The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Leslie Nielsen, Star of Creepshow, Many Other Films, RIP

(There are some spoilers for Creepshow in this piece but, hey, there’s a statute of limitations on this stuff, as Penny Arcade said. Please be advised)

Yesterday was a sad day for film-lovers and Zombie Rights enthusiasts alike, as one of the great American comedic actors, Leslie Nielsen, died at 84 years of age.

For a solid description of his overall career, this post from the Horror Society is hard to beat. However the ZRC wants to touch upon his significance to our particular movement.

Creepshow was and is still a groundbreaking piece of Pro-Zombie cinema. In Creepshow, American audiences were treated to views of the Differently Animated as complicated characters, protagonists and antagonists alike rather than dim-witted brain-hungry automatons. Ironically enough, George Romero helmed Creepshow, making him both one of the best Pro-Zombie filmmakers of the last few decades and one of the very worst (if not the very worst period).

Leslie Nielsen starred in one of Creepshow’s segments dealing with the Undead, ‘Something to Tide You Over’. The unique and groundbreaking aspect here for Zombie Rights is that Nielsen plays the villain, a Living man, while his victims come back from their watery graves as Zombies of Justice. In keeping with the EC comics vision of often-bloody and dark cosmic justice, the Differently Animated are seen here as agents of retribution against the wicked; Zombies are seen as people, fully realized and intelligent individuals capable of understanding right and wrong. It’s an interesting take and an all-too-rare attempt to acknowledge the complexity of the Undead community, rather than reducing them to flesh-eating monstrosities.

Nielsen’s participation here was essential, as his character was the necessary flip side of the coin. If the Differently Animated can be heroes, then perhaps the Living can be villains, even in a world partially populated by the Undead? In your ‘classic’ Zombie movies, there’s nothing Living people can do to wrong a Zombie; they’re treated as beneath contempt and actively worthy of persecution. Creepshow turned that on its head by reaffirming the idea that Zombies Are People Too, and even more, that they can aspire to be the heroes of their own stories.

So today we here at the ZRC mourn the loss of a great comedic actor and groundbreaking thespian who worked to illuminate the plight of the Undead so many years ago in a still-classic film, helping create room for Zombie Rights activists such as ourselves in the public consciousness, and advancing the cause of Living-Unliving reconcilation along the way. Goodbye, Mr. Nielsen. You will be missed.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

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