Zombies….We’re them and they’re us.

            night_of_the_living_deadThe undead are everywhere these days. The movie 28 Weeks Later pits them against the U.S. military. The comic series Marvel Zombies has them eating the Silver Surfer. The video game Dead Rising lets players attack them with weapons ranging from hockey pucks to shower heads. Today, the undead are very much walking amongst the living.
            No other horror creatures invite quite the same breadth of paranoid speculation as zombies, perhaps because they embody such a pure, reflective sense of terror: animated corpses dependent on living flesh for survival. No wolf mythology, no castles, no capes, no fangs; just dead people eating flesh. In short, except for the “being dead” part, they’re just like us. I’d say this accounts for their popularity over decades of cinema, as well as their more recent migration to other popular media. Zombie movies force us to figure out what, if anything, differentiates us from the monsters on the screen.                                                                                                                                                

             But to the average horror-movie fan, a zombie is any reanimated dead thing that tends to hunger for the flesh of the living.  They also usually have no thought processes to speak of other than instinct.  By this reckoning, Frankenstein’s monster was not a zombie.  He had a brain that worked and he never thought of eating the living.  His predicament was a little different and he knew it.  NightOfTheLivingDead 2                                              

             Zombies have an undeniable attraction.  Is it their persistence?  Is it their dogged determination to fulfill their primary motivating desire…hunger?  Perhaps it’s that they represent death itself and its relentless march toward each and every one of us.  No matter where we hide, how long we run, or how many guns we have…death will come.                    

             Indeed, zombies are the perfect horror creations for a ­media saturated age overloaded with reports of terrorism, famine, disease, and warfare. George A Romero is the foremost figure on zombies, if not the father of all zombies. His movies have shed the most light on all topics from race to religion. Deep down, these awesome horror flicks are asking some of the most profound questions. The way in which zombie movies pose these questions has changed significantly over time, telling us more about ourselves, and about what we most fear, in the process. Maybe we should start thinking about these questions, or answering them.

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