Like a Child Playing Dress-up? Genre, Authorship and Pastiche in Doomsday

By Daniel O'Brien

Doomsday (2008) is a British-American-German co-production written and directed by Neil Marshall, who established his career and reputation with the horror films Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005). While Marshall’s earlier work exhibits a relatively stable genre identity, Doomsday, an apocalyptic action film, is notable for its assemblage of cross-generic elements and could be viewed as a pronounced example of genre hybridism. First, I argue that Doomsday is more usefully examined as a point of intersection for debates on genre and authorship that can be traced to the origins of the former as a reaction against auteur theory. In other words, the film invites readings in terms of both genre and authorship, yet proves resistant to both, underlining its perceived ‘failings’ but also the limitations of these forms of analysis. My methodology also draws on reception studies, informed by the critical response to the film, and secondly, I argue that Doomsday, while playing with genre tropes and authorial ‘marks’, is also referencing and quoting from specific films, and that these references and quotes are intended to be perceived as such by the viewer. While Doomsday can be read as a parody of the cited film texts, it operates rather as pastiche, or aesthetic imitation, through which its disparate aspects achieve accommodation and coherence.

Much early English-language writing on film genre dates from the late 1960s and early 1970s, in response to film criticism that focused on the director as auteur1 and treated popular art as high culture.2 There are problematic aspects to genre scholarship, such as a bias towards American productions and an incompatibility of theoretical and industrial terms,3 yet it is regarded widely as a key component of film studies. Debates on genre tend to identify a series of distinct categories (such as the western or the musical) and Richard Maltby notes how a given genre may exhibit distinctive “thematic, iconographic, narrative, and political propensities”.4 For example, a western may be identified by its setting (historical and geographical), costumes, props, music, sound effects, character types, story elements and thematic or ideological concerns.While the division of films according to their appointed genres suggests a relatively straightforward process of categorisation, generic purity is a theoretical construct rather than an actuality.5 Thus, a given film can draw on a number of genres rather than belong exclusively to just one. Dog Soldiers,for example, while identifying and identified with the horror genre, features elements associated with the war film. Concepts of genre also draw on extra-filmic factors, a process described by Steve Neale as “inter-textual relay”, involving the circulation of generic images, labels, terms and names across various media forms, whether studio publicity, exhibitors’ advertising campaigns, fan magazines or press reviews.6 Publicity for The Descent includes the line “Scream Your Last Breath”, placing the film unambiguously in the horror genre and its associated predicted/desired audience response. Thus a western or horror film can be characterised as a cinematic narrative consisting of distinct and standardised ingredients but is equally a film identified, marketed, exhibited and received as a ‘western’ or ‘horror film’.7

Neale argues that genres consist not only of films but also of “specific systems of expectation and hypothesis” on the part of the spectator.8 These systems give audiences a means of recognising and understanding the films they watch, involving what Neale terms “regimes of verisimilitude”.9 Neale identifies two types of verisimilitude, generic and social or cultural. Some genres appeal to cultural verisimilitude, such as the gangster, crime or war film, invoking notions of realism, which links to Barry Langford’s concept of “unmarked verisimilitudes”, such as the laws of physics, “whose observance can simply be taken for granted and establishes the continuity of the generic world with that of the spectator”.10 Therefore, while a gangster film may contain elements far removed from the experiences of most viewers, it operates in a recognisably ‘real’ world and will not introduce aspects contrary to this realism.Other genres, Neale states, such as science fiction and horror, make little or no appeal to authenticity, operating largely in terms of generic verisimilitude.11 Suspending or flouting the laws of science or nature, as Langford notes, “may form a basic and recognised element of the verisimilitude of an outer-space science fiction film”.12 I contend that all genres invoke at least an element of authenticity, if only as a point of departure. Nevertheless, I concur with Neale that it is these generically verisimilar elements of the science fiction or horror film that “constitute its pleasure” and attract audiences.13

