Dating back to Haitian roots, zombies have both terrified and fascinated us, but at what point does the genre change? At what point do we stop looking at zombies as “scary” and think of them in another way?After all, zombies can be found everywhere these days; commercials, lunchboxes, t-shirts, knick knacks etc.
In my humble opinion, this shift started back in 2004, with the release of Shaun of the Dead. For me, this is when the genre began to change. While the zombie metaphor still holds true, depending on the political climate at the time, Shaun of the Dead elevated zombies to another level.
The movie tips its hat to George Romero but adds another element few movies had been able to capture in just the right way; humor. The movie makes fun of the British and zombie movies in general. While there is no question that humans are still on the menu, I thought this movie offered a great perspective on human behavior, as at the beginning of the movie, people are absolutely clueless in a pretty unrealistic way. I think it touches on how disconnected people were becoming and how oblivious people can be to what’s happening around them. It also depicts life after the outbreak, things returning to some semblance of normal with the added addition of zombie workers and friends as humans and zombies learn to coexist. Mostly.
This movie sparked others like it, but none as notable as Zombieland. Like Shaun of the Dead, this movie maintained the “scary” zombie type people enjoyed but added a dose of humor in a way that made it stand out. The movie maintained a cohesive story line, but allowed the zombies to be the butt of almost every humorous line in some way.
As much as I love The Walking Dead, it does not fall under “harmless” zombies, at least in my opinion, and thus this is one time I will not sing its accolades. Robert Kirkman makes it clear that there are no “friendly zombies” to be found and I prefer it that way.
In 2013, we see another type of zombie emerge. One who falls in love. Yes, Warm Bodies emerged and became a hit over Superbowl weekend. To me, and apparently a few others, this movie was Twilight all over again, only instead of vampires and werewolves, you get zombies coming back to “life” because their hearts get warm. Really? While I understand the demographics behind the movie as it was aimed for a female audience with a PG 13 rating, I can’t figure out how this movie did so well. It sort of mirrors how the zombi’s come back to life in Dezafi, as rather than salt, it’s love that brings them back from the dead. So to speak. But it’s still creepy. I cannot imagine falling in love with something purported to be dead. Or maybe I just haven’t found my one and only zombie yet.
This isn’t limited to just movies, there are also zombie romance novels because…Who wouldn’t want to be wooed by the undead. I haven’t read any of them, at least not yet, and to be truthful, isn’t likely that I will. It’s great to have romance during the zombie apocalypse, but I draw the line at things like Married with Zombies ( Jesse Peterson) or My Life as a White Trash Zombie (Diana Rowland).
Other movies followed suit, such as A Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. While these movies are mildly entertaining, they didn’t come close to their predecessors.
TV shows like Santa Clarita Diet and iZombie arrived on the scene a few years after The Walking Dead and offered yet another new perspective. What if zombies looked like humans, acted like humans but…Were dead. Would it be easy to hide in plain sight? What would happen if the humans found out? The answers are yes and nothing good. Remind you of the “immigration crisis”? This is no different.
In researching this trend of making zombies more human like, I’ve uncovered a plethora of reading material as well as read through reviews of the movies I’ve mentioned. These will be posted below for your enjoyment. I’ve also posted the PowerPoint I created to help walk you through this odd new twist on zombies.
No matter how you spin it, zombies will always be “bad” because of their need to eat brains, flesh or what have you, however, in today’s world, zombies fit right in with humans because we are all about inclusion and zombie rights.
Want to know more?
Daugherty, Paul. “The Metaphorical Zombie A Review Of Zombie Theory: A Reader, Edited By Sarah Juliet Lauro”. Death Studies, vol 43, no. 1, 2018, pp. 70-73. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/07481187.2018.1444928.
Lauro, Sarah Juliet. Zombie Theory: A Reader. University Of Minnesota Press, 2017.
Lamanna, Nicole. “Tropes In Apocalyptic Media Texts”. Mediatedpop, 2018, https://mediatedpop.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/tropes-in-apocalyptic-media-texts/. Accessed 2 Apr 2019.