Zombie, zombie, zombie!
Zombie-tastic! Zombie-licious! Zombie-rama! The Zombiemeister! Zombie-riffic!
I do enjoy the presence of zombies in films, be they the tear-arsing sprint bastards on 28 Days Later or the dullfully incompetent and slow brain-eaters in any of Romero’s back catalogue. The pure animal nature and carnality of them. Excellent.
What, in essence, is the appeal of a zombie in a film? They’re mindless, seemingly hopeless and clumsy. They probably smell too. Why do people enjoy them? What is their charisma? I can obviously talk only on a personal level but let’s analyse the facts. My facts:
1. They’re expendable
I think my this is a good point. They come in their thousands slaughtered in their thousands. Gunned down with numerous species of weaponry, mown down by a multitude of vehicles, cut to pieces by a plethora of sharp/mechanised weaponry and burnt to cinders by anything that can produce a flame. Despite being shells of humans, but humans nonetheless they are killed off in large numbers. You might even reference genocidal tendancies here, but lets just move to my next point:
They are run purely by their animal ego, and insticts, namely hunger. The thirst for brains is what drives them. They don’t feel for each other, they don’t feel for their vicitims, they are solely steered by ensuring they are filling their zombie guts with cerebral matter. Their decision making abilities are purely limited to finding the nearest source of the grey stuff. Ace. What else though?
They are incredibly stupid. They walk into things, can’t climb ladders or start a car. This is often used for comic effect, I mean who doesn’t find a lumbering bloke walking in front of a fast moving car exploding in a shower of blood and innards funny? No one. That’s who. This has, though, been mucked about with to some degree in the ‘post modern’ remakes/new films where the writers/producers/directors feel the need for them to be quicker and smarter. This, to me, misses the point of the ‘zombie’… Anyway, next?
They don’t give up. Like a chimp with an accordian, they won’t go away. They hang around outside the shopping mall (centre)/house/laboratory you are locked in groaning and just stick it out. They’re not going anywhere… They just want brain! This is exacebated by:
5. Sheer numbers
Hundreds and hundreds of them. Everywhere. As far as the eye can see. No matter how many you kill, they will be replaced by the same again! ‘Killing’ them is futile. But how do you kill them? This segways nicely to:
6. They’re bleedin’ difficult to nobble
How do you kill one? Usually by shooting/chopping it’s head clean off. You can stab them numerous times in the torso to apparently no effect. I guess you wouldn’t really want to stab them anyway as you’d have to get close, and you wouldn’t want to do that because of:
The zombies themselves inadvertantly pass on their zombie ailment. If they scratch or bite you, more often than not you will end up being one of them. How terrible!
So why were zombies invented? I’m sure I heard somewhere they were a metaphor (Romero I think) for something. Might have been Communism or Consumerism or something, either way it makes sense to me (although the brain is very good at seeing patterns that aren’t there). They are mindless drones driven by basal emotions. They are followers with the same mindless aims, in the zombies case brain eating, in the consumers case wanting ‘stuff’. The Communist representation, I suppose, is them following what they have been told with no obvious individuals.
Whatever the reason for zombies, I’d like to think they were written about and represented in film because of their pure ridiculousness. They are stooges in a story, there to be slaughtered and laughed at. They do, however, form excellent props in survival stories. Imagine the futility of being chased by hundreds of them, no escape despite how slow and cumbersome they are. You could just shoot and run away. That wouldn’t make much difference, mind you, since there are another 150 of them round the corner. Too many to kill, too many to hide from. It’s cearly the apocolypse isn’t it? So next time someone says to you a zombie film is shit because “look at them, they’re so slow, why do people always get caught by them in films, they’re idiots!“, look them in the eyes, lay them a punch in the gut and tell them to fuck off for being so ignorant.
And what about the DnD zombies though? That is my normal starting point – they could just be killed by whittling away at their hit points with a bastard sword.
And on a similar note, that one in HeroQuest with the bastard cleaver.