Zombies Are Deep

Zombies Are Deep

Just Not Six-Feet Deep

By Mat DeKinder

Everybody has a favorite monster; be it vampires, werewolves, mummies, aliens, creatures from lagoons of various colors or oversized members of the animal kingdom.

I am fortunate enough to be currently living through the golden age of my favorite monster — zombies. From movies, to television to graphic novels to video games, zombies are everywhere. Well, not literally. I don’t want to start a panic or anything.

Granted these lumbering, decomposing, brain-munchers aren’t exactly the cuddliest critters of the bunch, but I do feel very confident arguing that zombies are the most layered and complex monster on the market today. That’s right I’ll say it, zombies are deep, man.

All monsters function on a highly-visceral, chase-kill-and/or-eat level; but few reveal much more about ourselves than that we are afraid of being chased, killed, and/or eaten.
Oh sure, vampires are hot right now, but all their psycho-sexual melodrama pretty much just shows how pervy we all really are — let’s be honest, we kinda knew that already.
There’s so much more going on thematically with zombies that you could practically major in them at the liberal arts college of your choosing.

I think part of the appeal of zombies is their relative freshness, well as fresh as a moldering corpse can be. Most of our familiar monsters have been around for centuries, but the advent of the modern zombie can be traced back to the fairly recent year of 1968 and George Romero’s horror classic “Night of the Living Dead.”


Sure, zombies were around long before that, born out of voodoo folklore where the dead could be brought back to life to do the bidding of an evil master. But while having a dead guy out there settling your scores and picking up your dry cleaning is certainly creepy, it’s not exactly the stuff of pop-culture phenomena.

Romero envisioned zombies like a plague where members of the living who were bitten or killed came back to join their ranks. Mix in an insatiable appetite for brains and voila, the birth of the modern zombie.

In reality, the zombies in and of themselves aren’t really all that compelling. They’re slow, they’re dumber than a bag of hammers and in a one-on-one scenario your odds of survival are actually pretty high. The good stuff in the zombie genre involves the survivors as it is always fascinating to see how people react when the constraints of civilized society are stripped away and survival is the rule of the day.


It is fairly easy to pick apart why zombies are scary, fear of mortality doesn’t come more crystal clear than running away from a decomposing human body. I am much more interested in what makes zombies awesome.

Ruling out the love 14-year-old girls have for vampires, it is hard to find a monster people are more enthusiastic about. More than 80,000 people are fans of the Facebook page “If There is Going to Be An Apocalypse in 2012, It Better Be a Zombie One.”
I think the reason a zombie apocalypse is so appealing to so many has to do with a subconscious rejection of all this civilization we’ve built up around ourselves. Eons of DNA have conditioned us for survival in a kill-or-be-killed world and yet we find ourselves in the relative safety of the 21st Century. We’re not exactly living by our wits out here and aside from trips to the DMV our hard-earned survival instincts are just going to waste.

Could this man's fans be our best hope for surviving a zombie apocalypse?

Here in the United States zombies also tap into our uniquely American “Alamo Fantasy” of facing long-odds with a few well-armed compatriots and taking as many of them with you before you fall. I think this mentality, plus the Second Amendment would give us a pretty good chance against the walking dead. You can say what you want about our redneck culture, but when the zombies come you’re going to want to make a bee-line for the nearest Toby Keith concert. Trust me.

So whether you love to be scared by zombies or love to dream of taking them on armed only with a chainsaw and a few hand grenades, lets raise a glass to our favorite undead ghouls.

Here’s to zombies, may they shamble and lurch for years to come.

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