As noted, Neil Marshall established his career as a filmmaker working in the horror genre. James Leggott cites the latter as one the dominant popular genres in British cinema from the mid-1990s onwards.14 From this perspective, Marshall was following a pre-existing industry trend with commercial potential in both the domestic and international markets. Both Dog Soldiers and The Descent employ, or comply with, visual, aural, narrative and thematic tropes associated predominantly with horror, though by no means exclusive to this form. Doomsday, however, draws on horror, science fiction, disaster film, melodrama, cop film, thriller, war film and medieval quest. This approach can be read as a questioning or subverting of the concept of genre categories, and as highlighting the hybrid nature of popular cinema as a whole. The film’s play with genre labels is initially motivated and legitimised with a coherent if tokenistic narrative structure. Doomsday begins as horror-inflected dystopian science fiction, then segues into a rogue cop movie while retaining its futuristic trappings through such devices as a mobile artificial eye/camera. The main character is then drawn into political conspiracy, arguably a subgenre in itself, which necessitates a military-scientific expedition depicted with clear reference to the war film. The coherence of this multi-genre approach falters with a switch into medieval fantasy which seems barely explained let alone motivated (why has this society regressed so far in a relatively short period?). This transition is anticipated through such devices as the soldiers’ body armour, a dungeon and instruments of torture, ancient weapons and a brief bout of swordplay. These visual cues do not however enable the kind of smooth generic shift seen earlier in the film, despite the appearance of an important, previously unseen character and intercutting with scenes in near-future London.

It could be argued that Doomsday is employing a strategy intended to emphasise rather than disguise the hybrid and even arbitrary nature of genre categories and labels, culminating in the calculatedly absurd medieval scenes. Alternatively, the film is unwilling or unable to construct a stable genre identity, at least in a form with wide audience appeal, reflected in its commercial failure. Budgeted at around US$30 million, considerably more than Dog Soldiers and The Descent, Doomsday grossed just over US$22.2 million in cinemas worldwide.15 Even allowing for television and home video sales, this was a disappointing response which arguably damaged Marshall’s career. To date he has made only one subsequent feature film, Centurion (2010), a Romans versus Picts drama which also underperformed in cinemas.16 Marshall’s move away from the horror genre, and thus from his identity as a genre filmmaker, has seemingly compromised his opportunities to work in mainstream feature films and his career is currently focused on television. Whatever the restrictions of being labelled and promoted as a horror director, there are commercial advantages to this form of identification.

While Marshall’s faltering box-office success has undoubtedly impacted on his career, his profile as a distinctive filmmaker with identifiable thematic preoccupations and stylistic consistency has survived and, arguably, been enhanced by his shift away from the horror genre. Making a case for Marshall as an auteur on the basis of four films is problematic yet his work conforms to or may at least be mapped onto notions of authorship. Debates on authorship in relation to cinema have usually centered on the director and ideas of personal expression. As Peter Wollen states, the concept of the auteur is linked to the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, which promoted the politique des auteurs during the 1950s, albeit in haphazard fashion.17 In English language debates, the auteur figure was taken up by American critic Andrew Sarris, who transformed the original Cahiers polemic into what he considered to be a precise theoretical framework.18 The auteur theory, or policy, permitted specific filmmakers to be aligned with the romantic, and romanticised, principles of individual creativity despite working in a medium that was by its nature “collective, commercial, industrial and popular”.19 From the start, aspects of auteur theory were disputed, challenged and revised but, as Pam Cook notes, the argument that the director is an important originator of meaning “remained relevant to debate in film studies”.20 The concept of the auteur, however contentious, retains at least a measure of its currency in terms of film scholarship and wider cultural debates.

Caughie notes how, according to auteur theory, “a film, though produced collectively, is most likely to be valuable when it is essentially the product of its director”.21 The notion of value is problematic in terms of mainstream cinema: what kind of value is being assessed?; commercial, aesthetic, cultural or social value?; how is this value to be measured? However, Marshall’s status as the writer, director, and, in the cases of Dog Soldiers and Doomsday, editor of his films permits him to be considered the prime creator of these works, at least in terms of promotion and reception. The opening credits for The Descent proclaim it “A Neil Marshall Film”, asserting his status in definite terms. Furthermore, if Marshall’s films do not exhibit the “manifestations of unique personal genius” Cook ascribes to the auteur, they do display traces of the “homogenous personal world-view” also required of the director as author.22 In terms of auteur tropes, Marshall’s films, including Doomsday, are notable for their balance of suspense and violence, but also a preoccupation with Britain and Britishness, hostile landscapes, human recklessness and corruption, unconventional family groups, and female characters whose warrior qualities are unleashed through physical and mental ordeals. He also plays with genre elements and preconceptions. While Doomsday, in my view, exhibits and develops Marshall’s thematic interests, introducing a female character with a more subtle strength than his tough heroines, it was not received in this way. Like The Descent, Doomsday was promoted as “A Neil Marshall Film”, yet neither met expectations raised by his previous work nor offered, in the view of many critics, a coherent stylistic or thematic progression, exacerbating its problematic shift away from ‘straight’ horror.

