Undead Awakening: Why Zombies are More Popular Than Ever

Devan Sagliani

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Apr 21, 2014
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Undead Awakening: Why Zombies are More Popular Than Ever

Why are zombies so popular all of a sudden? It's a question I've been asked a lot in interviews but that rarely seems to get the full attention it deserves.

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Lemmibl

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Jan 27, 2009
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OK, so this might sound very critical, but have I suddenly travelled back in time to the year 2008? Zombies haven't been new, fresh or popular since, like, the time when Left 4 Dead 1 or Plants versus Zombies were still fresh games that people played.
 

Ten Foot Bunny

I'm more of a dishwasher girl
Mar 19, 2014
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Lemmibl said:
OK, so this might sound very critical, but have I suddenly travelled back in time to the year 2008? Zombies haven't been new, fresh or popular since, like, the time when Left 4 Dead 1 or Plants versus Zombies were still fresh games that people played.
That's exactly what I was thinking! Is it possible that anyone is unaware of the zombie over-saturation in all forms of media nowadays? Some people might not be fed up with zombies yet, but most of them don't even deny that zombies are in just about everything now.

Well, anything trying to make a quick-and-easy buck, in my humble opinion.
 

Remus

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Nov 24, 2012
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Lemmibl said:
OK, so this might sound very critical, but have I suddenly travelled back in time to the year 2008? Zombies haven't been new, fresh or popular since, like, the time when Left 4 Dead 1 or Plants versus Zombies were still fresh games that people played.
It's not so much the "all of a sudden" as it is "Why haven't they stopped being popular?" Horror tropes go through phases. There's been the slasher phase - which was particularly long and ended with the parody that was the Scream movies, torture porn like Saw and Hostel, found footage movies, the rebirth of the religious horror movies with the ongoing string of possession flicks, and of course zombie movies, a trend that like game consoles, died out 30 years ago only to be the big horror theme of our time. A couple other reasons why I'd imagine zombies have become such a phenomenon are that zombies are easy to create in terms of special effects, so they're cheap, and being undead and no longer human, you can slice em, dice em, shred em, shoot em, dismember em, and TV censors won't bat an eye. This of course brings the question of "What purpose did World War Z serve?" to which I can only answer, maybe a zombie movie your grandmother can watch? A lot of the odd nervous ticks the zombies had in that movie do seem somewhat representative of an elderly population with escalating neurological disorders, which again is just another metaphor for zombies, since so long as technology continues to progress, our population will continue to get very topheavy toward retired persons.
 

DevanSagliani

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Remus said:
Horror tropes go through phases
I definitely agree with suggestion that horror tropes going through cycles of popularity. Vampires were supposed to give way to werewolves then zombies then dragons according to industry experts. Instead zombies just keep going and going with no end in sight while werewolves and shape shifters never got their day in the sun and dragons got skipped for a newly resurgent witch phase that's coming on right now like stale acid. In the publishing world zombie and apocalypse fiction doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down. Same goes for television and movies. Love them or hate them it's hard to deny that zombies are not slowing down but instead picking up speed. And I thought they'd jump the proverbial shark once Warm Bodies hit screens.
 

flarty

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Apr 26, 2012
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I don't think its so much the zombies, it's more about the horror of surviving and the evil that people do to each other in those circumstances now, for example the most succesful zombie franchise of all time is most likely the walking dead and the zombies are just extras really in that franchise. I think its even more obvious when you see its this theme that runs prominent in other successful films that appeared recently, like the book of eli, the road, children of men and other films that will soon be appearing like the new mad max and the rover. OH MY GOD SO HYPED FOR THE ROVER.
 

Devan Sagliani

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Apr 21, 2014
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I'm going to let everyone in on a big secret. Zombies were never fucking cool... they are by and far the lamest undead creatures around... ever. Think about it. Really think about it.
 

Spider RedNight

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Oct 8, 2011
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As it's been said before, I think it's less about the zombies and more about the characters in that sort of scenario. Zombies are malleable and you can change up some of the rules without it being "blasphemous" (see: How dare Stephanie Meyer decide that vampires glitter in the sun) and like they say, they embody the "ambiguous evil" that the protagonists deal with while the main villains are often other living humans.

Zombies are easy to work with because they make room for characterization, trials and tribulations of the living characters. Does that make them stale? Probably because they HAVE been "popular" in the media for several consecutive years now. I think zombies are still up top because you don't have to put as much effort into the actual zombies as you do with other supernatural creatures - they don't fall under any specific qualifications (vampires hate the sun, werewolves are a once-a-month deal, etc.) and they can provide as much or as little tension as the writers want.

That being said, I'd rather there still be a zombie craze than a werewolf phase - as if wolfaboos don't have enough fodder to feel entitled about without creating more fursonas that emulate their new favourite werewolf in the media.
 

