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You Got Social Commentary in my Zombies!

19 October 2005 by Beth 4 Comments


By Beth

In the beginning there was George Romero (I know there were zombie movies made before Romero, but he is the father of the modern zombie movie, like it or not.) He made a movie about zombies tearing people to pieces and eating them, and it was good. There was an underlying theme about prejudice, but for the most part it was overshadowed by the violence.

Then George Romero made another movie. Thanks to the magic of techno-color, it was even gorier than the first, and it was also good.

But wait! What’s this thing trying to push its way into the flesh-eating mayhem? Why, it’s good ol’ social commentary. The proverbial bullet in the head for good zombie movies everywhere. Night of the Living Dead was well made (for its time) and pretty well written. It wasn’t too hard to ignore the “who’s the real monster?” theme if you really wanted to. Then Dawn of the Dead (the original, of course) took the idea of moralizing in horror movies and ran with it faster and farther than any of Romero’s zombies could ever have dreamed of doing. Zombies were used to show the violent consumerism and greed of mankind. And the supposed heroes were idiots who said retarded things like “we got this by the ass”. The zombies took a back seat to the moral of the story. The zombies should have gone into that mall, eaten everyone in there, and then moved on to the next place where they could get a warm meal. That’s what zombies are supposed to do. Yes, fine, show us the human struggle for survival in a world gone mad, but don’t shove your message down my throat with a decomposing human arm.

Things got even worse for Day of the Dead. This is a zombie movie so boring that I actually fall asleep every time I attempt to watch it. The soldiers are selfish cowards, the scientists are callous, and the hired hands are only looking out for themselves. The zombies serve merely as a backdrop against the struggle between these groups. It could have been set in any post-apocalyptic world, but if you’re going to put zombies in a movie then you should damn well use them. Don’t even get me started on Land of the Dead. You shouldn’t call it a zombie movie if you make people wait until the halfway point to see some freakin’ zombies! You want to have some story before you introduce the zombies? Great, but it should at least be a decent story. By the time the zombie madness began in this one I had forgotten that it was even supposed to have zombies in it at all.

If this trend had started and ended with Romero I doubt that I would be writing this little rant. Sadly, many writers and directors have taken the idea of telling us how awful we are through zombies to new levels of tedium. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the new Dawn of the Dead, and scores of low-budget foreign films (with a few notable exceptions like Zombie and Cemetery Man) try to follow this well worn path with mixed results. Sure there are many gruesome and wonderfully violent deaths, but you have to sit through way too much story to get to them. It was like being given a treat. Here, you put up with these characters talking about their feelings so you get to watch somebody get eaten alive. Are the zombies on a break during these boring emotional scenes? Is there a group of then sitting just outside of view having a coffee and a smoke while they wait for the next time they’re allowed to do something?

Why can’t I see people getting eaten without a seemingly unending discussion of how they feel about it or what it says about our society? Don’t tell me how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and that we deserve to be punished for our trespasses against nature when all I’m looking for is a little sick entertainment. It’s that kind of shit that forces me to watch trash like House of the Dead, and the Return of the Living Dead series. Sure, I watch some god awful crap, but at least I can see some brains get eaten without the diatribe about how horrible people are. We live in a greedy, wasteful, and sometimes downright mean world, but seeing a woman’s throat tear like taffy while squirting bright pink “blood” on the attacking zombie gives me a little chuckle and a few seconds of guiltless fun.

People don’t need to be reminded of how full of evil the world is. I think most people are pretty aware of that, and trying to slip that into a movie during a zombie feeding frenzy isn’t going to convert the few people out there who don’t know it. They’re probably not the kind of people who would watch a zombie movie anyway.

I realize that humans do bad things, but I see that on the news every morning. I watch zombie movies to escape from reality, not to have it thrown in my face. Somewhere along the way, zombie movies have lost sight of what’s really important. They have forgotten that it’s not the moral of the story that matters; it’s to see how many people you can eviscerate before the credits roll.


  • sitemap said:



  • Rod said:

    The horror genre has always been ripe with social commentary. Horror stories in all media help us deal with our fears through exaggerations of the human condition.

    In fact, most of the actually entertaining horror/sci-fi flicks out there have some sort of “moral,” if only to say something besides “Yay! We love zombies!”

    There’s only so many times you can see zombies ripping into human flesh before you want just a leeettle bit more from your movie-watching experience. Or maybe that’s just me.

  • Zombie Nazis: Fun for all the Family. « Garibaldy Blog said:

    […] criticism, tackling issues such as racism, prejudice, consumerism, and class conflict (even if some people would just prefer the zombies without the message). So I now enjoy a zombie movie, especially 28 […]

  • Tweets that mention You Got Social Commentary in my Zombies! | For the Retarded - Geek Mockery at its Finest! -- Topsy.com said:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Air Kazyanenko, Nefesh Bleu. Nefesh Bleu said: Zombies y comentarios sociales: http://www.fortheretarded.com/?p=122 […]

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