There’s something about zombies that seems to fascinate the public at large. At one time popular culture was fixated on vampires, wizards and werewolves, but now? It’s time for zombies to have their place in the …er…sun…
Defined by their dead, staring eyes, rotting complexions and unsociable habit of human flesh-eating, zombies seem to be everywhere you look. On the TV and movies especially, zombies are dominating the world of entertainment.
But what’s so entertaining about zombies? They don’t have great conversational skills, they look horrific and they want to kill you – doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.
Zombies have been creeping us out since the 1930s. They originally appeared in Haiti and were regularly cropping up in folklore and tales associated with sorcery and slavery. The first film to feature flesh-eating, unstoppable zombie-shaped characters was the 1932’sWhite Zombie starring Madge Bellamy and the undeniably terrifying Bela Lugosi. A wartime propaganda film in 1943 had zombies pitching in against Hitler and co. in Revenge of Zombies. But the first real taste of zombie blood for the pop culture generation came with Night of the Living Dead, a low-budget 1960s zombie-fest that had them marauding on US soil for the first time. This clearly planted a seed into the overactive imaginations of the American population, and since then, zombies have never been far from the collective shlock-culture consciousness.
Having been consigned to low-rent B-movie status for many years, the zombies have recently moved back into the limelight. The obsession with zombies was re-ignited with the post-apocalyptic film 28 Days by director Danny Boyle. Released in 2002, this well-crafted master class in zombie paranoia helped push the scabby, dead-eyed monsters back into the mainstream. Despite their obvious shortcomings and lack of charm, for some reason, zombies enjoy enduring popularity in popular culture and this was confirmed soon after Boyle’s film when a flurry of zombie releases hit the screens. Dawn of The Dead, Zombieland, Cockneys versus Zombies, 28 Weeks Later and World War Z all proved that as a genre, zombies were now firmly A-list.
On the small screen, AMC’s The Walking Dead has seen phenomenal success and is currently in its fifth series. Fronted by British actor Andrew Lincoln, this TV series is a contemporary, gritty take on the un-dead formula which regularly attracts massive viewing figures.
Not satisfied with getting their zombie fix on screen, many people are now seeking to live out their undead fantasies/nightmares for real. Specially staged events held by companies such as www.zombiebootcamp.co.uk offer a totally immersive apocalyptic experience designed to test the nerves of the toughest zombie dodger. Spend a night at www.zombiebootcamp.co.uk and see if you can outrun the shuffling, decomposing monstrosities as they stalk you through the dark. These types of events have been popular as hen dos and stag events but increasingly attract corporate clients aiming to work on team building, problem-solving, and cohesion in the workforce. There’s nothing like a zombie invasion to focus the mind and get those problem-solving muscles working! At zombie boot camp the accommodation is quite Spartan with a military flavor but you get tasty food to eat around the campfire and a memorable experience that focuses more on action than comfort. As you’d expect, these fun events are very popular, and booking well in advance is recommended if you don’t want to miss out on the zombie apocalypse up close and personal.
What is it that’s making zombies so popular at present? Is it that our safe, pampered existences lack a frisson of danger? Do we crave a little terror to make us feel more alive? Alternatively, do we fear the dawning apocalypse -perhaps we are subconsciously preparing ourselves for a time when life will not be so easy. Failing banks, world terrorism, weird weather, pandemics – it all combines to make those prone to anxiety, just a little edgier. And what better to feed that fear than the possibility of a zombie invasion?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to a future full of zombie peril. But I think we can safely say there’s no imminent danger of a real zombie takeover of the universe, not this week anyway. And so in the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with zombies on TV, in films, and at staged live events. Sounds like the perfect way to experience zombie fun without the fear…