Zombies. The living dead. Michael Jackson in Thriller. The word alone is enough to give me a sleepless night. Sleepless, not just from sheer terror but sleepless from busily plotting my zombie apocalypse survival plan. If you don’t have one already you’re a fool. A FOOL!
Zombies have scared me since I was quite young, almost as much as vampires. Vampires scared the shit out of me. But somewhere along the way, zombies began to supersede auld Nosferatu in my terror stakes. This is because of 28 Days Later, no two ways about it. For a long time, I didn’t have to worry about zombies cropping up in pop culture that much. We had entered the era of the vampires (again). Zombies were outré, vampires were making their dastardly come back. Not that dastardly, as it happens, as it was in the form of some pretty shit teenagers being pensive and covered in glitter. Vampires aren’t scary anymore, they’re pathetic. Granted, there have been movies like Let the Right One In that returned terror and horror to the lore of vampire but the damage was done.
Zombies, on the other hand, had been evolving in the cultural wasteland left behind when vampires lost their bite (sorry). 28 Days Later, a film I still cannot watch in its entirety, changed the post-apocalyptic horizon forever. Zombies are now even MORE terrifying. They can outrun me for the love of god!! How am I supposed to make my way to a safe haven with a pack of virulent undead sprinting along behind my flat-bed pick-up truck?! I won’t even have a chance to reload my double-barrelled shotgun. It’s a disaster. A DISASTER. Even movies that are supposed to be funny (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland) just make me queasy. I still haven’t seen all of Shaun of the Dead and my friend said that watching my facial expressions during Zombieland rivalled the entertainment value of the film itself.
This brings me to the current landscape of prime time television, a realm in which I was safe from zombie Armageddon. Not so since the launch of The Walking Dead. Now, I’m not a complete wuss but Christ on a bike! The special effects experts on this series should be locked away. It’s crazy. Even thinking about that half-corpse from the pilot episode dragging itself across the grass gives me the willies.
Well, I said to myself, maybe I should sort this fear (kinemortophobia, as it happens) out. They say knowledge is power and fear of the unknown is… I’m not really sure what “they” say about fear of the unknown but it’s not good so I decided to read up on zombies. A quick scan of the most reliable source in the known Universe, Wikipedia, tells me that zombies are just people. People who think they’re dead but they’re not really. And by being “dead” they no longer have a life and therefore will do as they’re told. It’s social reinforcement, stoopid. So… yeah, OK then, but this person is TRYING TO EAT MY BRAIN!
Luckily, I live in Switzerland! Switzerland is well known for being brilliantly, defensively paranoid. This works for a continental zombie outbreak by dint of the fact that at the click of a few buttons, the entire country blows up all entry points and becomes a virtual island amongst the chaos. OK, I suppose the original intent for this was something to do with an enemy invasion but what worse kind of invasion is there than zombie??
In summary, zombies are as scary as they come. They seep into my unconscious like so many vampires before them and cause me to have dreams where some of them sprout wings and fly at me. That’s f*cking terrifying, seriously. And it’s in the early morning, when I’m emerging from this fog of terror, that I thank the stars for the secret underground bunker located somewhere near my apartment that I apparently pay a tax for. Switzerland, you’re a zombie-phobe’s best hope, and I salute you, you paranoid bunch of well-prepared legends.