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The zombies are an abject horror in themselves, but what they do to their victims is even more horrifying.  Spurting blood and biting of flesh, and the ingestion of slippery entrails and bloody organs, are staples of the zombie genre.   The zombie film exploits the fear that, in the absence of any transcendent meaning, we are nothing but vulnerable, and soon to be dead, flesh.

The zombie film exploits the fear that, in the absence of any transcendent meaning, we are nothing but vulnerable, and soon to be dead, flesh.Click To Tweet

Stephan Asma describes how modern horror focuses on “the subjective revulsion and terror of the flesh.” In the absence of the transcendent, there is a terror in “all things biological” (198).

The bodily violence in the zombie films exploits the vulnerability we feel as biological beings.  In his analysis of Night of the Living Dead, Jaime Russell explains how “Romero never lets us forget that this is a film about the body. Or to be more accurate, the horror of the body” (67):

Romero demonstrates the essential frailty of human flesh, repeatedly showing the violent capacities fingernails, teeth, knives, and bullets have to reduce living tissue to bleeding inert flesh. By objectifying the human body in such a graphic manner, Romero relentlessly dissolves the boundaries between the living and the dead, the human and the zombie, and the living beings and intimate products. (Russell 138)

The violence done to bodies, both of the living and the undead, forces modern viewers to consider the possibility that the human body may be “nothing more than meat, aligning human beings unapologetically with stockyard animals and game” (133).

This is a scary idea, indeed.

Next Zombie post: Modern Monster. Modern Death