Doomsday may, nevertheless, be usefully analysed through reception studies, which, as Barbara Klinger states, “examine a network of relationships between a film or filmic element (such as a star), adjacent inter-textual fields such as censorship, exhibition practices, star publicity and reviews, and the dominant or alternative ideologies of society at a particular time”.23 Whatever the intentions of the filmmakers, financiers, publicists or distributors, the meaning or significance of a film is not fixed or stable once it enters into public circulation.24 Its reception in a given market is dependent on an ever-changing multiplicity of interrelated factors.25 It is important to acknowledge the limitations and constraints of reception studies. As Paul Willemen notes, extra-filmic contexts involve numerous historical, social, economic and cultural factors with roots dating back decades if not longer in some instances.26 More specifically, Klinger argues that the critical response to a film reveals only a part of its “social circulation” and the material it provides cannot be extrapolated into a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon.27 What such a study can do is to “tell us how that field produced meaning for the film and give us a partial view of its discursive surround”.28 Reviews, both in the mainstream press and in specialist publications, are potentially problematic in and of themselves. Issues of word limits, in-house style and target readership all play a part in shaping the published review.29 Allowing for these constraints, a review can be placed in comparative relation with other reviews generated from analogous circumstances. In this way similarities and differences “begin to be observable and potentially pertinent”.30

It is instructive to compare and contrast Doomsday’s generic mash-up with its promotion and reception, domestic and international. Both the British and US poster design suggest some uncertainty over how the film should be marketed. The British poster is dominated by the image of a spiked club, clutched in two hands, against a backdrop of flames and red sky. A feral gang are depicted on the lower left side of the poster yet their appearance does not clarify the film’s setting or genre type. The poster’s imagery connotes action of a violent and brutal nature, as does the tagline, “Survive This”, yet on the strength of this design the film could be set in the past (historical or mythical), the present or the future. The text highlights Marshall’s name but also clarifies his identity and achievements: “From the director of Dog Soldiers and The Descent”, underlining his association with the horror genre. The US poster features the punkish cannibal villains Sol and Viper alongside heroine Eden Sinclair, a lone wolf law enforcement officer. All three are associated with weaponry: pistols, spiked club and sword, connoting violent spectacle. Marshall’s name is not prominent, suggesting his negligible status Stateside as a promotional tool. The tagline “Mankind has an expiration date” hints at a present day or futuristic setting. In both instances there is little information by which to identify the type of film being sold. The text on the UK poster suggests another horror film from a known genre director, yet the imagery does not confirm this expectation to any significant degree. Unlike the UK design, the US poster highlights three of the characters, but does not place them in a readily identifiable context.

It is notable that the critical response to Doomsday, on both sides of the Atlantic, stressed not so much its genre(s) or status as “A Neil Marshall Film”, but rather its assemblage of elements lifted from other films. Titles cited by critics include the then recent 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002) and Underworld (Len Wiseman, 2003), along with older films such as The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971), The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979), Mad Max 2 (George Miller, 1981), Excalibur (John Boorman, 1981), Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, 1984), Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985), Aliens (James Cameron, 1986) and Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994). In addition to story elements and themes, these films and others are referenced in terms of scenes, dialogue, lighting, music, character names, vehicles, costumes and props. A commonly cited influence on Doomsday is the near-future action fantasy Escape from New York (John Carpenter, 1981), with its quarantined metropolis, corrupt politicking, feral gangs and one-eyed protagonist.

