The meaning of zombie has changed so drastically from the times of White Zombie, to the current Walking Dead. In movies like Day of the Dead, or Return of the Living Dead, the zombie is essentially the villain. It is the bad guy, the one you need to watch out for. In the Walking Dead, the zombies are just a pest, like wolves, the humans become villains. Have we become so much deeper that we can get through such an event? Would society really crumble? Could this really happen? And in my opinion, what makes The Walking Dead so deep into today’s culture, how would I do? Who would my friends be?
WOULD I SURVIVE? Over the course of this paper, I have refined my thesis down to a sort of simple thesis. How the idea of the living dead influenced the big 3 monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula & The Mummy), and how these very primal fears have lasted for hundreds of years and permeated society even today. This paper opened my eyes to the fact that zombies are everywhere. From books, to comics, movies, music & videogames. Why do we like zombies so much, why now? What is going on in the world that made us love the Walking Dead? Why do we run obstacle courses where we get physically injured by “zombies. ”
We miss our pets or our grandmother, just because we want them back doesn’t mean they should come back. If I had to sew my dogs tail back on every day because he is undead, it would probably break my heart more. Not to mention there is no way to stop the flesh from decomposing. Would granny be watching Judge Judy as her eyeballs fall out? Would it be cool to see Elvis, or Buddy Holly preform one more time? Yes, but we would be stuck with fat Elvis. Modern technology has borrowed something of Victor Frankenstein, at Coachella 2012 Snoop Dogg, started to preform a song with his long dead friend, Tupac Shakur.
The lights went out and slowly Tupac rose from a platform on stage. This was not Tupac, but a High Definition Hologram of him animated to look and sound like he was preforming. This is how in the future, I will see Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash preform on stage. I can see Marlon Brando in a Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, live. Will Hall of Presidents in Disneyworld get an upgrade where you can see Andrew Jackson and Bill Teddy Roosevelt’s inaugural address live? Is this zombies? It is dead people coming back to life and man, is it cool.
But the idea of bringing loved ones back to life started the zombie fear or craze. Zombie: Originates Haitian Creole: zonbi; North Mbundu: nzumbe. Zombie is defined as an animated corpse resurrected by witchcraft, mystical means, or some other supernatural power. They are usually slow moving, not self-aware, and usually unintelligent. Zombies first officially appeared in 1929 in “the Magic Island” by William Seabrook. Personally I think the idea and the fear of zombies have been around for years before that. The idea of zombies has been around for a long time and are still a huge part in today’s pop culture.
The first full length zombie movie came out in 1932 called White Zombie, since this movie came out there are countless zombie movies, books, TV shows, video games etc. I will mostly be focusing on the transition and comparison of zombie movies from White Zombie up to now, also how zombies are created differently through human creation, science, poison, radioactive accidents, disease, or witchcraft. In today’s society zombies are almost an obsession for some people, taking over all aspects of their lives. I am a victim to the zombie apocalypse that has taken over pop culture.
I have been bitten. I mostly enjoy watching zombie movies and TV shows, I have not yet started to read the graphic novels or novels, I have played some zombie video games but I am not that fond of them. I have also thought about what I would do if a zombie apocalypse was to actually happen, who I would team up with, where I would go, my weapons of choice etc. There are people that have made safe houses, have bags full of supplies ready to go, weapons made, escape routes, and strategies on what do “when” the apocalypse happens. The classic horror gods took their cues from zombies.
And that is just the beginning. White Zombie came out and did all sorts of things to zombie culture, although it is all but forgotten, except by college humanities professors. It still pushes the notion the the idea of zombies is wibbly wobbly. It changes from where you need it. There sort of a solid definition, but there is always room for interpretation. For me I believe that the original Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was part of the beginning of the zombie culture. The novel was first published in 1818, Shelley had started writing the novel when she was 18 and was published when she was 21.
It was about scientist, Victor Frankenstein and how he created a monster through a science experiment. Victor feels as if he is an almighty god by creating life from the dead. The monster that had no name was not like the zombies that we now know today. He was aware, smart like, and functional, and can even speak in a rudimentary from. He became almost human like, he had emotions, and he was sensitive. I believe that Shelley’s novel was the real start of zombie pop culture, and gave about ideas and influenced many people into creating zombie work.
Frankenstein’s monster as modern society forgets to call it, learns and tries to become human again. His brain is not making the right connections, nor does he know where he is, or what he is doing. The God complex always causes harm, people thinking they can act as a god in other words. It makes great movies and even better philosophical debates. It causes for great events of drama and action. Frankenstein as the first mainstream zombie coming about in 1818 scared people in a way that we today in 2013 cannot imagine being that scared from a book.
