Guy Maddin is a filmmaker almost invariably overlooked in the consideration of zombie films. This essay aims to right that wrong, not only by dredging up multiple clear instances where Maddin has explicitly employed the tropes of zombie films in his work, but also in demonstrating that, in fact, the entire cinematic corpus of Winnipeg‘s most celebrated filmmaker is predicated upon exhumation, on and off the screen. Maddin is forever resurrecting long dead film aesthetics, language, genres, performance styles and even entire lost films, whilst ever privileging an aesthetic of impossible material agedness and decomposition. His is a cinema full of somnambulists, amnesiacs and entranced obsessives whose actions resurrect elements of Maddin‘s often traumatic autobiography. It is a cinema absolutely bursting at the seams with zombie-ism and undeath. Maddin himself will be positioned both as zombie and zombie master, à la Bela Lugosi‘s ‚Murder‘ Legendre in White Zombie (Victor Halperin, 1932). Moreover, his cinephilic audience, extensible to all cinephile audiences, will be implicated in zombie-ism as well. Ultimately at stake in this essay is nothing less than an argument for cinephilia as an entirely zombie fascination, with Maddin, one of the most cinephilic of all filmmakers, providing the perfect springboard for this argument. Along the way, analogues for Maddin’s zombie film practices will be explored variously in the limitations of method acting, in the writing of Laura Mulvey and in the vexing matter of film canons.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!