From books, to video games, to movies, America’s fascination with zombies appears to be approaching epidemic proportions. Perhaps that’s why the Centers For Disease Control has seized on this wave of popularity to highlight emergency preparedness with their own guide to surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, handily interspersing real natural disaster preparations amongst the zombie attack survival techniques.
There has been a popular rise of books in the early days of publishing (Frankenstein, I Am Legend) to more modern incarnations such as Dead City, The Zombie Survival Guide, The Last Zombie, and hundreds of others. Modern book publishing is awash with a record number of zombie-inspired titles. What drives the publishers to supply the books? There is a lot of demand.
From what is arguably the first zombie movie, White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi, to George A. Romero’s pioneering Night Of The Living Dead which revolutionized horror filmmaking in the 60s, zombies have been with us for a long time in film. Romero’s vision changed the living dead from mindless voodoo servants to the modern day mindless flesh-eating monsters that are most prevalent in everyone’s incarnation of zombie films. A lot of the inspiration for today’s horror films still stems from Romero’s vision in the original movie. Unintentionally, Romero broke several cultural taboos with the film that still resonate today.
While the horror films of the 1960s and 1970s did well, they seem to have ambled along until video games came on the scene. With the building popularity and sophistication of gaming, many of the most popular game titles have been turned into movies of their own. One of the most popular games containing zombies is the Resident Evil series of games, so popular that they spawned a series of movies that is still spitting out profitable sequels. Several other zombie movies have come from their video game counterparts, some not so successful (Doom) and others more successful.
The world of books and comic books has also spawned a few zombie movies. One of horror’s most prolific authors, Stephen King, has actually only published one novel about the zombie mythos, Cell. You have to look elsewhere for the other purveyors of the living dead. The authors and books are numerous as publishing has seemingly exploded with zombie novels.
AMC - The Walking Dead
A relatively new television series, The Walking Dead (AMC), actually sprouted from a comic book of the same name. Two of the authors/creators of the comic book series are writers and executive producers for the television series. The premise of the series is to reveal how the characters change due to the stress of living through a zombie apocalypse.
That really gets at the heart of the matter. The zombie stories and mythos explore our reactions to the world around us when all law is suspended and the world turns into a daily, living hell for the survivors. It’s a clever gimmick for revealing the changes in personality and values as the world around us transforms. One of the characters in The Walking Dead can’t bring himself to kill his wife, even though she is now one of the infected and no longer recognizes him or their son as anything except a meal. Could you bring yourself to kill your loved ones once they’ve been turned into zombies?
If Your Loved One Turned Into a Zombie
Tantalizing questions like that have the public lining up to buy the books, films, and television series. Examining our human condition by removing that which makes us human is a big selling point. The buying public spurs the creators and producers of the zombie phenomenon to continue providing fresh product.