Why zombies are taking over

Every time I glance at the TV or social media, I get a reminder that Season 3 of The Walking Dead premieres this Sunday. This has become an October tradition since its inception three years ago. ‘Tis the season for the moaners, slow walkers and brain-eaters that much of America has grown to love.

Zombies have always been pretty big in the pop-culture sphere, but they have recently taken a rise in popularity because of The Walking Dead television show and graphic novel series, among other things. People love resurrected corpses, apparently. I mean, did you see that gnarly, bloated zombie in the water well from Season 2? Those were some high-quality guts, in my opinion.

I am among this demographic, although I try to flip my lid over everything zombie. There are so many other branches of horror that I appreciate that I don’t want to spend too much time on this one subset of ghouls.

Zombie-everything is on the market: key chains, T-shirts, you name it. I even received a book of zombie haikus as a gift from a friend. My brother has started collecting strange weapons like aluminum bats and a machete, you know, just in case.

So, why do people love zombies? I believe there are several reasons:

  1. Zombies are hard to kill, and that ups the ante. There are very specific rules to killing zombies. You need a clean shot to the head or to remove the head completely to off these suckers. That’s a lot of work, especially when they’re swarming you (which they do often — have brains, will travel . . . in packs).
  2. A zombie could be your (former) friend or loved one. This is a sneaky tactic in horror. For example, in Pet Sematary, a deceased child comes back to life and returns to his parents. OBVIOUSLY he’s a vessel for a demon, but what can the parents do? I don’t think I’m the kind of person who could behead my zombie-mom. Sorry, I just really like her. I’m doomed.
  3. The genre has been around for a very long time. Zombies are near and dear to any horror enthusiast because they are a familiar and usually successful horror villain. They’re classic; from Night of the Living Dead to 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead, they’ve worked for many different films.
  4. They’re versatile. Yes, they are overplayed, but if a writer gets creative, there can be a number of different spins on a zombie. Some are slow-walking and some are incredibly fast. Some can spread their zombification through a bite, and others became that way as a result of a strange government plan or disease. Some are easy to kill and some are hard to kill. Red fish, blue fish, zombies are fun.
  5. They’re everywhere in video games. Any avid gamer probably has several games where zombies are involved. They’re unavoidable on any console.

So, I hope that you’re not too sick of zombies yet. I know that they’re kind of everywhere and the hype about them is a little extreme. Feel free to carry on if it isn’t your thing. But, if the “zombie apocalypse” DOES happen, remember who those friends are who have a machete at their house.