StriderShinryu

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As a few of the other responses already said, I'm not really getting the framing of this article. The zombies fad is absolutely not anything new, and was actually a pretty big deal a long time before the big budget World War Z movie.

That said, while I see the point the article is trying to make as to why zombies are popular, I find myself not caring any more. Despite the inherent quality of zombies as both enemies and symbols, they have been so overexposed that I just find myself automatically rolling my eyes and tuning out whenever they are used.
 

Mocmocman

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Dec 4, 2012
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I think some of it also has to do with feeling special. For example, out of the entire population that became a zombie, the hero, or as people imagine, themselves, is one of the few that remain human.
 

Kieve

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Getting the sense that this article exists mainly to plug the author's book, not because of any timely cultural relevance.
The "Why are zombies popular?" question has been evaluated and re-evaluated to the point where it's barely a topic worth discussing.
But alas, like the creatures of horror themselves, it simply refuses to die...
 

Zak757

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The only form of zombies I'm interested in is zombies in an open world survival horror. DayZ has an awesome idea behind it, but the engine and UI it runs on is pretty awful, and the team behind it doesn't work all that quickly. Hopefully H1Z1 doesn't disappoint. It's run on the Planetside 2 engine and it's got SOE behind it, so that's a step in the right direction.
 

Nomanslander

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You want to really understand the whole zombie apocalypse and what makes it so interesting, you gotta go back to it's creator. And no, not George Romero, he has been the one to make the biggest contributions to the genre, but he wasn't the creator. The real creator was Richard Matheson, and in his novel, "I am Legend" it didn't even have zombies, but an army of vampires. It's the whole, you vs the world, idea, that in the end we're all alone in a world out to get us. So you can really use any monster to fill the billet, the reason's why zombies work so well is because they reminds us of ourselves. It wouldn't be the same if it's one man vs. an army of creatures from the Blue Lagoon. A bunch of fish people. Zombies reminds us of ourselves, and they remind us that no is to be trusted, and we're all just apart of some sick rat race where the ultimate goal is be the only ones to make it to the finish lines, succeed when everyone else has failed. There's a sense of tragedy in it all, seeing how only a few can survive while everyone else has to perish too.

Funny thing about the Richard Matheson's I am Legend, it went a step ahead of most of today's movies, even though the book was written in the 50s. In the book you eventually discover that the biggest monster in the story aren't even the hoard of zom... I mean vampires out to get the main character. That book is still ahead of it's time, and the Will Smith movie did it no justice.

Anyways... personally I get bored of zombie shit. I rather stick to something that is VERY plausible when it comes to post apocalyptic material. Mad Max, nuclear holocaust, Fallout is where it's at! Beyond thunderdome is where humanity is really headed since there's nothing fictional about nuclear Armageddon. So yeah!

lol
 

Grumpy Ginger

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Mocmocman said:
I think some of it also has to do with feeling special. For example, out of the entire population that became a zombie, the hero, or as people imagine, themselves, is one of the few that remain human.
Definitely though there seems to be this dichotomy where on one hand the protagonists are heroes saving the rest of humanity. At the same time they are allowed to let their inner psycho out by creatively slaughtering their former friends and neighbours guilt free in increasingly inventive ways (I'm looking at you dead rising)
 

FoolKiller

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If you're going to summarize it in two words it would have to be: CANNON FODDER

They are an easy enemy to write as there doesn't need to be moral justification for killing any of them.
 

Lono Shrugged

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Kieve said:
Getting the sense that this article exists mainly to plug the author's book, not because of any timely cultural relevance.
The "Why are zombies popular?" question has been evaluated and re-evaluated to the point where it's barely a topic worth discussing.
But alas, like the creatures of horror themselves, it simply refuses to die...
I have to say, I gave up halfway through the article because of that. I didn't find the reference to the joke in the movie on the first page particularly clever or witty and brushed it off as the author just getting their little plug in on something they worked on and establish their authority on the subject, which is cool by the way. By page 2 I realised that this was a shill for a book and stopped reading. The reason why the article feels 2 years out of date is because it takes that long to publish a book.

Someone joining the forum less than a month ago and promoting their book does not feel like someone who is a part of the community and is part of the escapist's new cross promotional platform. There are so many stones left unturned and a lack of originality and quality to this article. I really would love to flesh this topic out, but I feel that it would be a hollow effort. Because it feels like this "content" exists to sell something. There was a time writers for the escapist did it because they had a passion for their subject. Sure, they self promoted and linked to their other works. But this is so blatant it's offensive to the intelligence. If this was a well researched and written article. The type Robert Rath writes. I would have happily looked at the book. But this felt like a sales pitch from the first word.
 
Aug 13, 2014
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To me it's concerning mind you television in general is not geared towards solving problems but in my opinion the zombies are a rash on my foot. As to the popularity I asked Google the same question and ended up here.