Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why Do We Love Zombies So Much?

There were other zombie films before "Night of the Living Dead," but for most people, this was their introduction to the zombie theme.

Zombie scenarios mean something to us personally. Most zombie stories involve regular people in the city, suburbs and rural areas going up against an every-man-for-himself scenario. Why is this important to us now?

Remember the radiation-monster themes (introduction of nuclear technology) and alien themes (foreign invaders) were big during the Cold War? These were no surprise for their time period.

Why zombie themes are intensely popular now is no surprise either. It began with President Bush giving us colored warnings, telling us to microwave our mail, buy duct tape and plastic, and be extra cautious on planes. After 9-11 and Katrina, we all learned how alone we are in this process from a mindless zombie-like attacker who is sent on a mission and will not be strayed. It's every man for himself, apocalypse, end of the world....

"Dawn of the Dead" with people hiding out in the mall, "Zombieland" with wandering stragglers after the apocalypse, and "The Walking Dead" remind us that we are only as good as our own individual survival skills.

The 1950s horror and scifi movies had the government taking care of everything for us, "bring in the military to fight the giant ants!" Now, however, we are more jaded and more truthful that no matter what the government would like to be, at times it is quite impotent. There is no theme that puts that across quite as well as hordes of zombies plaguing households and businesses, no law and order, no direction, just us and our wits; the very way we settled America.

So, I guess we could say that the zombie theme is not only a timely focus of of our horror fascination, but also attracts the inner cowboy in each of us.

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