Friday, October 29, 2010

The Zombie Situation

This week is, I’ve heard, a much celebrated holiday for people in my area and age-group.  And there’s nothing that gets me psyched up for it quite like talking about Zombies.  I’ve definitely been absorbing zombie-related media at a much faster clip than usual recently, in large part because I think they are making a Vampire-esque comeback, only this time among cool people.  For me, the most interesting thing about them is not that they actually kill people, eat them, what-have-you, but how they spread. 
If there was a zombie outbreak, such as the one chronicled in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, that would be the worst disaster to ever befall mankind.  What humans have- what defines us- is our ability to relate to other humans.  The concept of zombies essentially splits humans up, makes them suspicious of each other- not only threatens us physically but psychologically.  And not just psychologically as one country would affect another in a war, but psychologically on the most individual level possible.  No borders between countries, not even us against extra-terrestrials of some kind- humans against each other.
You really get a grip on what’s important when a bunch of blood-thirsty people who maybe used to be your friends are after you.  And I think that’s why one of my favorite movies of the past couple years, “Zombieland”, struck such a cord.  It’s an examination of how humans can survive and even thrive in a situation like that.  There have been plenty of movies where the main characters just go out and kick some ass and take some names.  (That might be why I didn’t love “Shaun of the Dead” that much- or maybe I just don’t like British comedy.)  But to me it made sense, for example, that the loners would be the ones to survive a zombie apocalypse.  At first.  And sure, maybe they’d team up and save each other at an amusement park in a climactic scene where everybody puts the lessons they’ve learned so far to good use.
But a lot of the lessons I learned in that movie can be put to good use.  Cherish the little things. Cardio.  And my personal favorite- the Double Tap.  I’ve tried to make that one catch on, to no avail. Then again, there are certain really bad zombie scenarios that even these lessons can’t prepare you for.
Maybe you’re all alone in the wilderness.  And it’s cold out.  And the zombies are also Nazis. And for some reason everybody’s speaking Norwegian! Okay, so that is the basis for the movie “Dead Snow”, a movie for which Amazing is an understatement.  It does take place in Norway, the zombies run really fast, they want some gold, but really all they want to do is kill you.  I don’t want to ruin too much of it, but suffice it to say, it gave me a really different take on zombies.  Just like World War Z.
This book did several things for me- it clarified what exactly happens to the zombies before they come back from the dead and start eating people.  It also explained a lot of the anatomy and biological facts of them.  They’re not fast, but they don’t breathe air.  And you can only kill them by shooting them in the head.  They are also the bodies of dead people- so the people die, and then the corpse reanimates. You don’t just go from living human to living zombie. But to contradict Dead Snow, they do freeze when it gets cold out. Solid, that is.  So that’s cool.  Finally, it showed me how different countries might react to a zombie outbreak.  China freaked out and made the whole thing way worse.  Israel acted quickly and quarantined themselves.  And the U.S. screwed up at first, but then fought back in some heroic ways.
This blog post has just gone through the roof on the nerdy scale.  And I think Woody Harrelson in Zombieland would probably punch me in the arm for rambling this much.  But that movie is still by far the zombie situation I would choose to live in.  As long as I got “Salute Your Solution” by The Raconteurs playing after I was done kicking ass.  And Emma Stone being there doesn’t hurt either.

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