (although there's one included, too) for those seeking more material on Romero.
I only wish I could discuss this face to face Apr 22, 2007
Reading this book gave me a good perspective on one man's views of the works of George A. Romero and the zombie movie genre as a whole. Dr. Paffenroth presents a well researched analysis of these stories as they relate to faith and religion in our society of today.
Books such as this and "The Philosophy of the Undead" are intriguing to me because they provide both insights and opinions that I can appreciate on the undead. I have my own views on the meanings behind it all, since I have read quite a few stories and seen many, if not all, of the movies out there related to zombies. I do not spend a great deal of time on message boards/chat rooms pouring over the minutia of these works though. I also do not have any personal friends or family members who have any interest at all in the genre. So grabbing a book like this and studying it adds shades of complexity to my own understanding of these dead things that have come back to life and how they impact our own society and world.
Does this mean I agree with everything Dr. Paffenroth states in this book? Definitely not, but gaining new insights means you come from a different place than the person who offers new information. Kim did a great deal of research and his proposals are well thought out on the religious and faith based ramifications of Romero's works. I am no academic and I am also a lapsed Catholic so to say I have a different perspective is probably an understatement. But that makes this book all the more interesting because of that.
Zombies are interesting protagonists. They hold up a gritty and cracked mirror, perhaps of a fun house variety, to us and we get a look at what we potentially could become, or maybe already are. The Romero movies all used a pretty harsh tone of criticism of western civilization and more specifically American culture. Our take on religion and faith are a part of that and this books taps into it.
I myself like a good debate. Not just arguing to prove someone else wrong, but being able to just present my own views and go back and forth with someone else. A book vs. face to face is not as satifying for debating various points of interest, but it still gives me something to gnaw on as far as the undertones of the zombie genre.