Sunday, December 14, 2008

For the love of Zombie! Why Cins loves the Undead.

Zombie movies are my favorite.
I love them.

I'm in this photo. Can you guess who I am?

I loved them ever since I saw my first zombie shamble across my television screen in Night of the Living Dead. Hell, I remember falling in love with zombies when I heard a radio commercial for Return of the Living Dead on the radio. There was something about that one actor moaning "Brraaaaaains" that really tickled me as a kid.

Since then I try to seek out interesting movies or literature on the subject on the undead.

So what makes me so fascinated with the zombie genre?A few things actually.

The versatility of the subject is one thing I find attractive. Much like vampires, its pretty easy to change up the zombie lore and make it your own. Originally, from what I've gathered, zombies in the Voodoo religion were people put under control by a powerful sorcerer usually to do some sort of bidding... probably of the evil kind. The theory is a person is given a zombie drug which makes them appear dead. They are buried, dug up, then revived, usually in a "zombie" like state where they act only the the sorcerer or bokor's will. Keep in mind all I really know about voodoo is what I read on Wikipedia and what I've seen in Serpent and the Rainbow. So if I'm wrong or you have more facts, please feel free to share!
Romero is the grandaddy of all zombie movies and brought zombies into the main stream. He created his own mythology and his slow moving, flesh hungry undead are what we're most familiar with. Romero created such a mysterious mythology that other film makers were able to take the concept and run with it...literally if you look at the Dawn of the Dead Remake. We now have fast zombies like in Dawn of the Dead Remake, the infected in 28 Days Later, the genetically enhanced zombies from Resident Evil, and the domesticated docile zombies in Fido among other countless brands of zombies. Each brand was created in a different way (disease, terrorism, God getting pissed, all of the above, etc). The zombie can be reinvented over and over each time with a different twist or mythos. Even if you hate fast zombies or don't consider the infected really zombies just turn around and BAM there's another zombie movie that may be suited for your taste! As a writer or a director, its a creative subject with endless possibilities. As a viewer, it never gets old.

Another thing I love about the zombie genre is its vast epic feel. There is a rather nihilist approach to the genre, a simplicity that other horror lack. Its simply this; the dead are rising, we're all fucked. Everything we know of gets devoured and destroyed. As humans we're reduced to our wits, instincts, and any weapons we can scrounge up. No one is safe from a zombie attack. You could be the most powerful person in the world but that won't stop you from becoming a victim. And there are millions of them. MILLIONS. Zombies can't be bargained with and you sure as hell can't come to a truce with them. Its kill or become one of them.
A great example of this epic destruction is Max Brooks amazing novel World War Z.

What is so fascinating about this novel is its not all about the flesh eating zombie folks. Its about the crumbling of civilization on a global scale. He goes into depth about what would happen geographically, politically, and socially if the Zombie Apocalypse came. A zombie isn't just a pesky menace like a werewolf or vampire. While vampires and werewolves are capable of spreading their "infection" to others, they are still in control of their conscious thought. So even if the vampires or werewolves were evil, they still are in control of who they kill or turn. Zombies are mindless killing machines acting only on instinct. One zombie can destroy the whole world. We're not just concerned about a few plucky victims running for safety, we're worried that the entire planet is doomed. A serial killer is scary but the complete end of the world as we know it is terrifying. Not only is it the end of the world but if you get caught by one of these guys you will die AND be forced to become something horrifying. A scary guy like Michael Myers makes me jump. Zombies haunt me for a while afterwards.

The zombie genre is one I can easily play in. Its a fantastic "What if" story that really does make you think. What if the end came? What if the dead walks again? What if my grandma tried to eat me? What would I do? My husband and I spend a good deal of long car trips playing the "How to survive the zombie Apocalypse" game. Its like playing a game of Stratego....very bloody and decayed Stratego. We sit and wonder where the safe zones would be in our city, what we would bring, where we would loot (yes, I said loot), and other survival tactics. For the most part I have to say we have a pretty good contingency plan for the rising of the dead.

Can't help lovin' that man 'o mine.

Zombies capture my imagination. They fascinate and frighten me all at once. They make me think about my own morality and will to survive. And of course you can kill them in several different entertaining ways. And while I love all types of horror from slasher to ghost, zombies tend to be on the top of my list.

Thoughts? Share! Sharing is caring, folks!


Metal Mikey said...

Zombies... How I love thee. Heh! Seriously, the zombie genre of Horror is probably my absolute favorite sub-genre. Many of the reasons you described apply to the reasons I enjoy it so much; the situation has a global-scale threat feeling that no other Horror creation has. And even if you aren't counting the various types of zombies (Romero, voodoo, "infected", possessed, *cough*JASONVOORHEES*cough*...), there's still much more of a shock variety to the individual zombies. You never know what state they'll physically be in, which can offer up shades of shock. And another thing that appeals to me about the zombie sub-genre is how character-driven the products tend to be. We often follow a set of characters, as they develop around the chaos that's happening around them. Sometimes they change for the better, or sometimes they give in to the hopelessness of the situation, and become baseless. It's an interesting journey to take part of, as a spectator.

And my first zombie movie? "Night of the Living Dead". Can you believe I got a copy once at Hallmark Greetings?

Personal zombie-related stories? I once made $5 by winning a junior high Halloween costume contest dressed up as a zombie.

Stac said...

MM: That's awesome! I entered a few jr high costume contests and always lost. :( Boo.

Cins: I love zombies too.. and for the life of me I can't pinpoint why.. I just do, dangit!

Cins said...

M&M>You know, You're right, Jason IS a friggin zombie! It explains so damn much!!!
Yeah, there's somthing kinda intimate about zombie films even if they tend to be more on a global scale than most horror. THe Character Driven stories are probably the main reason, like you said.
My first Zombie movie was NOTLD as well. Aw man, Halmark?! Was it right next to a copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall? Because that would have amused me.
Unfortunately no costume contests for me, but I did participate in that very very small zombie mall tour I threw a pic of up there. THAT was insanely fun...until we got escorted out by security.

Stac>>Thats because Zombies are Awesome and one of the few horror Icons you don't want to have sex with. ;)

BonesawLtd said...

Dang... I'm absent for a couple of days and you guys have a shit-load of content up on the board!!!

Good call on the zombie love. In fact, at the good old CadaverLab, we keep thinking about doing a show on Zombies, but what could we say that Midnight Podcast or MOZ haven't? What horror sub-genre is so great by itself that it can spawn as many podcasts, internet groups, video game mods based solely on it?

I have a buddy that HATES horror flicks, but loves Zombies? Where does that line of thinking make sense?

Cins said...

Bonesaw>>We like to keep you on your toes! That and Stac and I never shut up;.
I think the only other sub genre that has had as big an impact as zombies are vampires. But given the choice, I perfer zombies purely for the fact that zombies don't talk and therefore do not have the urge to turn all whiney (Interview with a Vampire, anyone?.
I love hearing peoples take on Zombies so if you guys to a podcast about the undead I will definitely be tuning in to hear it.

BonesawLtd said...

So... Are you the redhead in the pic? Just adding my guess!

PJ said...

When I was 5 years old, my babysitter let me watch NOTLD and that was the beginning of the end. I absolutely love zombie movies. I get so passionate when talking about them, my wife stops me to tell me that zombies aren't real. I also have a zombie contigency plan all set up in my mind. Have to love the genre.

Cins said...

BS>>The Jig is up! He's onto me! To the zombie mobile, Stacy!
Yes, I'm the redhead. :)

PJ>>I think most zombie fans have some sort of grand plan for the zombie appocolypse. Even though they aren't real, it DOES keep us on our toes!