Friday, November 11, 2011

Panic in Year Zombie!

Despite not being a huge fan of the carnivorous undead sub-genre that's all the rage right now I've been enjoying AMC's TV adaptation of Kirkman, Moore, and Adlard's The Walking Dead.

Along with being an obvious pastiche of George A. Romero's Dead movies, I'm also struck by the affinities to the broader post-holocaust genre. Not only obvious works like Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend (1954), which got the whole ball rolling, but also with the more numerous fictions about the aftermath of nuclear war.

While the threat of nuclear annihilation has been replace by the menace of a plague of undead hordes the stories and the characters are otherwise surprisingly similar. The ruthlessness of otherwise civilized people in their quest for survival is a dominant theme, and was foregrounded in Ray Milland's Panic in Year Zero! (1962).

Even the "zombies" have their parallels in the mutants that threatened the survivors of the nuclear wasteland, as in Roger Corman's first film, The Day the World Ended (1956).

As the series progresses it will be interesting to see how it treats the tropes of post-holocaust fiction. Will it compose a new arrangement or simply play a familiar refrain?

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