Zombies: A Classic Menace

What is it about reanimated corpses that captures our fascination? Aside from the “ew” factor, there’s a degree of horror that exists in zombies that vampires, even the non-sparkly ones, Frankenstein’s Monster or mummies just don’t quite capture (even if they are, technically, also animated corpses).

I’ve been thinking about zombies a lot, which has made my sleeping time quite…interesting, let me tell you. The prospect of Friends and family turned into shuffling, mindless strangers is one that sends shivers down my spine.  But what I realized, even in just a quick perusal of resources online, is that I’d need a lot more than just a blog post to even begin parsing through all of the various zombie lore and incarnations, as well as their cultural significance. From Haitian zombie potions to humorous sendups (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland), to biological weapons of mass destruction (28 Days Later), the topic has been covered in a variety of ways, and by those far more capable than me.

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun and Ed being menaced by zombies

Simon Pegg (Shaun in Shaun of the Dead, pictured wearing the red tie), wrote rather eloquently in The Guardian about why the zombie strikes more fear and dread than their undead cousins.

As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

Simply and rather clumsily, zombies are death, the ever-creeping, impossible-to-escape fate that awaits us all. What’s more terrifying than that?

Woody Harrelson

Zombies beware! (Zombieland)

Well, maybe Woody Harrelson.

In any case, I don’t see our zombie love going away anytime soon. So if you’re going to host a Walking Dead marathon, why not do it in style? You can get great zombie makeup tips from Extreme Face Painting by Brian and Nick Wolfe. If you like zombie poetry, check out Zombie Haiku and Dawn of Zombie Haiku, published by our sister imprint, HOW Books. And David Okum gives some tutorials on zombies and the zombie lord in his book, Manga Monster Madness or check out Jim Pavelec’s Hell Beasts.