Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Zombies in Film: A Commentary

Zombies in Film: A Commentary
Chris Fischer


Since the 1930s zombie films have been creeping out of Hollywood. Zombie films feature some sort of corpse or corpses chasing after the living. It may seem like a silly idea at first: why would anybody be interested in watching movies where a bunch of people with bad makeup are trying to devour the human race? The concept of the dead rising from the grave,though, is actually a fascinating phenomenon to ponder.

Even zombie movies can be thought of having some sort of a “theme.”The famous “Dead Trilogy” is an excellent example of a series of films based on the ending of the human race. The Dead Trilogy [consisting of Night of the Living Dead (1968),Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985)]represents the ending of the world with the dead rising from the grave and eating the living. The very concept of creatures who were once human now feeding off of their own kind is an unpleasant thought, to say the least.

Another theme which frequently appears in zombie movies is the hell brought on by government experiments. This is the basis of Return of the Living Dead (1985), Return of the Living Dead II (1988), and Return of the Living Dead III (1993). In these movies, the zombies are created from an experimental chemical produced by the military and somehow released onto a graveyard in each movie. The idea of the military messing up and creating havoc is a widely used concept in many monster films and again is used well with these types of zombie movies.

In several zombie films, the presence of some evil force or black magic which releases the zombies on the living is yet another theme. The Evil Dead (1982) and The Evil Dead II(1987) are based on the concept of evil possessing the livingand turning them into zombies.

Another element responsible for turning people into zombie fans for life is the freakiness of familiarity the victims seem to have with the creatures attacking them. Several zombie movies that I have watched show a main character attacked by a zombie who was originally a friend or a loved one. No matter how well you used to know a person, as soon as he or she dies and comes back to life, all bonds are broken and you are now no more than the next meal.

I know, you’d think people could find better things to do with their time, but then again, being a twisted person myself I don’t see any reason to try and find other types of movies to watch.


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