Broadly speaking, the critical reaction to Doomsday focuses on the legitimacy of Marshall’s extensive cinematic sampling, taking the latter as a given. An interesting response can be found in Cinefantastique, a US magazine covering horror, science fiction and fantasy cinema, and therefore, arguably, more attuned to the demands of the target audience than the mainstream press. Reviewing the film on 16 March, 2008, critic Steve Biodrowski gave a qualified approval to Marshall’s approach, comparing Doomsday to “a medley of greatest hits performed by a hot, young talent who brings a new vocal inflection to the tired, old standards […] creating something simultaneously familiar and new”.31 Nigel Floyd, writing in Time Out, on 6 May, 2008, also took a positive view of this ‘cover version’ approach: “Marshall, likewise, lashes together elements from ’80s post-apocalyptic movies such as ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Escape from New York’ to create a supercharged monster of a movie”. More neutral responses to Doomsday include Philip French’s review for the Observer on 11 May, 2008: “It’s 28 Days Later meets Escape from New York with Malcolm McDowell as a loony laird leading the Mad Macs”, encapsulating what he saw as the film’s main reference points. Andrew Robertson, writing in Eye for Film on 19 May, 2008, acknowledged Marshall’s “genuine love of classic Eighties action movies” but noted how “Doomsday nearly creaks under the weight of its references”.

For other critics, Marshall’s ‘greatest hits’ approach to Doomsday was nothing more than blatant and inferior imitation. New York Times critic Matt Zoller Seitz, on 15 March, 2008, criticised Doomsday as “so derivative that it doesn’t so much seem to reference its antecedents as try on their famous images like a child playing dress-up. Homage without innovation isn’t homage, it’s karaoke”. Jim Ridley, in Village Voice, on 18 March, 2008, described the film as cobbled together “in the manner of a junk-food glutton”, offering nothing “that wasn’t lifted from its context in a better movie”. Guardian critic Phelim O’Neill, on 9 May, 2008, identified the strategy of tribute in Doomsday, acknowledging Marshall’s astute choice of references, yet characterised the result as “pale imitation and jumble sale thrills”, with a plot that “clumsily lurches from one cribbed set piece to another”.32 Addressing Doomsday in terms of imitation, second handedness and outright plagiarism, these responses suggested the film neither required nor merited further analysis. This cinematic karaoke, to use Zoller Seitz’s term, invalidated Doomsday as an integrated text.

None of the reviews cited above address Doomsday in terms of parody, that is, the deliberate imitation or repetition of a specific text, or texts, with humorous intent. Ingeborg Hoesterey defines parody as “a work of literature or another art that imitates an existent piece which is well-known to its readers, viewers, or listeners with satirical, critical, or polemical intention”.33 Distinctive features of the original work are retained but with what Hoesterey terms “contrastive intention”.34 The clues, or cues, in the parodic text are decoded successfully by the intended audience which shares “certain assumptions or cultural codes with the encoder”.35 Much of the pleasure offered by parody derives from the violation of rigid norms or conventions and the transgression of boundaries.36 Richard Dyer states that parody always implies a negative evaluation of its referent,37 which I argue is not necessarily the case.

Aspects of Doomsday invite interpretation as parody, such as comedy Scotsmen dancing the can-can alongside svelte pole dancers. A long-haired punk gang member with white and blue make-up is clearly based on the medieval epic Braveheart (Mel Gibson, 1995), its heroic protagonist William Wallace and his war paint, which featured heavily in promotion for the film. This reference could be read as parodic, given the punk’s ineptitude as a fighter and his excessively gory demise, invoking Wallace’s grisly execution in Braveheart but played here for gross-out humour. The lengthy sequence set in a retro-medieval kingdom offers a more sustained parody of what Andrew Higson terms heritage cinema,38 ‘quality’ films recreating Britain’s past for middlebrow audiences, as with the gift shop sign in the castle and the mixing and matching of eras and cultures common to historical epics and sword-and-sorcery fantasies.

For the most part, however, Doomsday does not seek to parody its sources. I argue the film is more constructively read as pastiche, or aesthetic imitation, which like parody is dependent for its effect on the audience’s awareness and appreciation of the original work(s). Dyer defines pastiche as “a kind of imitation that you are meant to know is an imitation”, this knowledge being “central to its meaning and affect”.39 Marshall’s earlier films employ various cinematic and wider cultural references. Dog Soldiers invokes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, 1982), Aliens, Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970) and, especially, Zulu (Cy Endfield, 1964), while The Descent has passing references to the Tomb Raider video game series and, less overtly, The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) and The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982). These references are, however, fleeting and the films are not dependent on them to any significant degree. Even the repeated visual and aural nods to Zulu are sufficiently integrated into Dog Soldiers to function without viewer awareness of the source text. By contrast, Doomsday foregrounds this practice with a wealth of cinematic references clearly intended to be read as such. It is notable that Robertson’s review describes the film as pastiche, with the clear implication that this form is inherently inferior to tribute or homage, however these terms might be defined. For him, the references to films such as Escape from New York and Mad Max 2 cross some indeterminate point at which they become mere imitation or appropriation.

