As a nerd there are few things in life that get me as excited as zombies. There is something about the undead that appeals to me on a deep level. The
first zombimedia I came in contact with was likely the original Night of the Living Dead. Also, Dracula films, old sci-fi b movies about hypnotic
zombies and the story of Frankenstein helped fuel the fire of my passion for the walking dead.
By the time I was a teenager I’d become old enough to fully digest zombie films and there were no shortage of them to love. 28 Days Later, the
remake of Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and Day of the Dead were the first films I fully took in.
My fascination with the flesh-eaters went much deeper than the basic love of blood and gore. It was much more than an affinity toward campy quips and
bad scripts with lot’s of brain eaters. There was something about the break-down of society that I enjoyed, something about the group dynamics of
people caught up in a disaster. So in this way my zombiphilia was part of my love of dystopian futures, of post-apocalypse and of psychology. I
studied up on zombies as much as I could soon understanding the deep layers of thought that were actually relayed in these simple stories of
In some media for instance the zombie is a metaphor for the masses, for the lower class that has an uprising and devours the government and TPTB.
This idea of a sort of French Revolution, but with zombies, in which the survivors are a metaphorical Louis the XVI being beheaded (or in this case
having their brains eaten). This metaphor of the zombies as the disempowered lower class finally revolting can be seen in certain movies in which
zombies regain part of their humanity. In Day of the Dead one zombie, nicknamed Bub or Bubs, remembers how to hold a gun, knows what to do with a
toothbrush and even speaks to some degree. In Land of the Dead (2005) the zombies further advance their use of weapons. This idea of non-human
entities evolving, becoming smarter, is something used in other horror films and with other creatures. The Velociraptors in Jurassic Park, the
Graboids in Tremors, etc
The zombie further represents the unwashed masses by its desire to consume constantly. Consumption has become the national religion of the united
states of America and in some ways the entire “Western” world has become dependent on industries selling things people don’t need and can’t
afford to them on credit. This ravenous horde of consumption comes down like a ton of bricks on those who push consumption upon us, the corporations
and commercial interests that have driven us into this corner. The zombie bites the hand that feeds. Because the zombie is portrayed as a basic
instinctual creature of ravenous consumption it identifies with the idea of a philosophical zombie further reinforcing the metaphor tying the zombie
with the brainwashed and powerless average human being.
Yet another aspect of human psychology explored by our undead friends is the subconscious fear of the animal within. Human beings have done
everything we can in 8,000 years of civilization to erase our connection to nature and the animal kingdom. We have hidden away our nakedness. In many
ways this is the metaphor told in the Adam and Eve story, it is truly the story of our journey from naïve innocent apes into beings with morality.
Setting aside our primitive nature has been a source of psychological turmoil for humans, society is a cage we have made to keep this animal at bay.
Zombies are taboo, they eat flesh and they revert to base impulses, they are driven in some ways by instinct. In other ways though they are wanton
bloodlust and, again, consumption. This idea of reverting into an animal and devouring and consuming and losing all control of our lives - chaos - is
part of what makes the zombie and the zombie-apocalypse such an interesting topic. This same fear of the animal within is what prompts myths of
wild-men and hairy man-beasts, werewolves and the like, there is a distinct feeling that humans were feral animals and that we have in many respects
Now we can shift our focus away from the blood-soaked living dead, for just a moment, and deal with the Survivors. The Survivors follow standard
disaster psychology in most zombimedia. Just take away the zombies and replace them with almost any disaster. The break-down of society has always
been an interest of mine ever since I decided I had no vested interest in the continuation of society and had the realization it was based on utter
BS. Any media about the two extremes of society, total control or total collapse, was of interest to me. Order and Anarchy were as beautiful as Yin
and Yang and the balance between them always seemed so fragile. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse must work together and yet in that situation
tensions are always high. Defense and cooperation are the most important.
In some ways it is the Survivors that must revert into animals in order to survive, if they think or feel their way through this it could be the end
of humanity as they know it. Survival suddenly becomes more important than luxury as society is pulled out from under them like a rug. Natural
Selection comes back into power, there are no systems or safety nets to keep you alive, just you versus the undead. But the undead aren’t your only
enemy. Suddenly nature and your fellow man are against you. In this day and age, when most people don’t know their neighbors the way they did fifty
years ago, everyone is a potential rival for the limited remaining resources. Playing upon this distrust of our fellow man is not a conscious decision
by the undead but it is effective.
