Friday, March 25, 2011

Zombies should be dead

I understand the interest and psychological associations with vampires (death and lust), werewolves (beast within), goblins (greed), etc, etc. The roots of most mythological creatures have some form in logic. And I appreciate that.

There's one that doesn't. Zombies. What the hell is the point?

They are mindless, rotting corpses, have no character and are obsessed with eating brains. Maybe they are rooted in our gluttony? Maybe people write zombie apocalypses as a way to illustrate how the destruction of mankind will be from us mindlessly turning on each other? Maybe people just want violence?

I don't know.

But with zombie's, we're being cheated of the best part - a villain. 

When a protagonist struggles against the threat, I'm sorry, but they look like morons. If you can't protect yourself against something that can't think...I don't know how you make it through the day. (I do understand it's about the numbers but that just isn't enough to satisfy me.)

Zombies are all the same. The associated plots aren't any better: Impossible odds (numbers and hard to kill), some weird sickness (that is never explained) started it all, it's the apocalypse, blah, blah, blah. They are interchangeable in the worst way.

They're supposed to be scary. But, they aren't. Empty bodies walking around, groaning and moaning doesn't inspire any sort of fear. What scares me the most? The fact that so many people like them. 

Are you pro or anti zombie? 

If you're into zombies please explain why, argue your point! I really do want to know why people like them.

If you hate them, tell me why (so I don't feel like the only person on the planet who does!)!

Is their any other mythological creature you hate/don't understand?


  1. I guess I like them, but I think you make a good point that they're not face-fo-face villains. Nothing you can create an emotional connection with. I think people do like them because they're profuse in number and they can tear people to shreds. They're a good conflict. And they also personify the idea that death is all around us, all the time. Sometimes you might just have to face it. Or something like that...

  2. I'm up for anything if it's done well. Try Feed by Mira Grant - where a zombie apocalypse is just the backdrop for an awesome story of political intrigue and personal heroism. She really nails the backstory of how the disease got out, too.

    Sorry. I'm gushing. Other than Feed, though, I get what you mean. Most other zombie novels leave me flat.

  3. I think you know my stance here, but I will elaborate it a bit. I am anti-zombie most of the time. There have been a few exceptions to the rule but it had NOTHING to do with the zombies and everything to do with the MC's that fought them. Zombieland for instance.

    I was thinking though, there was one movie called Fido, and it's this very strange take on how Zombies were turned into "pets" and they did "chores" for thier owners. The setting was sort of like the plastic suburban cities of the fifties and this little boy befriends his Zombie Pet and the Zombie in turns saves the little boy. I did ENJOY that take because they were "intellegent in the animal way" Also, very funny. I would reccomend that one. The rest...not so much...

  4. did you ever see the movie resident evil?
    I actually like how they describe the zombie creatures. Like you say: the werewolf is a symbol of the beast within humans. Though Zombies are symbol of the main human need: food. Hunger can make people do crazy stuff, eat each other.

  5. I love them, and it's funny because I don't know why. I love killing Zombies on the XBOX, I love reading about them, I love..ahem...writing about them, and I love watching movies about them. I love the different takes on them - how some are all rage and fury and fast, some are slow and mindless.

    I believe that one day, mankind will have to face them in some form. I don't know so much about ones that will raise from the grave, but I do believe that there will be something that we do that will create some kind of infection that will turn people into some form of zombie like creature. I don't know if they'll crave brains or not, but all I can do is be ready :) AA-12 anyone?

    This is the most excellent post!

    (sorry, did I lose you there?)

  6. I see your point, and I guess there are good books out there that turn the basic zombie thing and make it more interesting. But for the most part, I'm not that into zombies. But I'd be willing to read a book if it wasn't the same old, same old.

  7. I HATE zombies. Slow ones, fast ones, any ones...

    But I think the fascination with them is pure and simple fear of death. They're dead, they're coming to get you, and that's terrifying.

