Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Musing on Zombies

So a few weeks ago, I saw the movie "Zombieland" and I've got to say... it sucked horribly. Obviously, I'm in the minority here, if IMDB ratings are anything to go by. However, the movie did get me thinking about what are the things that I feel should be canon regarding zombies. So with out further ado,

Nathan's Canon on Zombies:

1. Zombies are not romantic.
- Unlike vampires, werewolves, frankenstein type monsters, etc. there is no way to romanticize a zombie. I mean, we're talking various shades of necrophilia, and there is nothing sexy about that. bleagh....

2. Zombies do not have a specific weakness.
- Vampires have sunlight, Werewolves have silver, fire is also a good neutralizer regarding monsters. Zombies not only have to deal with armed victims, but also time itself. You let a zombie go long enough, it's liable to just fall apart, like leprosy on overdrive.

3. Zombies are not smart.
- Lately zombies seem to be "smart" or at least show an intelligence that belies a tactical prowess. This should not be possible, as a) as the infection courses through a victims body, bodily functions begin to shut down. b) Zombies have been traditionally portrayed as "mindless", basically following the basest instinct - hunger.

4. Zombies are slow.
- A disturbing trend that has appeared in zombie movies over the past few years is that of the fast zombie. I first witnessed this in "28 Days Later" - while not "traditional" zombies, the storyline did support the concept of a fast zombie. However, other movies - especially "Zombieland" abused the concept. There are caveats to Rule 4 that I will cover below.

5. Zombies are metaphor.
- Zombies represent what we always accuse our fellow ma of being - a mindless, lethargic, creature controlled by base instinct. Zombies should not be paraded out like cobra commandos, or nameless extras in a James Bond Villain's army. They need to stand for something, or they become basic moving target practice.

6. Zombie origins depend on the background of the movie.
- "The Serpent and the Rainbow" dealt with zombies through voodoo. "28 Days Later" and "Resident Evil" dealt with viral strains. "Night of the Living Dead" used interstellar radiation. Keep the origin tied into the overall theme of the movie, or don't mention it at all.

7. Zombies do not crave brains.
- A common misconception is that zombies must have brains to survive. This is not true. Zombies hunger for human flesh, not just the brains.


1. Parody will throw any and all of these conventions out the window. If it's a comedy, these rules will either apply or not.

2. While zombies are not immortal, they're not going to go down without a fight. Even when a zombie has decomposed to nothing much more than a torso pulling itself along the ground by it's teeth, it's still dangerous.

3. Zombies are not smart, but when first infected, the original intelligence still remains. The longer a zombie is around, the more intelligence it loses, until it is nothing much more than a mindless eating machine.

4. Zombie speed. Like #3 above, once a victim has first "turned" they retain much of their original speed they once had. As they putrefy and rot, they slow down. When you've got a zombie apocalypse that occurred more than six months ago, and the undead are still pulling out 3 minute miles, you're not facing off against zombies, you're facing off against bad writing.

5. Metaphor. See rule one.

6. Origin of virus. yeah... I've got nothing.

7. Brains. If you want your zombie to crave brains, hey, more power to ya, but it seems like a waste of time to try and chew through the skull.


A very special thanks to George Romero, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and the FVAZA (Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency) located at htpp://www.fvza.org

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