What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?

What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse? This is a question that I have been asked countless times through out my life. In fact, I use know exactly what I would do if this were to happen and I know I am not alone here. Nowadays I feel that zombies have become more of a source of entertainment than scaring people. Recent movies like Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Fido, and Dead and Breakfast have been able to mix a large amount of humor with zombies; but if zombies are so terrifying how can this successfully be done? This leaves me to think that zombies themselves have lost their fearful image in the public, much like Dracula, although I do not think zombies will be on an cereal boxes any time soon. I feel that it is not the actual zombie itself that is scary in zombie movies, but two main themes that revolve around them.

Very similar to Shaun of the Dead.

Very similar to Shaun of the Dead.

In many films we see zombies as being “the living dead,” corpses of those recently deceased becoming animated to feed off the flesh of the living. This to me is a very scary thought, but add in the fact that they are mindless and move at a rate slower than most senior citizens, makes them less intimating. This description may not be the same for all zombie movies, but it is how they are depicted in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Even though “the living dead” were actually referred to as “ghouls” in the film, Romero’s reinvention of the cinematic zombie has been the basis for future films. I feel that by themselves zombies cannot invoke fear, unless accompanied by their scary themes.

First let me explain the themes I feel surround zombies, the first being claustrophobia. The scariest thing I feel about zombies is the that fact that no matter where you go or how many you kill, they will just continue to come and eventually corner you. This is really evident in many zombie films such as Night of the Living Dead and Zombie where a group of people usually end up in one area, many times a house, and are cornered into fighting off endless waves of zombies. Eventually the people realize that there is no hope doing this and must venture out into the world to escape, only to find that hordes of zombies have infested everywhere leaving no place to run. The point where people find out that there is no hope for them is the point in the film that really scares me, although usually this only comes at the end of the film. Until then you may see scenes of attacks by one or two zombies, like in the films Diary of the Dead and Zombie Diaries (similar names not intentional), here the zombies don’t pose a real threat until in vast numbers.

Zombies will never think to look for us in there!

Zombies will never think to look for us in there!

The second zombie related theme I find scary is that the zombies you are forced to kill could end up being family and friends. I would imagine it would not be very morally taxing to kill mindless flesh eating people; that is unless they used to be family and friends. One film that does this well is Night of the Living Dead where Barbara sees her brother and when Karen kills her mother. This must have been extremely taxing on the characters, so much that Karen’s mother could not bring herself to fight her own daughter and ends up dying because of it. At the other end of the spectrum, there is one scene from the remake of Dawn of the Dead that shows men on top of a building shooting zombies for fun. This shows that without this theme present, killing zombies can actually be enjoyable.

Karen use to be a nice little girl.

Karen use to be a nice little girl.

These themes tend to be present in most zombie films, but it is the way they are presented that really leaves a lasting impression. One film in which they are not present or really touched upon is Braindead (also Dead Alive) where the “zombies” (they are not like Romero’s zombies) are just in a house and a guy goes in there to kill a bunch of them, with a lawn mower too. This film feels more like a zombie party then a zombie apocalypse. Also in the comedic zombie films listed above these themes may be present, but touched upon lightly and the characters do not really dwell on them. For example in Shaun of the Dead, when Ed gets infected it is only a moment of sadness that is quickly relieved when Shaun decides he can put zombie Ed in his garage to still hang out with.

Shaun playing video games with zombie Ed.

Shaun playing video games with zombie Ed.

I don’t know how many of you will agree with me, but this is how I feel zombies are looked upon now and why they are looked upon by many as a sport (killing them that is) rather than something to be feared. I also feel this is why people enjoy video games with zombies in them (like Dead Rising), where you feel unstoppable killing poor defenseless zombies. I think this has been taken into consideration by film makers such as Zack Snyder in his remake of Dawn of the Dead where he has very physically fit zombies running around, in my mind they aren’t true zombies; they are more like Danny Boyle’s infected in 28 Days Later.

I’d also like to add that one film I’ve seen that incorporated these themes really well is the spanish film Rec. I must say that it is not really a “zombie” movie, they are more infected, but still is a great film. It revolves around a woman who is doing a report on a fire station for a television show and while doing so follows them on a routine check up. This quickly changes once they find out they are being kept there under police control. This is the original to the American version Quarantine, which I felt was totally horrible. For those who have seen the American version I am sorry because it has almost the exact story line, just with worse actors and camera angles. The film moves a bit slow but eventually delivers.

3 thoughts on “What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?

  1. If I were in a zombie apocalypse, I would probably try to find a colony of survivors, just like the one in I Am Legend starring Will Smith. Anyway, I do agree with Andrew in that zombies have become a source of entertainment/comedy rather than real horror. As of today, zombies and other undead things have been featured in all sorts of mediums. Some popular video games that feature undead are: Resident Evil, Halo, Half-Life, and Quake. Zombies have become somewhat overused. Plausibility may also play a factor. For example, if I watched a movie about a human threat to society, like a serial killer, I would be more scared than if I had watched a zombie movie.

  2. What would I do if there was a zombie apocalypse? I’d obviously try to survive but would probably be delayed by the group of people I’m with. Groups can never get a consensus about what to do during a zombie attack, ultimately leading to their own demise. Once they do agree on what to do, I’d probably get screwed over by the one rebel in my group that wants to do things his way since that seems to be quite a common theme so far in the movies we’ve watched (ex: Harry in Night of the Living Dead, Stephen in Dawn of the Dead, and David in Shaun of the Dead).

    I do have to agree with Andrew about zombies being the butt of all the jokes in movies nowadays. Like Jenny said, plausibility might also be the reason. It’s easy to make fun of zombies since they walk at a pace slower than 1 mph and you can literally walk past them and not get hurt. Jenny also brings up a good point about watching a real threat, such a serial killer; it’s a bit more suspenseful. The only time I would be scared of zombies is when they’re physically fit in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead or if they were as strong and quick as the infected people in I Am Legend.

  3. If you find yourself unsure of what to do during the zombie apocalypse, and don’t have a copy of this handy: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Survival-Guide-Complete-Protection/dp/073934272X, you can visit the zombie survival wiki: http://www.zombiesurvivalwiki.com/

    And then there is this helpful video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVnfyradCPY

    All of this underscores Andrew’s point about how the subject of zombies is often treated with a kind of humor, as dark as it may be. I’m sure we’ll discuss this in class on Tuesday.

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