The Living Dead: A ghoulish metaphor in desperate times.

April 30, 2009

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Buddy, can you spare a dime…or a limb?

Last Sunday, a substitute ministered to our church. The residing pastor was taking a requisite holiday after the travails of Easter. Anyway, the replacement pastor was a younger man, bearded and portly, with a wry grin. He reminded me of, of all people, the Comic Book Guy from the Simpson’s TV show. It turns out the comparison was valid in more ways than one. For the deacon’s sermon began with a most unexpected metaphor, one perhaps more suited to a comic book store than a Presbyterian church.

God love him, he compared the resurrection of Christ with Zombies! Paraphrasing a story from Newsweek, the pastor claimed zombies to be the perfect creature for desperate times, “chewing away at our psyches as well as our 401k’s.” His words not mine. The undead, he said were the new vampires, replacing the gothic bloodsucker in popularity.

Amen. With so many of us suffering tremendous financial hardship, zombies are like the rapacious creditor, insatiable and evil. And, once ruined, we become desperate ghouls ourselves…

Or do we? Pulling a religious 360, the pastor reminded the congregation that Christ’s rising from the grave was as far from evil as an event could be and, obviously, that it symbolized new life, hope and good tidings for mankind. This, of course, is familiar post-Easter rhetoric and certainly welcome. Especially after the wonderfully gruesome reference to flesh eating monsters!

Some of you already know how much I love horror. I’ve written several posts on the matter. And in the genre, next to vampires, nothing turns me on like a good zombie story. The preacher was right. The undead are trendy as Hell right now, pun intended. Between the Swine Flu and our collapsing financial markets, the walking dead fit right in.

Fun zombie facts:

-Prior to making the beloved movie, Slum Dog Millionaire director Danny Boyle made both zombie-apocalypse thrillers 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. Not to mention the equally gruesome (and wonderful) Trainspotting.

-Over 50 years before Will Smith’s tepid version, Richard Matheson wrote the genuinely terrifying I Am Legend. An equally scary film version (The Last Man on Earth) was made in 1968, starring a surprisingly stoic Vincent Price. Read the book. See that film.

-Rumor has it legendary commercial director Joe Pytka served as cameraman for the even more legendary George Romero during the filming of the greatest zombie movie (if not horror movie) of all time, Night of the Living Dead.

3 Responses to “The Living Dead: A ghoulish metaphor in desperate times.”

  1. Pirates used to be all the rage, but they have been losing ground since real pirates started killing people. Zombies seem ready to retake their place at the forefront of the popular imagination. Here’s a website I just put together that helps you determine whether you a Zombie: AmIaZombie.com.

  2. dustindsmith said

    Don’t forget the second adaptation of Matheson’s novel: “Omega Man” starring Charlton Hesston… 1971. “What price survival in a plague-ridden tomorrow”.

  3. Zombies as Christ metaphor was a subtle subtext in Romero’s original, subverting evangelical mid-West Christianity. After all, the consumption of flesh is essentially what the sacrament symbolizes.

    The Hollywood zombie zeitgeist pre-dates the GFC, but its finding further traction given the Apocalyptic perception of the present. New movies (World War Z), websites (www.thedailyzombie.com) and music invade pop culture like the undead horde.

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