•  
  •  
 

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5738-3522 Cieślak Magdalena

Abstract

Since their first screen appearances in the 1930s, zombies have enjoyed immense cinematic popularity. Defined by Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead as mindless, violent, decaying and infectious, they successfully function as ultimate fiends in horror films. Yet, even those morbid undead started evolving into more appealing, individualized and even sympathetic characters, especially when the comic potential of zombies is explored. To allow a zombie to become a romantic protagonist, however, one that can love and be loved by a human, another evolutionary step had to be taken, one fostered by a literary association.

This paper analyzes Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, a 2013 film adaptation of Isaac Marion’s zombie novel inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It examines how Shakespeare’s Romeo helps transform the already evolved cinematic zombie into a romantic protagonist, and how Shakespearean love tragedy, with its rich visual cinematic legacy, can successfully locate a zombie narrative in the romantic comedy convention. Presenting the case of Shakespeare intersecting the zombie horror tradition, this paper illustrates the synergic exchanges of literary icons and the cinematic monstrous.

Keywords

Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo Juliet, zombedy

References

Abbott, Stacey. Undead Apocalypse. Vampires and Zombies in the Twenty-first Century. Edinburgh UP, 2016. https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694907.001.0001

Bishop, Kyle William. American Zombie Gothic. The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture. McFarland, 2010.

Bishop, Kyle William. “‘I always wanted to see how the other half lives’: The Contemporary Zombie as Seductive Proselyte.” The Zombie Renaissance in Popular Culture, edited by Laura Hubner, Marcus Leaning and Paul Manning, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 26–38. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137276506_3

Bishop, Kyle William. “Vacationing in Zombieland: The Classical Functions of the Modern Zombie Comedy.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, vol. 22, no. 1, 2011, pp. 24–38.

Cieślak, Magdalena. “Zombie Mayhem in Austen’s Hertfordshire— Intersectionality of Class and Gender Politics in Burr Steers’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” The Postworld In-Between Utopia and Dystopia: Intersectional, Feminist, and Non-Binary Approaches in 21st Century Speculative Literature and Culture, edited by Katarzyna Ostalska and Tomasz Fisiak, Routledge, forthcoming.

Cocarla, Sasha. “A Love Worth Un-Undying For: Neoliberalism and Queered Sexuality in Warm Bodies.” Zombies and Sexuality: Essays on Desire and the Living Dead, edited by Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones, McFarland, 2014, pp. 52–72.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, edited by J. J. Cohen, U of Minnesota P, 1996, pp. 3–25. https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctttsq4d.4

Comentale, Edward P., and Aaron Jaffe. Introduction. The Year’s Work at the Zombie Research Center, edited by Edward P. Comentale and Aaron Jaffe, Indiana UP, 2014, pp. 1–58.

Dawn of the Dead. Directed by George A. Romero, performances by David Emge and Kay Foree, Laurel Group, 1978.

Day of the Dead. Directed by George A. Romero, performances by Lori Cardille and Terry Alexander, UFDC, 1985.

Desmet, Christie. “Dramas of Recognition: Pan’s Labyrinth and Warm Bodies as Accidental Shakespeare.” Shakespeare/Not Shakespeare, edited by Christie Desmet, Natalie Loper and Jim Casey, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 275–91. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63300-8_16

Fido. Directed by Andrew Currie, performances by Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss, Lions Gate Films, 2006.

Földváry, Kinga. Cowboy Hamlets and Zombie Romeos. Shakespeare in Genre Film. Manchester UP, 2020. https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526142108

Hubner, Laura, Marcus Leaning, and Paul Manning. Introduction. The Zombie Renaissance in Popular Culture, edited by Laura Hubner, Marcus Leaning and Paul Manning, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 3– 14. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137276506_1

Hutchings, Peter. “Theatres of Blood.” Gothic Shakespeares, edited by John Drakakis and Dale Townsend, Routledge, 2008, pp. 155–66.

I Am Legend. Directed by Francis Lawrence, performances by Alice Braga and Will Smith, Warner Bros, 2007.

iZombie. Created by Diane Ruggiero-Wright and Rob Thomas, Spondoolie Productions, 2015–19.

Land of the Dead. Directed by George A. Romero, performances by Asia Argento and John Leguizamo, Universal Pictures, 2005.

Luckhurst, Roger. Zombies: A Cultural History. Reaktion, 2015.

Marion, Isaac. Warm Bodies. Atria Paperback, 2011.

Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend. Tor, 2007.

McFarland, James. “Philosophy of the Living Dead: At the Origin of the Zombie-Image.” Cultural Critique, vol. 90, 2015, pp. 22–63. https://doi.org/10.5749/culturalcritique.90.2015.0022

Murphy, Bernice. “Imitations of Life: Zombies and the Suburban Gothic.” Better Off Dead. The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human, edited by Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro, Fordham UP, 2011, pp. 116– 38. https://doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823234462.003.0009

Night of the Living Dead. Directed by George A. Romero, performances by Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea, Image Ten See, 1968.

Peirce, Alison. After Dracula: The 1930s Horror Film. I. B. Tauris, 2013. https://doi.org/10.5040/9780755698202

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Directed by Burr Steers, performances by Lily James and Sam Riley, Cross Creek Pictures, 2016.

Romeo and Juliet. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, performances by Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, BHE Films, 1968.

Romeo Must Die. Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, performances by Aaliyah and Jet Li, Warner Bros., 2000.

Ruthven, Andrea. “Zombie Postfeminism.” The Year’s Work at the Zombie Research Center, edited by Edward P. Comentale and Aaron Jaffe, Indiana UP, 2014, pp. 341–60.

Santa Clarita Diet. Created by Victor Fresco, Garfield Grove Productions, 2017–19.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. http://shakespeare.mit.edu/romeo_juliet/index.html accessed 2021.

Shaun of the Dead. Directed by Edgar Wright, performances by Kate Ashfield and Simon Pegg, Rogue Pictures, 2004.

The Cured. Directed by David Freyne, performances by Sam Keeley and Elliot Page, Bac Films, 2017.

Warm Bodies. Directed by Jonathan Levine, performances by Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, Summit Entertainment, 2013.

West Side Story. Directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, performances by Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood, The Mirisch Corporation, 1961.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, performances by Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, Bazmark Films, 1996.

World War Z. Directed by Marc Forster, performances by Mireille Enos and Brad Pitt, Paramount Pictures, 2013.

Zombieland. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, performances by Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone, Columbia Pictures, 2009.

First Page

157

Last Page

177

Language

eng

Share

COinS