I love zombies. That’s not much of a confession these days. Zombies are in the mainstream in a way that’s almost a little odd. Zombies are on TV, in films, in comics and in toy aisles everywhere. For the most part I approve of this. If it wasn’t for the surge in zombie popularity, I doubt we’d have anything as great as Afterlife With Archie, the unlikely yet strangely excellent saga of zombies invading Riverdale. I doubt we’d have the little guys in the picture below either.
I’ve never been able to put my finger on what the appeal of zombies is. They haven’t got the effortless cool of vampires, or the animal magnetism of werewolves. In all honesty, individual zombies are pretty useless on their own. It’s only when they’re in large numbers that they’re normally much of a threat – although Lucio Fulci managed to use small numbers of zombies to great effect. I think that may be part of the appeal. Zombies are easy to escape, and we all like to think that we could survive the zombie apocalypse.
There’s a reality TV show on BBC3 at the moment which is pretty much exactly that, an invitation for members of the public to show their survival skills in the face of the hordes of the undead. While once we may have used a Mad Max-style setting, Zombies seem to have replaced the post-nuclear apocalypse in many peoples minds. Instead of building bunkers to hide from the bombs, we’re all planning houses on stilts and the best escape routes for when the dead come.
There’s probably a psychological explanation for this, one that would reference post-9/11 societal trauma and global instability, but it feels a lot like a repackaging of the survival instinct. There’s always been a market for things like The SAS Survival Guide and the popularity of the likes of Bear Grylls speaks to that. Surviving the zombie apocalypse is a post modern manifestation of that, a way of showing that you could survive in the wild, only packaged in a way that you’d never actually have to prove it.
If the zombies ever come, I know exactly where I’m going. Unfortunately, I suspect that I’m one of the people in the film that’s there to reference classic zombie fiction before being killed in an ironic manner, probably after saying something like ‘It’s alright, everyone knows that zombies can’t run, unless this is the Dawn Of The Dead re-‘, cut off by a gurgle as a zombie Usain Bolt runs me down. Still, at least I’ll come back.