Now I’d say its about time we analyze a few of the different types of zombies that have emerged and their basic origins and my own analysis of
The First Zombies - The first zombies, contrary to what fan boys might tell you, do not come from Night of the Living Dead. As much as I adore Romero
he was not the first to use the zombie, in fact he never referred to his undead deviants as zombies. The first zombies are, in fact, from voodoo. A
zombie, in voodoo, was a body brought back to life often to exact a curse of some sort or find its killer. Studies on the phenomenon found that a drug
commonly occurring in Puffer Fish can cause a death-like state for extended periods of time. Before modern medicine it was possible to easily mistake
these drugged individuals as dead. Later when their vitals were restored, when the drug wore off, they would “rise from the grave”.
Later on the zombie became a popular feature in movies. Generally the zombie in these early films was the product of hypnosis by some dark magic
brought under the power of someone else. So the idea of the zombie as a powerless person existed but they weren’t yet flesh-eaters. In 1954 came the
arrival of I Am Legend, a novel in which a pandemic disease created plague ridden vampires which were reminiscent of zombies in many ways. This was
the first discussion of vampirism as a disease and it paved the way for the idea of Zombification via infection. A film adaptation of I Am Legend
known as Omega Man changed the plague to a biological attack. The idea of biological, indeed Nuclear, attack still existed as the Cold War was far
from over. The explanations for what causes people to become zombies are diverse and often prey on actual fears. Radiation, disease, extraterrestrial
influence, bio-agents and even the supernatural have all be offered. The oldest of those mentioned is obviously the supernatural explanation. The idea
of the dead returning to life to feast upon the living has existed for hundreds of years if not longer. Vampires are exactly such a creature, they
sleep in coffins and feed on the life blood of the living. This references are repressed cannibalistic urges as humans, again we have domesticated
ourselves and our animalistic demons get expressed and exorcised through art, literature and film.
In much of the early fiction the ghoulish fiends are slow and lumbering an ever present menacing threat. They gnawed at the back of your mind both
literally and figuratively because even if they were just limping along they had determination, numbers and no fear. They are singular in their
desire, simple and catatonic, perhaps a representation of our fear of becoming TOO domesticated. Is it possible fear of the animal within and of
becoming a hollow automaton can be explained in the same fictional creature?
There was no discouraging a hungry zombie. They just keep coming and even when that was at a painfully slow pace it was still psychologically
unnerving. In today’s zombimedia however the preference seems to be fast zombies. It is bad enough to meet a brain starved infected head on when
they are slow but when they have the potential to run just as fast as you it makes it that much harder to stay out of biting range. Along with
enhanced speed can come enhanced rage. First introduced in 2002’s zombie-breakthrough 28 Days Later was the rage-zombie, hungry for human and strong
to boot. The idea of a weaponized disease, of a rabies like disease amplifying aggression and creating a stark-raving lunatic led to another
breakthrough in the zombimedia genre LEFT 4 DEAD.
Left-4-Dead took the campy zombie film premise to the video game world presenting an infected populous that weren’t as interested in biting you as
they were in beating you to a bloody pulp. What could be a better bio-weapon then one that gets the enemy to defeat itself? The game doesn’t divulge
much about the plague, offering only the info the 4 playable Survivors know thus putting us in the shoes of each Survivor. Left-4-Dead also furthered
the genre by allowing the plague to mutate certain humans into specialized killing machines, meaning the virus is a rapidly evolving and highly
effective one. Rather than go overboard though, Valve, the game’s developers, gave each zombie a semi-realistic ability.
Valve has also released a sequel to L4D which further expands the story with new campaigns and characters as they traverse the Southern part of the
nation with hopes of escaping the zombie apocalypse alive.
Then there is the recent film Zombieland. Personally I think Zombieland works as a metaphor for America. The main characters each thirst for a simpler
time and attempt to regain some of their innocence in a world of ravenous zombies. Tallahassee, the movies resident zombie killing bad ass, wants a
Twinkie, wants to savor the last vestiges of civilization before it is gone forever and Columbus, the films nerdy main character, is searching for a
family he never had. The two female characters Wichita and Little Rock want to recapture an innocent time in their lives by visiting an amusement
park. The movie is also a hilarious comedy, which brings us to the topic of zombies in comedy.
It seems an odd time for humor but films like Shaun of the Dead, Zombie Land, and Fido show that the
existence of the undead is actually a great vehicle for laughs. The mix of gore and gust busting humor has done well with audiences and spawned a sort
of subgenre nicknamed Zom-coms. These comedies work much the same way as horror comedies like Tremors and the Evil Dead series.
