Since George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead premiered back in the 1960s, zombies have existed as a mainstay of the horror genre. However, recent years have seen them seep into entirely new entertainment categories such as action (the Call of Duty games), comedy (Zombieland), and even romances like Warm Bodies. Now it appears that this idea will soon come to a head, as The Disney Channel has announced that it intends to press forward with a zombie-centric high school musical.
According to a new report from EW, The Disney Channel is currently developing a zombie musical -- aptly titled, Zombies. Centering on a group of zombie students transferred into a predominantly human high school, the Disney Channel Original Movie will focus on a cheerleader and a zombie football star who fall brain over heels in love with one another, and attempt to unite the townspeople. Of course, as a classic Disney musical, we can expect plenty of singing, dancing, and a healthy dose of zombie grunting in this one. American Housewife's Meg Donnelly and Ghost Whisperer's Milo Manheim are currently set to star in the project as Addison and Zed, respectively.
A few years ago we might've found ourselves surprised to see The Disney Channel proceed with a premise predicated entirely on a horror concept, but these days the use of zombies in a kids' property makes quite a bit of sense. Plenty of us here at CinemaBlend have talked at length about the fact that zombies no longer scare us like they used to, and seems to make them fair game for storytelling in a wide variety of genres. Given the recent successes of movies like Warm Bodies, as well as TV series like iZombie, the idea that the demographic for the walking dead would gradually get younger and younger makes plenty of sense. Besides, we doubt that Zombies will go all in on the blood, gore, and carnage that we expect from other forms of zombie fiction.
As is often the case, the zombies in this project don't just represent the walking dead. In the same way that George Romero used his flesh-eating ghouls to remark on concepts like the Cold War, consumerism, and the military industrial complex, Zombies appears to be taking direct aim at ideas like bigotry and segregation with its overarching narrative. The concepts of integration and tolerance are key thematic ideas here, and we can generally expect a very strong underlying message of acceptance between two groups in the Zombies storyline.
We're obviously incredibly intrigued by the prospect of a zombie musical on The Disney Channel, but the announcement of Zombies will likely raise a few key concerns among fans of the horror subgenre. In particular, it begs the question as to whether or not we have reached the point of no return for the living dead. As more and more people become accustomed to shows like The Walking Dead, the mainstream nature of zombies forces them to lose their inherent appeal to zombie purists. Zombies undoubtedly sounds like a fun project for those involved and fans alike, but its very existence means that filmmakers and creatives in the horror genre will need to work much harder to bring living corpses back to their former gory glory.
Zombies is currently slated to debut in 2018 as a Disney Channel Original Movie. For projects that are a bit closer to their air date, make sure to take a look at CinemaBlend's comprehensive summer TV premiere schedule!