I’ve noticed an epidemic rising up over the last few years. And I’m talking about zombies here. Not actual living dead rising from the grave, mind. That would be too interesting. I’m talking about the blind enthusiasm for any and all things zombie. And while it’s debatable whether it’s cause for alarm, it is definitely starting to chafe.
Let me attempt to head any teeming nerd-rage off at the pass by saying that I’m not against zombies wholesale. I love most, if not all, of the same cherished zombie properties that many of you do. I wouldn’t dare deny the importance of Romero’s better work. And without years of zombie lore behind us, we’d be sorely without Shaun of the Dead.
But Great Zombie Jesus, I wish more of the geek legion would exercise a little discretion with regards to the newly animated dearly departed. Contrary to what seems to be a swelling tide of popular opinion, everything is NOT better with a zombie in it.
It’s ironic that so many of the most fervently fanatical zombie lovers continue to mindlessly flock to anything with the zed-word on it, just like their favored monstrosities are wont to do with regard to grey matter.
If I had to pinpoint the moment this wave of idiotic consumerism began, I think I’d go with Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Funny and well intentioned as that book may be, it has led to an overabundance of zombie enthusiasm.*
I can think of no better example of this than dogshit like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Search that book on Amazon and navigate your gaze down the list of pathetic knockoffs following this abomination’s lead. If you own a gun, have one of the neighborhood children hide if for you before attempting this, by the way.
Thanks to shameless zombie-fiends buying up every pathetic property aimed their way, we now have Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim: Mark Twain’s Classic with Crazy Zombie Goodness. And who can stop themselves from shelling out cash for War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies? (These are all written by different “authors,” in case you were wondering)
Suddenly, any asshole with a computer can apparently get rich by stealing a popular and classic literary work and just slapping some zombies in there. Shame, deepest shame on you if you’ve purchased any of this offal.
Because zombies are worth something, goddamnit. The base conceit of the dead rising from the grave to plague/take revenge on/eat the living is fascinating. And surrounded with the right story, it can be one of the most frightening, compelling and fun horror conventions.
But if this shit keeps up much longer, people are going to hold back on the good stuff. You’re not going to get the cream of the zombie-story crop, because who wants to fight through the mountains of shit to get their actually unique story heard?
A good story is a good story. And a great zombie tale is a little slice of heaven that I don’t want to see ruined. Just because some opportunist slaps “zombie” on their box/t-shirt/rip off novel, don’t fucking buy it. Show some restraint and flex some taste. The creative landscape, specifically genre and horror films, will thank you and repay you in kind.
*along with the undeniable allure the sheer awesomeness of the best zombie movies creates.