40 Comments

Zombie Questions

Today, for Monday Mayhem, I thought I’d try something different. As opposed to writing a post dedicated to zombies, I thought I’d write a post asking questions regarding the zombie genre instead. I’m hoping you can help me understand what you, the reader, like about zombies, as I know it will also provide me with some valuable information as to what kind of stories entertain you.

Zombies

Zombies

Are you ready for a heavy interrogation session? Good. I’ll ask the questions, then I’ll add a comment or two to get the discussion started. Let’s have some fun!

Do you consider zombies part of the Horror genre? Some folks think because zombies run, jump and attack like raptors they belong in a Steven Spielberg movie for kids. What do you think?

Should filmmakers and/or authors think about including gore in their stories? This is a straightforward question, but it depends if we’re talking about human or zombie gore. Big difference, I think.

What kind of zombie origin stories do you like? Remember, back a hundred years ago, zombies came from ancient voodoo practices while today’s zombie spawns from an outbreak of a deadly disease.

Do you like slow or fast zombies? Why? Everyone has an opinion these days about the type of undead knocking on the door. Which do you prefer?

Have you or are you planning to participate in a zombie run this year? Many folks enjoy the challenge of running in hopes of outwitting actors dressed in zombie costumes. Do you?

Have you or are you planning to dress as a zombie for this coming Halloween? I know a few of my friends who have participated in zombie birthday bashes. What about Halloween?

What are your favorite zombie movies? Zombies are hot, but it’s also nice to know what the viewing audience finds appealing with their choice of entertainment.

If you’ve read zombie novels this year, which ones have you read and why? This is one of those questions where personal preference goes a long way.

Do you like crossover stories such as Horror and Romance (i.e. Warm Bodies)? Many zombie fans like their undead without Romance or Science Fiction. What about you?

How much action in a zombie story is too much action? Many fans enjoy the idea of seeing how the survivors adapt to their new environment. But what if they’re under constant threat of the undead? Then what?

If you watch The Walking Dead, what do you like about it the most? When a major character dies on The Walking Dead, I bow my head in mourning. Does it affect you in the same way?

Are you a George A. Romero junkie? Many of today’s zombies possess traits that came from the mind of director George A. Romero. Have you seen any of his movies?

When watching a zombie movie, wouldn’t you like to have the characters refer to zombies as zombies? Many movies and TV shows don’t refer to zombies by their name. Instead, they choose other names to enhance the experience. What do you think about that?

That’s it for now. If I’ve missed anything, let me know.

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40 comments on “Zombie Questions

  1. Zombies are mindless droids, they remind me of Hitlers troops who bought into world domination. The new Zombies are real they are marching on Baghdad and they are mindless fanatics. Words and communication are limited, the blood letting is abundant and the screams are not only at night but in the heat of the day. I do not like Zombies for they are non thinkers. Vampires on the other hand seem to have some rational reason for non living. Confusing,
    What if a Zombie eats a vampire. Does he go work at Stake and Ale?

  2. I have seen one movie about zombies where they were being bio – mechanically engineered, a lot like the Borg in ST : The next Generation & ST : Voyager.
    I think it would be interesting to see them turned into ” undead cyborgs technologically advanced “. There’s maybe even a Hive Queen somewhere, or at least a master main – frame in the background, flipping switches & relays.
    They need to move into the 21st century. That’s why I thought ” Star Trek : First Contract ” was so good. The movie showed the Borg as ” techno – zombies “, converting people with injections of nanites administered via implants, & the ( mostly ) human converts had their personalities & individual wills subjugated to a group mind where their individuality was pretty much erased. That would be worse than dying & being brought back as a decaying, semi – undead monster driven by primitive urges.
    How would the human survivors in The Walking Dead handle beings like those ?

  3. I like books that focus on world building and tough decisions characters have to make in order to stay alive. Share supplies or hoard? Band together or go it alone? Which of their morals/values must they adjust in order to survive? I enjoy zombie books that focus on interaction with zombies as well as evil people. The people are often more interesting than the zombies as they change from group to group, they react differently depending on who they are, and winning against them often requires a lot more strategy. Books that focus on finding a cure or solution also interest me so that the story isn’t one long, hopeless string of events. Here are some of my favorite zombie books: The Remaining, Z2134, Apocalypse Z, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Two other books I really enjoyed for similar reasons that are in the post-apocalyptic genre are Wool Omnibus and The Stand. The Walking Dead is by far the best movie/TV show out there in my opinion.

    • The Walking Dead is VERY good, but I’m rapidly becoming a fan of the BBC series ” In the Flesh “. The dead are coming back to life in this British town – Roarton – during an event called ” the Rising “. After going through a period where they go ” rabid ” ( acting in stereotypical zombie fashion ), they can be ” rehabilitated ” & made to look & act human / normal ( even though they can’t eat or drink, or eliminate waste ). I saw the 2nd season finale, & it was FANTASTIC.

