Oh, aren’t they wonderful? They’re flesh-hungry, bloodthirsty, shambling balls of apocalyptic fun that we can all enjoy. There’s a zombie film for everyone, from fans of gore and horror to those in want of a romantic comedy to an opportunity for a fun family outing to the cinema.
In less lyrical prose, zombies are freaking everywhere. They are in our video games and our comics and our movies and our TV shows and our children’s programming and our books. They are a staple of popular culture and everyone knows what they are. How exactly did this happen? And, my big question for this week, why are we so obsessed with dead people that walk around?
Zombies would have to be one of the most recognised fictional monsters out there, alongside Frankenstein’s monster and all that seek to reanimate it (no pun intended… actually that’s a blatant lie) and vampires, which funnily enough both have their roots in Gothic literature. Zombies didn’t shamble towards the Western media until the 1930s, and then they were a very different type of thing. The original zombies, of course, were not the reanimated dead but ordinary people put under a spell using voodoo, leaving their association much more with the horrors of exotic witchcraft than radioactivity-induced brain-eating. They were a favourite movie monster in the early days of cinema and were the star of many a moving picture such as White Zombie (1931), Revolt of the Zombies (1936) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943). As you can see, they marketed their niche very well.