The versatility of zombies

Some years back I interviewed make-up gore god Tom Savini, who did the effects for the original Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th movies.

He proclaimed we were definitely in zombie times, and this was before we even had the Walking Dead and zombies on TV commercials.

 Apparently we’re still in zombie times because there’s now plans to make a trilogy out of World War Z, and there’s also the upcoming comedy Juan of the Dead, which just got a distribution deal.

Although zombies may seem like simple monsters, you can project a lot onto the undead.

The European critics saw Night of the Living Dead as an analogy for the Vietnam war. 

The low budget horror film Death Dream, which was one of the first films directed by Bob Clark (A Christmas Story), was a chilling retelling of the Monkey’s Paw, where a dead ‘Nam soldier comes back from the dead, needing fresh blood to survive. 

True, it wasn’t a good movie, but one of my favorite low budget B flicks, Blood of Ghastly Horror, also had a zombie created by ‘Nam. And recently, Joe Dante (Gremlins) directed an episode of Masters of Horror, Homecoming, with the living dead coming home from the war in Iraq.

With Shaun of the Dead, zombies also became great comedy fodder, and Collider tells us the zombie comedy Juan of the Dead has also been picked up by Focus for an April release. It’s a comedy from Cuba about an “eponymous character [who] is a 40 year old slacker [and] makes zombie lemonade out of zombie lemons when a zombie outbreak” hits the island.

And like Romero’s best dead movies, critics have already picked up on some political subtext in the film. Like we saw with Romero’s Land of the Dead, zombies have been a great Trojan horse to sneak important messages through.

Apparently zombie times aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, and Paramount feels they have a heavy hitter with World War Z, because it’s opening against some stiff competition at the end of the year with Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, The Hobbit, Life of Pi, and Tarantino’s Django Unchained.