Monday, July 9, 2012

Zombies are the Ultimate Horror Movie Creature

Zombies are the greatest horror movie creation I can think of. Sure, you could probably think of something creepy that lies in the dark and eats children from a movie I haven't seen, and Zombies seem to commonplace as to appear mediocre, but when you get the core of what Zombies are then they are actually an incredibly intelligent creation designed to hit where it hurts most.

Humans are social creatures. Sure, some of us are heavily introverted, but we still rely on the existence of those social structures around us to survive. We live in a world filled with complicated social hierarchies and a massive amount of the world population lives in densely packed Urban and Suburban areas. Once you disrupt the chain of production by introducing a Zombie infection you make these areas incapable of supporting that massive population. Instead of giving you a head of lettuce to eat, the Greengrocer now tries to eat your head. Suddenly people are in places where food is in limited supply and not only is everyone around them in competition for those supplies, everyone is also capable of becoming one of the infected. Zombiepocalypses turn us against each other in multiple ways.

When I was watching 28 Weeks Later the main blonde teenager (or whatever age she was) looked remarkably like one of my friends. Normally you'd think "Oh, blonde teenager in a horror movie, she's going to die quickly" but it was like watching a friend try and survive the inevitable destruction of society and onslaught of the hordes of infected.

With aliens you can band together and fight against hordes. Zombies take who we are and they use it against us. Social bonds are now the enemy. It is inevitable that one of your friends will become an infected and they might just come for you. Your family can fall into the hands of the infected just as easily as anyone else and now you're faced with the walking corpses of people you knew and loved. Try putting a bullet in your mother's head. Try going on when your Dad is eating your best friend. Zombies don't allow you to mourn your loved ones, they force you to confront them. While you're trying to get over the death that's happening all around you, you're trying to escape to somewhere else, uncertain about what will lie ahead. It isn't just physical danger but a deep and ever present psychological aspect to them.

They represent death. Being a Vampire isn't too bad, you still get to think. But being a Zombie takes away everything that is you and replaces it with a hollow yearning to feed on other humans. There is no longer individuality or reasoning. There is no creativity, or enjoyment, or empathy. There is only the stench of death. Zombies are so frightening because they are us.

Zombies can't be reasoned with. Zombies can't be romanticized like Vampires (ugh). Zombies don't get to be misunderstood souls that brood because of their uncontrollable curse like Werewolves. Zombies are just death. Death that walks. Death that never sleeps. Death that hunts you and makes you one of them. It adds to the horde.

You see Vampires and Werewolves also bite you and make you into one of them, but they don't create massive hordes. They stalk their prey and kill them for the sake of survival, like any normal predator. They maintain balance between their numbers and food sources. Zombies on the other hand don't act like a normal predator. They feed and multiple until there is no food. They're like viruses with teeth. They might not be as indestructible as Vampires or Werewolves, but they make their attacks insurmountable through sheer numbers which just weighs down on a survivor's psyche. Zombies are also, usually, the animated dead. The prey of a Werewolf doesn't get back up, a Zombie's does. There's no warding them off with a cross, you either destroy their brains or they keep coming. They are truly the one of the most terrifying end of the world scenarios ever.

Oh, and Zombies have the potential to be real. Not in the classic necromancy styled zombies, but maybe a virus like the 28 Days Later Zombies. Or... drawing inspiration from recent real life events in Miami, Florida where a man ate a homeless dude's face off while on drugs, and other places as far as Texas, and New York, there could be Drug Zombies. Ordinary people turned into raging killing machines that can't feel pain and attack loved ones. I predict that in the next few years we are going to start seeing Zombie films that deal with drugs as the source of the Zombie behaviour instead of virus or necromancy. It makes sense, it keeps happening in real life. Just take a look at this 2012 Zombie Attack Tracker on Google Maps. All it takes is one mad man to put that Designer Drug "Bath Salts" in the water supply and bam.

Death that hunts. Death that runs...

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