John Landis talks zombie popularity, horror and fantasy movies

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It's no secret that the biggest trend in horror movies over the last several years, even extending into TV and video games, is the zombie phenomenon. From "Shaun of the Dead" and "Zombieland" to "The Walking Dead" and even the "Left 4 Dead" game series, it's hard to open your eyes without being catching a peek at something zombie-related. Director John Landis, the man behind the legendary horror movie "An American Werewolf in London," has a theory about it.

While appearing at Universal Studios Orlando to debut his "An American Werewolf in London" maze as part of the annual Halloween Horror Nights, Landis shared his opinion on the rise of the the genre's popularity. "All horror films are metaphors, so what is a zombie exactly?" he wonders. "They always talk about the zombie apocalypse, it's a disease. Nobody talks about voodoo anymore, it's all radiation or from the government."

"The thing with zombies, I really believe they're so popular because they represent anarchy, the loss of control and the collapse of society," Landis says, continuing, "Look around the world, I think that's what we're scared of and that's happening in a lot of places." That could be said about a lot of stories that take place in some form of dystopian future.

As for the state of horror, science fiction and fantasy movies in general, Landis thinks there really is no up or down time for those types of stories. He says it all comes down to that kind of exploitation never losing popularity, explaining, "They always point to George [Lucas] and Steve [Spielberg] and say it's 'Star Wars' and 'Jaws', which are essentially 'Flash Gordon' and 'Creature From the Black Lagoon'." The difference, of course, is how much money was put into them. "They're B pictures made with A budgets," Landis says, something that continues to this day. "I think that's just a general cultural trend."

The old saying goes, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." Obviously the movie industry has cracked the code for certain genres and it definitely seems to be working. After all, they're currently getting ready for yet another "Star Wars" movie.
Photo/Video credit: Universal Orlando