Tis the Season to be Zombie

So I’m making a remark about The Walking Dead TV show (based on some graphic novel), to the effect that zombies don’t interest me because of their poor conversational skills. I pursue that thought, in the context of the newly acquired ‘human interest’ that modern reinvented vampires have in this century. Nobody’s doing the same favour for zombies I think.

Why not give the zombie a bit more character, a back story, a possibility of redemption? There are now ‘good vampires’ as I’m sure you know. So how come vampires, but not zombies? Even your friendly neighbourhood werewolf gets a chance to be a sympathetic hero.

So shall we give a zombie the power of speech? After all, they’ve already been allowed a bit of reinvention – they can run now, not just lumber. They can tear you apart for no good reason where they used to do it for food.

But naturally we can’t. That’s their whole point – that they cannot speak. Flowers can’t speak (triffids may rattle a bit, but you can’t talk to one). Zombies are there to be killed, to have their heads chopped off. It’s probably nothing more than a ‘legitimate’ outlet for the ‘angry white male’ who wants to kill humans – but of course cannot. I mention flowers because killing a zombie was a bit like kicking heads off flowers (OK, really nasty flowers then).

Is this why the modern zombie is allowed to tear you apart for the hell of it, is allowed to outrun you? Flowers couldn’t hurt you and the old time zombie really couldn’t pose much of a threat either. Let’s face it – if you’d found yourself being eaten by a hungry old-style lumbering zombie then you probably hadn’t been paying due attention. It was just too easy to dispatch the old time zombie, and is possibly too unsympathetic and inhuman an act for these more PC days.

Make modern zombies more of a threat and you re-enable that lost sanction, the permission to defend yourself (by deadly force) against things that look like other humans (your neighbours). Successfully giving the zombie the power of speech (and I daresay there’s some story-writer contemplating exactly that) is likely to eventually kill off the genre entirely.