Lisa Schwarzbaum
June 08, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Why are zombie movies so politicized?

The recent release of 28 Weeks Later got me wondering: Why do zombie movies, in particular among horror films, lend themselves so well to social and political allegory? — Matt Council

Why? Because when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. Oh, wait, that irrefutable observation is from George A. Romero’s great 1979 anticonformist, anticonsumerist manifesto Dawn of the Dead. But the notion of an almost normal hell on earth of our own human making — whether set in Romero’s average American shopping mall; an average British pub, as in Shaun of the Dead; or a great world capital, as in the 28 Days/28 Weeks films — lends itself irresistibly to political commentary. And so do zombie-enabled scenarios involving plague, epidemic, and martial law. Two other strengths going for movie zombies: Unlike lusty vampires, these undead are unsexy and businesslike. Also, they feed with no thought as to who among the living are worth eating — zombies are true equal-opportunity destroyers.

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