Thursday, September 20, 2012

Zombies and Their Direction

Personally, I like zombie movies. I grew up watching them when they were still the hobbling, slow moving horde of crazies. As fun as those were, the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" is one of my favorites, as is "Shawn of the Dead." Why? For starters, they're both very well made, but mostly because they took a unique approach to a very stale ideal.

Not that I'm complaining much, you go the other direction and keep breathing new life and ideas into a concept and you get the situation that we have with vampires. We start with Bram Stocker (disregarding all the mythology before that and stick with what popularized the idea) and watch over the decades the creature go from a romanticized terror of the night to either a complete and total rampaging monster (30 days of night) ,or a sparkly vegetarian (vamp version - and we all know what I'm referring to here). Is there anything wrong with all this? Not much, other than when you go see a movie, you never know what exactly you'll see with a vamp movie.

Zombies, however, have had little change since their movie debut (again, disregarding all mythology) and what changes have been made are for no other reason to make them scarier. Why else would a horde of human-eating, nigh-invulnerable, undead need to run to catch someone? Most of these movies are about people locked up in some house, mall, facility, or whatever and the zombies are getting in. Plotwise, not much reason for zombies to gain speed.

These kind of things run through my head when I watch movies. I wonder why people do what they do and I try to piece things together logically in my head. I realize this is a very silly thing to do with movies, especially these sorts, but it's a fun puzzle for me and has given me some ideas that I plan to use, or, in the case of zombies, have used. Book 1 has a 3 chapter section on the topic of zombies. the first 2 chapters I wrote as a "Okay, here's what we all know - typical zombie piece" and the third is my way of reasoning the unnecessary changes in the zombie genre. Much like the rest of the book, I have a big question that I try to answer with the writing - Why do these changes in the genre have to be separate, can they be handled in such a way that it becomes one cohesive package, rather than a new direction of an old concept.

Please comment below, I'm curious what others think and I will respond. :)


  1. I too have asked the same questions about zombie movies. As a teenager my best friend and I absolutely loved the original Dawn of the Dead series of films, and I have watched most of the more recent ones including the remake, and Shawn of the Dead.

    Personally I like to use traditional models in stories, because they are tried and tested formulae and the reason why we choose to read certain genres and watch specific films. Don't get me wrong, if someone tries a new idea or a new shock tactic in their story then I appreciate it, but the traditional method of storytelling must still be apparent.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

  2. I have some issue with traditional models. Not to say I'm against them, but usually the model we consider "traditional" is a rehash of something far older and far more interesting. Look up the history behind vampires sometime. There's tons of different ideas from every culture.

    My point is that this traditional model, like a Bram Stoker vampire, is usually not even a traditional idea - it's a combination of even older ideas into something (at the time) new. I realize this is a far more challenging thing to do these days with media being as wide-spread and over saturated, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do something with it.

    What George Romero was doing is a fine example. Each movie shows a slight change to the zombie idea. Night of.. was a straight movie, but a new idea for the time, Dawn of.. gave a slight psychological consideration (zombies doing daily routines, thats why they show up at the mall), Day of... gave a concept of how this would effect society in general (from what i can remember, its been years) and land of the dead started to show zombies evolving (picking up weapons). None of this really adds much shock value, but it does add something...that's all I'm asking for and all I'm trying to do myself.

    of course, the only people who know that either know me personally, or bother to visit this blog. I'd rather people read the book and enjoy it than to think it's some sort of book with a lot of artsy satire, that tends to be a turn off or a very tiny niche group. :P