Horror is about making us uncomfortable. There’s a brilliant scene in many zombie texts where someone is confronted with having to kill their loved one or be eaten and turned. Is the one they loved still inside somewhere?
In the cult of zombie post, I listed some ‘things’ that zombies could stand for, as the creator’s (whether intended or not) response or reaction to social anxieties. Below that is what the zombies mean for humanity. Zombies are not just there to point out our fear of plagues or being eaten alive. They are both a reflection and an evolution/devolution of us, depending on the text and means of zombification.
As not so subtly alluded to before, in every zombie work, there’s always a jerk. Someone who puts their own interests above anyone else and is willing to risk destroying what is left of the human race to get what they want. Sometimes it’s the most frivolous of things: money or goods. What you spend your life before now gaining is nothing but useless baggage. Think your plasma/LED TV can help you out in the zombie apocalypse? What junk it is when there are beasts outside hungering for your flesh!
Patricia Kerslake writes in Science Fiction and Empire: “how we see the Other depends on where we stand”. Horror, fantasy, our creations are not alone in metaphor. We fear each other most of all. We fear ourselves.
(Images from Left4Dead 2 walls. If you play, slow down and read them, some are funny and some are written in Japanese (of which my L4D buddy majored in Japanese and read it for me!))