09 September 2009

What Is It With Zombies?

Bianca's post a couple days ago got me thinking. No, not about cover art or headless torsos--about zombies!

What is it with the current zombie infestation in popular media? Should I be stockpiling blunt weapons and clean water or just a strong stomach?

Traditionally, zombies are antagonists--the dark forces of voodoo or virus our protagonist must face, usually unsuccessfully. Zombies are implacable, extremely infectious and legion (not legend--that would be Richard Matheson). There's a thriving subgenre of zombie survival guides, though they're generally "om coms" (zombie comedies, a phrase I found on one of the sites I visited for research and swore I'd find a way to work into this blog!). There's zombie literature, zombie games, zombie movies, zombie costumes, zombie conventions (http://zombieconx.com/), and zombie walks. (http://blogs.funeralwise.com/dying/2009/08/03/zombies-stalk-the-streets-from-alabama-to-alaska/ & www.zombiewalk.com )

The walking dead (as opposed to the bloodsucking undead) have existed in literature and cinema for quite some time. I've found references to movies from the 1930's and 40's and a literary reference from the late1600's, though the term "ghouls" was used. Ghouls were also the monsters featured in one of the Arabian Nights tales. Merriam-Webster claims zombi entered the English language in 1871 (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zombie ).

HP Lovecraft began writing zombie and undead tales in the 1920's and 30's. According to the UGO website and reinforced in many other articles, types of horror movies and zombie popularity (in the US) can be traced to deep, underlying national fears: "Zombies have always been most popular in America when, as a country, we're most scared of an enemy who looks just like us yet doesn't have the same moral code. Zombies became huge in American pop culture during both the Cold and Vietnam Wars, when it wasn't such a stretch to go from Commie to Zombie. It's equally easy to jump from terrorist to walking dead, which explains the current zombie resurgence in US culture." (UGO's History of Zombies: http://www.ugo.com/a/zombies-attack/?cur=history )

That's not the only evidence of zombies and philosophy. Most of the articles I read today suggested zombies and zombie movies, in particular, often have deeper political or social statements to make, while some psychologists "attribute the interest in zombies to the resurgence of off-the-wall humor reflected in programs such as “The Daily Show.” " (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070726-9999-1n26zombies.html ). Yes! Zom coms! I'd be as inclined to lean toward the second explanation as the first one, because I'm shallow and because I get to say zom com again.

If you're a fan of zombies or just curious about how in the world rotting corpses who yearn for human flesh can have deep, philisophical ramifications, here's a motley list of links that are guaranteed to EAT YOUR BRAIN! Also, some of the links have graphic pictures and language, so surfer beware (of zombies).

Zombie Cinema:

1) Top 10 Zombie Movies: http://www.movie-moron.com/?p=2160

2) Another Top 10 Zombie Movies: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6054654/Top-Ten-list-the-best-zombie-films.html

3) More Top 10 Zombie Movies: http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/movie_review/stylus-magazines-top-10-zombie-films-of-all-time.htm

4) Wiki List of Zombie Movies (has more than 10): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_films

5) Printable Zombie Movie List with over 4500 films: http://www.trashvideo.org/zmdb/view/printable_list.php

6) Free (legally I presume) Zombie Movies Online: http://www.fearnet.com/movies/index.html

7) Definitive Zombie Movie List (Chronological): http://www.geocities.com/shape_of_infinity/

8) What You Can Learn from Zombie Movies: http://discovermagazine.com/2007/aug/peer-review-what-you-can-learn-from-zombie-movies

9) Weirdest Zombie Movies: http://ninetythrees.com/zombie/the-20-weirdest-zombie-movies-ever-made/ (with gruesome clips)

10) Zombie Movie Popularity: http://coolrulespronto.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/zombie-movies/

11) 2007 Article about Zombies in Movies, which is fun to read because of what happened with zombies in 2008 and 2009: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/hollywood-newest-ticket-to-box-office-gold-zombies.html

Zombie Literature:

1) Zombie Novels Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_novels

2) Ultimate Zombie Book List: http://www.zombiebooklist.com/

3) Competing BEST Zombie Book List: http://bestzombiebooks.com/

4) Article about Zombie in Publishing (No, I don't mean overtired editors): http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6670427.html

5) Zombies in Literature: An Actual College Class: http://www.lsu.edu/faculty/jpullia/2025.htm

General Zombies, Pop Culture Studies, Etc:

1) All Things Zombie: http://www.allthingszombie.com/

2) Zombies in Pop Culture Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombies_in_popular_culture

5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Happen: http://www.cracked.com/article_15643_5-scientific-reasons-zombie-apocalypse-could-actually-happen.html

3) Zombies in Videogames: http://videoonlinegames.suite101.com/article.cfm/why_are_zombies_in_video_games_so_popular

4) Zombies Lurch Into Pop Culture: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-04-08-zombies-pop-culture_N.htm

5) Zombies on NPR: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2008/oct/29/zombie_genre/ and followup: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105510752

6) Forget Zombies, I Prefer Werewolves: http://io9.com/5207453/nevermind-zombies-+-ive-moved-on-to-werewolves which is in response to an article in Time magazine: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1890384,00.html

7) Reflections on the Zombie Panel at WorldCon 2009: http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?p=273

8) Zombies During The Recession: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6169084.ece

9) PhD Zombies: http://uanews.org/node/20144

10) Zombies and Racism: http://popularsymbolism.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/the-impact-of-zombies-on-society/

11) History Channel's DVD about Zombies: http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=67800&ecid=SEO-0000046&pa=SEO-SSP


While I am not inclined to write about zombies myself (and I'm not a huge fan of horror movies or fiction), I do find all the intense interest they're generating right now fascinating.

Jody W.
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing


Cathy in AK said...

That's a lot of zombie stuff. My 12 year old will be psyched : )

I don't understand the zombie rage either, but hey, whatever works.

The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse said...

Ahem. May I suggest the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse as a source for the zombie-curious?