Writing in 2014, James Poniewozik (Time) reviews the first season of HBO’s excellent series, The Leftovers

file_118510_0_theleftoversartBy the standards of fictional global disasters, The Leftovers’ is a teensy one, just a smidgen of apocalypse. Two percent of the world’s population is gone–not dead, but vanished one Oct. 14 in what is being called the Sudden Departure. It sounds like the Christian Rapture, but it’s utterly random. It takes babies and adults; Christians, Buddhists and atheists; the devout and the drug dealer; plus Gary Busey and the entire former cast of Perfect Strangers. All told, 140 million people are gone, enough that some families are unscathed but no one is untouched. It’s enough to leave the species intact but heartsick; to leave society functioning but rudderless; to leave humanity standing but to kick the legs from under every existing belief system. (more…)

A notable precursor to the contemporary zombie movie
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Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
Recently, I picked up a copy of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend at a second-hand bookstore. Matheson—whose high-concept man vs. truck short story Duel was to launch the career of Steven Spielberg—made a name for himself in the genres of science-fiction, horror and fantasy. His writing spans novels and short stories, alongside work in television and film. I Am Legend, itself no stranger to the silver screen, has been adapted no less than three times, and is, in some ways, a reflective document of post-war American culture. First published in 1954, it laid an early foundation for zombie movies such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) series, and critiques many of the same social and cultural concerns associated with these later films.

“a reflective document of post-war American culture”

The plot revolves around Robert Neville, the ‘last living man on earth’. He navigates a post-apocalyptic landscape where every other man, woman, and child has been converted into zombie-like nocturnal vampires. It is a cautionary tale, negotiating the long-term impact of violence and exploitation in the atomic age.   (more…)