What's Wrong with Zombies?

Posted on January 16, 2013
There is nothing wrong with zombies, what's wrong is the delivery of zombies in books and movies.

After watching a ton of supposedly-funny and serious movies of undead monsters or half-dead beings with "the rage", I gave up on the whole zombie theme. These movies seemed formulaic. Virus infects humans...they get sick and spread the disease...zombies are created...they go after the humans or any living thing with fresh meat or brains.  The protagonist either dies or escapes the claws of flesh-eating monsters and lives to fight another day...again.

Then, about two years ago I saw Shaun of the Dead and loved it.

The only reason I even considered the movie was because I was a fan of Simon Pegg and his comedy. I was surprised to learn that Shaun of the Dead wasn't about zombies or finding a cure for the rage or battling creatures for the last surviving pieces of steak. The movie was about Shaun and his girl, a love story, along with a few of his close friends, which just so happens to be developing in the middle of a zombie crisis. That worked for me.

On a side note...I have always wondered why zombies didn't just eat each other. They are muscular-skeletal beings, so their muscles have to be full of blood to function in order for them to move around, right? It's basic biology. And just being cognizant enough to walk around and chase after humans means they have a brain, right? They have a pile of food right in front of them and they don't even know it.

Anyway, there is no hope in changing zombies back to being "alive" or "human". So when I read I, Zombie by Hugh Howey I had to stop a third of the way. It was only about the zombies. The multiple perspectives were creepy, very graphic, and really made me feel like I was a zombie. It just wasn't for me. We can thank Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series for making women everywhere wish they were vampires, or Becca Fitzpatrick Hush Hush series for prayers of becoming a fallen archangel, but I doubt anyone will ever want to be a zombie. (Disclaimer: I love Hugh Howey's Wool series and The Hurricane novel. I continually recommend them to anyone I meet! This is not a hateful rant in any way. Go Team Howey!)

So years passed and I ignored any book or movie that seemed to fit the typical mold, until my husband came across Zombieland. Again, not about the zombies, more about the survivors and how their personal lives live on in the midst of this world-wide phenomena. A love story, compassion between a father-like figure and a little girl, and fighting for the silver lining in everything.

The best part about the whole movie was the character development. They were not perfect before zombies took over. Emma Stone and her sister were thieves, Jesse Eisenberg was an antisocial geek, and believe it or not Woody Harrelson was the normal guy. And they weren't scared or in a constant work mode (as in preparing traps, stocking food and ammunition, etc.). They were trying to live their lives around the chaos. Life goes on, regardless of the bumps in the road.

Tell me how characters evolve as survivors, how they find new relationships and a new value in life, and how their legacy lives on even if they don't. And please, please, please dash it with a ton of self-deprecating humor and introspection. If we don't laugh at ourselves and our own sorrowful predicaments, then life will be long, depressing and lonely.

Okay...maybe then you'll want to be a zombie.

If anyone knows of any books that fit the funny, human-character-driven, self-deprecating, zombie/horror model, please let me know. Nothing makes me happier than laughing with someone at their own misery, especially if it makes me cry.

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