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Horror films are often understood as a reflection of current cultural anxieties and national concerns. In Israel, where the military plays an outsized role, several horror films are set in the army. This article focuses on the two zombie films: Poisoned (2011) and Cannon Fodder (2013).
Unlike other monsters, zombies don’t come from the outside. They are part and parcel of the society consuming their fellow citizens. In Poisoned, the outbreak stems from an army-distributed vaccine. The infected soldiers turn into zombies and attack their own. In Cannon Fodder, the first zombies are Arabs, the traditional enemy of Israeli film. But later, the Israeli military is revealed as the real source of the deadly virus. As the infection spreads, both IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians turn into zombies. Thus, the army is turning into monsters the very society that it is supposed to protect, ironically, through excessive aggression against the enemy.
Within the horror genre, zombie films specifically take issue with the dominant social structures in a given society. If in the United States context, films about zombie outbreaks reflect popular distrust with Big Government and Big Business, Israeli films reflect a distrust with Big Army. The IDF zombies, then, represent a new symbol on Israeli screens. In contrast to the trope of the heroic “living-dead” (ha-met ha-khai) of earlier Israeli culture—the warrior whose death is sanctified by national agenda—the new undead is a symbol of a society that has turned on itself.