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The Walking Dead; all rights reserved.

At True/Slant: “Dead Man Walking: What Do Zombies Mean?”

The zombie is a polyvalent revenant, a bloating signifier that has given shape, alternately, to repressed memories of slavery’s horrors; white alienation from the darker Other; Cold War nightmares of mushroom clouds and megadeaths; the post-traumatic fallout of the AIDS pandemic; and free-floating anxieties about viral plagues and bioengineered outbreaks (as in 28 Days Later and Left 4 Dead, troubled dreams for an age of Avian flu and H1N1, when viruses leap the species barrier and spread, via jet travel, into global pandemics seemingly overnight. Which may be why the Infected, as they’re called in both the film and the game, move at terrifying, jump-cut speed, unlike their lumbering, stuporous predecessors.)

Attention-Conservation Highlights: Karl Marx’s goth-iness; cultural historian of horror David J. Skal’s take on zombies as poster children for the econopocalypse; Haitian zombies and post-colonial trauma; white supremacists’ Turner Diaries dreams of circling the wagons and holding off the “golden horde” of multiculti urbanites with “boomsticks”; Nazi zombies. Oh, and braaains.