    But I avoid them. :D <3

  8. Interesting points. I'd never given much thought to them before I read Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Sure they might be slow and mindless, but when there is a "horde" of them, chances are, someone's going to get bit.
    Ryan did a great job with her characters and I think that's what pulled me into the story (and the sequels). The emotional side of things when someone you love is bitten--then it's kill or be killed. I dunno, she just did a really clever job with it and it was never unbelievable to me that slow dumb creatures could overpower you.
    All that to say, zombies don't really bother me as a book topic--I think they can be villain, no question.

  9. i used to not like zombies- because i'm not the huge on gore. suspense and horror- heck yes! but gore- not so much.

    but the thing i like about zombies is what they represent. just like your vampires and werewolves- zombies represent a danger of the human condition. and i guess it depends on the story what exactly they represent.

    but in general- this is what i see as the true terror of the zombie creature. worship of consumerism. zombies take what they desire and are never satisfied. they don't care who or what they destroy in their attempts to fill their bottomless stomachs. they are mindless, yes. but that is truly terrifying, because a zombie can be any one of us. if we allow ourselves to be touched, caught, infected by the temptation of material gain- we become consumed with it, destroying anything that gets in our path, and never satisfied.

    and if you are truly jaded, you can look at the world around you, and the people just living to come home and sit in front of the tv and rot their brains out... living dead.

    and i think with the rise in awareness of environmental issues, the conflict of the zombie ridden planet really strikes at the heart. a whole world destroyed by the deadly combination of apathy and consumerism.

    i hope that makes sense! i haven't consumed any coffee yet this morning! :P

  10. I came to the realization the other day that part of the popularity of zombies in movies is the inexpensive nature of zombie effects. Slap a little face paint and fake blood on, and you've got yourself a zombie.

    The other thing is that killing zombies is politically correct. There's no more Rambo blowing up various yellow and brown people, or Sean Connery killing Russians and Germans. Movies that used to be adventure flicks are now inundated with historical/political backstory, and that makes for a not so exciting build-up of tension.

    Plus there's the fact that by killing a zombie, you're putting that thing who used to be a person, maybe your mom or boyfriends, out of their misery.

    Now, this last facet, I can understand using in a book for creating some awesome conflict... But I totally agree with you, and usually prefer a REAL villain, one whose motivates are swayed by external and internal forces, not just mutant-rabies and a lust for brains.

    Thought-provoking post!

  11. I don't like zombies. There's just no intrigue for me. They're gross and dead and their skin is falling from their body. That said, though, I haven't tried to read too many zombie books. The first one I did pick up only lasted a little while before I had to put it down. Oh well, we all have our own taste.

  12. I'm not a huge fan of them, but I think they're fun.

    I think the appeal though comes from all the things they can symbolize. They encapsulate in one creature many of the things you've mentioned- death, gluttony, greed, beast within. In well done zombie flicks and books, the zombies always represent the more intangible human issues. After all, in real life, there's not always a Big Bad Villain to struggle against. A lot of times, we're struggling with more existential things - our own frustrations and disappointments. For example, a lot of classic zombie movies from the 60s had subtle critiques of the Vietnam War with zombies as stand-ins for the senselessness and disillusionment that stemmed from said conflict. Zombies have also stood in as critiques consumerism (uh, mindless hordes bent on nothing but consuming?), and they could also serve as warning towards human hubris and self-destruction (hence the classic "mysterious disease" or disease caused by something we did but never explained origins).

    Zombies are frightening because they're humans stripped down to their barest, basest form. There's no "dark urge" to blame; the implication is that humanity has itself to fault for the apocalypse (or whatever). Zombies also extend the metaphor of human groupthink to its worst possible end. Vampires and werewolves, even if they show a darker/savager side of humans, there is still a kind of glamor to them: faster/better senses, super powers. But with a zombie, you're just a horrible undead thing. You ARE the darker/savager side of humanity without the perks (because you're not conscious enough to enjoy any superpowers you might have).

