I bet you $1,000 that you don’t know anything about zombies. You. Know. Nothing.
Thankfully, for you, I’m going to educate you.
Zombies are allegories for Cold War paranoia relating to biological warfare.
First, we’re not talking that 28 Days Later nonsense. Those are not zombies. Nor are we going all the way back in zombie history to Voodoo. We’re going to The OG of the zombie: George Romero.
The Romero zombie is a slow moving abomination. It’s a reanimated corpse, a taboo. The zombie pandemic comes out of nowhere. Whatever is behind the now alive dead, it causes them to revert to a primal state. If you come into contact with one, and they bite you – you’re mow infected. They move slow, but there are a lot of them. Like the common cold, proximity gives them the chance to pass on what they have to you. It’s terrifying because you can ‘kill’ (Really, how do you ‘kill’ the dead?) as many as you can, but you’re outnumbered.
It’s probably the most likely monster scenario to happen in real life. Ghostbusters, contrary to popular belief, is not a documentary.
How the heck does this relate to The Cold War? Well, Romero released pretty much all of his films during the era. Yeah, there are different origins of the zombie infestations. Yeah, they all kinda follow the same formula. However, 1968 – when Night of the Living Dead was released, could be considered the height of The Cold War.
Cold War bio weapons were big at the start, with The United States and Soviet Union stockpiling them to use incase of ’emergency’. This wasn’t no Dr. Strangelove stuff – nukes can decimate in an instant, but a biological agent is akin to prolonged torture for a massive population. There was an agreement to cut it out – in 1925. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
It ties together. A pandemic with no official meaning. The results are the reverse of a death toll – the toll is not death, but lifeless life. And though the victims are slow, the bite is going to make you one of them. Like a sickness. Like the perfect weapon – but out of the control of those who initiated the attack.
Oh, and for good measure, in the sense of the next step of the genre evolution: I cannot underscore the importance of Bruce Campbell enough. Don’t freaking say the Evil Dead films don’t count – they totally count as amazing, and so does Ash. Hail to the king, baby. Know more.