In the past 20 years what advancements have there been in terms of depicting Zombies in movies and television shows? That's right, they can now run
. Just imagine the literary goldmine you can explore with that
new addition to to the Undead genre! Now, you may think I'm intentionally coming off as an ass to stroke my own ego, and you're right, but shut up for a moment and actually think about the Zombie genre over its considerably short time in popular culture.
No one can argue that stories such as World War Z
and The Walking Dead
allow for deep introspective looks at individuals as they struggle with humanity and survival. However, the only thing the walking dead, the ever present antagonists, do is walk/run, eat, and die. Besides the ever-worsening ideas of George Romero, as he helps kill the very genre he helped spawn, Zombies have become faceless violence fodder of fictitious creatures (save for the boss enemies in the Left 4 Dead
series...man, they can kick your ass). It's baffling to me why the zombie genre is held in such high regard these days when their are infinitely more interesting supernatural/other-worldly creatures to explore. Robots, for instance, can give a multitude of different story directions; Robots can be portrayed as calculating and cold killing machines, newfound life struggling to understand its place in the world, or characters that are as fully developed and realized as any human character in a story. Don't like my example? You can substitute Robots with almost every other supernatural character: Werewolves, Mummies, Vampires, and Aliens have had multitudes of different stories detailing the plethora of interpretations anyone can use for these creatures.
The Walking Dead
on AMC, while a brilliantly crafted (if a little cheesy at times) burgeoning series, makes me a bit worried in that it may take on a little too much after it's suicide-inducing comic book series. Series creator Robert Kirkman has gone on record saying that he will not reveal the origins of the Zombie outbreak and will instead focus solely on the story of survival for the remnants of humanity. This is a wise move given that every single explanation for a Zombie outbreak sucks butt through a straw. Two of my favorite Zombie stories aren't even 'serious' tales of the Undead. Shaun of the Dead
parodies the absolutely ludicrous, and usually slapped together, explanations of a Zombie apocalypse - Is it radiation? Virus infected monkeys? Sitting on a subway with no pants on? Sure, why not?! They're all equally idiotic reasons for corpses to be reanimated and feast on the living. The second story is Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
. The apocalypse is treated with a tongue-in-cheek attitude with the living dead easily switching from enemy types to slapstick performers in a blink of an eye. The epidemic is heavily hinted to being caused by mystical elements which actually works since any attempt to explain it rationally would fall as flat as a pancake. Even the Zombie mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops
is treated with a type of comedic regard.
Maybe one day storytellers will try something new and take a page from Stubbs the Zombie
or Chris Roberson and Mike Allred's I, Zombie
and attempt to breathe new life into this drowning genre. For the moment, however, it's the opinion of this writer that the Zombie genre needs to be shot twice in the head and put out of its stumbling misery.