    Also, I think it'd be pretty horrible to have to kill something that might've once been your friend or relative, especially when it still looks like them. :P

    Bit of a ramble. I swear I'm not a huge zombie fan (they kind of ick me out), but I see why they're so popular and fascinating, and I do love all the levels of symbolism. Basically, they're a very versatile mythological creature whose purpose shifts with the times. (That and I totally have zombies in my WIP, but I swear it's more interesting than being swamped by hordes of the undead.)

    Great topic! This is a fun discussion!

  13. When I think of zombies, I just think of the people wearing masks chasing Scooby and Shaggy. I've never really written about zombies, and I don't exactly plan on it.

  14. I'm so glad someone said this! I am NOT a zombie fan. Zombies = BORING to me!

  15. I think zombies would be okay... As long as they are not involved in a romantic relationship with the protag. or any character really. Dead flesh is just not hot.

  16. LOL! ANTI! I hate them. Do I need a reason? :o)

  17. LOVE zombies duh!!! They are the most realistic "monsters" out there, that's why they are the most terrifying!

  18. Thank you sooo much for this post! I haaate Zombies!! They are annoying and dumb, and are NOT interesting.

    You put a good reason why they are dumb. My reason - they are disgusting and boooring!

    Sorry, just needed to show how much I hate them. They are for sure my least favorite thing on earth!! (well maybe there is something I hate more) yuck yuck yuck!

  19. Melissa - The Forest of Hands and Teeth was a great zombie novel. I think mainly because it focused on the non-zombie characters and was very strong. As for zombies in general, I'm with you - Eeew. However, I did recently come up with a comedy novel idea about a zombie who has to choose between joining the Elite Zombie Club (which requires eating brains) or stay true to himself. He's a vegetarian Zombie. He'd be a sezy zombie, too, cuz they're be romance. Huh? What do you think? LOL

  20. Have you read Zombies Vs Unicorns? I haven't read the whole thing, but the argument the YA authors have had about this subject is funny, and I'm sure the unicorn enthusiasts would say the same things as you.

    I think it's just the world's obsession of "what if?". Zombies USED to be human. So it hits closer to home (same with vampires). When we watch things with zombies, they used to be actual human beings. So it seems more "realistic" to people, so they can imagine it happening to them better, than say, a unicorn stepping out of the woods. We actually have a better chance of creating zombies from our own destruction, than seeing a dragon.

    I just think zombies are gross, and you can't have a love story between a human and zombie. At least vampires are supposed to be hot. ;p

  21. I am so pro zombie it will make you sick! My FAVORITES! I have an unhealthy love for them. And you will hate my 4th book when the time comes around then. ;)

    I will argue that most zombie outbreaks are explained. Scientific research, freak disease, etc. It's usually always explained somehow, though not always well.

    My love and fear of them come from the fact that something could happen one day, the "outbreak" and containing it would come too late. Before people really understood what was happening the death count would be inconceivable. The fear of them comes from 1.the rational desire to not be eaten alive. 2. seeing loved ones killed or already mutated into living dead things. and 3.losing control of their lives. Once the outbreak occurs life as we know it stops. Routine stops, dreams for your own life end, and a new way of life that is unknown and terrifying begins. You have to learn how to survive or die. And most people don't know how to fight, to kill, and to survive without electricity, plumbing, by farming for food, scavenging, etc.

    Also, most zombie stories are about the human struggle. The villains are partly the zombies but a lot of the living people. Humans can become the worst sort of villains in bad situations and a lot of it is in an internal struggle with good and evil.

    I could argue zombie love all day. So I'll just stop there!

  22. clearly you have not seen 28 Days Later. And yes, pro-zombie - but only if they're well done :)

  23. In movies, yes... but in a book; absolutely not.

    Their emotionless and uninteresting… to say the least, if they are used by an intellectual leader—that can be killed to stop the creation of zombies—then I could get into it.