Frankenstein as a monster using the god complex made its way through the years forever. It lasted until 1994, when John Hammond made dinosaurs walk in Jurassic Park. Was the T-Rex really a villain or was it just living his instincts. Was Frankenstein’s monster just scared and running to try and get help? Was he really a monster? Frankenstein’s monster was never a monster. He was scared and lost. He was looking for help but was just caught like a bull in a china shop. He couldn’t control his hands. The monster was a zombie before we knew what a zombie was. He is and was a reanimated corpse.
His brain capacities were higher than the zombies in the Walking Dead. He was slow and lumbering, much like the modern zombies we know. The monster compared to modern day zombies such as the walkers in the walking dead are completely different. The monster was aware, capable to an extent, made of different body parts from various people, and he was almost human like, and created by science and a god like human on purpose. The walkers on the other hand are reincarnated human bodies that have come back from the dead by disease, they are unaware, not human like in thinking, and all they want is brains and flesh.
Frankenstien doesn’t have to be scary. Tim Burton’s first foray into animation was Frankenweenie, a short about a heartbroken child thats dog means the world to him and is taken from him. Inspired from science class he re-animated his dog, Sparky, and makes a new, but falling apart pet. Recently, Tim Burton made this a full length feature film, creating a black and white world where children’s deceased pets become monsters that shadow the scary monsters of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The whole idea of coming back to life is good and bad.
Bram Stroker’s Dracula in 1897 did not invent the idea of vampires, but it gave it a modern horror. Places people knew were infected by monsters that they could not control. That was much scarier then than it is now. Bella Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula was and still is how we think of him, it is still very scary to this day. The idea of Dracula, being reincarnated after death. The way he talks ( I bid you… welcome). The fearful way he walks, his pasty skin pallor. Bella Lugosi also starred in White Zombie, the first Zombie film.
Vampires and Dracula, took one of the most important features from Zombies, life after death. Vampires are created when a person is attacked by a vampire and their blood gets feasted on by vampires. Well if that is not a zombie, what is? Vampires are also very different from zombies. Vampires, walk and talk, and can not re-die without massive force. A bullet to the brain can stop a zombie, a bullet to the head probably will make a vampire angrier. With Vampires, how can one not talk about Twilight, although not a literary masterpiece, it did give girls something to be a nerd about.
The “never dying love” its a winner, but for me and lots of other girls, Twilight was the first step into becoming more of a nerd. Learning about other things, wanting to know where vampires came from? Zombies. Finally the Mummy. Probably the grand daddy of all the zombies, we never even think of the Mummy as a zombie, but he really is. He dies, gets brought back to life with mystical powers, and just wants to be with his girl again. Its really a sad love story, and the mummy is doing it all wrong but what is he to know that 1920’s London doesn’t like a walking corpse?
Boris Karloff played the mummy to perfection, and you can make a case that the 1998 film with Brendan Frasier was a proper remake. (Then the Rock was a half scorpion, What? ) Zombies are so huge in our society we forget where we see them, or hear them. Yes zombies are in movies and books, but what about music? No, not Rob Zombie. Think bigger, like the greatest music video ever made, think 1983, Thriller. The first blockbuster music video. The Lyrics, the video, the dance moves. It still gives me nightmares to this day. those thirteen minutes were and still are a classic zombie film.
Its arguably one of the greatest music videos ever. Vincent Price, the man with one of the scariest voices ever gave a chilling monologue in the video. When you think about it, being in love is something almost zombie like, you do things your body can control, and all you want to do is well… you see where I am going here. The song compares the thrill of being in love to the fear. Fear of anything its such a similar feeling. Billy Idol follows theZombies in music trend with his video for Dancing with myself. In his world, to fix zombies you just need to make them dance, and they will turn human again.
I’d love to see Rick and crew whip out a boombox blasting Billy Idol and it fixes the Zombies in The Walking Dead. Billy uses his awesome classic song to turn a horde of ravenous zombies into a punk rock mosh pit! We can not forget about Rob Zombie, his video for Living Dead Girl shows a pretty zombie, in a silent film. (Hmm I smell hints of White Zombie, don’t you? ) His name is Zombie, and he has been known to make a few haunted houses for Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights. The Misfits asked George Romero to direct their music video for “Scream”.
The man that made zombies flesh eating monsters making an awesome music video. The black and white mini zombie horror film is awesome, flesh dripping out of the Misfit’s mouths as they devour an entire hospital, great entertainment, and an awesome song too. MGMT put a baby into therapy making the video for Kids. These zombies were highly grotesque and disfigured, it showed a much more contemporary view of zombies. Scary and painful. In this video the zombies are blatantly symbolic of some humans. The video puts a scary idea into our heads, “Valley girls” have kids.
