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Christian Fröhlich: Purification of the City and the Uprising of the Dead – The “Ausnahmezustand” in postmodern horror films

The urban cinema is a place, where constantly the “Ausnahmezustand” is imagined. And no film genre like the horror film has materialized this state on the screen more impressively. The imagination of the breakdown of normal dynamics of life and the presence of a “state of emergency”, where no usual rights are in charge, especially not the right of physical integrity, plays a crucial role in these films. But also “states of exception” are imagined, when existing norms of behavior, of social relations and cultural practices are challenged by the breakthrough of a threat.

The overcoming of the individual self in the state of overcoming of urban, rational and well ruled life by volatile threats not only addresses the emotional, spectacular side of urban entertainment, but also expresses different criticism on urban life style, which articulates itself in cause and form of the “Ausnahmezustand”.

The paper wants to exemplify these thoughts by short analysis of mostly Zombie films, like Mulberry Street (2006), 28 Days later (2002) , Night of the living Dead (1968), but also genre hybrids like The Signal (2007), The Omega-Man (1971) and Rabid (1977). It will be shown, how the films articulate a certain cause of the “Ausnahmezustand” and how the process of salvation challenges common urban lifestyle.

About the Author

Christian Fröhlich studied Sociology and Cultural Studies at Leipzig University (Germany) and at St. Petersburg State University (Russia) between 2000 and 2006. The main focus of his studies lies in the Sociology of Culture. He participated in several research projects about cultural differences concerning attitudes and values in different societies. Currently, he holds a Ph.D. Scholarship by Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation for his Ph.D. research fellowship at the Institute for Cultural Studies, Leipzig University. Furthermore he works since several years as a freelance film journalist.

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