The Reel Corner

The Zombie Phenomenan

What is a Zombie?
A zombie is an animated corpse. The word zombie comes from African Voodoo. The first zombies stemmed from the belief that a corpse could be controlled using magic, but only by the person who raised them. This idea has evolved through history and is very different to a modern audience. Present day zombies have no self-awareness. They are driven by primal instincts to hurt or devour-even though they need no food or nutrition-compelled to eat living humans for no other reasons than to consume. In addition, it seems that zombies can only be stopped by destroying their brains. They are depicted traveling in hordes, which some say support the need to belong to something. They collect near shopping centers or are drawn to places of entertainment, perhaps as small glimpses of their past.

Where do Zombies come from?
In comics, films, and books, zombies have had many different origins. Radiation emitting satellites, laboratory viruses, military research, nuclear fallouts, or a bad batch of beef.

Why Do People Love Zombies?
Thomas Katz, author of Zombie City and Night of the Motorcycle Zombie, said the history of the zombie genre goes back to when monsters first appeared in gothic literature, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, around the time of the industrial revolution, an era when people were leaving the rural life en masse to work in factories. Present day, we have a somewhat similar phenomenon of human behavior, with isolation from others through electronic tablets, cell phones etc. changing the dynamic of human interaction. Zombies are a convenient way to portray human nature. Banding together with people we may not normally be involved with to deal with zombies is a common goal. The zombie genre is popular maybe because it is fun to think who they may have been. Katz went on to point out that science fiction has always been a great vehicle to deal with sensitive issues like race, disease and how we treat others-issues that are dealt with in more mainstream literature, however, a bit more seriously. "Sometimes we forget that fiction was meant to be entertainment, so we look to 'serious literature' for commentary on society," said Katz. "But if you can make serious commentaries on society and have zombies in your book, it's like, why not?"
Pasquale Greco, Filmmaker
currently on the set of Spiderman III

I attribute the resurgence in zombie films and the new love for everything undead to video games. That's all I think of when I watch zombie movies
and TV now. And I'm a huge fan. Sure, Night of the Living Dead, directed by George Ramero, was the start of it all, but in the past ten ten years there's been a real expansion of that world inside video games, which are the prime source of material for new movies.

The early 2000s brought House of the Dead, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, all plot driven, successful video game franchises that studios knew would pull in audiences; all zombie and undead antagonists and heroes just fighting to survive.

But after games like Dead Rising (06), Left For Dead (08), and the Call of Duty: Zombie Mode (08), where your characters operate inside a completely open world, with little plot and emphasis on "cool zombie kills", with higher points for creativity, perfected head shots, and using any and every method of survival, video game companies have made the zombie world as immersive as possible. Attempting to give players a real sense of what it would mean to fight the undead masses.

It's only natural that a movie like Zombieland (09), where the protagonists find themselves in an open world, creating games and even a point system as they kill zombies in the most creative way possible, would be popular. And why a show like The Walking Dead, which gives us a weekly character driven zombie apocalypse, would even stand a chance on network television. The audience has its roots in video games and finds its thrills from the immersion and methods of survival.

As for the future of it, I see the same stories repeated time and time again, and where that may work for the self-immersive video games. I fear the movie and television audiences will either tire and move on, or demand something even more grotesque and violent. And so, we will evolve, once again.
Maria Grace, Zombie enthusiast.

Though most people know a zombie apocalypse won't happen it's interesting to think about. "Will I be a hero? Would I be able to kill a zombie before they kill me? The zombie genre is addictive."

Seth, "Walking Dead" Zombie enthusiast.
Zombies are almost likeable, they are sluggish and edgy. You can build almost any apocalyptic story line around them. As a villain there is no guilt in killing them.they are already half dead.

Donne Paine, film enthusiast, once lived around the corner from the Orson Wells Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her strong interest in films, especially independent ones, began. She was a 12-year member of the Hilton Head Second Sunday Film Society, and frequent visitor to the Sundance Film Festival. To support her habit of frequent movie going, Donne is an executive recruiter and staff development consultant. Are you interested in joining a film club? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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