One thing is for sure, looking forward the zombiphenomenon looks strong as it has gained mainstream popularity outside of the nerd-circles it used to
travel in. My love of zombies only grows stronger and as far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as over-saturation of the zombie market. BRING
ON THE BRAIIIINNS!
Things I learned while writing this:
Firefox doesn’t consider filmography, Velociraptor, uprises or weaponized as words and scolds me when I type them.
Currently Reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I'm definitely a fellow zombie fanatic... I probably have as many zombie books now as I do UFO books...
I even have a few local books by local authors, about zombie stories that are set in my hometown.
While always an interest, it really took off after reading the Zombie Survival Guide...and World War Z...(both great books)...
Since reading them, I've been watching every zombie flick and digesting every book on the subject... You can keep your whiny vampires...I'll take
the plodding relentlessness of an army of zombies.....now THAT is something to fear, not a GQ cadaver that "sparkles" in sunlight....
I haven't got any Zombie books, but I love the movies and games.
Dead Rising is the best Zombie game on the market IMHO.
It utilises the slow moving dumb zombie, but when your surrounded by them, your in trouble.
I know this thread is now a little old, but I too seem to have a love of all things undead...I guess it is mostly the post-apocalyptic crap that I
find interesting...when I was a kid I used to play a game where I would pretend zombies started taking over the country, and slowly the entire
world...some what like Resident Evil...and another reason I wanted to make this post was because I don't think you made a single mention of Resident
Evil, one of the best zombie game and movie series IMO. A Resident Evil game was the thing to spark my interest in zombies.
RE involves a biological weapon developed by the Umbrella Corporation.
The T-Virus, a man-made virus, is the main virus used by Umbrella,
it has the ability to reanimate the dead and provides them with only the basic instinct to feast on anything living.
Though RE isn't restricted to just normal zombies like in the picture below, RE also has some zombies with super strength, and even super
intelligence, and naturally weaponized zombies. This is due to specialized variations of the virus and administration methods.
RE is definitely a zombie game to try out IMO, and the movies are fairly decent also. I guess it's the realism factor of RE that wins me over, they
really thought out the story line and the small details.
Nice thread, hopefully it'll get more replies now that I've bumped it back up, you certainly put enough work into it.
I got into video games considerably later than most so the only RE game I've played is 5.
Yeah, I think that's where they started to stray from the normal story involving the Umbrella Corp and the T-Virus or other viruses like it,
I think that game was focused on some sort of bacteria if I remember correctly. The "zombies" weren't even technically zombies I don't think, more
like mind-controlled robots, and the leader of their cult thingy had the ability to control everyone infected. Still a good game though.
I LOVE zombies.... Zombies (and Vampires) are what It's all about
As Mentioned, Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are both fantastic and terrifyingly serious reads.
I've been on a real Zombie trip recently, watching all of Romero's original "Dead Trilogy" also watching "Zombie" aka Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh
Eaters... which is very funny and pretty gory.
Also Return of the living dead, REC and a fair few other zombie movies.... and horrors in general.
I know many people think that the world ending would be good and they hope something will happen on 2012 and they think the rapture is coming and blah
blah....and I honestly scoff at that... I think the world ending would be terrible and don't believe in EOTW scenarios really....
I DO kinda secretly wish that we have a zombie outbreak.... just so I can put some of the skills and tips I learned in The Zombie Survival Guide to
the test, and because it would be freaking amazing
Reading this made me hungry...for brains! Seriously, though, I love zombie movies. Some, I could do without but most are great. I even have the Zombie
Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Thanks or posting this and the great read.
I too own a copy of The Zombie Survivor Guide, definitely a fun book that really does present some good tips if and when the zombie apocalypse hits...
My favorite thing from the book is that blades don't need reloading and there was also a hilarious illustration of what could happen if you have long
hair and a zombie grabs you.
If anyone has any zombi-media I missed that they want to add a little blurb about or elaborate on feel free, someone already added Resident Evil.
Hiya mate, did you catch the uk zombie 2 parter based around the big brother theme - zombies all over outside while the contestants are oblivious only
to realise that alls not well and appears that they have been abandoned.
I just had a thought. In all of the zombie movies, you see them eating the living. Since their digestive systems aren't working, I thought it could
be in order to breed bacteria. The bacteria build-up in their mouths could make a zombie bite poisonous, like in a komodo dragon. One bite, and the
wound becomes infected, causing death and creating a new zombie.
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