Attack of the Zombies

by Richard B. Phillips on January 22, 2013


dawn of the dead

“That’ll be $11.50, please.”

The Walking Dead is the number one show on cable with 10 million viewers a week. Zombie movies have earned billions in revenue. Zombies represent money and security. And so now it seems, undead features are processed like packaged meat on an unceasing conveyer belt, arriving month after month.

There are people who work for the studios with  degrees from MIT that crunch numbers, calculating aliquots regarding the human condition. These highly-educated marketing actuaries should be working for NASA probing space for renewable energy, but instead they work to continue the relentless assault of zombie movies. They map out fear and gratification. They work for people who are mining the shallow terrain of a bankrupted culture whose mission is to populate every screen with zombies. We have all  been snared in a cyber web of their  algorithms. Muusssttt eattttt brrraaaiinnsss!

THEY know Karl from Lincoln, Nebraska; age 34, single, mechanic, makes $47,000 haggled $3.50 for “Army of Darkness” DVD on eBay and made the purchase through Paypal on his Discover Card.

THEY know Steven from Pensacola Florida; age 23, unemployed, lives with his parents , college graduate engaged in a vitriolic discussion on Fangoria’s website asserting that the 2004 remake of “Dawn of Dead” was far superior than the 1978 original.

THEY know that Frank from Altoona, Pennsylvania; age, 39 filed for bankruptcy in connection to over extending his credit line. His last desperate purchase, among many other reckless transactions, was Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies along with 28 bags of Twizzlers on sale at Best Buy.

THEY are doing it to me right now. THEY know I’m a 43 year old, jaded dude who takes this all way too seriously. And they know that I’m cheap enough to avoid non-matinee prices on non-weekends.

So what is it about zombies that can continue to fascinate us again and again? Perhaps zombies are the allegories of life’s implicit fears, an idea of how we can be corrupted and turned into mindless monsters? Perhaps zombies represent external pressures that we have no control over? The one who started it all – legendary director, George Romero said after the 1968 release of Night of the Living Dead – “I was trying to come up with a concept about a new society, revolutionary… in political terms, that’s taking over and devouring the old society.”

The engine of the zombie is fueled by an insatiable corruption that has left him a cannibalistic fiend who craves brains. Typically, this condition is preceded by some  apocalyptic circumstance: atomic bombs, airborne viruses and toxins, magic spells. The traditional zombie clops along uncoordinated, slow moving, moaning, flesh rotting. The modern zombie is faster, more motivated, but all zombies essentially share the same absence of soul, the vacuous eyes, the gaping mouths, as they scour the Earth looking for the few remaining humans left to devour. Zombie film usually feature a group of rag tag survivors, still desperately clinging to their humanity, fighting off the constant assaults of the expanding waves of undead.  There is the good guy with an edge,  the hot housewife who is married to a jerk,  perhaps a pregnant teen,  the local mailman,  a transient passing through, or any number of other recognizable characters – characters THEY hope we will identify with, banding together, collecting an arsenal of weaponry and blowing the zombies away – one by one, piece by bloody piece.

If one consumes regurgitated food, he or she ingests reconstituted hydrochloric acid that has become toxic and will eventually erode the stomach lining,  causing irreparable damage to the organs. All these zombie movies are starting to make me sick.

I just watched the trailer for World War Z…The film stars Brad Pitt battling undead that are clumped together in the thousands, swarming like a vicious shoal of ospreys to dispose of the living. As I watched, I hoped that maybe this will be the zombie swan song…but it won’t be. More zombies are coming, just like we see in the film – in massive droves, soulless, ravenous…just more and faster and THEY won’t stop.

Richard B. Phillips

Rick Phillips is a writer based in Los Angeles. He wrote the screenplay EDEN, a feature film that won the Audience Award at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival. Additionally, the film was the1st recipient of the Reel NW Award, as well as Runner-Up for the Grand Jury Award at the 2012 Seattle International Film festival. The film also screened at Cannes and Busan, South Korea. In August 2012, EDEN was purchased by Phase 4 Films and will be released in US theatres in early 2013.

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