The 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.
The Setting of Night of the Living Dead
In George 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.
The Setting of AMC’s The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is one of the few shows that sill uses 16mm film. The reason for this is that 16mm film is grainier. The world takes on a grittier feel–more organic.
The next time you watch the show, look at the colours. They are muted, emphasizing the bleakness of the world. They use a technique called desaturation; they basically drain the colour. Along with the colour, they drain the world of the show of its transcendence. Unlike saturation, which adds life and vitality to colour, the leaves in TWD leaves are not as green, and the sky is not as blue as reality, or even in other television shows.
The net effect of all this is that the world “feels” far more immanent. The trees, buildings and people are far from suffused with a transcendent glow.
Next Zombie post: Where do zombies come from?