Zombies seem to have been a pretty prominent theme for me this week. As I work to wrap up “Long Weekend,” I’ve usually had a zombie flick rolling in the background. And when I can’t find a zombie movie, I play Creature Feature’s “Aim for the Head,” or read John Green’s Zombicorns again. Zombies are all up in mah shit this week.
I like zombies. Love ’em, in fact. Always have. They’re hypnotically horrifying, awesome by the very nature of their existence. Vampires are alright, and I dearly love werewolves, but zombies…zombies are where it’s at.
I think it’s the versatility that zombies present that tends to fascinate filmmakers and writers. Before special effects were able to give us awesome, corpse-y zombies…
…we usually had to just accept voodoo “actually just really, really high slave labor” zombies, a la “White Zombie.” (The Lugosi movie, not the metal band.) Which is fine, but audiences needed more to make zombies a real force of terror.
Enter “Night of the Living Dead.” THE zombie movie, and the movie that introduced America to modern horror in cinema. These zombies still looked like people, but only barely. There was nothing really “human” about these things.
And just like that: BOOM. It was the age of the zombie, baby.
Other works have left their mark. Marvel’s Simon Garth, from Tales of the Zombie, was a heroic, if tortured, zombie who was virtually indestructible.
The Return of the Living Dead series of films (well, the first three, anyway) more thoroughly explored the challenge of killing that which is already dead, by giving us zombies who weren’t stopped by the typical “destroy the brain” approach. Also, they were pure freakin’ nightmare fuel.
The Dawn of the Dead remake famously made its zombies fucking sprint for you. Luckily, Simon Pegg helped to bolster our confidence a little by exposing some of the goofier aspects of a zombie uprising (for instance, naked zombies).
Whenever I write anything dealing with zombies, I try to make them as unstoppable as possible, if only to make the zombie threat as prominent as possible. Not that they shouldn’t be used as literary tools or anything. Incidental zombiedom can be fantastic. Blog project Allison Hewitt is Trapped (click the link to read, or look for the book if ya want) is a quirky bit of genius in that regard. But my ardent love for zombies makes me focus entirely onthe zombies, to the point that I want to explore every practical and fantastical element about these amazing, horrific monstrosities.
The popularity of zombies is refreshing. Though vampires and werewolves still have their scary moments (werewolves decidedly more than vampires of late), it’s hard to take the “monster” out of zombies. They’re lean, mean, sometimes green abominations, and by virtue of epitomizing the greatest human fear (the fear of death and dying), I doubt we can ever really tame them, even in our imaginations.