Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Zombies, zombies everywhere...

You just can't avoid zombies nowadays can you? They're out there doing their shuffling, flesh-ripping thing in movies, comics, novels, and even on TV. They can also be seen voting BNP but that's a different story...
The above is a still from the classic 1943 Val Lewton / Jacques Tourneur movie, I Walked With A Zombie. Of course, in those days zombies were supernatural creatures, animated by voodoo priests and stomping around plantations, normally for the purpose of carrying off young women. Today they are mindless cannibals, reanimated by vague pseudo-science for no purpose other than to eat people and create more zombies.
This modern conception of the walking-corpse seems to stem from George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, the 1968 classic which brought an unparalleled realism to horror movies, and threw in some Vietnam-era allegory to boot. This is now the archetypal zombie, almost unthinkingly ( of course ) adopted by film-makers and writers ever since. So, did Romero create this modern variant on the zombie myth or were there any precedents? If he did that's quite an achievement and might explain why he returns to the theme time and again. Oh yeah, it makes him a few bucks too. If he didn't, I can't think of any previous stories that took the zombie out of the plantation and into the streets. Unless, of course, you know differently.....


By the way, wiec? over at the eponymous When Is Evil Cool? has just completed his zombie survey which makes interesting reading. Did you vote to eat or be eaten? See the results at http://vaultofthebankrobber.blogspot.com/2009/08/zombie-or-victim-poll-winner-is.html


3 comments:

wiec? said...

thanks for the shout out mang.

it's a good question you brought up in your post but being no expert i couldn't hazard a guess.

pete doree said...

I think Romero did do modern day zombies first. I know there's a couple of Hammer zombie flicks, but fairly sure they're not set in the modern day. Not 100% tho'. By the way, prefer 'Cat People' to 'I Walked' by a country mile!

cerebus660 said...

Thanx for the comments guys.

Yeah, Cat People's a great film: love that scene in the swimming-pool, very atmospheric. Tourneur also directed one of my other favourite horror films, Night of The Demon. I'll have to dig out my old VHS copy...

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