Hello, Zombies!

How likely is a zombie-led Armageddon? In the last twenty years, movie studios from Holly- to Bolly-wood would have us believe that the end, unfortunately, is nigh – and it will be brought about by shambling hordes of the living dead. The zombie movie hype has not gone unnoticed, with the United States Centre for Disease Control releasing a blog post in 2011 detailing exactly what steps a citizen should take if faced with an undead apocalyptic scenario (the instructions include advice on what to pack in your getaway bag [passports, water, non-perishable food], and how to form an emergency plan with your family).

Upon researching further as to what the CDC thought they were playing at, I discovered that the motive behind this post was simply a ‘fun’ training exercise for workplaces and schools; the rationalisation being that this was an unlikely scenario that could be an entertaining way of preparing the aforementioned organisations for other global catastrophes such as a pandemic or a natural disaster caused by extreme weather. The humour in this is somewhat lost by the fact that this disaster preparedness drill, despite hiding beneath a mask of dark humour, is still an attempt to ready the public for a very real, possibly imminent danger of a global meltdown. The post also mentions that although the zombie front is a bit of a joke, the CDC is in fact prepped for any sort of threat to the United States, including a zombie apocalypse, ridiculously enough. Secret laboratories and quarantine facilities are not just an invention of Hollywood paranoia. Reassured? I am. Sort of.

At least it’s not all doom and gloom. The zombie fever has spread from the brain to the funny bone, with an injection of comedies, transforming the genre from brain dead to fighting fit (okay, I’ll stop with the puns now). Zombieland entertains the possibility of fast, slightly smarter-than-your-average munchers with a clever protagonist and even an unexpected cameo from our lord and saviour Bill Murray. The UK’s best, Simon Pegg, also delved into the genre in 2003 with his cornetto-munching smash Shaun of the Dead. The likelihood is you’ve heard of these titles since they have received all the praise they deserve. Some other films within the zombie canon are just as deserving of attention but have barely had any: Pontypool, released in 2008, is a Canadian masterpiece delving into the idea of language infecting the brain in the unluckiest setting for this to occur: a local radio station. For those more interested in the bizarre over the intellectual, b-movie classic, Dead Snow follows a group of medical students getting more than they bargained for in the form of defrosted Nazi zombies wreaking havoc in the Norwegian wilderness.

Given the fact that a large chunk of humanity resides in various urban locations where human population is dense, we would definitely all be goners if faced with the dead wandering down the streets in search of squishy sustenance. The best dystopian zombie movies address this inescapable truth. It definitely explains why the zombie sub-genre remains one of the most popular among contemporary viewers for the past few decades. Perhaps a zombie-infested wasteland is tempting. According to the 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead franchises, life gets a lot simpler when the line between good and evil is clearly split down the middle. Protect the innocent at all costs, and gun down anything else. What a time to be alive. No modern human brain work required, just point and shoot, pretty much according to instinct.

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Hattie Griffiths

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January 2022
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