When people think about Zombies, they usually think about the horror genre. Buckets of blood, fake brains, gore aplenty. And why not? Although George Romero’s original zombie movies were pretty light on the gore, the people who took his ball and ran with it always pumped it on extra hard. Romero’s newest Zombie film, Land of the Dead, is one of the goriest movies I’ve ever seen – and one of the crappier zombie movies.
I’m hoping it’s going to be one of the last round of “horror” zombie movies. That whole concept is just a thing of the past – in a world like the one we live in, I don’t think the walking dead really qualify as horror, not when you’ve got such sadistic torture movies as “Saw” or “Hostel” in the mainstream media. People just aren’t scared by zombies anymore – they’re fascinated by them.
That fascination leads to speculation, and speculation leads to speculative fiction – Science Fiction, for those of you who aren’t scared to use the term. Films like “28 Days Later” and its sequel, and especially books like “World War Z” treat the zombie as the setting, in the way that a post-nuclear apocalypse isn’t all about the Radiation. A world infested and occupied by zombies has come to have an entirely different meaning in a country increasingly paranoid of the rapid growth of Asian communo-capitalism.
These films look beyond the zombie as a plot element. No longer just an extra with cake makeup who jumps oncreen and tears off big, meaty a chunk of unwanted supporting character, the zombie has, rather, become the meaning for writing the story, representing something far more terrifying and real: a body devoid of independent, unique thought, incapable of growth, love, compassion, evolution. Zombies have become the dead end of humanity, just as humanity itself is waking up to the fact that it’s backed itself into its own potential dead ends. Poverty, energy, global climate change – all of this fear is wrapped up in today’s Global Zombie.
It’s no longer a question of surviving the movie. It’s a question of retaking a planet. In a world so susceptible to the rapid spread of contagious disease, the threat of a global Zombie pandemic becomes more and more real with each passing day. Perhaps soon we’ll be talking about how the Zombie migrated from Science Fiction to just…Fiction. If we’re still around to talk about it, that is.