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Survival of the Dead

June 17, 2010

Most monsters are essentially predators. They aren’t necessarily evil, just hungry, and humans have the bad luck of being their food. This type of monster resonated with humanity’s sense of cruelty and evil for much if its existence, when predation was a viable threat. However, in our wacky modern world, we need a new type of monster. A lion, a dragon, a Grendal just won’t cut it. We need a monster that represents the greatest threat to humanity, namely, mass stupidity. We need zombies.

survival of the deadWhy are zombies so awesome?  They aren’t just plain evil for the sake of evil; they’re mindless evil. They are the creatures whose unreflective bloodlust poisons and destroys everything. They are monsters whose creepiness comes from their incessantly continuing in the same direction, slowly plodding down a path of destruction. They are the shell of humanity around a rotting core. They are acting as they’re programmed to, without thought or reflection.

They are monsters that go to the mall.

survival of the deadNo one has explored these themes better than Pittsburgh’s local filmmaker George Romero, whose Survival of the Dead will be playing at the Harris Theatre. His films explore two aspects of zombies, first, what the zombies themselves represent, and second, what happens to the human survivors during zombie outbreaks. His films comment on phenomena from social class (the zombie outbreak beginning in a slum, but only being reported on by the press once it had reached the middle class), to social cohesion (people forming factions, suffering from internecine warfare when they could otherwise team together to deal with larger problems, such as zombies).

And there is something satisfying about watching a zombie take a heavy hit to the body, lose a limb or two, stutter a little to regain his footing, then continue blundering along.

Survival of the Dead will be playing at the Harris Theater from June 18 to June 24.

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