Zombies have been around for a very long time. Here's two examples she quotes from The Bible:
And the LORD will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. Zechariah 14:12
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Revelation 11:11This reminds me of what Hershel says in the last episode of this season's Walking Dead. "I believed it when Christ said he would raise the dead. I just didn't expect this was what he had in mind."
Dana misses two important movies and two of my favorites, "Shaun of the Dead" and "Zombieland," the latter having the best Bill Murray cameo ever, but it's a short article and she can't hit everything.
I believe that the rise of zombies is directly related to the rise, and subsequent fall, of vampires. An older article from Time asked if "Zombies Are the New Vampires," http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1890384,00.html says
It's not easy to put your finger on what's appealing about zombies. Vampires you can understand. They're good-looking and sophisticated and well dressed. They're immortal. Some of them have castles. You can imagine wanting to be a vampire or at least wanting to sleep with one. Nobody wants to sleep with zombies. They're hideous and mindless. They don't have superpowers. Their only assets are their infectiousness, single-minded perseverance and virtual unkillability.