What do you think has driven the recent onslaught of zombie films?
What do you think has driven the recent onslaught of zombie films? Do they tap a current fear or is the genre just a cyclical thing? —Vincent
When George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968, it didn’t just give birth to all those relentless flesh-eating ghouls; it gave rise to a hundred metaphors. The image of clawing, lumbering corpses chomping on the innards of the living was said to express the madness of Vietnam, and then — 11 years later, in Dawn of the Dead — it became a blood-red satire of consumerism. (Where would college pop culture departments be without George A. Romero?) The revival of zombie films certainly reveals that the genre is cyclical, yet its meaning, I’d argue, has slowly leaked away. Yes, 28 Days Later tweaked our fear of disease, and the inspired Shaun of the Dead lampooned Britain as a nation of zombified couch potatoes, but in Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005) and 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake, the living dead expired as vital symbols. They were just monsters.
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