Why I Like Zombies

Have I ever told you why I like zombies? I mean, I write my Monday Mayhem posts, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned the reason why I’m drawn to these ill-fated, putrid-smelling, bile-seeping maggot bags the media affectionately calls zombies. I have a number of reasons for liking them, and today, you’re going to find out.

Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

As many of my regular readers know, I have an affinity for 80’s movies. Because of that love for all things retro, Terminator has always been at the top of my list of sci-fi/action flicks for a cold Friday night. Why? You see, terminators keep coming after you. No matter how many bullets you pump into them, two-by-fours you break over their head, and knives you use to gut them, they still keep coming after you. I like that idea. Zombies are like that, too. If a zombie does not sustain a bullet to the head, it will drag, pull and follow its way to you until you are dead. They don’t know pain. They don’t know exhaustion. They don’t even have a clue they are undead. But one thing’s for sure, they will not give up until they see you screaming in absolute terror, awaiting your fate under their feet.

Apart from my enjoyment of seeing the zombie inclination to persevere, I have fun with the idea that their walk, in a subtle sort of way, embodies the afterlife. Who doesn’t want to know what happens to them when they die? For years, vampires have shown themselves as Horror’s answer to everlasting life. In all truth, though, all things have to end. Enter the zombie. Not much different from vampires, the zombie life depends entirely on the consumption of human victims. The difference being, zombies hunt as part of hordes. Humanity’s fascination with the afterlife has created these creatures as a way to understand what it means to die. What will happen to us? What is the purpose of this life? Why are we here? I don’t know about you, but if I die, I’d rather not imagine a life befitting a zombie. Sounds like a messy affair to me.

The biggest reason I love zombies, and this is purely from a writer’s perspective, is that they can represent anything a writer wants to convey by way of metaphor. In other words, if I want to talk about how oppressive a society is of its people, I can simply write the zombies as a depiction of that society and of its willingness to destroy its victims, eating them to the bone. Same goes for cults that have a way of controlling their brethren. You know the kind, where the members can’t do anything without church consent or recommendation. The zombies in that story become despicable demons bent on absolute destruction of its family members.

The possibility of using metaphors is endless.

So much of what goes on in the media becomes fodder for zombie stories. I can’t dispute the fact that the undead have a way of bringing people together. One day, I’m sure I’ll find out what it all means. Until that day, I’ll keep enjoying movies featuring zombies in thrilling chases, stories about the undead living forever, and of life’s little metaphors.

Now do you see why I like zombies?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Why do you like zombies?

Advertisements
Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. “The fetish for all things ‘zombie’ and ‘undead’ is at bottom a statement of collective outrage at the turn taken in mass life towards the unconscious—towards unthinking habit, the mechanically deadened, the void of all life. The insatiable hunger of the brain-eating zombie reflects the growing suspicion that life based solely on exploitation (of everyone, by everyone) and aimless material gain, is not only inadequate for life, but wholly opposed to it.”

    Reply
  2. I like zombies because most of the films/stories centred on them explore the concept of what happens when society, as we know it, breaks down. It becomes a world where immediate survival is the main force driving people, and that changes relationships; trust and law breaks down and morals/ethics are thrown out the window. Some people will eventually go on try and rebuild some sort of civilised society out of the ruins, whereas others will revel in the anarchy and yet others will band together to create more outlaw-like societies based around strength and ruthlessness with only the loosest of moral codes.

    Reply
  3. A very interesting and insightful post. I hadn’t thought of zombies being a way to explain the afterlife. I think the reason I love zombies is their resilience. Damage to the skull is the only surefire way of destroying them but I must admit, their mindless, obsessive hunger is very scary.

    Reply
    • zathra

       /  August 22, 2014

      Ever see the Cybermen from ” Doctor Who ” ? They’re like zombies – only with a human brain in a metal body that share a collective conscience. & Star Trek’s Borg are even closer to being alien analogues to zombies.

