The Living and the Undead

The Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 408
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    The Living and the Undead
    Book Description:

    With a legacy stretching back into legend and folklore, the vampire in all its guises haunts the film and fiction of the twentieth century and remains the most enduring of all the monstrous threats that roam the landscapes of horror. In The Living and the Undead, Gregory A. Waller shows why this creature continues to fascinate us and why every generation reshapes the story of the violent confrontation between the living and the undead to fit new times. _x000B__x000B_Examining a broad range of novels, stories, plays, films, and made-for-television movies, Waller focuses upon a series of interrelated texts: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897); several film adaptations of Stoker's novel; F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922); Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (1954); Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot (1975); Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979); and George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1979). All of these works, Waller argues, speak to our understanding and fear of evil and chaos, of desire and egotism, of slavish dependence and masterful control. This paperback edition of The Living and the Undead features a new preface in which Waller positions his analysis in relation to the explosion of vampire and zombie films, fiction, and criticism in the past twenty-five years.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09033-2
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    • CHAPTER 1 Stories of the Living and the Undead
      (pp. 3-26)

      The disease continues, even though we know the simple objects traditionally required to effect a cure: cross, garlic, and stake—sacred talisman, natural herb, and forged weapon. The vampire lives—as Transylvanian aristocrat, seductive siren, anonymous walking dead, superior natural creature, or satanic master-villain, even as bumbling anachronism or as cultured, romantic hero or as troubled, isolated victim of immortality. Such distinctions, however, have little value for Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the prototypical vampire hunter first introduced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Van Helsing refers to his antagonists simply as the “Un-Dead”—in contrast to both the living and the...

  6. PART ONE: The Moral Community and the King-Vampire
    • CHAPTER 2 Into the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 29-74)

      Written at nearly the beginning of our century, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) is the single most influential of all stories of the living and the undead; indeed, it is among the most influential of all horror stories. Yet Stoker’s novel is not the first such story published in English—that distinction is generally accorded to John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). Dracula is not even the only Victorian vampire story to be adapted for the movies and to be often reprinted in the twentieth century, for there is Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871), which today remains much more than a long-forgotten...

  7. PART TWO: Dracula Retold
    • CHAPTER 3 Dracula: The Vampire Play (1927), Dracula (1931), and Dracula (1979)
      (pp. 77-112)

      One of the most obvious yet most interesting and significant ironies as vampire stories move from the nineteenth into the twentieth century is that, for all of the efforts of Stoker’s moral community, Count Dracula lives, rising in film and fiction after his absolute destruction at the end of Stoker’s Dracula, then suffering another “true death” in Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston’s Dracula: The Vampire Play (1927), Tod Browning’s Universal film, Dracula (1931), and Terence Fisher’s Hammer film, Horror of Dracula (1958), among other works that would conclude the saga of the King-Vampire once and for all. As quickly...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 4 Horror of Dracula, Hammer’s Dracula Films, El Conde Dracula
      (pp. 113-145)

      In red Gothic letters the opening credits of Terence Fisher’s Horror of Dracula (released in America in 1958, released in England in 1957 with the title Dracula) appear superimposed over a stone statue of a hawk, quite possibly intended to represent Dracula, the aristocratic predator. After the last credit disappears, the camera moves down toward a formidable recessed door, the entrance to an underground chamber. A dissolve carries us through the door and inside the confined, gray crypt to a stone sarcophagus bearing the nameplate “Dracula.” From above, off screen, bright red blood drips onto the letters, signaling the beginning...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 5 Dracula (1973) and Count Dracula (1977)
      (pp. 146-174)

      Between the release of Jess Franco’s El Conde Dracula and John Badham’s Dracula come the other two film versions of Stoker’s novel that appeared during the 1970s, Dan Curtis’s Dracula (1973) and Philip Saville’s Count Dracula (1977), both of which were originally produced for television. Neither Curtis nor Saville rely on Dracula: The Vampire Play as a source, and their adaptations of Dracula are less dependent on the Hammer tradition than is Franco’s film. Like Saville, Curtis and screenwriter Richard Matheson (whose novel, I Am Legend, I will consider in chapter 7) return directly to Stoker’s novel for dialogue, details...

  8. PART THREE: The Sacrifice of the Pure-Hearted Seer
    • CHAPTER 6 Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror and Nosferatu the Vampyre
      (pp. 177-230)

      Two major films, arguably the most interesting and accomplished cinematic retellings of Stoker’s Dracula, are noticeably absent from my survey in the previous three chapters: F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror [1922], hereafter referred to as Nosferatu) and Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu, Phantom of the Night [1979], hereafter referred to as Nosferatu the Vampyre, the title used in its American release). Because Prana films, the company that produced Nosferatu, did not purchase the screen rights to Stoker’s Dracula, Murnau and screenwriter Henrik Galeen—at least in part to circumvent potential...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  9. PART FOUR: Legions of the Undead
    • CHAPTER 7 The Invasion of America
      (pp. 233-271)

      Almost all of the works I have discussed, from Stoker’s Dracula to Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, involve a journey to (even an invasion of) the modern, Western European world by the undead, though Herzog’s film and several of the adaptations of Dracula—unlike Stoker’s novel—are set in the past rather than the present. This journey to modern civilization is a recurrent motif in recent stories of the living and the undead.¹ In Clive Donner’s farcical Old Dracula (1974), for example, the Count’s trip to “swinging” London is played for laughs, as the modem metropolis offers attractions far stranger and...

    • CHAPTER 8 Land of the Living Dead
      (pp. 272-328)

      As in The Thing, in Night of the Living Dead we learn more and more as the film progresses about the nature of the monster—its particular strengths and weaknesses, its motivation, its origin, and the type of threat it poses to man. In this respect our situation approximates that of the besieged human beings in George Romero’s film, to whom each new piece of information about the undead (beyond the simple information about how to destroy the monster) only prolongs the nightmare and lessens the chance that the living will survive. Unlike Stoker’s Dracula and most other vampire stories,...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 9 Resolution, Violence, Survival
      (pp. 331-360)

      Like all stories of the living and the undead, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead present us with images of death and of life unnaturally prolonged, and they address our understanding of, desire for, and apprehensions about closure and resolution. Dawn of the Dead, which depicts the end of American society, provides an open ending that answers and even qualifies the closed ending of Night of the Living Dead, which concludes with the restoration of official order. The distinction between the open and the closed, however, only begins to explain the differences between the concluding sequences...

  11. Appendix: Précis of Dracula: The Vampire Play
    (pp. 361-362)
  12. Index
    (pp. 363-376)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 377-379)