As anyone who has access to pop culture (or is, you know, awake), there is no dearth of zombies out there in the ether. They exist in comicbooks, on TV, in film, in prose books, on audiobooks even in CDC announcements. It has been said that one of the beauties of zombies as protagonists is that there is no real solid of history of them, so – on some level – it is entirely possible for each author to (so long as they adhere to certain general “rules”) it is quite possible to have them do almost anything. Thus we can have slow, stumbling zombies, fast-moving zombies that can run, and are quite frenetically animated. We have somber, frightening zombies, goofy, funny zombies, and traditional voodoo zombies. Zombies powered by beyond-the-grave mysticism (as in Dawn of the Dead), science-fueled zombies (28 Days Later), and even stripper zombies. There are Zombies that want to eat your brains, and ones that want to eat your flesh. Heck, there are even extraterrestrial zombies (Ghosts of Mars).
Zombies, zombies everywhere and not an end in sight.
On some level, we totally buy into the multiple visions and depictions of the undead, especially because they really have only been a part of our own zeitgeist for such a relatively short time — especially as they are currently being presented, as brain/flesh-eating ghouls rather than as golems that have been reanimated after death to do the biding of a master who holds mystical sway over them. Therefore we are not personally bothered by any of the various incarnations of these creatures of the night (as many folks were offended by the “sparkly” vampires and bare-chested werewolves of Twilight).
On some level, so long as someone can spin a plausible story with the walking, stumbling, shuffling, running dead, there will continue to be zombie stories, which will be told. For George Romero — the Godfather of the undead —is interested in using zombies as a character for satire or a political criticism and finds that missing in what’s currently happening with zombie films. (Romero recently indicated that he respectfully declined an invitation to direct an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, as he really didn’t have much use for the series, and the way that the zombies were presented in the storyline stating that it was “a soap opera with a zombie occasionally.”)
Hence, however you prefer your shuffling deceased (fast/slow, frightening/humorous, in print or on-screen (big or small), etc.) we shall, very clearly, continue to see the shambling masses continuing for some time yet to come, especially when you factor in that it is no longer politically correct to use any particular ethnic group (be they Nazis, The Japanese, or even Islamic). No, having aliens, or the undead as your villain excises the writer from putting down any one class or group of people (We’re reminded of a school play that was performed back when we were in high school (not our school) that staged Finian's Rainbow, but had the character of the Senator turn poor instead of Black, so as not to offend the audience.)
From our own perspective, we do so like many of the current depictions of the Undead: The Walking Dead (in spite of Romero’s objections, and the fact that we’ve never read the comic), WWZ (which was not so much a zombie film but essentially a war film where the enemy was zombies), heck we even liked the “Twilighted” zombies in Warm Bodies, the “fun” approach to zombies in the comicbook Mack Turner Slayer of the Dead, as well as the grimmer, historical perspective of Zombies in History. Truthfully, the morning after we watched the first episode of The Walking Dead, we cautiously looked up and down our street checking for walkers before venturing outside.
Yes, zombies are here for quite a while yet to come, and we, as a fan of the genre, are happy about that.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.