Though extensive work has gone into unearthing Christian symbolism in zombie narratives, here's a less analyzed Black Muslim take on Romero's Of the Dead franchise. From the RZA's new book, The Tao of Wu:
When I first saw Night of the Living Dead, I was scared to death. But when I watched it again at the age of sixteen (when they were up to Day of the Dead), I'd gotten knowledge of myself, and could relate to what it was saying about America. The dead were alive, but they were blind, deaf, and dumb. So to me, they were symbolic of black men in America.
The dead in those movies are alive- that's just a description of physical matter, it's active - but they don't have life. Life comes when you have knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, when you can see for real, touch and feel for real, know for real. Then you are truly living.
Finally, all the Of Dead films work as metaphors for the Five Percent [The Nation of Gods and Earths, also known as Five-Percent Nation of Islam - CRwM]. The survivors are holdouts living among the mentally dead. And interestingly, they tend to be led by black men. At the same time, though, after the black man survives - he fights off destruction through the whole movie - a white man kills him.
Though factually wobbly at the end there - the black protags survive Dawn and Day - the analogy actually works far better for me than efforts to fit Romero's flicks into a Christian framework. The origin of the Five-Percent name stems from their belief (and this is a profound simplification) that 85% of humanity are blind to knowledge of themselves; 10% understand some of the divine knowledge needed to be fully realized humans, but ignore or lie about this knowledge for personal gain (notably, Christian preachers and scholars who teach about an incorporeal, or "mystery," God to advance their own political agendas - left and right); and a final 5% who understand and spread the truth, known as poor righteous teachers. The idea of a tiny, fully alive and self aware minority surrounded by a globe of the half-alive fits like a glove with Romero's flicks.
I wonder what insights Buddhists, more mainstream Muslims, and other non-Christian religious peoples could bring to the table.