Horror Movies: Zombies Movie Subgenre
This essay explores the zombie sub-genre of the horror genre and the signal characteristics and their influence on the larger socio-political setting. The zombie films pose some threats and some sensations which are not pleasurable. In most cases, the zombies are horror films, which are used as a barometer to measure the tensions and anxieties. For example, the Zombie Renaissance has been used to depict an increased dread concerning violent death through terrorist’s attacks or contagious infection.
According to Forget, the zombie sub-genre has a particular value in the American culture since they function as a symbolic reminder of the mayhem of colonialism and slavery (Forget 3). For example, considering the ethnographic studies of the Haitian folklore, the 1930’s voodoo-based zombie films did a crucial cultural work by revealing a deep-seated attitude of racism, as well as, imperialistic paranoia. In addition, the contribution by George A. Romero in the Zombie sub-genre has a greater effect on the cultural work (Forget, 5). Romero’s work was borrowed from the Voodoo mythology, vampire tales, as well as, the science fiction invasion narratives to design a new tradition with the Night of the Living Dead way back in 1968. The conception he had uniquely manifests modern apprehensions of the struggles against slavery to fight for the Civil Rights movement, in the more recent zombie sub-genre films, coupled with the challenges of excessive consumerism and the existence of the Cold war and the current war based on terror. Therefore, the zombie sub-genre operates as a powerful metaphor for the current society, as well as, the prevailing cultural unease which encircles violent death and the loss of self-governing subjectivity. Thus, the genre will continue to serve its audience as it continues to advance and evolve.
In the Night of the Living Dead Romero depicts the zombies as undead slow moving cannibals who are reanimated, as a result of the radiation from a satellite returning from Venus (Flint, 31). It is the radiation which influences the newly unburied dead; hence, the resulting zombies are seen as invulnerable, not unless their brains are ruined, or when their heads are separated from their bodies. In addition, Romero depicts the zombies as creatures which are neither rational nor possess self-awareness. However, in his later works, Romero depicts the zombies as rational beings, capable of thought and some sense of self-awareness. However, their speed is still relatively slow, with little intelligence. In addition, today many films have continued to apply the similar concepts of zombie sub-genre provided by Romero (Dendle, 23).
There are some films which portray the zombies as highly contagious, since, a bite from a zombie can result into death or cause others to become zombies and remain reanimated by a similar force that influenced the other zombies. Therefore, this zombie sub-genre makes the society live in fear due to the zombie plague which arises as a result of a continued spread of the zombies. In general, artists have used the zombie subgenre as an allegory for the human condition. Hence, it is no surprise to see the Zombieland to acquire a post-modern look indicating a state of isolation which many people believe in, in spite of being more connected to the technological world.
The zombie sub-genre is cultural work, for instance by understanding what the zombie genre tells about the current society. New audience believes in a strong sense of frustration that the promises of the elders on the potential and the future of the society, which may not be grounded on reality. Furthermore, it also shows that the real and current fear arises from an overwhelming specter of loneliness surrounded by an alien specimen. The sub-genre also demonstrates an increasing anxiety due to lawlessness which have become prevalent in the society. Hence, causing many people to experience an increased sense of powerlessness with regards to an enlarging segment of the society, characterized with increased criminal activities.
The zombie genre depicts all sides of the society before and after a snapshot. This means that the pre-outbreak society demonstrates one which has reached its elastic limit of a utopian unity and tolerance. The Zombie films also depict a society which is totally ruined from within rather from external forces. A world where humanity itself has become an enemy of its own, being converted into an irrational, uncouth, as well as, animalistic mass of hungry creatures, which resemble man they once used to be when alive, but who have no self-control and awareness. In addition, the zombies depicts terrifying extent whereby hyper-individualism has taken over the hypocrisy it causes. The zombies are always in a group, but they do things independently.
In conclusion, the zombie sub-genre depicts the zombies as a representation of collectivism, even though practically, they do not operate as a group. This means that the zombies represent some of selflessness which has gone to an extreme extent. Thus, the audience should understand that the zombies demonstrates the hardcore individualists are better placed to survive, even though it is an instinct which only exists in the minds of the many folks in the western countries. Therefore, the Zombie sub-genre portrays the fears which exist in the society. Finally, the zombie sub-genre forms a part of a similar mass psychological occurrence which is not culturally constant, since, they show a unique modern secular fear as well as, anxieties experienced in the western world.
Dendle, Peter. The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. North Carolina: McFarland. 2001.
Flint, David. Zombie Holocaust: How the living dead devoured pop culture. London: Plexus. 2008.
Forget, Thomas. Introducing Zombies. New York: Rosen Publishing. 2007.