Friday, May 02, 2008

Hard Times For American Zombies

Job outsourcing is not only a serious threat to the living American worker, but now has even hit the undead. Recently, more and more American film companies are cutting production costs by going overseas to some former Eastern Bloc Communist states such as Bulgaria and Romania to film their latest zombie epics. In Bulgaria, the average monthly wage is around $300 a month, one of the very lowest of wages earned in Europe. In Romania, it averages around $600-800 a month. The average American yearly wage is around $32,000, but dropping somewhat as higher paid jobs are being outsourced and replaced with more and more lower wage service jobs.

It wasn't that long ago that many American film companies were filming in Canada to cut production costs. During the 1980-1990's there was sometimes as much as a 25% savings due to the exchange rate. But as the American dollar fell in value compared to the Canadian currency, any exchange advantage soon fizzled away. This left American filmmakers seeking new locations to cut production costs. More recently, Bulgaria became the location for a new version of DAY OF THE DEAD, and Romania was used for two RETURN OF THE DEAD sequels, including the more recent RETURN OF THE DEAD: RAVE TO THE GRAVE. The funny thing about former Communist states such as Romania was that there used to be heavy government censorship of the press during the Communist years, where even importing a book as harmless as the Bible would result in imprisonment. Now violence, sex and drug dripping horror flicks like RAVE TO THE GRAVE are freely filmed with absolutely no censorship concerns by the government.

Although Zombie movies have been around since at least the early 1940's in the United States, with the 1940, THE GHOST BREAKERS, 1941's KING OF THE ZOMBIES and the 1943, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, it was the low budget 1968 George Romero classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that really gave this horror fim genre brand new life. Since the 1990's there has been a explosion of new zombie flicks, many produced since the year 2000. Some of the most popular were even comedy zombie flicks such as the British import, SHAUN OF THE DEAD or MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK.

It is indeed a very strange twist of fate that the old time American tradition of zombie horror films is now becoming the latest job outsourcing frictionpoint, where even the "undead" find that their job is no longer safe to lower wage foreign competition. It's almost enough to make the dead want to rise up and scream.


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