Modernity’s fatal addictions
Rechnological necromancy and E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire
in The Gothic and death
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Taking as its point of focus E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2000), a cinematic mise-en-abîme homage to, and a self-referential twenty-first century commentary on F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, this essay examines vampire cinema as an emblem of ‘technological necromancy’ that mediates our ambivalent responses to modernity, its proliferating technologies, and death in the wake of the secularising Enlightenment whose driving ideal – rational empiricism – undermined long established Christian certainties about the existence and nature of a soul and an afterlife. This essay reads Shadow as a compelling and sedimented, twenty-first century meditation on the nefarious, desensitizing impact of our cultural addiction to visual technologies, in which the vampire is used to mirror its audience. Shadow is also assessed as an interrogation of the gender and racial politics of cinematic spectatorship – particularly the influence and impact of pornography and propaganda cinema.

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