      • Thanks for the suggestion. I will be watching this immediately!! Hopefully it’s available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. :) Sounds like some great twists have been added in to keep things interesting.

      • I have a MILLION spoilers that I could spill, but I’ll keep them to myself until more people have seen the series in the U.S. & Canada. But ” In The Flesh ” takes a completely different & novel approach to the reanimated dead / undead.

      • Well, I’m dying to watch it now! It will be the perfect way to start my summer. ;) Last day of school is June 25 and then I’m free until September! After teaching middle school all year, I feel like a zombie! :)

      • It’s much more politically correct. Zombies are referred to as PDS ( Partially Deceased Syndrome ) sufferers, & they’re treated like anyone with an affliction ( drug addiction, HIV, Parkinson’s, etc. ) that they have little or no control over. They get weekly doses of a drug to help them regenerate neural connections so they have more control over their bodily functions instead of reverting back to a shambling, drooling, violent state. The formerly undead even have an advocacy group called the ULA – Undead Liberation Army.

  4. OK confession time. I don’t actually like zombies. I am trying to understand why so many people do. Most of my friends are entranced so I’m doing a little research for myself. Besides, I like your writing.

    • Zombies are the new vampires !
      I can’t really understand it 100 % either. Vampires are sexier, by comparison.

      • ooh vampires are so sexy! At least the older ones not the yuppy ones. They were my first scary monsters.

      • Google central European / eastern European vampires. There are very few differences between vampires & zombies until the era of Bela Lugosi. Vampires were smelly, shambling, decomposing hulks of flesh until then ( Or Bram Stoker’s Dracula ).

      • Frank Langella, Chris Sarandon, George Hamilton, Johnathon Frid,

      • & Nosferatu – Not a very testosterone – laden character. :)

      • ooohh Nosferatu is much too scary!

      • Nosferatu looked just plain WEIRD. They had an episode of ” Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ” with a ‘ space vampire ‘ that looked like him. Unsexy.

      • humm I used to like that show! I was young.

      • The ” space vampire ” episode – not that series’ proudest moment. I think Star Trek TNG handled space – age versions of monsters better with the ” techno – zombie ” Borg & Doctor Who with the Daleks & Cybermen. The Cybermen are almost zombies, but the only organic human parts are the brain & nervous system. Everything else is enclosed in a metal / plastic exo – skeleton. So – A maybe – zombie. :) Same with the Daleks.

      • I’m a huge Dr Who fan so yes get the concept much better now. Cybermen are scary but more psychological fear. Hey thanks!

      • That’s because you know there are organic bits inside that smooth, metallic Cyberman shell. Without that, they would probably be more like stereotypical zombies. That & the fact that, like the Borg, they’re directed by a central collective mind, rather than lurching about at random.

    • Thanks very much for the compliment!

  5. Reblogged this on Insomnia, Nightmares and General Madness and commented:
    Since I have a terrible affliction in that I feel compelled to share zombie love, thought I’d spread this one around. Some interesting questions in here, and stuff that might (hopefully) bring the poor little dead guys some more attention (with the possibilities for branching out) like their bloodsucking cousins have gotten.

  6. Now, so far as actually answering the questions asked herein, here’s my $0.02 (possibly with a great deal of interest.) So far as them “belonging” as horror, I don’t think they intrinsically “belong” anywhere; it’s all in what the author wants to do with them. I think they have as much potential as any other beastie out there for cross-genre exposure. That also covers the “gore” question, since I’d say that depends on the genre you’re attempting to cover; if you’re going for a more moody, dramatic or romantic piece, obviously accenting the gore factor is probably not what you’re aiming at; if you’re looking for more visceral horror/slasher type material on the other hand, playing up the gross out factor and accenting the terrible damage such beings could wreak is probably in the cards. That also impacts the question of how much action to include; depends on the story being told. If the story needs action, then by all means, “MOAR EXPLOSIONS!” If it’s more dramatic, then it can take a back seat.

    So far as origins and speed (alongside any other powers/traits the zombies have), I’d say it really depends on the setting. If the author can make it work and it suits the setting and plot, I’m good with it. Not particularly picky in this department.

    Not much of a participant in zombie runs/crawls, nor have I ever attended a costume event as a zombie (though some might would claim that I look/behave like one anyway…) Not much of a Walking Dead fan, personally, and Romero’s okay but not earthshattering to my world view. (I was always more in love with Evil Dead than any sane person should be.)

    And for the finale, yes, God, yes. I would like, just once, for them to admit what they’re conveying. (Shaun of the Dead having the “Don’t use the ‘zed-word’!” conversation was quite amusing to me.)

  7. I don’t watch movies like this. This is a long comment too.

  8. In terms of what genre zombie stories/movies fit into, I’m not soo sure it’s completely clear cut. I think there’s a general assumption amongst publishers/film distributors that just because something has zombies in it (or zombie-like creatures), it’s automatically falls into the horror genre.

    However, I’d say that only those which happen to go in for the more full-on gore-fests are actually truly in the horror genre. In contrast the world-building, survival types probably fit more into the post-apocalyptic fiction genre (which is, oddly, considered part of science fiction). 28 Days Later illustrates this nicely. The film is widely considered listed as being in the Horror genre on IMDB.com. In contrast, the 1950s book The Day Of The Triffids (which 28 Day Later is very closely based on) is considered post-apocalyptic fiction. The biggest difference between the two is the threats faced by the survivors in each of them (moving plants in TDOTT and zombie-like infected in 28DL).

    I guess there’s probably a continuum between true horros zombie stories and those which fall into the post-apocalyptic genre, but personally, I prefer the zombie stories that fall closer to the latter end than the former.

    Oh, and just to be even more controversial, I like my zombies fast, living and caused by some sort of relatively realistic disease (which technically doesn’t even make them zombies at all!). I’d also only use the term zombies for traditional risen from the dead types, and stick with other names (like The Infected in 28DL) for any still living variants.

    But I guess that’s just me, and probably the beauty of zombies, in general, is that they are a blank canvas onto which each person can impose their own preferences, fears and prejudices.

  9. Do you consider zombies part of the Horror genre? They ARE horrible. Ever smelled one? The nose knows horror.

    Should filmmakers and/or authors think about including gore in their stories? Gore and zombies go together like cornbread and sorghum syrup. Most a them damn movie people never seen a real live zombie attack, so they just make up the details (and get them wrong, I might add).

    What kind of zombie origin stories do you like? A decapitated zombie that’s lit with kerosene and cookin’ like my cousin Dooley’s Forth o’ July Bar-B-Q is my favorite zombie story.

    Do you like slow or fast zombies? Why? Zombies are slow till they get the scent of the living, then they can haul ass like Darla’s momma at the All-You-Can-Eat pancake breakfast. Don’t wanna get in that woman’s way – just like in a zombie attack, you could lose a limb.

    Have you or are you planning to participate in a zombie run this year? Every day is a zombie run in my neck o’ the woods.

    Have you or are you planning to dress as a zombie for this coming Halloween? You serious? That’s a good way to get yerself killt, though when the hordes are attacking a little blending can conversely save yer life.

    What are your favorite zombie movies? None! I don’t believe in glorifyin’ the walking dead when so many innocent lives are at risk. Though that Woody Harrelson shows ya how to get ‘r done alright.

    If you’ve read zombie novels this year, which ones have you read and why? I’ll stick to my weapons catalogs, if it’s all the same to you.

    Do you like crossover stories such as Horror and Romance (i.e. Warm Bodies)? Ain’t nothin’ ‘romantic’ about dead bodies come back to life. Though I have to admit my wife Darla can get quite amorous at night sitting around a nice crackling bonfire of zombie bodies. That’s how our boy Boscoe came to be.

    How much action in a zombie story is too much action? You do need a modicum of down time now and then, to recharge, sharpen, and reload.

    If you watch The Walking Dead, what do you like about it the most? I take every death to a zombie personally. It ruins a man’s heart, I’ll tell you what.

    Are you a George A. Romero junkie? I’m not sure who that is – does he have the John Deere dealership over to the next county?

    When watching a zombie movie, wouldn’t you like to have the characters refer to zombies as zombies? Well now, who the hell has time for movie-watchin’ when the hordes are crossing the county line? Vigilance trumps viewing! You don’t beat zombies by starin’ them down!

  10. 1) Definitely in the horror genre – it’s chilling to have one of your own (species) turn on you. And they eat you alive. I know raptors do to, but being hunted by something that’s the walking dead? Which anyone of us could turn into? Yeesh.

    2) I guess I always figure zombie stories just happen to come with gore – human AND zombie gore alike.

    3) I am new to the genre but the whole virus thing is what interests me because there are real viruses out there that mimic the fictional ‘zombie virus’.

    4) Slow or Fast? I’m a Walking Dead fan so slow. But it’s not the speed that freaks me out as much as the hordes of zombies.

    5) & 6) No zombie run for me this year – but I do want to dress up as a sword-wielding Michone for Halloween one of these years. I suppose I would rather be a zombie killer than a zombie.

    7) I’m still a big scardy cat with zombies so I’ve only been following The Walking Dead. I want to see Warm Bodies, though.

    8) So far just a bit of the graphic novel for Walking Dead.

    9) Well, I think what I like about the Zombie apocolypse idea is the human conditions factor. Can there still be relationships and romances during such harsh times? Maybe people need that more than ever when they don’t know what day, hour or minute might be their last.

    10) I need a balance of both – strategy and human adaptation to such an environment with good action as well. Too much of either/or can be, well, too much.

    11) TWD – the people. The human condition. Yes – when major characters die, I certainly do mourn. They’ve sucked us in and we’ve fallen in love with the characters. I don’t think I would continue to watch the series if the character development was anything less.

    12) Nope.

    13) It’s actually neat that they don’t refer to them as zombies. :)

  11. Here’s my two pence for most of the questions (sorry for skipping some)

    Do you consider zombies part of the Horror genre?
    - What is ‘Horror’? People have different opinions when it comes to the definition of ‘Horror’. Take horror films for example: I for instance like the unknown, and prefer film where you don’t see the evil, or only for the fraction of a second. That’s why I don’t like today’s horror films, most of them just rely on cheap jump scares. But to answer the question: No.

    Should filmmakers and/or authors think about including gore in their stories?
    - Depends on how much they gonna use. If it’s too much, e.g. guts and flying body parts galore style, they might risk that people don’t take their story serious.

    Do you like slow or fast zombies? Why?
    - Both. I prefer a mixture like 3/4 slow + 1/4 fast, to keep things interesting.

    Do you like crossover stories such as Horror and Romance (i.e. Warm Bodies)?
    - Gee, no! I never liked this crossover stuff. Either it’s horror or romance for me. That’s why I despise films like ‘Twilight’.

    How much action in a zombie story is too much action?
    - See ‘gore’. Too much, and it might come across as some generic action story.

    If you watch The Walking Dead, what do you like about it the most?
    - That it’s not so much about the Zombies, but about the people around you.

    When watching a zombie movie, wouldn’t you like to have the characters refer to zombies as zombies?
    - I’ve noticed that too, and always wondered why they don’t call them what they are. But personally I don’t really mind.

  12. Fast zombies creep me out. I didn’t think WWZ would scare me…but my heart was pounding for the majority of the film.

    I suspect it’s the same deep-rooted fear of being chased that wakes me up when I have dreams about being chased by something (zombies, now and then).

  13. I think zombies as a speculative fiction trope can be used in a variety of different ways, science fiction as in Lucas Shephard’s “Green Eyes”, fantasy as in Larry Niven’s “What Good Is A Glass Dagger?”, even paranormal mystery as in K. Bennett’s “Pay Me In Flesh”. They are most commonly used in horror fiction, but not limited to it.

    Personally, I am not willing to give zombies any more than my usual willing suspension of disbelief, and that is my main problem with much of what is considered the zombie “genre”. Reanimated corpses are simply not terribly practical. There are too many organisms on this planet, both micro and macro, that live on carrion.

    The “typical” walking dead, mindless and shambling, would be reduced to a skeleton without any soft tissue in short order. Maggots eat voraciously, and they wouldn’t care if their food walked around. One can easily imagine a zombie slowly shuffling around with a vulture perched on its shoulder, feasting until the zombie collapsed or the vulture was sated.

    Nor is the weather itself kind to dead flesh. In the desert it would desiccate, in the jungle it would rot, and in most regions it would freeze solid in the winter. Living flesh spends a huge amount of its energy simply protecting itself from the elements. Once an animal or human dies it quickly goes back to the soil–which is why this Earth isn’t a mile deep in corpses.

    These are not insurmountable problems for a creative author, but they are problems that should be addressed and so often are not. Make me believe that the threat is real, that the walking dead have something that serves in place of the no longer functioning defenses, and they can be terrifying.

    • I’ve said it before – Nanites. Of course with them you’d have a kind of ” techno – zombie ” / bionically – augmented zombie ” I read a short story in the 70′s about people with electro mechanical implants who came back to life ( or a semblance thereof ) a short time after their clinical death. I don’t know how plausible it REALLY IS, but it seems like a paasable plot device for writing about zombies in the 21st century.

  14. That’s a lot of questions. Yes I am a Romero junkie. In general I like variety and innovation when it comes to zombie stories, but you still can’t beat the old Romero classics with slow, shuffling zombies and lots over-the-top (cartoonesque) gore. I think comedy and zombies combines well, even the older classics have an underlying darkly comic element to them.

  15. […] As opposed to writing a post dedicated to zombies, I thought I'd write a post asking questions regarding the zombie genre instead. I'm hoping you can help me understand what you, … Walking Dead, what do you like about it the most?  […]

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