By Chase Burgess
Zombies have invaded every aspect of our culture and it appears as if there is no end in sight. Zombies are in everything from books, to video games to television and even academic institutes. The University of Florida has even gone so far as to implement a plan for a zombie attack, albeit a satirical one.
On February 10, television history was made when one show amassed 12.3 million viewers in one night. It wasn’t a sporting event, it wasn’t a major news story, and it wasn’t the latest episode of the Bachelor, it was AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. 12.3 million people tuned in to the mid-season premier setting the record for the most watched basic cable drama telecast ever. Television has become the most useful tool in the zombie arsenal with “The Walking Dead” and several cheesy made for TV movies.
“I enjoy the Walking Dead for character development” said Alex Kotanone, a fan of both the TV series and the original comic book series.
Our current infatuation with zombies began in the 60s with George A. Romero’s controversial film “Night of the Living Dead”. This horrifying film sparked both outrage and interest. When the movie was released in theaters, many people were not prepared for the gore that was shown. Zombies tearing out and eating the organs of their unfortunate victims created nightmares for any child who happened to go and see it. Parents were upset that someone could make something so brutal and grotesque. However, for every person that finds something shocking, there are always more who become fascinated by it.
Since “Night of the Living Dead” hundreds of films revolving around the living dead have been made. Some films have even taken a new approach to the genre, and instead of a horror film, they have made a love story or even a comedy based around zombies. According to IMBD’s top 10 horror movies of all time, three of them are zombie films. The most recent Zombie film to grace the silver screen is “Warm Bodies”. This modern, zombie filled version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet shows us that even 16th century tales are not safe from the grasp of a zombie.
Max Brooks, the son of famous actor/director Mel Brooks, has written multiple books about zombies including “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”. “The Zombie Survival Guide” gives detailed instructions on surviving a zombie apocalypse, while “World War Z” is an account of the decade long zombie war from the point of view of survivors from across the world.
On May 26, 2012, the world saw frightening images of a naked man in Miami, Florida, eating the face of another man next to a highway. This attack was followed by a string of smaller incidents that would be referred to jokingly as a zombie apocalypse. Some people have taken these incidents a little more seriously and have created groups such as the Kansas Anti-Zombie Militia. These groups dedicate themselves to train and prepare in the event that the zombie apocalypse actually occurs.
A common theme amongst zombie games and movie is the idea of an apocalypse. The usual zombie film revolves around a group of survivors held up in a building or a walled community eking an existence. Rarely do we see a flourishing society combine with the threat of zombies.
“I like the idea of the zombie apocalypse because it brings out human nature in its most basic of forms, such as the need to survive”, Garion Brown said.
So why does our society seem so awe struck by zombies? Maybe it’s because the fear behind the threat is that they used to be humans, maybe it’s because the event of a zombie apocalypse seems farfetched, or maybe it’s something else.
“Our society is so obsessed with death that we romanticize it by giving life back to the dead”, Damien Edgerton said.
Whatever the answer may be, zombies continue to grab our imagination, only time will tell if they hold such popularity in our culture, or if they go the way of the buffalo.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in February 2013 for a student publication at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo. and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.