In case you haven't noticed, zombies are pretty much everywhere.
With the recent release of the game "Dead Island", shows like "The Walking Dead" now on television, and a movie adaption to "World War Z" in the works, the world seems to have fallen victim to yet another pop culture trend:
The trend started a few years ago, and like the undead themselves, has slowly shambled through the crowd of bad reality shows and television remakes to take a strong bite out of the entertainment world.
What is it about these slow walking, mindless, shambling corpses that has captured our hearts and minds? With a plethora of stronger, faster, and cooler monsters available to us, why would we have turned to zombies, El Guapo?
The answer is pretty obvious, Jefe: We've completely f**king ruined vampires.
Think about it.
Once the stuff of legends and nightmares, vampires were both feared and respected throughout the entire world as a very real threat. They were mysterious, ancient creatures that rose from the dead in order to plague the living. Evil monsters trapped somewhere between life and death, hell bent on satisfying their unholy thirst by enslaving mankind and drinking our blood.
They were blamed for everything from death to erectile dysfunction (no, really) and since the television wasn't invented yet for your crackhead neighbor to steal, vampires were the reason that you locked your door at night.
And what did we turn them into?
Sullen, broody pretty boys that look like they're either trying to find a place to cry and write about their feelings, or are struggling against the unholy need to take a really serious and darkly dramatic poop.
When did that happen?
When did vampires go from being badass monsters to these sparkling bastardizations of everything we once held sacred? The vampires that I knew and loved might have hid behind beauty and sensuality, but it merely a clever ploy; a mask worn by a predator who wanted nothing more than to kill you and to feast upon your very essence. It was how they hunted, and it was how they separated the weak from the pack. They preyed on the lonely, misunderstood, depressed female - not because she had a deep understanding of love and the darkness of life, but because those chicks are f**king annoying and need to be eaten by SOMETHING.
But shunning blood and searching their souls, vampires today apparently only feed on Cruelty-Free Tofu Lattes, bad poetry and Axe Body Spray.
Even the word "vampire" has become so common place and so synonymous with "teen angst" and coming of age that they've ceased to even slightly resemble the creatures that they're supposed to be based on. Instead of drawing up horrible images of death and despair, you envision a bunch of skinny kids that desperately need to be slapped.
The vampires that I remember were killers and demons that sucked blood and not...well...
So we turned to the rebound girlfriend of the monster world. The one creature that we couldn't romantisize, or ruin with trite plots about love and feelings and everything else that makes our collective girl parts tingle.
While no one will admit it, we've all seen the Twilight commercial or scene where the group of vampires comes strolling into the high school and the near suicidal chick asks "Who's that?" in breathy tones before quickly looking away so that her no-no-goodies don't burst in a lusty explosion of teenage hormones. Now picture that, but with zombies.
What's that? You'd have gone to see Twilight at the theater? Twice?
You're f**king right you would have, because that scene would have been amazing. The depressed girl looks up, biting her lip in nervous anticipation, turns towards the door, and instead of an undead Abercrombie and Fitch commercial, it would have been a blood bath. People screaming, blood spattering the cafa-nasi-torium window in a spray of crimson, a severed ear landing symbolically in the center of a vat of sloppyjoe mix...
And why? Because you can't pretty up zombies.
They're disgusting, unintelligent creatures with horrible skin who lack any emotion or desire past the most basic of needs...
There’s no reasoning with a zombie. You can’t appeal to whatever traces of humanity still lurk within its soul. You can’t overcome it with reason, or guilt, or beauty. There is no emotional tie, no pleading, and no mercy – they’re like the IRS. Once a zombie has you in its sight, it will come after you like a stinky terminator until you destroy it, or it destroys you.
And that’s why we love them.
Because on some unconscious level, we realize what we do to everything that we truly fear; we make it pretty. We attempt to relate to it, then humanize it, and eventually our fear gives way to a false sense of understanding which lessens the terror. Goblins and fairies lose their claws and teeth, only to have them replaced by gossamer wings and stripper glitter. Ghosts and spirits become Guardian Angels and objects of redemption that need us to help them resolve the issues that hold them here…
… and vampires become hairspray encrusted douche bags that look wistfully into the distance at the end of every sentence, as if suddenly remembering that they left the stove on in their castle lair.
But not zombies.
Zombies become that last bastion of horror that we cannot relate with mingled with the threat of the one thing that humanity fears on a whole: death.
Pretty zombies don’t exist. If they’re making a slow motion entrance, it is because most of their leg has been chewed off and is dragging behind them as they lurch toward you. You can’t reason with them or try to help them resolve life issues, because there is nothing there that understands your intentions, and those who foolishly try anyway are quickly devoured before joining the shuffling ranks themselves. There is no redemption, no beauty, and no gambit of brooding emotions and desires to run.
There is only fear, and you can’t pretty that up. Not even with tons of makeup and Day-Glo orange tanning spray.