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Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.

Edited by Marco Lanzagorta / Produced by Karen Zarker and Sarah Zupko

Love it or hate it, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a recognized cornerstone of American culture and world cinema. After 40 years, Romero’s film remains an influential film that generates a variety of readings and discourses. Furthermore, this horror classic continues to spawn a variety of sequels, remakes, and copycats.


Recognizing the everlasting importance of Night of the Living Dead to popular culture, PopMatters is proud to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Romero’s landmark film with this very special, and very frightful, special feature. Be careful though, the widespread appeal of this celebration is such that may even make the dead stand up and walk.


Indeed, the magnitude of the cultural significance of Night of the Living Dead is made evident in this massive collection of 30 articles that uniquely analyze, dissect, discuss, and re-appreciate the cultural, political, social, ideological, philosophical, and psychological meanings of this groundbreaking horror film. Here you will find fresh perspectives, appreciations, and theoretical frameworks that bring a new light to the critical examination of Night of the Living Dead.


PopMatters is pleased to offer the astute and discerning analyses and appreciations of a wide variety of top-notch writers from all over the world. Foremost, we proudly begin our celebration with a brief introduction especially written by Romero for this collection.


We will also feature the insightful contributions of some of the most eminent and distinguished horror film scholars: Prof. Linnie Blake (author of The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity), Prof. Cynthia Freeland (author of The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror), Prof. Barry Keith Grant (editor of Planks of Reason: Essays on the Horror Film and The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film), Prof. Peter Hutchings (author of The Horror Film and the Historical Dictionary of Horror Cinema), Prof. Mark Jancovich (author of Horror, The Film Reader and Rational Fears: American Horror in the 1950s), and Prof. Jay McRoy (author of Nightmare Japan: Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema and editor of Monstrous Adaptations: Generic and Thematic Mutations in Horror Film). As such, PopMatters’ celebration of Night of the Living Dead is likely to become an important contribution to the cultural examination of this classic horror flick.


PopMatters’ collection of articles are offered on five daily installments this week. Each day is dedicated to the exploration of a specific theme: the origins, meanings, ideology, legacy, and influence of Night of the Living Dead.


Clearly, the fact that a 40 year-old film continues to attract such a huge level of attention from fans, critics, and scholars, is the best testimony of Romero’s brilliance. Thus, this special feature not only commemorates the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, but also celebrates the inspiring work of Romero, without a doubt one of the greatest directors in the history of motion pictures.


Welcome and enjoy the ride… but before you proceed, please do not forget to board doors and windows… just in case.


* * *


This special feature is edited by Marco Lanzagorta, PopMatters’ in-house horror expert. A long time contributor to PopMatters, Marco incisively explores the hidden history and cultural meanings of horror cinema in his monthly column, Dread Reckoning.  Marco received a PhD from Oxford University, holds an affiliate professorship at George Mason University, and works as a scientist for a major research laboratory in Washington, DC.

Sunday, October 26 2008

Day 1: Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning of the End

Day 1 of PopMatters’ celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead begins with a brief introduction especially written by Romero for this collection. Following Romero’s lead, our first series of essays concentrate on the possible origins and inspirations that eventually led Romero to create such a masterwork of the horror genre. These essays put this landmark film into context, comparing its visual and narrative structure to other films of the era. This exploration proves valuable to understand why Night of the Living Dead became – and remains -- so popular since its original theatrical release.


Monday, October 27 2008

Day 2: Understanding the Undead

Few would disagree that Night of the Living Dead is one of the most important and talked about films in the history of cinema. On our second day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that give a rationale as to why, after 40 years, Night of the Living Dead continues to provide a frightful and nightmarish viewing experience.


Tuesday, October 28 2008

Day 3: Reanimation Politics

The race and patriarchal subtexts of Night of the Living Dead deeply resonated with the torrid social and cultural landscape of that bleak period in American history. As such, no discussion of Night of the Living Dead can be complete without considering these important issues. On our third day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that discuss issues related to race conflict and phallic control.


Wednesday, October 29 2008

Day 4: A Zombie is Forever

On our fourth day of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters presents six articles that discuss the everlasting legacy of Romero’s zombie masterwork. As such, these contributions help us understand why Night of the Living Dead continues to be of relevance to modern audiences.


Thursday, October 30 2008

Day 5: The Undead as a Life-changing Experience

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.


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