“I think that most people would rather face the light of a real enemy than the darkness of their imagined fears.”
Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

In previous posts, I often list zombies as a possible writing topic. I find it hard to believe that others do not share my absolute love for all things zombies! They are the ultimate threat to society and humanity. They are the ultimate villain who could take down Darth Vader or Khan (Voldemort couldn’t Avada Kedavra his way out of a zombie attack). The paradox itself is what makes zombies so great. Just because they are rotting and falling apart doesn’t diminish my awe.

While watching The Walking Dead with friends recently, we all decided to break down the origin of zombies. From our own knowledge without Wikipedia, we came up with the voodoo sense of zombie-ism, which is using magic in order to render someone in full control. For a great example of this, watch The Serpent and the Rainbow. It’s scary enough to think that someone could manipulate us while we could be consciously aware. However, it is that slow-shuffling, no conscious, single-focused, decaying zombie that takes center stage in many great works. We have George A. Romero to thank with his movie Night of the Living Dead that sparked an undead revolution!

A friend asked me how I can love something that is so disgusting. I love how they represent so much more than just a walking, rotting corpse. As stated, they are the ultimate threat. They used to be one of us, but for whatever reason (alien control, an ancient curse, or in the latest trend a virus) they are no longer a part of humanity. You cannot rationalize with a zombie whose main object is to eat you. They are pretty hard to kill. And if they get a hold of us, we can be turned into one of them.

Let’s consider zombies as a race, since I seem to be on a roll there from a previous blog. Zombies are a race that threatens all other races. When we focus on race issues, we usually encounter a severe amount of violence, and encountering zombies is full of violence. Zombies not only become the ultimate racial threat but they also threaten our own identity because we can be changed into zombies with usually just one bite. Wouldn’t our world be different if we could change races by such a small incident?

Of course, I have favorites in this genre. My number one movie for zombies is Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and writer/director Edgar Wright. How can you not love a British romzomcom (romantic zombie comedy)? Zombieland makes me laugh, but it is not as great a romzomcom as SotD. Plus, in a well-written essay, Pegg illuminates many of my shared reasons why zombies should be slow. Romero remains at the top of my list even though his latest offerings have not been as inspiring. There are more like 28 Days Later, the reimagined Dawn of the Dead, and others that I include in my zombie marathon.

Lately, I have been loving and hating The Walking Dead. As a comic/graphic novel, it is a fantastic visual offering that pulls no punches in highlighting and condemning the best and worst of us as individuals. The television adaptation starts strong, wanes early in the second season, and then blows my brain at the end of the latest season. On a scale of 1-10 in terms of zombie-riffic effects, the show definitely gets at least an 8 (although when you find out that all of the contorted body-usage to portray impossible body movement is actually done by double-jointed actors rather than computers, I think you would agree to bump it up to a 9).

In terms of writing zombies, Max Brooks remains at the top. With his initial offering The Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks put into simple yet hilarious terms how to best survive an attack. Everyone should buy one for your friends and family. But he furthers his idea into what I consider a great book – World War Z. Through the eyes of a reporter and using his interviews as oral narrative, we get a full picture from several different people from the start of zombies to how we are currently surviving. The book reads as truth, and when you finish it, you will feel as if it is absolutely real. Brad Pitt is currently making a film adaptation. It piques my curiosity, but since the brilliance of the book is through the oral history, I’m not confident in the film.

The last thing I love about zombies is that they force us to survive. If you strip away all of the trappings of our lives and put us into a situation where you have to fight not only with the undead to survive but also other human beings, what do you do? How does your humanity remain intact? Movies, television, and books try to answer questions like these.

I get a little obsessive trying to think about these questions. And I’ve only just begun to tap into my zombie love here. Don’t even get me started on games. However, I’m not sure I want to write about zombies because of my extreme love. Perhaps it needs to stay as an obsession – I mean enjoyment. But at least I have a plan in place in case of a zombie attack. If you don’t, you should do your research (see any of the above), and be prepared:

1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.”
Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead