In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_6cvswroo39trzaw4r8yrob1olpx

Frank

Can insanity, normalcy and creativity co-exist in a successful artist? “Frank” offers a unique, funny, entertaining look at what proves to be an unanswerable question.

Thumb_expendables_three_ver18

The Expendables 3

If you’re over 40, this is your “The Avengers.” As slavishly devoted to the old action films of Sly and company as any Marvel Universe…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Blog Archives

Zombies: Time of the Season of the Witch

Zombies and vampires, zombies and vampires -- sure, we're entering Dias de los Muertos, but the undead are crawling all over popular culture these nights. "Twilight" to "Tru-Blood," "Zombieland" to "Fox News," the undead are back with a vengeance. But, of course, they've been around for a long, long time. Matt Zoller Seitz takes a bite out of the cinematic zombie corpus with his latest video essay, "Zombies 101." He begins, (un-)naturally, with George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), flashes back to Jacques Tourneur's voodoo-themed "I Walked With a Zombie," and moves forward through the Romero "Living Dead" pictures to 21st century remakes and variations -- "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), "28 Days Later" (2002), "28 Weeks Later" (2007)...

Matt writes:

Ever since director George A. Romero released his 1968 shocker "Night of the Living Dead"--which reimagined zombies, the dark magic-entranced slaves of voodoo folklore, as shambling fiends that crave warm flesh and can only be offed with a head shot--the zombie genre has displaced the western as cinema's most popular and durable morality play... [Its] deeper resonance lies in its portrait of ordinary people struggling to survive in extreme circumstances.

Ultimately zombie films aren't about the zombies, which have no conscious mind and therefore no personality. They're a collective menace--rotting emblems of plague, catastrophe, war, and other world-upending events.

And, of course, the most terrifying thing about zombies is that they were us, and we could easily become them. (This is also at the root of the attraction-repulsion people feel toward vampires: everlasting life, but what kind of "life" if it involves a steady diet of human platelets and plasma?) The unearthly pod people of movies like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956 and 1978) are blood kin to zombies in that they resemble people we know, but are not. Like the dead, the undead are physically there, but drained of their human essence. Cold and cold-blooded, they embody only appetite -- but they don't feed to stay "alive" (because they aren't), they feed only to consume and convert. They might be members of Super Adventure Club or some other cult, or maybe they're just... sick, but they're definitely not feeling like themselves. Then again, maybe they're just investment bankers.

In David Cronenberg's 1975 "They Came from Within / Shivers," the infected/afflicted are pure appetite, bloodthirsty and libidinous. In John Carpenter's 1988 "They Live!" they are, in the writer-director's words, "Republicans from outer space," sporting expensive accessories and brainwashing the docile populace with invisible propaganda to make them more submissive to authority. But they're not human -- they can only mimic human behavior like sociopaths do. Until they revert to their monstrous true selves.

What do you think? Why have zombies and vampires are found such a ravenous audience in the last few years?

UPDATE: Edgar Wright likes it, too!

Popular Blog Posts

Different rules apply

White privilege, lived.

Ferguson, Missouri: Third World America vs. Atlas Shrugged

An FFC looks at the horrible situation in Ferguson, MO and what it says about where we are and where we're going.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Retrieving the Grail: Robin Williams and "The Fisher King"

An examination and appreciation of one of Robin Williams' greatest films, "The Fisher King."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus