Zombies have traditionally been at the bottom of the horror monster totem pole, but lately their popularity has been booming, with recent books turned films like “Warm Bodies” and “World War Z”, and the hit show “The Walking Dead” based on the comic by the same name, zombies are everywhere. So what is it about these B-movie kings that we love so much?
They’re still monsters. Zombies haven’t been quite as romanticized as vampires (With the possible exception of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies). They’re not misunderstood; they’re evil, mindless, soulless ghouls. Zombies are almost always the bad guy. They’re not sexy, seductive, or mysterious; they’re monsters through and through. Zombies decay, and smell, and bare their teeth and bones and we can all get behind bashing them in the head.
We all think we would survive. The thing about a zombie apocalypse is no one ever imagines being one of the first people to go. No, our daydreams jump ahead to when 90% of the population is already a member of the walking dead and we think about what it would be like to live in a deserted, albeit zombie-infested, world. There’s an interesting fantasy element to thinking about living in the remains of human civilization. I mean who doesn’t want to loot the mall?
Zombies represent “other people”. They’re not us. Zombies represent all the bad things we think about civilization and how we separate ourselves from that. Zombies are the mass of angry shoppers on Black Friday, the lane of slow drivers on the highway, the group of teenagers egging your car. They are the friends who’ve stabbed you in the back, the co-workers who make your life miserable; they are all the people that you wish you didn’t have to deal with in your life and then suddenly as zombies its okay for you to shoot them in the head.
Guns are cool. You kill vampires with sticks, witches with buckets of water, ghosts with religious chants, but with zombies you get to pull out a semi-automatic and blast away. Guns are not toys, they’re dangerous weapons. But, something about the idea of shooting one is just fun, and in a zombie apocalypse every day is target practice.
Everyone loves blood and gore. Vampires bite your neck and suck your blood, but zombies literally tear you limb from limb. A werewolf might maul you but zombies rip out your guts, crack your skull open and eat your brain. Zombies are by far the most gruesome of the classic monsters. And there’s something about blood and gore that we just can’t get enough of.
Not all zombies are the same, some are slow meandering corpses, others are scary fast, but what they all have in common is that they’re terrifying in all aspects. They look disgusting, represent probably the worst kind of existence one could face for an afterlife, and they just keep coming. Zombies are inescapable and they often win. People like to be scared, and zombies are possibly the best monsters to scare us. That’s why we love them.
If you liked this post check out “Why we Love Vampires” and "Why we Love the Supernatural"