    I need more if I’m going to read 300+ pages.

  24. I love any fictional creature that is written well. It just has to work or it's stupid. Zombies are one of those creatures that rarely work for me because it seems too comical.

  25. I'm not necessarily a zombie fan, but one series of movies I've watched is Resident Evil, which Linda above mentioned. Perhaps I liked them better because those movies had a villian. The villian is the leader of the company whose experiments on creating super humans (or something like that, it's been a while) created the zombies, and those experiments are ongoing. In the last movie, the final battle was between two people who were subjected to experiment - one good, one evil working for the villian. Meantime, mindless zombies tried to eat people.

  26. Zombies are gross, their literary equal would be a protagonist with perpetual menustration. Guts, pus, oozing, putrid flesh. Who would want to go down on that?

    BTW enjoying following you, and I promise my future comments will be less disgusting if you write on less disgusting subjects.

  27. I've never been all that into zombies, but I think there are some books that do a great job of using zombies to explore human psychology. Does that make sense? Carrie Ryan did a great job of making her books about her characters, and I didn't mind that the villains were mindless.

  28. I'm not a fan of zombies and haven't read any of the popular novels. But I did get hooked on the TV series The Walking Dead. The show has great drama and plenty of suspense.

  29. Heh heh, I like this post.
    I don't hate the concept of zombies, but I agree they're not the most threatening of creatures. Typically you would need conflicts other than just zombies for the story to be interesting.
    Even video games like the Resident Evil series throw in other monsters for the characters to deal with, to keep things from growing stale.
    - Nicholas

  30. I see zombie hordes as a representation of the fear of becoming a mindless, brain dead, well, zombie. That we would no longer be ourselves, simply part of an unfeeling mass, one that is bent on destroying what makes you, you.
    I am most definitely pro-zombie, or atleast pro-zombie-hunting. The sense of one against the world is defs in line with teenage angst, and seeing someone taking out fifty zeds with a machete and a shotgun is pretty darn awesome.

  31. I'm anti-zombie and I also don't understand the werewolves. Seriously, boys are already smelly, and now we're adding dog to the mix?

    My husband wanted his two cents heard as well - He's pro-zombie - the story isn't about the villian, it's about the banding together of people who maybe wouldn't otherwise be together. But he will agree that a really good zombie book is hard to find.

  32. Haha, I definitely see your point. Zombies are pretty stupid when you think about it. I have always been pro zombie. I don't know why either. I started liking them ever since I saw Dawn of the Dead. I guess I just enjoy the idea of the remaining civilized people coming together to survive and rebuild with what resources they can get. However after reading your point of view I wonder why I have the fascination because honestly they are very slow monsters easy to defeat. haha! Great post!

  33. I'm anti-zombie. But my son and husband are pro-zombie and many of the boys in my 7th-grade class seem to love zombies.

    I'm not a big fan of fairies from what I've read so far.

  34. Ooooo, you're leaving out the best part of zombie books/movies...the villian isn't the zombie, it's us. They allow a writer to showcase the worst/best in humanity. I love zombies. They also speak to a primal fear of death and what waits for us afterwards...I think zombies deserve a bit more respect :)

  35. I absolutely hate them!!! However, I've used the idea once in a rant about the difference between living life like a zombie and living life to the fullest. And another time, while making fun of twilight, I suggested that there could be a zombie remake of the movie . . . attraction based on the smell of special brains. I used to think vampires were ok once in a while, for danger or humor, on an rare basis. Now, vampires are everywhere, and I really, really don't like them anymore.
    However, zombies are just gross, and wrong, and icky. Plus, as you said, they make boring villains. Zombie movies remind me of watching a movie about giant spiders attacking a city, except the spiders were probably more interesting and intelligent.

  36. Not into zombie in movies. Too much gore and depravity (except this one movie I saw on cable which was hilarious).

    Haven't tried a zombie book. Maybe I would like it.


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