The tensions that play out in Doomsday between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ imitation invite comparisons with the cycle of futuristic urban breakdown/post-apocalypse action films produced in Italy during the early 1980s. Examples of this form include 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1990: I guerrieri del Bronx, Enzo G. Castellari, 1982), The New Barbarians (I nuovi barbari, Enzo G. Castellari, 1983), Endgame (Endgame – Bronx lotta finale, Joe D’Amato, 1983), The Final Executioner (L’ultimo guerriero, Romolo Guerrieri, 1984) and Rats: Night of Terror (Rats – Notte di terrore, Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso, 1984). These all exhibit, to whatever degree, a similar equivocation and tension between open, if unacknowledged imitation and calculated pastiche, most obviously in their borrowings from the Mad Max 2 and Escape from New York templates. Recurrent features include: desolate, corpse-strewn landscapes, urban and rural; pulsing, repetitive synthesiser scores; customised and/or armoured vehicles; fetishized weaponry ancient, modern and futuristic; set-pieces emphasising violent action, stunts and gore; punk-style extras and mix-and-match costume design; taciturn anti-heroes often dressed in black; hostile tribes or gangs, and corrupt totalitarian rulers. The above criteria can also be applied to Doomsday, despite the female lead, along with the pointedly open ending, as featured in Escape from New York and Mad Max 2 and also favoured by Italian films such as 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Endgame and Rats: Night of Terror.

The Italian films employ a strategy of imitation which can be termed qualified or compromised pastiche, in that the intention is more apparent than the achievement. The hero of Rats: Night of Terror is clearly modelled on Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken in Escape from New York and is even named Kurt (or ‘Kurk’ in some versions), yet the casting, costuming and scripting do not facilitate a sustained pastiche. More generally, the films masquerade as American product: as with the earlier peplum, spaghetti western and giallo cycles, they feature familiar American actors, budget permitting, while the Italian cast and, often, the crew employ anglicised or rather Americanised pseudonyms. There are hints of parodic intent, such as Kurt’s multi-barrelled gun in Rats: Night of Terror and the soldiers dressed like German SS troops in Endgame, yet these are isolated instances. In contrast to Doomsday, the imitation found in these Italian films is constrained and arguably shaped by a combination of economics and excess. The low budgets, technical limitations and linguistic disparities manifest in such recurrent features as ill-matched stock footage, substandard special effects, minimal takes and coverage, and the mechanical re-voicing of the actors. The pacing and editing arguably lack the precision found in the American and Australian originals or at least do not conform to the same standards. In terms of excess or deviation, the films feature imagery more extreme and/or absurd than that found in their source texts, whether in terms of graphic violence (incineration, decapitation and dismemberment) or character/design concepts, such as the simian and aqueous mutations in Endgame or the hero’s transparent plastic armour in The New Barbarians. The depiction of the hero in the Italian films can also transgress the acceptable limits established by Escape from New York and the Mad Max films, as when he kills an innocent man, albeit to save others (Endgame), or is raped by the villain (The New Barbarians). Taken together these factors mitigate against the sampled Italian films operating as sustained pastiche, successful or otherwise.

Doomsday, though made on a modest budget, is not constrained in this manner and its pastiche of multiple film texts is readily recognisable as such. Furthermore, an increased audience tolerance for extreme violence, in the context of fantasy action cinema, means that the ‘excessive’ gore that marked the Italian films is not an issue here. Discussing the wave of British gangster films led by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, 1998) and Snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000), Leggott argues that “knowing pastiche is achieved through self-reflexive strategies and one-dimensional characterisations”.40 Leaving aside the issue of characterisation, Doomsday exhibits a similar self-reflexive quality which enables it to function as a successful aesthetic imitation. I argue that Marshall’s film can be legitimately read, and therefore legitimised, as operating in the long-established and acknowledged cultural mode of pastiche. Furthermore, Dyer notes how the concept of genre is crucial to pastiche, which highlights “the savouring of generic elements as generic elements”.41 In referencing a substantial catalogue of film texts, Doomsday also invokes, and plays with, the genre tropes featured in these works and by extension the primary creators, or authors, of the films. Doomsday functions as a multi-generic, multi-authored medley, constructing its narrative and characters around pre-existing concepts in a form that highlights its sources to the point of near-replication. Reading Doomsday as pastiche enables an accommodation between its disparate generic and authorial aspects, and bestows coherence on an otherwise problematic text.


