What movie was that...?

16 October 2009

Night of the Living Dead

directed by George A. Romero

The zombie paradigm has long been the go-to motif in which to embed a political or social message (Danny Boyle took a page from this book when he created the shockingly pertinent 28 Days Later…), and hats have to go off to the grandmaster of the zombie film, George A. Romero. When it comes to using zombies to represent social unrest as it relates to civil rights, the Cold War, consumerism, or even the “look at me” generation of social networkers, bloggers- er, wait, I mean a culture of completely normal behavior of interacting via the Internet (whew), Romero delivers the goods, and Night of the Living Dead is, on top of being Romero’s personal best, the absolutely quintessential zombie film. Two siblings are chased by some zombies into an old house where they are saved and protected by Ben, and when they discover a few more people hiding in the cellar, tensions lead to more trouble. Now, in 1968 this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you add to the brew the fact that Ben, the hero, is black, and all of his white counterparts seek to second guess his leadership when he continually bosses up and takes care of business, and you interpret the zombie metaphor as the oppression of the The Man, then all of a sudden you have a startlingly potent criticism of a white dominated social system in which minorities can’t get a fair shake. It’s a shame that things have not progressed as far as they should have by now, but that’s why Romero keeps giving us zombie equals some social plight horror films. Thanks, Mr R, for there is no better way to address the problems facing modern America than by turning them into brain eating reanimated corpses.

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