Zombie films personify our fears – and how our fears have changed.
The first zombie movies date from the 1930’s. Inspired by Haitian folklore, these zombies were black, mindless and under the complete control of their masters. Sound familiar? Though slavery had long since been abolished, not everyone in society was comfortable with the idea of black people just walking around with equal rights. These early Zombie films expressed this fear of the autonomous black man - and soothed it by re-enslaving him.
Along came the 40’s, accompanied by terrifying images of unstoppable Nazi hordes and the ‘walking dead’ of concentration camps. The Wartime zombie expressed the universal fear of invasion and of the rise of inhuman armies.
Convinced communists had invaded 1950s America, Senator Joseph McCarthy put reds under beds and pod people in the greenhouse. But while the zombied townsfolk of small town America in Invasion of the Body-Snatchers lost their individuality to an extra-terrestrial menace, the fears of this period were not of enemies from beyond, but rather of the enemy within.
In 1968, a year of riots in the streets and the Hippie Revolution, the zombie went counter-culture. In George A. Romero’s genre-defining Night Of Living Dead, the recently deceased are re-animated by radioactive debris from a Government satellite. Romero’s zombies are Government-made, spawned from the fall-out of the Cuban Missile Crisis and from our distrust in our superiors in light of the Vietnam War. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”
The 1970s bore witness to the rapacious rise of consumerism, technology and corporatism - Microsoft and Apple were up and running and on the march - so when Romero’s zombies congregate on a mall in Dawn Of The Dead – brain dead but for the instinct to shop – it’s not make-up maestro Tom Savini’s blood and gore that disgusts us, but rather the spectacle of the human race reduced en-masse to lobotomized consumers…
Now come the 80s, and an ‘all-new’ threat was terrorizing entire populations: a killer virus, communicable through bodily fluids, was turning its victims into corpse-like lesion-covered pariahs. ‘Don’t Die Of Ignorance’ warned the AIDS awareness campaigns, but zombies where in fact getting smarter. Dan O’ Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead marked the first time zombies swapped their intake of entrails for a diet of brains…
The age of the Internet ushered in its own unique anxieties inspired by rampant technology and incessant information. In a modern world harried by file-sharing and frenzied social-networking, it often feels impossible to keep pace with the speed of change. Is it any wonder then that the zombies of 28 Days Later can run so fucking fast?
With natural disasters, the economic downturn and the very real possibility of a bio terrorist attack, we certainly aren’t short of things to fear. Not surprisingly, zombies remain hugely popular. TV shows like The Walking Dead suggest we’re already infected – that we should be afraid of ourselves, but a look back across the cultural history of zombies tells us that this has always been so. It was never communists, aliens, or viruses that scared us – not really – it was only ever ourselves.
...after some advice I decide to make him less Gossamer more zombie...I went to far the other way making him more monster and stripping a lot of the human qualities which is needed in a zombie. I could haver altered his shape a little, making him slouch a bit but I felt keeping up straight and 2D would make things less complicated, so I gave him hair and clothes. Apart from altering his colour a little bit, this is the zombie I'll be starting out with. I cant help thinking he looks like Hans Solo...probably just my eyes.