Valley girls can be as scary as zombies, slow stupid and all they want is, like, some chips. Finally we come to the centerpiece of modern zombie culture, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. The past ten years have seen lots of Zombie related films and productions. The first that I can find was The first Resident Evil film in 2002, this is the film off a game, the game has been in production with multiple sequels of games, and now movies. The game and movie features a genetically altered humanoid zombies that get bigger and scarier as you progress.
This brought the first time that the zombies were decomposing and falling apart and flesh eating monsters in recent history. Also in 2002, Robert Kirkman released book one of the Walking Dead graphic novel. As a man ahead of his time, Max Brooks wrote and published the Zombie Survival guide in early 2003. Brooks has released many Zombie books, that are very good, and very useful. The most notable is World War Z, (published in 2006) which Brad Pitt will star in the film adaptation. The book centers around an unnamed journalist who is traveling across the world writing down the human aspect of the story.
It is written through fictitious interviews and “first hand accounts” The book is heartbreaking at points but also deeply human. Brooks’s zombies are faster and stronger, at one point they are running in sort of a herd, Brooks also has his zombies travel across the globe by walking underwater and sinking ships, they are able to climb and overthrow castles and massive blockades put to them. In 2003 Zack Snyder director of 300, and The Watchmen directed a remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Snyder’s zombies were not clumsy or slow.
They were fast and mostly human figured, without decomposition, It was a fitting remake to make the zombies badder and scarier. Simon Pegg’s classic zomedy, Shawn of the Dead, took the zombie apocalypse to the U. K. where all he wants is to go to his bar and save his girl. One of the funniest movies I have seen, these zombies were not scary, and the type of zombie depends on how they are best used for comedic values. Zombieland really pushed the zomedy genere to a whole new level, with Bill Murray’s perfect zombie preformance he showed how simple make up can make a human live in a zombie world.
This doesntfit any word of zombies reaction, even if you look like a rotting corpse doesnt mean you smell like a rotting corpse. Zombies would and usually do know where you are based on smell. The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman’s epic black and white zombie graphic novel infected thousands in 2003. By 2010 it was picked up by AMC to bolster its amazing network line-up. The graphic novels and show depict a yeah the zombies are out there, how are we going to live now scenario, focusing much more on people, not necessarily the walkers. Fun fact, the word Zombie is never used in the show) The books focus on Deputy Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a coma in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. He sets out to find his wife and child and assumes the role of leader of the huge group. A major diffrence in the show and book from almost any zombie literature that i have seen is that the diesease is imbedded in the humans. When you die, you wake back up. This poses a personal issue for say giving childbirth, if you die in labor, your son has to shoot you in the head to make sure you dont wake back up and eat your baby.
This could mess a kid up, as seen with Rick’s son Carl in The Walking Dead. Carl has issues because of this. He shot a young boy at point blank at the end of the third season, not to mention his dad’s best friend as a zombie. The man who raised him. Almost all of the movies I have seen, have just really ended. The Walking Dead pulls you into this world, where the zombies are pests, and keeps living in that world. It hasn’t been done this deep. The emotions of people, raising children, getiing communities back together, what happens next. This is what the Walking Dead is showing us.
That yes there are heroes who do heroic, selfless things, but they still don’t know if the baby your wife gave birth to is yours, or answer the phone to dead people. Rick is the epitiome of a hero, because we see his flaws, his pain, his regret. That is why people love the walking dead so much, not the flesh eating monster zombies, but the times Rick goes and does stuff and things in the woods. When we see Ricks human side. The walkers in the walking dead can only be killed by taking out the cerebral cortex, the brain. The governor, kept zombie heads in his back room, and they were still biting.
The zombies are slow and lumbering, can trip on each other or have their legs ripped off and keep going. The Walking dead has inspired a cultural phenomenon. From the graphic novels, to the show there have been two separate Walking Dead video games ( one inspired from the comics and one creating the backstory of the Dixon brothers, who are not in the graphic novels) The Walking Dead has inspired a whole new brand of TV. The Talking Dead, a talk show on after The Walking Dead, features insights into the show and interviews with celebrity nerds and cast members of the show.
The Talking Dead with use of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking has allowed humans in real time to ask great questions that you can answer anywhere else. The Walking Dead has inspired many simpler games on Facebook and a Dead-Yourself app where users can put zombie effects on to their pictures. The Walking Dead has inspired a massive haunted house at last year Universal Halloween Horror nights at Universal Studios Florida. The designers builds sets from the show so that guests attending the event would see and feel from Rick’s perspective the fear of Atlanta where the Walking dead is set.
The haunted house garnered critical reviews, saying it was one of the best ever and the events had massive attendance based on The Walking Dead. The Zombie phenomenon, has inspired real people to get real serious about what they would do if/when the zombies come. Personally, i have thought about a plan but have not purchased supplies or really practiced anything. There are people who have built bunkers, saved food and trained their families with guns and first ain in the event of an apocalypse.