Why Zombies?

When I tell people I write about zombies, I usually get one of two reactions.

1) “Why?”

2) “Ooooh, like as an allegory/representation of society/symbol?”

3) Like that walking dead show?

Okay, that was three reactions.

I’m so used to reaction #1 that most of the time I don’t even try to be silly about it. “I know, right? I seem so normal” is my default response. Whoever I’m talking to usually quickly backtracks at that point: “Well, I didn’t say you were normal.”

#3 is the sort of answer I get from someone who has miraculously managed to escape the zombie craze. They probably have a vague idea of what zombies are (“They’re like…gross and stuff”), but have no idea that there’s a fandom around them, or that people might write books about them, or watch them without being forced.

As for reason #2…guys, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m just not that deep.

Anyway, after the latest “Why?” I started thinking about, well, why. Why, exactly, do I write about rotten dead people who wander around making life difficult for non-rotten living people? I know why I started, at least initially. Years and years ago, I watched the 1991 remake of Night of the Living Dead, and it scared the shit out of me. I think part of its appeal — and the appeal of zombies in general (if you can call it appeal) is because I’m a very visual person. The torn flesh, the staggering gait, the blank eyes…ugh.

So back then they were terrifying. I’m not really scared of them now; I’m more or less morbidly fascinated by them, and what their presence means to the people around them. Which I’m pretty sure is the premise for every zombie book, TV show, and movie out there. But even then, I don’t have a solid reason for liking them. I just do, just like some people just root for the Chargers.

(Disclaimer: I went spent a lot of time in San Diego over the course of six years before moving here in August. I am totally allowed to rag on the Chargers, even though they actually managed to win last night. Way to go, guys. At least you’re still better than the Padres.)

Anyway, that’s why I like zombies.

So — why zombies, guys? Respond here or on Twitter or Facebook — I’m curious!


The Screwfly Solution, Zombies, and Taking Initiative

Today I watched The Screwfly Solution, produced as part of the Masters of Horror series. There’s a plot breakdown at its Wiki entry, but in short, some sort of biological misfire crosswires lust with rage, and men start killing women en masse. Several characters try to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it before the human race kills itself off. This post will contain spoilers, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing…run away now. Or watch the hour-long movie on Netflix streaming.

Overall, I really liked it. It has some of the same shortcomings as War of the Worlds—namely mother-daughter bickering and the daughter being ridiculous while global catastrophe is occurring. Oh, the idiot teen daughter. I hate idiot teen daughters. I did some stupid things at that age, but I like to think I’d manage not to squabble with my mother while my father was trying to kill us.

I guess what struck me was the reaction, or lack thereof, from women. We go from “Men are killing women!” to…basically wholesale slaughter, and within a very short timeframe—I think it’s less than a year?—most of the women on the planet are gone. Do none of these women fight back? Toward the end of the movie, the female lead finally gets a gun, but only because her husband tells her to. Seriously? She even balks about it. I wanted to clock her.

The movie’s assumption (and I guess that of the book) is that women would just be completely overrun and wiped out. I raise my eyebrow at that.

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