      Reply
  4. I like zombies less because they are zombies and more because of the apocalyptic world/environment they, or most/all movie/book writers make because of them. I think of the world as an abandoned place where tomorrow is as unknown as today and you have the whole world to yourself. Add a risk of losing life over a simple bite of the infected. Combined, it’s an interesting thing to think of — zombie, post-apocalyptic world, the whole package. Though I sure don’t want to be in one.

    Reply
  5. Yes I’ve often wondered what is it that makes you so into zombies, Jack, and now we have the answer! I also like thinking of them as a metaphor for people who are blind followers and don’t think for themselves. For example, that fellow in Shaun of the dead who was zombified and then went back to playing video games at the end of the movie as if nothing had really changed.

    Reply
  6. zathra

     /  August 18, 2014

    In ” The Mummy ” remake, they had zombified humans, but they were a bunch of guys who were mind – controlled, & chanting ” IMHOTEP ! IMHOTEP ! “. Zombie is something of a buzzword for a mind – controlled henchman sans individuality.

    Reply
  7. I’m going to have to ponder this a while longer, Jack. I imagine I will come up with something similar to your reasoning. In general, I was always more interested in zombie literature than in the films. But now, on the spot, I think the tabula rasa idea that you mention about zombies is spot-on. I think back to when I read the Book of the Dead (many years ago); the diversity of the expression within the genre (almost a genre within a genre) and the limitless possibilities available to an author within that vehicle were fascinating to me. For just one instance, you could have zombies and comedy (imagine that!). It was gallows humor, sure, but I loved the stark contrast of death-laughter.

    Reply
  8. I think one of the most interesting aspects of zombies is that they are essentially empty vessels which we each fill with our own personal interpretations. This means that not only can they be a mirror, reflecting back our own deepest concerns and and worries about our lives and the society in which we live, but also that even though we may all read the same book or watch the same film, we each interpret the zombies to mean something different. In this way, they become our own personal monsters in a way that nothing else can, reaching deep into our hearts and our minds to reflect our inner paranoias, fears and falabilities. This, I think, just adds to the viseral fear they inspire within us.

    Reply
  9. zathra

     /  August 18, 2014

    Imagine a zombie / walker / biter that regains a level of sentience. I could do a whole routine about the things going through its head- ” Oh, my God, I ate someone’s brain ? Achhhhh – I’m going to be sick ! “. ” What’s that stench ? Oh, good grief it’s me ! “. ” I’m lurching ? I used to be a MARATHON RUNNER, for Heaven’s sake ! ” & ” I’ve become a horror stereotype “. 🙂

    Reply
  10. The zombie as metaphor is a comparatively new trope, oddly enough. By “comparatively” I mean that if you go back to the earlier films you don’t see that kind of thought involved. (I wrote a bit about this in my review of what I think is the very best zombie movie of all time here: http://www.xprt.net/~benboom/Zombie/Index.html )

    For me, the success and popularity of zombie films is a mixed blessing – yeah, more people like them, but IMO few of those people think about them in ways that go beyond the groupmind at the time. When the best zombie movie in recent times (this is my opinion, remember) is a comedy (Shaun Of The Dead) you know the idea has peaked…at least until somebody can find a new spin to put on it. (And that’s certainly possible.)

    But I think the zombie-as-metaphor is precisely why they are so popular; as a metaphor it is virtually unlimited and you can find examples everywhere without even trying. I wish I could invent such a potent metaphor!

    Reply
  11. In a movie called Metropolis made in the twenties the people become cogs in the machine. So are Zombies. Cogs, replaceable no values and no thought processes other than eating. They do not even crap. They have no conscious nor cares. Just cogs in the machine. We view life in that manner. We work in repetitious jobs and chill with mindless activities. We are Zombies but do not acknowledge it.

    Reply
  12. It’s interesting how you see society as the zombie attacking the individual when I’ve often thought it’s the other way round. As people lose power and influence over government, big business and big money, the authorities begin to fear a backlash. Zombies in modern culture, for me, represent the fear of revolution, the unstoppable mob. When that critical mass of opposition happens the ones in power know their time is up.

    But all horror and mythological creatures are open to interpretation and I suppose those interpretations shift over time as societies change.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: