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"Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter": 8 Antebellum Vampire Zombies in Politics and Pop Culture

It's the Civil War rebooted, this time with the expendable undead

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Spoiler alert: In Miller's own alternative history, Booth assassinates Lincoln because he believes him to be a zombie president, sort of like Virginia's Loudon County Republican Committee thinks not just Obama but also Nancy Pelosi is a blue-state brain eater. It's probably not a stretch from that troubling fantasy to Tessa Schlesinger's Nook book Civil War 2012, but it's your mind, which industrial noisemakers Ministry once reminded us is a terrible thing to taste. Stretch it with caution.

7. Exit Humanity

Speaking of indies, Exit Humanity, an ambitious independent production from John Geddes' Foresight Features, injects zombies into the Civil War's disoriented aftermath, with interesting results. Aptly for our purposes, Fangoria has called it the long-lost cousin of Jim Jarmusch's psychedelic western classic Dead Man, wherein Johnny Depp haunts the film's alternately hilarious and harrowing proceedings like an undead avenger. But Exit Humanity — in an intriguing merge between John Carter and The Walking Dead, albeit with a much smaller budget — pits a post-traumatic Civil War veteran despondent at the death of his family against a disgraced and deranged Southern general capitalizing on the indie horror's zombie hordes as gruesome payback for Confederacy emasculation.

Geddes' thematic exploration fits comfortably into the parasitic South paradigm analyzed here, but it also nakedly name-checks our collective loss of humanity from the title onward. As such, there are no extended sequences of zombie gore, which is to say no glorification of parasitic violence and fear. Rather, the zombies function as namelessly accessible receptacles for our unchecked human brutality. It's a potent crossover analysis, given recent headlines about Army sergeant Robert Bales, the family man and desensitized assassin who emerged out of the darkness in Afghanistan's Kandahar region to gruesomely murder and immolate 16 faceless villagers, nine of them children. It's not for nothing that the military's tactical suppliers in Kandahar are selling out of " Zombie Hunter" patches.

8. World War Z

Undead aficionados may already know, but most don't that the aforementioned military infatuation with Zombie Hunter patches derives from Max Brooks' 2006 novel World War Z. A first-person telling of the Great Zombie War — originally due onscreen in 2012 with superstar Brad Pitt, before being wisely pushed back to June 2013, well after our decidedly uncivil presidential election — World War Z globally magnifies the American Civil War as an apocalyptic showdown between the living and the undead. Its regional and ethnic rivalries are amplified into geopolitical enmities, so instead of the North-South and black-white binarisms that color the aforementioned explorations, Brooks' sequel to his 2003 undead fighting manual The Zombie Survival Guide involves humanity locked in a sovereignty death match between the United Nations and their expendable human and subhuman fodder.

Inspired by Studs Terkel's The Good War and as critical as it is of mindless extremism and American isolationism, Brooks' book is a bit of a geopolitical mess. Its zombie contagion begins in China, initiates a laughable nuclear war between Iran and Pakistan, justifies a walled-off Israel, revels in worldwide carnage and finishes with a fully unleashed American military whose offensive campaign eventually gives birth to not just a democratic Cuba, but also a full-circle democratic China. But these geopolitical fantasies are as obvious as its weaponized fetishes such as the book's Lobotomizer (which John Wilkes Booth probably would have loved), designed to explode zombie heads at point-blank range. 

One can expect director Marc Forster's Word War Z blockbuster, which some pop-cult tastemakers have already tabbed as an Oscar possibility, will lavish as much attention on the Lobo as it will on Pitt, humanity's United Nations savior. One can also expect an immersively cinematic annihilation of the expendable walking dead that humanity has sadly become. Which, in turn, has birthed a seemingly bulletproof militarism that does not bode well for our collective future.