August 25, 2015

In the Headlines: Why do we Love Zombies?

http://www.newsweek.com/why-are-we-obsessed-zombies-365140


Zombies are in the news again this week, with the recent news of the new AMC spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead. I have to say I'm surprised as heck that the series is generating this much excitement. Having been a zombie movie aficionado for almost 20 years, I've honestly never seen what makes The Walking Dead special; this new series looks like the same series to me, simply set in a new place with new characters. As far as I can tell, the story will be the same: the dead are rising, the survivors are fighting horrible and heart-wrenching situations which probably includes shooting their own friends and loved ones, and the characters we come to know and love will start dying with depressing regularity.

So why do audiences demand more and more of these shambling corpses?

I've seen most big-name zombie films from the George A. Romero series to the modern takes like 28 Days Later to the parodies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. I've seen many, many of the B- and even Z- films like Abraham Lincoln, Zombie Hunter. But it takes an awful lot for a zombie film, TV show, or book to get my attention anymore. So many of them follow such an incredibly predictable formula.

Lately, though, a few more interesting spins are coming about. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is slated for theatrical release very soon. Just a few years ago we had a marketable zombie romance as well: Warm Bodies

What is the appeal of zombies? How is it possible they continue to appeal to us in the same formulaic stories, and manage to surprise us in some of the most unexpected ways?

Share your thoughts about zombies and their place in fiction, especially as it pertains to romance. Do you like them? Hate them? Have any really good zombie film or book recommendations? Do you think they're getting old, or does it look like we'll be dealing with them for a long, long time to come?

2 comments:

  1. On zombie romance: I saw 'Life After Beth,' which is sort of poking fun at zombie romance. It was...not good. Not good at all. Definitely on my top 5 most uncomfortable films I've sat through. I didn't like American Horror Story's zombie romance, either. Or...ghost romance. Or "my wife was murdered and abducted by aliens and now she's back from the dead" romance. All featuring the same male actor, incidentally. Idk what it is with that guy and "let's put him in the necrophilia subplot!!!"

    I like zombies as horror because the variations can be infinite (magic, virus, a curse, etc.) and the implications can be really, really horrifying. Especially in versions of the zombie tale which imply that sentience -- at one level or another -- remains after you're a rotting corpse with little or no free will. I think zombies are scary because they prey on the fear of what happens to us after death. We rot away and get gross and lose all personhood. So characters trying to fight zombies can be seen as symbolically resisting their own mortality? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's why I like zombies. :)

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    1. Oh, I'm afraid I have to disagree when it comes to AHS. Evan Peters is my fave character and I loved all his storylines, even the romance! To me, "necrophilia" doesn't apply to supernatural undead...I think of it exclusively as sex with non-sentient, unresponsive corpses, because its the element of a dead body that seems disturbing to me. If an undead creature is still sentient, emotive and able to understand and desire romance or eros, that just seems supernatural to me, not the same as sex with a dead body. Zombies may be the sole exception because they're so often depicted as still decaying, brainless and unemotive. They are literally walking corpses, but nothing more. In most cases, mind you. Some erotic authors are starting to play with the genre and experiment, and it's interesting what they come up with.

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What do you think?