A Social Zombie: The Performative Nature of Contemporary (British) Zombie Cinema Fandom

  • Shanaz Shakir


It may be tempting to brush zombies aside as irrelevant, pop cultural ephemera but zombies have followed vampires out, through film and into wider culture, as icon and metaphor. Zombie popular culture, in addition to movies, books, and video games includes individuals routinely donning complex homemade costumes to march in zombie walks and/or engage in role-playing games like Humans vs. Zombies (See companies like Zed events <http://www.zedevents.co.uk> paintballing, or airsofting). There is even a mobile phone application circulating around college and university campuses, that purportedly helps new students get to know each other through role-playing a zombie-themed game of tag (other mobile phone applications include Zombie, Run! which is a combination of pedometer, GPS, scary soundtrack & zombie newscasts to make jogging fun). This is not to mention zombie related merchandise, (for example undead teds <http://www.undeadteds.com> and living dead dolls <http://www.livingdeaddolls.com>) zombie music, (for example, Rob Zombie, White Zombie & Zombina and the Skeletones) and zombie fan-sites (all things zombie <http://allthingszombie.com> and the Zombie Media Database <http://www.zmdb.org>). The ways in which the cinematic spectatorship of the zombie has transformed, extending the spatial, experiential, interactive and phenomenological understanding of horror cinema within the digital context is an interesting one. In particular the relationship between bodies, spaces and technologies provides a philosophical interrogation of contemporary zombie experience. The performance-centric nature of this new zombie fandom can be seen as a new formulation of cinematic immersion and a new notion of interactive play.


In this article I examine the ethnographic case study of combat-ops-UK’s airsofting (paintball, without the paint) event - The Hungry Games - in which I performed zombification. I explore how such fan practices enhance the possibilities of cinematic fandom, interrogating the use of new media technologies in enhancing the pleasures (and terrors) that performing as a zombie or zombie-victim add to the cinematic experience.




Horror, Film, Movies, Zombies, Zombie, Dead, Corpse, Living, Walking, British

August 30, 2015
How to Cite
Shakir, S. (2015). A Social Zombie: The Performative Nature of Contemporary (British) Zombie Cinema Fandom. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 8(5). https://doi.org/10.31165/nk.2015.85.396