The appeal of zombies

I get asked this a lot — why zombies? When sparkly hunky vampires are all the rage, why stick with the shambling, gooey mess known as zombies? That answer is not always a simple one, but it’s certainly a fun one to tackle. That’s just what I want to do right here, right now.

That’s right, fangs are all the rage. And how can they not be? What with True Blood about to close it’s latest sexy, breast-tastic, ab-tacular season, how can viewers and readers alike not be drooling over all things vamp? The very word “vamp” has such incredible connotations. It’s sexy, it’s glamorous, it’s romantic. It’s hot!

But just where does that leave our shambling, witless friend the zombie? In the grave my friends, in the grave. Oh but wait — it cannot be denied that the mindless denizen of the undead gang has its own level of popularity and that popularity will only continue to grow. But why? Why zombies? Seriously …

Unlike the vampire, the zombie doesn’t have sex appeal going for it. Nor does it have mystical, magical powers or even a harem of busty, leggy vampire concubines to give them an air of “hey now!” Ah, but there is something the zombie has the vampire has not, nor will ever touch — a bad case of “everyman”.

Say what?

Let me explain, because this is multi-level goodness.

For years the zombie has been the undead representative for man. That’s right, in nearly every form, the zombie has represented, in metaphoric terms,  the working man across the globe. Watch Shaun of the Dead or any given Romero film and you will see what I mean. If you were to rip off the roofs of nearly every business across the United States you would witness, first hand, the zombie — shambling back and forth between cubicles and meeting rooms. It’s there, it’s real, it’s painful to behold.

The khaki army is nothing more than a legion of zombies working for the man. Do you deny the claim? I didn’t think so.

The next level on which everyman can relate more to the zombie than the vampire is much simpler. Against the might and sensuality of the vampire, the average man (and/or woman) doesn’t stand a change. Meet the gaze of Erik Northman and you are nothing more than a puddle of goo in your panties. Meet the gaze of a zombie and, at most, you might find yourself barfing at the site of rotting flesh or the smell of crypt breath. But once the average joe gets beyond the sites, smells, and sounds of the zombie … they could take ’em. That’s right, outside of being bitten, the worst thing a zombie could do to you is drip and ooze on your wedding gown or your best blouse or shirt. But chances are, if you are capable of running, you’ll get away (NOTE: This does not apply to the screamers found in the I Zombie trilogy as they will catch you and rip you to shreds…mad bastards.)

Whereas the vampire elicits fear and moist loins, the zombie (at least from the perspective of the participant) is all about fun. You can have a drink with a zombie. The vampire? He’ll just drink you. The vampire, at least the learned vampire, will make you feel like you haven’t a brain in your head. The zombie, he’ll make you feel Einsteinian in intellect.

No, there is no sexuality to be found in zombies. And why should there be? That’s the vampire’s schtick. And besides, when watching a zombie flick you won’t have to look over at your spouse and say “Honey, never in a million years will I have abs like that.” When you’re watching the zombie film, you can rest assured that average looking bod of yours will still trump a rotting, festering, walking corpse. What’s not to love with that?

So, seriously … why zombies? Because it’s so easy to take the form and function and represent, on many levels, the average human, all the while depicting a bleak, barren landscape of loss and hopelessness. The zombie is the everyman of horror. The zomibe is your pal — unless they are bashing your skull against the ground to get to that delicious sweet meat.