September 3rd, 2013
Brief and hasty thoughts after listening to this rather interesting Roundtable Discussion from 2011 on Romero’s Dawn of the Dead…
[You already know if vague meanderings about zombie movies are your thing so stop here or shuffle on as you prefer.]
Ballard (Mentioned in discussion c. –40 mins)
An interesting avenue of conjecture lies in imagining a conclusion to Dawn and it’s central private shopping mall utopian imaginary, minus the aggressive intervention of Blades, Sledge and the rest of the biker gang (see below) which provokes the films dramatic finale. The inevitable outcome here is mentioned already during the roundtable: pure Ballard.
Left to fester in the mall, the survivors’ molecular neosuburbia would have atomised rapidly, losing its structure to the dissipating pull of mathematical entropy as our survivors retreated further and further retreating into their private dystopian interiors:
Francine behind the false wall of their enclave, nursing her baby, perched upon a nest of ripped-up cardboard boxes.
Peter burrowing ever deeper into the mall’s guts, crawling the ventilation shafts and access hatches, digging at the walls and chewing the electric cables.
Stephen with his weathered flight jacket, binoculars and empty rifle, stalking the rooftop, unable to return to the plastic vaulted sky below.
The shops lying terrifying and empty again, except for when the moon is full and Fran and Pete would meet on the main concourse to fuck, while Stephen peers through the skylight.
Zombie children (c. –23 mins)
This scene is recapitulated in 28 Days Later, in which Cillian Murphy’s character walks through almost exactly the same scene, killing a rage-infected child, out of sight of his fellow survivors. Boyle/Garland choose this taboo-within-a-taboo as a key turning point for his character, beyond which he kills no more of the infected victims, choosing instead to identify with them and eventually adopting their methods as a means of overcoming the remnant militarism of dead Britain.
This seems to suggest dead children as given cause and justification for the entwined problems/solutions each film poses and represents: GET MAD=GO ZOMBIE
Bikers (c. –15mins)
Led by Tom Savini himself, who used the …Dead movies to transfigure his traumatic memories of Vietnam War horror into celluloid spectacle, thereby changing the decomposing face of cinema forever, the biker gang within the film’s model represent the coming intrusion of post-Fordist labout and neoliberal capital, crashing the postwar party of settled and endless bourgeois plenty.
The bikers are literally deterritorialised – piratical and nomadic – and better adapted to survive within the available niches of the postapocalyptic ecology than our bored and barricaded survivors: they are playful with the undead, having developed new perversions and sexual subjectivities with the zombies (and mannequins) as their focus.
Despite their anarchic surface and apparent disdain for the commodified desires and familiar comforts of the hastily re-improvised nuclear family, they are only interested in the mall for what they can extract from it. Their belief in might-makes-right and reinscription of archaic gender roles makes the vision of a human future where they are most fit uncomfortably primitive…