By Felicia DeInnocentiis | Staff Writer
As Halloween night died down, my friends and I retreated into my house after a night of chasing down trick-or-treaters in zombified attire. We grabbed some refreshments and spent the rest of our time watching the AMC premier of ‘The Walking Dead’, a new series about survival in the zombie apocalypse. For each commercial airing in between the program, the undead were front and center, whether in upcoming video games like Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and Dead Rising 2, or the montage for the 2010 Toyota Corolla, speeding away from the ravenous undead thanks with the convenience of a built-in GPS navigational system.
What is it that makes the living dead so appealing? They certainly lack the beauty and charisma of vampires, the amazing transformations of werewolves, the intelligence and technology of aliens, or even the cute sinisterness of any gremlin. Their very identity is uncertain, due to the mob of movie directors and writers that have reinterpreted them over the years, varying from the slow, creepy shuffle of a George Romero flick to the crooked sprint of Zombieland’s brains-deprived populace.
All signs point to the fact that monsters haven’t become cliché in the mainstream media yet; though the beast du jour seems to be in flux. Vampires were probably considered scary once back in the 19th century, but the perspectives of Stephenie Meyer in the Twilight saga and the HBO series True Blood have moved have sprinkled glitter on the carnage, producing an overpriced Hot Topic shirt of a concept that few can take seriously. Since zombies are the farthest thing from a fashion statement at the moment, their glorious goriness remains respectable in the horror genre. Though I have seen attempts at “zombie romance” in bookstores, they’re nothing to fret about.
They are also the perfect antagonists for numerous video games. Since Resident Evil hit the shelves years ago, gamers have opened their wallets for the thrill of decimating cannibalistic corpses. Zombies aren’t people anymore: just living nightmares with a hunger for intestines, which removes any guilt for taking them out with a shotgun blast. Gamers and horror fanatics alike love this concept, because it taps into our primal instincts of survival, upholding that Darwinian principle; that the strongest will survive. More importantly, it’s just plain fun.
In the light of all other monster canon, I see zombies as the most probable scenario, especially in this age of war and nuclear threat. The idea of the undead gets to people because the origin of these insatiable cannibals is always some kind of disease, bombing, meteor shower, voodoo ritual, or other event that the world knows only too well. The zombie is scary because it reminds people of their own mortality, and is a wake-up call in theaters telling viewers that life is too short to be lived timidly. Particularly if you get bit.