I’ve been researching Zombie flicks over the last little while and have now had the pleasure of watching Zach Sniders “Dawn of the dead” (which is a superbly crafted narrative) and Norwegian recent called “Dead Snow” - a gory romp of Nazi Zombies in snow, its amazing!
Zombie flicks allow us to delve into a world of sublime fantasy that as film makers we have the freedom to say anything we please and be as funny or cruel to the characters as we wish. Almost nothing is impossible. But where does this idea of a Zombie come from and what connotations does it have besides gross x-rated gore factor?
Mark Drery from TrueSlant has written a insightful and article on the notion of a Zombie which I would like to share. Please go to Trueslant to read the full piece:
In the postwar decades, as suburban sprawl and mall culture metastasized across the nation, Hollywood cast the zombie as the decaying face of popular ambivalence toward amok consumerism. Implacable consumption machines, the mallcrawling dead of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) literalized the infantile psychology of consumer culture, with its oral fixation, its insistence on instant gratification, and its “I-shop-therefore-I-am” sense of self-worth, indexed to how pricey your status totems are, the sheer bodaciousness of your McMansion and your Super Duty Ford F-150 longbed pickup. The insatiable orality implied by market capitalism’s redefinition of citizens as consumers—”wallets with mouths,” in the cynical parlance of Madison Avenue—is instructive.
“In recent decades, the zombie has been a cartoonish lampoon of consumer capitalism, but in the current economic mess, all the gathering themes of depersonalization and disenfranchisement have come to a critical mass. The image of real estate (representing the living, or the haves) besieged by the ravenous dead (the ultimate have-nots), has long been a staple of zombie narratives and never a more concise cultural statement than at the present. In the 1930s, at least one reviewer of the film White Zombie saw reflections of breadlines and displaced workers. Today’s zombies have an unprecedented, in-your-face rawness that seems to embody displaced rage about gut issues like food, shelter, and health care—the denial of any of these leading to living death, or death itself.”
Every age has its totemic monsters. Because he lived in an era of premature burials, “resurrectionists” (grave robbers), post-mortem daguerreotypes, table-rappers, and spirit photography, when the air was thick with ectoplasm, Marx—the unparalleled master of the political gothic—opened his Communist Manifesto in a dry-ice fog: “A specter is haunting Europe: the specter of Communism.” In Karl Marx: A Life, Francis Wheen suggests that “more use-value…can be derived from Capital if it is read as a work of the imagination: a Victorian melodrama, or a vast gothic novel whose heroes are enslaved and consumed by the monster they created (‘Capital which comes into the world soiled with mire from top to toe and oozing blood from every pore’).” Indeed, Marx’s political economics teems with imagery straight out of Victorian penny dreadfuls like Varney the Vampire (1847): capital, that, “vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor” (Capital); bourgeoisie that “has become a vampire that sucks out [wage laborers’] blood and brains” (The Eighteenth Brumaire) and whose “prolongation of the working day beyond the limits of the natural day, into the night…only slightly quenches the vampire thirst for the living blood of labor” (Capital).
Dead on their feet, zombies began as a glassy-eyed metaphor for the plight of Haiti’s human chattel, forced to do the boss’s bidding even in death. In his classic ethnographic study, Voodoo in Haiti, Alfred Metraux underscores the parallels between the living dead and Haitian blacks under the colonial whip: “The zombie is a beast of burden, which his master exploits without mercy, making him work in the fields, weighing him down with labor, whipping him freely and feeding him on meager, tasteless food.” Like Frankenstein, a working stiff with neckbolts, readymade for the Fordist factory, zombies are wage slaves. A solitary hunter, the vampire is well-suited to Ayn Randian fantasies of Promethean captains of industry, self-made masters of their own destiny; zombies, by contrast, are trade unionists from beyond the grave, a Heritage Foundation wonk’s worst nightmare of collectivism on the march, the downsized and the disenfranchised jolted into action by class consciousness.
By “zombies,” a.k.a. the “golden horde” in SurvivalBlog parlance, Rawles and his fellow travelers mean “the anticipated large mixed horde of refugees and looters that will pour out of the metropolitan regions.” The “horde” trope has a familiar ring, especially when coupled with the suggestive adjective “golden,” with its echoes of Yellow Peril. We’ve heard it before, in colonial whispers of rebellious coolies, out on the edge of empire, and in The Turner Diaries‘ revulsion at the mongrel metropolis, that polymorphous horror of miscegenation—the “mixed horde”—and moral relativism. “The foundational morality of the civilized world is best summarized in the Ten Commandments,” writes Rawles. “Moral relativism and secular humanism are slippery slopes. The terminal moraine at the base of these slopes is a rubble pile consisting of either despotism and pillage, or anarchy and the depths of depravity.” Better to arm ourselves to the teeth, light out for the territories, and rebuild society in a blast-proof City Upon a Hill, populated with People Like Us.
Super Rad - and thats not the whole piece, you gotsta go read it. Without giving away to much I believe there is a tremendous amount that can be said though making a Zombie pick and not only that, if its any good chances are you will get a sale or two, look at what “Colin” did last year!
After the tremendous media frenzy over vampires recently I think that Zombies are making a come back and to support my little claim, there have been numerous Zombie things coming my way which Ill leave you with.
The first is a question poster on SSD > what are your favourite Zombie sounds > go and add yours on SSD.
PS: SSD is also the place where you get all the best sound advice on the Interweb!
Lastly this delightful Index Card from Indexed.com in which Zombies are the ultimate winners!