Sunday, May 07, 2006


If only he'd been shot before he could form Zwan.

Zombies on the brain. Watching another zombie movie, we try to pinpoint just what it is about zombies that continue to fascinate. As a metaphor, their brains (braaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiins!) are a blank slate for whatever there is to project upon them, be it director or audience. Depending on the flick --or in the case of George Romero (looking oh so Robert Wyatt as he appears in Dawn of the Dead) which scene-- zombies represent consumer consumption, capitalism, fascism, Red China, anarchy, humanity as a virus. The first word to come to my mind is the inevitablility of them, but with their stagger, they also embody fate, the rot and obsolescence that's built-into every mortal coil. It's a reminder that the body is mere motor, the ever-humming base of all urges and hunger. But maybe zombiedom is a pure state of being, a Nirvana where no thought, no brain (braaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiin!) disturbs the calm waters of death.

Zombies can cover for slovenly make-up, impoverished costume designers, sprained or broken ankles that may take place mid-scene, and of course, it hides bad acting. Really fat zombies never have shirts; they also never have enough undead body paint in the make-up trailer for their hairy backs and bellies either. In Dawn of the Dead, we get nun zombies, Hari Krishna zombies, zombies of all decaying skin colors. Zombies rock hipster beards, lumberjack plaids, polyester, and they're all walking around in the mall, at one with the mannequins. Revealing the zombie to be an everyman, the great proletariat, maybe what entices is the fact that zombies embody true brotherhood, that anyone can be a zombie. Will be a zombie.

Evoked by the unseen primal drums that pound and open up the earth itself, its tribal base is hinted at in Fulci's Zombi, yet the zombie lovers in Paul Morrisey's Flesh for Frankenstein are technological monstrosities on the cutting edge of science (and madness). In computer security, zombies walk right through firewalls. They got the numbers. The pinnacle of absolute horror in any zombie film is when a single one is upon you, those flesh-rending chompers coated with that zombie bacteria on their maggoty blue lips. Descending from above (or else arising from the earth and floorboards), the intimacy between living and dead is finally consummated with that kiss.