An obsession for explaining every move and every aspect of our society rationally is a distinctive feature of our Western civilization. However, as the father of “interpretation” Sigmund Freud is believed to have said once—related to his own addiction to cigars and cigarettes—“sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
The latest interest in research and interpretation is zombies, in its several different versions: Zombie fads, zombie walks, zombie balls, zombie video games, zombie movies and zombie-you-name-it.
The movement, which has gained public interest in different parts of the country, has generated a “contribution” to the fat cats’ pockets in Hollywood and Wall Street worth around $5 billion in DVD sales, video games, comic books, novels, costumes, merchandise, conventions and even zombie art, NBC News reports.
The Godfather of zombies is a Latino?
Not surprisingly, the history of zombies involves Latinos. From the lands of voodoo to the rise of zombies in pop culture, Hispanic culture’s acquaintance with the dead has been celebrated since pre-Colombian times.
Haitian folklore tales of zombies are said to be based on the horrors suffered by French slaves, who preferred death to the tortures they had to endure daily, but were afraid that in their transit into a better life, would be punished for their sins to remain in a state of “zombiness.”
Although soulless beings were introduced in literature and movies as early as 1929—”White Zombie” starring Bela Lugosi was filmed in 1932—it was George A. Romero who made the term popular and is considered the “Godfather of zombies” in pop culture.
Romero, a native New Yorker born from a Cuban father in 1940, became interested in horror films at a young age. In the late 1960s, he produced and directed “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), an independent horror film that would become a genre classic.
A real visionary in the business, Romero worked with a small budget of $114,000 grossing $12 million in sales in the United States and $18 million from abroad. Not bad for a brain-dead production!
In 2006, Wilmer Valderrama, a Mexican-American actor (“That ’70s Show”), acted in “El Muerto”, a film based on a comic book character created by Javier Hernandez. Abducted by Aztec gods, the Aztec Zombie—Valderrama’s character—fights to protect those who are still alive.
Another Latino was also involved in The Walking Dead TV series 2010 season, Juan Gabriel Pareja, whose parents came from Colombia. Pareja played a character named Morales, a role from the original graphic novel written by Frank Darabont.