George A Romero created the perfect monster. While Bram Stoker deserves the credit for giving the world the term “undead”, Romero must likewise be credited for the zombie. Haitian mysticism aside, Romero’s flesh-rending ghouls are what launched a true horror franchise, setting the bar for any who would follow to aspire to reach.
While vampires have been transformed into teen idols and figures of romance for the MTV generation, the zombie has steadfastly remained horrible and gruesome. Removing Shaun of the Dead from the equation—the British can make anything seem funny—there is no humor to be found, nothing pretty about being a zombie. This etches the zombie as seen through Romero’s eyes into the annals of true monsterdom. There will be no zombie love-triangles. (If there is, it will most certainly be overtly comedic or graphically pornographic which, in either case, excludes it from the horror genre.)
Only the zombie can claim status as true horror-genre worthiness. Vampires give over too easily to romance and thus, their fear factor has faded in the Twilight. Frankenstein is a moralistic tragedy, and only Hollywood could truly bastardize the story enough to create such a monster of deserved sympathy.
The zombie, as given by Romero, stands alone on stiff legs and plods endlessly forward as the vanguard of horror…its last remaining champion. Since these flesh-eating ghouls were set free in 1968, they have captured a devout following. No other genre can boast of such underappreciated inspiration.
While Frankenstein’s monster inspires feelings of pity and vampires come in their various shapes, sizes and degrees of (gasp!) good, the zombie is steadfast. A zombie kills. Those it kills—provided enough remains—get up and kill. Empty a machine gun clip into a zombie’s torso and you merely slow it down.
Despite looking somewhat human, a zombie is a monster. Strip away all the implied social commentary and it remains a monster bent on eliminating humanity. As long as a single, uninfected person lives and breathes, the zombie will continue to threaten the existence of man.