The World of the Zombie

zombies immanentThe zombie is thoroughly physical; one of its primary qualities is that it has been emptied of transcendence.

The same can be said about the world through which it shambles.

In Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the ordinariness of the setting reflects a thoroughly immanent world. The “dully commonplace settings” of the movie reflect the flatness of a universe in a different way than do the more fantastic settings of almost all of the American horror films that preceded it. The graveyard in the opening scenes has no painted background or ominous lighting, but is “flatly lit and unretouched.” The house where the rest of the film takes place is an ordinary farmhouse, not a gothic “castle overlooking the perpetually befogged forest” (Dillard [in American Horrors] 17). The setting of this film in relation to those of other American horror films, like Frankenstein (1931), illustrates the shift in society’s understanding of the universe.  The world in which we live is no longer enchanted or terrorized by anything supernatural–it is a material, disenchanted universe.

The world of Night of the Living Dead is a wholly immanent one.


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