1 Steve Neale, Genre and Contemporary Hollywood (London: BFI Publishing, 2002), p. 1; Neale, Genre and Hollywood (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 10.

2 Christine Gledhill, ‘History of Genre Criticism’, in The Cinema Book. Third Edition, ed. Pam Cook (London: BFI, 2007), p. 252.

3 Richard Maltby quoted in Neale, Genre and Hollywood, p. 252; Maltby, Hollywood Cinema (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), p. 134.

4 Maltby, Hollywood Cinema, p. 123.

5 Cf. Barry Keith Grant, Film Genre. From Iconography to Ideology (London and New York: Wallflower, 2007), p. 23.

6 Neale, Genre and Hollywood, p. 40.

7 Cf. Rick Altman, Film/Genre (London: BFI, 1999), p. 14.

8 Neale, “Questions of Genre” Screen, Vol. 31, Issue 1 (Spring 1990): p. 46; cf. Grant, Film Genre. From Iconography to Ideology, p. 30.

9 Neale, ‘Questions of Genre’, p. 46.

10 Barry Langford, Film Genre. Hollywood and Beyond (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), p.15.

11 Neale, “Questions of Genre”, p. 47.

12 Langford, Film Genre. Hollywood and Beyond, pp. 15-6.

13 Neale, “Questions of Genre”, p. 48.

14 James Leggott, Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror (London and New York: Wallflower, 2008), p. 3.

15 Box-office Mojo <> [Accessed 07/02/2012].. By contrast, The Descent made $57 million worldwide. <> [Accessed 10/06/2014].

16 Centurion grossed US $6.8 million worldwide on a US $12 million budget. Box-office Mojo <> [Accessed 10/06/2014].

17 Peter Wollen, Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (London: Secker and Warberg, 1972), p. 74, 77.

18 Cook, The Cinema Book. Third Edition (London: BFI, 2007), p. 387.

19 John Caughie, Theories of Authorship (London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), p. 13.

20 Cook, The Cinema Book. Third Edition, p. 390.

21 Caughie, Theories of Authorship, p. 9.

22 Cook, “The point of self-expression in avant-garde film”, in Theories of Authorship, ed. Caughie, p. 273.

23 Barbara Klinger, “Film history terminable and interminable: recovering the past in reception studies” Screen Vol. 30, Issue 2 (Summer 1997): p. 108.

24 Miriam Hansen, “The mass production of the senses: classical cinema as vernacular modernism”, in Reinventing Film Studies, ed. Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams (London: Arnold, 2000), p. 341.

25 Hansen, “The mass production of the senses: classical cinema as vernacular modernism”, p. 341.

26 Paul Willemen, “Fantasy in Action”, in World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives, ed. Natasa Durovicova and Kathleen Newman (New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010), p. 250.

27 Klinger, “Film history terminable and interminable: recovering the past in reception studies”, p. 110.

28 Ibid.

29 Janet Staiger, “Reception Studies: The Death of the Reader,” in The Cinematic Text: Methods and Approaches, ed. R. Barton Palmer (New York: AMS Press), p. 362.

30 Ibid.

31 Steve Biodrowski, “Doomsday”, Cinefantastique, 16 March, 2008. <> [Accessed 30/12/13].

32 Phelim O’Neill, “Doomsday”, The Guardian, 9 May 2008. <> [Accessed 30/12/13].

33 Ingeborg Hoesterey, Pastiche. Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001), pp. 13-4; cf. Dan Harries, Film Parody (London: BFI Publishing, 2000), p. 26.

34 Hoestery, Pastiche. Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature, p. 14.

35 Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody. The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. xiii-iv.

36 Harries, Film Parody, p. 126.

37 Richard Dyer, Pastiche (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 23.

38 cf. Andrew Higson, English Heritage, English Cinema. Costume Drama Since 1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 248.

