Zombies are one of the most versatile monsters in fiction. From its humble roots as a ghoul hungry for flesh, the zombie now comes in more flavors than Baskin Robbins. We have intelligent zombies, fast zombies, feeling zombies with undead manginas, zombies stalked by hilarious zombie killers and zombies that use machine guns and the odd garden hoe. The story of zombies keeps evolving, from the creatures themselves, to the worlds they inhabit.
When the Walking Dead returns this Sunday, know that not only will it have the undead, but they’re gearing up to one day introduce the Governor, a character meant to demonstrate clearly that zombies are not the worst things in a zombie wasteland by far. But what’s left for our undead friends? Zombie reality shows? Porn (those already exist, by the way)? Zombie superheroes (also exist)? We have some suggestions for what path zombies should take from here on out.
Zombies exist now with solidarity and similarity. When you become a zombie you enter into the most non-exclusive boring club the afterlife has to offer. Your goals? Meander about and eat. Nothing else matters. But George Romero set the stage for the evolution of the intelligent zombie and as we leap from chimpanzee to the career of Carlos Mencia, so too can we leap from roaming, brain eater to a zombie that has a yearning. For what? Individuality.
The hipster zombie is the zombie who ate brains before it was cool but now subsists only on emu brains. You’re still eating human? Good for you, that’s swell. Yeah my zombie mom still eats human brains. Have you heard the new album from zombies Peter, Bjorn and John? It was only released on vinyl and since there’s no electricity any more, it’s super hard to listen to. I have a hand-cranked Victrola. But I have no hands, as you can see.
Part of the charm of the zombie is that it’s an inhuman kind of humanity. It strips away even the most basic things that make us what we are and leaves what we fear – we are monsters. And we consume. Unfortunately that charm has been worn a little thin after so many years. The zombie as ultimate monster is not all it’s cracked up to be anymore. So let’s play with something even the zombie fears. After all, if a zombie’s rudimentary brain function has the ability to compel the drive to feed, surely the basic, primal fear response should exist in there somewhere, too (along with a desire to rub its junk against soft corners, but that’s for another article). And the only thing scarier than a zombie gnawing on your elbow, or humping it, is the zombie that passes up your elbow to run away because it’s afraid of something else, which you should therefore be doubly afraid of – the cannibal zombie.
If zombies just want to eat, eat other zombies. They must smell like meat, they look like people, eat ‘em. Sure, some stories have suggested the smell of death is what, in fact, protects zombies from each other, but what about a fresh corpse? It should smell alive enough to be attacked, you’d think. What about those poor bugger zombies who lost their noses? The story doesn’t hold water and therefore leaves room for a zombie that would feast on other zombies. Or a whole race of zombies that feed on dead flesh.
The strength of a zombie right now is that it is entirely undiscerning. Zombies eat you because you are, it’s kind of Cartesian. But what if they didn’t? But just you. The guy next to you? Eaten. Your best friend? Eaten. Your cat? So eaten. But you? You they don’t want. You could walk up to a zombie and kick him in his half rotten junk and he’d just keep shuffling away. What gives?
We need zombies that don’t like some people, for whatever reason. It’d spice up a story if you had at least one guy on hand in a zombie apocalypse who could freely roam the streets because the undead were inexplicably disgusted by him.
Often times, movies cover the beginning or middle of a zombie incident. Few deal with the aftermath, though World War Z is on the way and Fido gave us domestic zombies. What we need are zombies that lost the war but still want to survive, so they have to learn how to be clever. Maybe they wear disguises Maybe they only eat the brains of idiots so no one knows anything is different. Maybe they spend all day hidden in Starbucks’ across the country. Point is, there’s only a few left and we’re the danger to them, so they need to get crafty.
I want you to Google Zombie werewolf right now (in a different window) and see what happens. No wait, just click here.
Are you looking? Yeah, zombie werewolf. There’s room out there for zombie ______ like you wouldn’t believe, but we’re barely taking advantage of it in mainstream film. We’re getting zombie Nazis, that’s about it. We need zombie werewolves. Zombie vampires. It doesn’t need to make sense, Twilight didn’t make sense, it made one spajillion dollars. So give us zombie swamp monsters, or zombie mole men, or a zombie zombie that slowly comes back to life because he got bit by the charming, lively teeth of the Rock. Or whatever.