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The Horror of the Body

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2013 at 5:22 am

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The zombies are an abject horror in themselves, but what they do to their victims is even more horrifying.  Zombie movies contain scenes with spurting blood and biting of flesh; they also show us the ingestion of slippery entrails and bloody organs.  The zombie is a monster for our time in that it exploits the fear that, in the absence of any transcendent meaning, we are nothing but vulnerable, and soon to be dead, flesh.

Stephan Asma describes how modern horror focuses on “the subjective revulsion and terror of the flesh” because, in the absence of the transcendent, there is a terror in “all things biological” (198).  The bodily violence in the zombie films exploits the vulnerability we feel as biological beings by objectifying our bodies.  In his analysis of Night of the Living Dead, Russell emphasizes how “Romero never lets us forget that this is a film about the body.  Or to be more accurate, the horror of the body” (67):

Romero demonstrates the essential frailty of human flesh, repeatedly showing the violent capacities fingernails, teeth, knives, and bullets have to reduce living tissue to bleeding inert flesh.  By objectifying the human body in such a graphic manner, Romero relentlessly dissolves the boundaries between the living and the dead, the human and the zombie, and the living beings and intimate products. (Russell 138)

The violence done to bodies, both of the living and the undead, forces modern residents of the closed immanent frame to consider the possibility that the human body may be “nothing more than meat, aligning human beings unapologetically with stockyard animals and game” (133).

This is a scarey idea, indeed.

Next zombie post: Death ain’t what it used to be.