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January 26, 2009

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On one of Austin's busiest streets this morning, someone hacked an electronic construction sign to read not "DETOUR AHEAD" as usual but "ZOMBIES AHEAD" (and I'd give anything to have taken a photo of it).

I wonder if the saboteur knew it was the word of the week?

Actually, the connection of zombies with eating human flesh was created by George Romero's 1967 film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. (His DAWN and DAY sequels came some years later.) But before NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the classic zombies were simply either the reanimated dead or the living placed into a trance-like state. They didn't eat human flesh, and they rarely attacked humans at all. They did the bidding of their masters--who mostly used them as cheap labor in the cane fields of Haiti. So goes the myth, anyway. Sometimes, of course, the master bid them to kidnap or even kill humans--as in the hallucinatory German Expressionist classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, whose Cesare the Somnambulist is arguably the screen's first zombie.
In the classic, pre-Romero, voodoo-inspired zombie films, such as THE WHITE ZOMBIE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, it is the mere state of being a zombie that is the object of horror, not any harm that the zombies do to people.
The "infected" of 28 DAYS LATER and its sort-of sequel 28 WEEKS LATER eat human flesh and spread their infection--but they are not, strictly speaking, zombies, since they apparently remain conscious and sentient. Eventually they become maniacal and obsessive--the exact opposite of the zombie's cataleptic trance.
You can probably tell that these things are important to me.

@Mari: Yes, that would be a photo worth having!

@Bob: Although I've never seen a zombie movie, I of course know about "Night of..." (I read a lot.) I chose to start my chronology with its sequels because those two movies appeared to have been responsible for a wavelet of zombie interest. And yes, when I read the reviews of "28 Days Later" I had a hard time recognizing the classic zombie figures. But all the critics *say* it's a zombie movie, so I went with the consensus.

The hacked zombie sign was on Boingboing today!
Here's the link (and a picture):
http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/01/23/default-password-for.html

I love the zombie-spoof "Shaun of the Dead". You can tell that the guys who did it really love the genre and so it's more of a comedic homage instead of a parody. There's some real scary stuff, but it's also, er, drop-dead funny.

I'm unexpectedly excited for "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!"

http://www.amazon.com/Pride-Prejudice-Zombies-Classic-Ultraviolent/dp/1594743347/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233878226&sr=8-1

Oh, the joy of works in the public domain...

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