39 Dyer, Pastiche, p. 1, 4.

40 Leggott, Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror, p. 63.

41 Dyer, Pastiche, p. 104.


Notes on Contributor

Daniel O’Brien is a freelance writer and part-time tutor in film studies. He has contributed to encyclopaedias, dictionaries and other reference works, and produced articles and reviews for journals such as Film International. He has written books on such subjects as Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, British science fiction, Hong Kong horror movies, the Hannibal Lecter books and films, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig. His research interests include representations of masculinity, femininity and race on the screen, and popular European cinema. His monograph Classical Masculinity and the Spectacular Body on Film was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2014.



Altman, Rick. Film/Genre. London: BFI, 1999.

Biodrowski, Steve. ‘Doomsday’, Cinefantastique, 16 March, 2008. <> [Accessed 30/12/13].

Caughie, John (ed.). Theories of Authorship. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

Cook, Pam (ed.). The Cinema Book. Third Edition. London: BFI, 2007.

Cook, Pam. ‘The point of self-expression in avant-garde film’. In Theories of Authorship, edited by John Caughie, pp. 271-81. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

Dyer, Richard. Pastiche. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Gledhill, Christine. ‘History of Genre Criticism’. In The Cinema Book. Third Edition, edited by Pam Cook, pp. 252-9. London: BFI, 2007.

Grant, Barry Keith. Film Genre. From Iconography to Ideology. London and New York: Wallflower, 2007.

Hansen, Miriam. ‘The mass production of the senses: classical cinema as vernacular modernism’. In Reinventing Film Studies, edited by Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams, pp. 332-50. London: Arnold, 2000.

Harries, Dan. Film Parody. London: BFI Publishing, 2000.

Higson, Andrew. English Heritage, English Cinema. Costume Drama Since 1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hoesterey, Ingeborg. Pastiche. Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Parody. The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Klinger, Barbara. “Film history terminable and interminable: recovering the past in reception studies” Screen Vol. 30, Issue 2, Summer 1997: pp. 107-28.

Langford, Barry. Film Genre. Hollywood and Beyond. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

Leggott, James. Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror. London and New York: Wallflower, 2008.

Maltby, Richard. Hollywood Cinema. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.

Neale, Steve (ed.). Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. London: BFI Publishing, 2002.

———.Genre and Hollywood. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

———. “Questions of Genre” Screen Vol. 31, Issue 1, Spring 1990: pp. 45-66.

O’Neill, Phelim. ‘Doomsday’, The Guardian, 9 May, 2008. <> [Accessed 30/12/13].

Staiger, Janet. ‘Reception Studies: The Death of the Reader’. In The Cinematic Text: Methods and Approaches, edited by R. Barton Palmer, pp. 353-67. New York: AMS Press, 1989.

Willemen, Paul. ‘Fantasy in Action’. In World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives, edited by Natasa Durovicova and Kathleen Newman, pp. 247-86. New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010.

Wollen, Peter. Signs and Meaning in the Cinema. London: Secker and Warberg, 1972.



28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002)

1990: The Bronx Warriors (Enzo G. Castellari, I 1982)

Aliens (James Cameron, USA/UK 1986)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, USA/HK/UK 1982)

Braveheart (Mel Gibson, USA 1995)

Brazil (Terry Gilliam, UK 1985)

Centurion (Neil Marshall, UK/F 2010)

Descent, The (Neil Marshall, UK 2006)

Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002)

Doomsday (Neil Marshall, UK/USA/ZA/GER 2008)

Endgame (Joe D’Amato, I 1983)

Escape from New York (John Carpenter, USA 1981)

Excalibur (John Boorman, USA/UK 1981)

Final Executioner, The (Romolo Guerrieri, I 1984)

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, UK 1998)

Mad Max 2 (George Miller, AU 1982)

New Barbarians, The (Enzo G. Castellari, I 1983)

Omega Man, The (Boris Sagal, USA 1971)

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, USA 1994)

Rats: Night of Terror (Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso, I 1984)

Shining, The  (Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA 1980)

Snatch (Guy Ritchie, UK/USA 2000)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, USA 1982)

Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, USA 1984)

Thing, The (John Carpenter, USA 1962)

Underworld (Len Wiseman, UK/GER/HU/USA 2003)

Warriors, The (Walter Hill, USA 1979)

Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, USA 1970)

Zulu  (Cy Endfield, UK 1964)