As some of you know, I occasionally write a column for Matt Gamble’s Where the Long Tail Ends. These days, new entries in TOO SOON are like Bigfoot sightings, but there are plenty of old pieces available for your entertainment. One of the more popular pieces I wrote was when I decided to do a written commentary of the lost classic The Video Dead. The piece starts off well enough:
Despite the international entries into the genre, there is something deeply American about zombie stories. You can see how Edgar Allan Poe flirted with the idea in his work, and how H.P. Lovecraft hesitantly embraced it in his stories. Sure, at its most basic level, the zombie represents our fear of death and how we need to confront it, sooner rather than later; however, there’s something deeply troubling about fighting an enemy that is us, and no matter how hard you fight, inevitably, you will become one of them. And its lack of ideology makes it even more horrifying; the starkness in its complete lack of ambiguity is disconcerting for a culture who believes “there’s always a way.” There is no way to reach an agreement with a zombie, and they will not compromise; to end the nightmare, you must either become the monster philosophically or become the monster physically. This is why the best zombie movies are such downers, because by winning, the heroes of the story must lose, whether it’s their sanity, their honor, or their principles. This sort of resolution is what truly horrifies us Americans, and it is what good zombie stories do better than other kinds of horror stories.
The Video Dead effectively manages to completely piss on all of the aforementioned ideas.
Before turning into something else completely:
April is leaving for school. Her father is sleeping with the maid. SO GROSS! After she leaves home, a bunch of zombies come into the house. Why this house? One of the zombies is in a wedding dress. Bride Zombie finds a wig in the bathroom and puts it on. She freaks out when she sees her reflection. Some of the zombies sit at the dining room table, while others look at the family photographs. Bride Zombie becomes fascinated with the blender. When she turns it on, her and another zombie laugh. The sound wakes up the maid. When she comes downstairs, the zombies attack her. She retaliates by impaling an iron into the zombie’s brain. In an ironic twist of fate, the iron – a clear symbol of oppression towards the immigrant servant – becomes her salvation. The maid is free, not only from the zombie, but from the domination that has hampered her from establishing her own cultural identity, and she will – never mind, she’s dead! Then the zombies, clearly upset at a man who uses his position of power to elicit sexual favors, kill April’s father on his bed of manipulation.
This is what happens when I’m sick and I end up watching a beloved zombie movie from my childhood. Read the whole thing over at Matt’s site. And stick around to wander through the rest of the site.