Mfitz in the comments says:
I don’t get the appeal of zombies.
It’s a weird twist for me, I didn’t use to like them, but I started researching and watching them all for a story I was doing and ended up getting hooked on them.
Why zombies work:
1) guilt free action/adventure mass killing and gore (cuz they’re not really human beings, right?) [the audience’s fave moment in a zombie movie is when that asshole get’s bitten, and then he turns into a zombie, and the hero gets to say ‘it’s okay, I got this one’]
2) zombies are often a stand in for societal parallels/fears:
a) early zombies are foreign and made by foreign magic (work as a metaphor for an ‘invasion’ of foreigners and racial fears of 30s and 40s America)
b) later zombie movies tweak social worries about consumerism (shopping mall locales, work locations etc)
c) even later zombie movies ding large corporations or scientists for creating drugs or viruses that infect us, playing on fears that multinational corps or gov’ts make us zombies with their mistakes, showing how we’re merciless at their hands
The deeper I dig the more interesting zombie fiction is as a mirror held up to what people are tussling with in regards to the outer world as a whole.
One of the reasons I love SF isn’t for its predictive abilities, but it’s abilities to explore current social issues with some of the automatic baggage hidden or removed in order to play with the ideas. Zombie fiction often seems to, even unintentionally, play to that. So every time I watch a zombie movie, I’m always looking for the unintentional (or may intentional) social criticism in it.
But above and beyond that, zombie movies bring in post-apocalyptic and survivalist settings as well. And what I like about them is that they reject the survivalist wet dreams about grabbing a gun and shaking off the annoying liberal restraints on society that Real Men ™ are shackled by. In a zombie movie your best bet for survival is to connect with survivors and form a band of humanity that each has skills necessary to the group’s survival. Yes there will be killing and gore and a hero, but there is usually a need to create a small civilization in order to move on.
Zombie movies always come down to thinking about what makes civilization and what drags it down, and while they have different answers, it always interesting.
That and there’s the titillation of a high body count, gore, and freakishness, no matter how you look at it. No denying that.
Still, there is this element of transcending the gore with those large mirror questions/thoughts/comments on civilization that get me drawn into a good zombie flick.