"The zombies are us" : a socio-historical analysis of George Romero's Night of the living dead
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George Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead introduced radical new changes to the figure of the cinematic zombie. Sparked by a mysterious radioactive contagion, Romero's pan-ethnic zombies feasted on the flesh of living victims, who, in turn, became zombies themselves. Previously, filmic zombies had largely been black slaves forced to provide eternities of undead labor for the wicked white Vodou sorcerers who controlled them. To understand why Romero's new type of zombie was so successful—indeed, it has since come to define the genre—it is necessary to understand the relevant sociocultural changes that were occurring in the post-World War II era. This period of unprecedented organization and regimentation brought with it a surfeit of anxiety concerning what might become of individual human freedoms and autonomy. Night of the Living Dead drew upon these cultural tensions to produce a statement of terrifying uncanniness, revealing that our deepest fears are not those of being attacked by zombies, but that it is already too late, for "the zombies are us".