Zombies are more popular than ever. Will their appeal ever die?
Not in my book! Once they bleed out of pop culture I’ll be able to go back and do them again. I don’t want to touch them now. Gosh, they are all over the place. The Walking Dead is the number one television series in the States, World War Z, games, commercials… Ugh! It’s too much!
Being the father of zombies how do you feel about that?
It feels like I don’t have a horse in the race. They asked me to do a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism and I find that missing in what’s happening now.
In Night of the Living Dead, what did you want zombies to represent: Vietnam, racial tension, the threat of communism…?
A lot has been said about that. I think the zombies could be anything. They could be a hurricane or a tornado. It’s not about the zombies. The important thing to me is the way the people react to this horrible situation, misbehave, make mistakes and screw themselves up.
Do zombies remain popular because they can be used to represent anything?
That’s certainly been the appeal to me. I can hang anything on them. But lasting appeal? I have no idea why they became so big. Zombies have become a huge business, an economic engine – that’s what can’t be stopped. They’re hot. As they say, zombies are trending.
The idea of trending is about everyone being obsessed by the same things and acting the same way. Have we all become zombies?
Maybe! I’ve often played around with that. I resisted making a follow-up to Night for a long time because people were talking so admiringly about it and calling it an important statement film and things I never intended. I knew I was going to have to have an idea that would stand up under scrutiny and when I saw the very first indoor shopping mall in Pennsylvania – I’d never seen anything like it – it looked like a temple to consumerism and I knew I could satirise this. The humans in Dawn of the Dead have everything they could want but end up sitting around, just as inert as a zombie. They’re just as dead.
They are even more dead. Zombies always keep busy walking around and eating people.
I don’t know, do zombies sleep?