The continuing popularity of horror movies has led to a leading social commentator to call for a more politically correct stance in the portrayal of the undead in future zombie movies.
Writing about the trend for vampire and zombie movies in her Guardian column, journalist Polly Toynbee commented ‘Even in undeath there appears to be no escape from the social inequality which plagues ethnic minorities and those with disabilities in life.’ Ms Toynbee continued ‘Death is always said to be the ultimate equalizer, so why is this not recognised in film?’
Award winning director Tim Burton, whose new zombie film ‘Dark Shadows’ is scheduled for release next year acknowledges the problem. ‘The issue here is that the majority of the cinema going audience expects to see able bodied zombies and would have a real problem with the hero of the film smashing the living hell out of a zombie in a wheelchair suffering from obvious learning difficulties. It just doesn’t seem right.’
Burton has a partial solution. ‘We’re filming two versions of the movie. When the DVD is released we will include the second version featuring disabled zombies in what you might call the ‘Paralympic Cut’ ‘
Film critic Mark Kermode says that Ms Toynbee is not entirely accurate. ‘She’s forgetting the 2005 cult classic ‘Dead Leg’ in which Jude Law is pursued throughout the film by a zombie with a pronounced limp. And we mustn’t forget the Bollywood masterpiece ‘Midnight in Mumbai’, which not only has an all Asian cast but, if I’m not mistaken, includes scenes of a bearded vampire sporting a turban.’
Actor Monty Jackson who has appeared in dozens of films as a zombie admits that there are few minority actors in the horror movie business but says he always considers them when on set. ‘Whenever I play a zombie, I try to get inside the character. Being woken from eternal sleep is going to unhinge anyone, so I give it my best shot by staggering around and moaning very loudly to show his mental anguish.’
Jackson reflected on his successful career playing the undead. ‘I’ve made my living playing zombies. It’s ironic when you come to think of it.’