Saturday, July 31, 2010

ANOTHER ONE FOR THE FIRE: RACE AND THE AMERICAN ZOMBIE FILM PT. 4

Outside of the two films primarily mentioned above, there are countless examples to further prove the correlation between the transformation of American zombie films and of the struggle of African American people in society.  Films such as King of the Zombies (1941) and I Walked With A Zombie (1943) further expressed the idea of slave made zombies through Haitian rituals.  Both cases reflect the Caribbean people as zombies in order to benefit the white man, whereas post-Romero zombie films like The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), 28 Days Later…(2002), and Land of the Dead (2005) contain strong African American protagonists.   The Serpent and the Rainbow as well as 28 Days Later… both contain not just an African American protagonist, but an African American FEMALE protagonist as well.  As the viewpoints of society evolved, the role of African Americans in the zombie film evolved as well.  (NOTE: 28 Days Later... is a British film)


It may be difficult for many to grasp the idea of zombies as more than just decaying, decrepit, cannibalistic monsters, but the progression American zombie film is a direct correlation of the evolution of the black individual in America.  By showcasing the blatantly racist voodoo induced zombies of the 1930’s and leading into the post-civil rights movement black protagonists, it becomes very obvious of the zombie film’s impact on not only society, but also the genre as a whole.  Horror films have been forever changed by the zombie film, not only as a means of terrifying audiences, but also as a showcase to society’s inner workings. American attitudes toward race relations underwent dramatic change during the 20th century, and we can now understand that the zombie film was in synch with those changes every step of the way.

1 comment(s):

RayRay said...

I have been really enjoying this series, BJ-C. Keep it coming.

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