Annalee Newitz, editor of the science-fiction blog i09, created a chart showing the number of zombie movies produced annually in the West (mostly the U.S. and Europe) since 1910:
The chart shows several spikes in zombie-movie production that, according to Newitz, “always seem to happen eerily close to historical events involving war or social upheaval.”
Some of the “upheavals” that she correlates with production spikes (like the launch of Sputnik) seem like a bit of a stretch; and overall, more movies are being made today than at the beginning of the century — but Newitz claims that the zombie-movie spikes are significant regardless.
If she’s right, and there is a zombie-strife correlation, why would gruesome movies about the undead be popular after a war?
Eric Melin, on his movie blog Scene Stealers, suggests that zombies are popular because they serve as social mirrors, helping society come to terms with itself and its actions.
Overcoming Bias’s Eliezer Yudkowsky seems to support the “zombies are us” theory in his own zombie-movie script, where zombie researchers discover that they, in fact, are the zombies, and exclaim:
We’re the ones with the virus. … My God, it’s true.
Any other theories?