Zombies in Popular Culture

By Zombie Hunter Sam

Zombies are alive and rotting today. And not just outside my back door. Their presence is in national media, literature, video games, books and of course movies. The Undead are a metaphor for growin indifference, apathy and a self destructive society.

Undead in Magazine and Books

This April, Discover Magazine’s ran an article about Wade Davis, the ethnobotanist who researched Haitian zombies. His work lead to the book and movie “The Serpent and the Rainbow”. He was the only white man to be initiated into the cult like secret societies, he learned the way to make real zombies;  the neurotoxin induced psychosis zombie made through voodoo zombie powder. Psychosis zombies come from a powdered derivative of TTX or tetrodotoxin, from certain puffer fish native to the Haitian waters.

Humor publications also run undead corpse and zombie related topics, The Onion most notably. Of spot-on interest is the article, “Study Reveals Pittsburgh Unprepared For Full-Scale Zombie Attack“.

Government-conducted zombie-attack scenarios described on the State Department’s website indicate that a successful, citywide zombie takeover would take 10 days, but according to ZPI statistician Dr. Milton Cornelius, the government’s models fail to incorporate such factors as the zombies’ rudimentary reasoning skills and basic tool use.

While the humor is a bit of a stretch, is your city really prepared? Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are excellent reads, providing useful information and a realistic narrative of a post-zombie holocaust. I won’t go into detail about the books here, but I strongly suggest you read them. World War Z is very well written, and quite scary.

Zombie Dreams

Several readers have written me and shared their zombie dream experiences, relieved to discover their dreams are not uncommon. Many, myself included, have had “me versus them” zombie dreams that almost seem like training or practice for a zombie apocalypse. These dreams can be influenced by films and books, but still carry a common thread with the dreamer, who seems to be preparing for the inevitable, training to kill zombies and survive the holocaust. Readers share that their zombie dreams seem to focus on actively participating in the holocaust, revealing neither the end nor the beginning, similar to George Romero’s movies.

The funny thing is I keep having re occouring nightmares of zombies. Never have I had these type of dreams…

I too have been constantly dreaming of the undead, but only because my friends and I have been dwelling on the thought for so long. I’ve done my share of homework, and judging by what this article reads, I’d say it’s extremely close if not entirely IDENTICAL to my own perception of 2012 and the zombie pandemic…

A girl from Maine wrote… how they seem like fighting practice…

I just woke up from a dream… The funny thing about these dreams is how these seem so real… I was running from zombies and very scared… I seemed to be searching for them and I did have a handgun… I felt “experienced” in this one. In every dream though it was clear there was not too many people left on earth.

Zombies as a Social Metaphor

A colleague suggests that you can understand the weltgeist based on monsters or demons in popular films. In the 50s and 60s it was often nuclear war, mutants and aliens, suggestive of our fear of communists, growing xenophobia and living in a a post-war, post nuclear society. Later, it was vampires and zombies – sucking the life out of cities and people as more and more Americans moved to the suburbs and tuned out from city life and each other, stressing the economy. In the late 80s and early 90s, it was slasher and demon films, one unstoppable killer against many, echoing the increase of public paranoia and the daily fear of your neighbors. Parents became overly cautious and overbearing. “They Live”, the cult classic John Carpenter film is a fantastic metaphor for the Reagan era and a massive increase in materialism and the disappearing middle class.

Zombie films are definitely on the rise, in the past five years, we’ve had the 28 Days saga with its human induced virus zombies, remakes of the Dead series, new terrifying zombies in the Resident Evil films, and numerous independent zombie films. While not every zombie movie has an axe to grind with culture and material desire, their numerous releases parallel common sentiment that many people, Americans in particular, are tuning out to the real world – becoming zombies and mindlessly going about their trivial business, devouring the less fortunate without second thought.

Zombie Video Games

It’s hardly necessary to mention zombie video games. There are fewer zombie themed games than films produced, but they are gaining in number. While many games do not have zombies as the main foe or plot device, they make an appearance in several games as support enemies or unique levels.

Zombies are difficult enemies in Doom 3, Quake, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, STALKER, Half Life 2, and many more. They range in attacking ability – some are slow, some explode and others shoot at the player – but they remain a difficult target. Unfortunately, not a lot of games understand the whole “headshot” thing. STALKER zombies seem to get it right, as they tend to be more difficult to kill than their human counterparts. Headshots certainly work much better in the Half Life series, though eviscerating a zombie with a saw blade and watching half its corpse come after you is also quite accurate. Just remember to aim for the neck or head, no body shots and you’ll do alright.

Zombie themed games include Dead Rising, the Resident Evil series, and the upcoming (sure to be awesome) multiplayer Left for Dead. If you are looking for an RPG style zombie experience, I suggest Urban Dead, a web based zombie game. You can create multiple characters, play as survivor or zombie, and continue to be revived.

If you want to prepare for the holocaust – look no further than your local book and movie store.

Share Button

Filed Under: 2012 · Films · Science · Simulation

2 million infected

  • 1 Sam Apr 4, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Hey all – please share any other video games that feature zombies in them. And list your favorite if you have one!

  • 2 Pages tagged "zombie" Apr 5, 2008 at 7:04 am

    […] tagged zombieOwn a WordPress blog? Make monetization easier with the WP Affiliate Pro plugin. Zombies in Popular Culture saved by 5 others     NataoDoidao bookmarked on 04/05/08 | […]

Leave a Comment