Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zombies Through the Ages

There have been a million types of zombies portrayed in movies, books, even music.  They're all over the place.  These are just a few that have popped up over the years.

Why are they all in their underwear?  Do zombies not wear real clothes?

George A. Romero was probably the first one to throw zombies into pop culture.  Night of the Living Dead was our first glimpse at these flesh eating creatures.  They were portrayed as slow moving, brainless things.  Arms out, feet shuffling, they were portrayed as truly terrifying things, because there was no way to stop them, or reason with them or even a place to hide from them.

But even before Romero, we were seeing glimpses of corpses being reanimated.  Mary Shelley's Frankenstein definitely falls into the category of Zombie.  Sure, Frankenstein's monster is a little more articulate than your average zombie, but that doesn't change the fact that he's made of a bunch of dead parts and walking around, terrorizing people.  Shelley wasn't the only one resurrecting the dead; Tales from the Crypt came out in the 1950s (and was basically HOSTED by a zombie), H.G. Wells also wrote a zombie-esque story called Things to Come and even Richard Matheson got in on the action with I Am Legend (It's traditionally defined as a vampire novel but it's about the reanimation of dead people.)

Night of the Living Dead was quickly followed by Dawn of the Dead (which then spurred one of the first Zombie parodies, Shaun of the Dead), the second in a six movie series.  Romero used these movies as social commentary.

By the late '90s, the world was Zombie crazy.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer had an episode involving zombies, making them, essentially, like living people, just a little more gross.  28 Days Later (and then 28 Weeks Later), started a huge zombie movement in the 2000s.  They're based on the idea that Zombies are created by an viral infection, one that can spread quickly and easily (World War Z, our book this week, is also based on this idea.)

Over the years, the nature of Zombies even changed.  They went from slow moving, shuffling, mindless things, to agile, fast, vicious animals.  Zombieland shows us a Zombie that can pursue you at great speeds (Cardio! Cardio! Cardio!)

Now zombies are everywhere from our TV shows (The Walking Dead), to our books (World War Z) even our video games (Resident Evil) and our music videos (Thriller).  These days, you're much more likely to get a quick and vicious zombie (which is a more accurate portrayal of real life, voo-doo zombies) than you are a slow, shuffling one.

No matter what kind of zombies there are, just remember, dear readers, to always have a zombie plan.


  1. I do not like zombies. I get scared very easily, but things like Wearwolves and Vampires never got to me. I don't know why it is that Zombies freak me out, but they do. I was scared by Shawn of the Dead. Anyway, I have no desire to see the film World War Z, but I had no idea it was a book. I would be curious to hear if the book and film have different endings a la I am Legend, or if they are similar. Are you guys planning on seeing the movie as well?

    1. As far as I can tell from the trailers, it's going to be entirely different (much like I Am Legend, actually). So I'm expecting it to be nothing like what Max Brooks wrote (though I believe - not sure - he was involved in the making of the film).

    2. I don't really think the book and movie are going to be alike. The movie looks very much, "it's happening now and Brad Pitt has to save us", whereas the book is more, "We're finally recovering, and this is how we did it."

      I might go see it; I haven't decided yet.

      Brooks was involved in the movie. I believe he wrote the screenplay.