Disclaimer: this article features spoilers.
Zombie flicks and films seem to go hand in hand with social criticism. Romero’s films about the ‘Living Dead’ have often been interpreted politically. Night of the Living Dead, for example, is a zombie film that came out in a time when America was divided and in social turmoil, with various figures and movements, such as Martin Luther King, seeking equality for minority groups. The hero of the film is an African-American man, Ben, who hides in a house, trying to outlive the roaming zombies outside. He rescues a woman, initially a very silent and catatonic character, who hardly manages to help out – this in contrast with other women who do their best to help out. Another illustrative passage is the interaction between Ben and Harry Cooper, a white, middle-class man, as they clash over the best way to survive. The government is broadcasting news updates and researching the phenomenon, but is too slow in rallying its forces to help the survivors. It takes the posse of a local sheriff to help the local survivors, yet instead they shoot the only survivor when they mistake him for a zombie. Here, Romero already introduced the idea that the government will not always be there to save people, and broke away from the solid belief in the government as man’s saviour.
A very recent series with a similar theme and message is In The Flesh, a drama mini-series by the BBC. The premise is that there has been a rising of the dead: some of the recently deceased have come back from the grave. In their hunger for human flesh, they have attacked humans. Mankind has been fighting them off, and in the meantime, they have also invented a drug through which they have been able to ‘save’ some of the zombies. The drug suppresses the neurons responsible for the hunger-frenzy and allows their personalities to return to their former selves. They are then observed for a period of time in a high-security facility whilst being given therapy to prepare them for their re-assimilation and re-immigration into society. They also need to come to terms with what they have done in their ‘untreated state’.