Tuesday, November 01, 2011

As It's a Lovely Day...

... Let's talk about zombies!

I'm not even in a cynical mood...

The new vampires are just plain rotten. It's a fact. Well, it's a fact in my head.

There was an interesting question on QI recently (probably a Dave repeat) where Stephen Fry asked how long it would take for a zombie outbreak to spread across the world - about 39 days according to 'the people that know these things'. Surely that's based on using the films as a point of reference and believing 98% of the population of the planet has the intelligence of a mollusk.

What do we know about zombies? Well, traditional zombies were dead people reanimated, wandering around like... well, animated corpses. They were slow, dim-witted and if you got bitten by one it was either through your own stupidity or because one was hiding behind the shower curtain. This theme continued throughout George Romero and countless other zombie movies until 28 Days Later when the zombies became a different and far more deadly beast altogether. Romero brought a couple more zombie films out and they followed his old idea and there were some things like Zombieland which suitably satirised the genre while being kind and faithful.

Then there was Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, which as well as being a monster hit in comics, has been turned into a hugely popular TV show. I'm sort of struggling to understand why, despite having read most of the comics and a keen watcher of the TV series. Both the comic and the TV show are full of dislikeable characters, unfocused organisation and uninteresting soap opera. None of the characters, except maybe Rick Grimes - the hero (of sorts) - have many redeeming qualities and not because the world is now post-apocalyptic, because the survivors are largely selfish, self-obsessed individuals - the kind who probably would go to ground until everyone else had been eaten.

People claimed there were similarities between The Walking Dead and Falling Skies - the post-apocalyptic SF series about alien invaders and there is, but the main one is that regardless of how hard the writers try, none of he characters is particularly good or interesting or likeable or well developed. The comic only makes this more so with its 'everyone is expendable' policy.

Plus, there's this feeling that even though this is a bunch of characters plunged into a nightmare; there would be some common sense applied. There is in the comic, but Kirkman's best observation was breezed over, albeit because he wanted to continue with a story rather than have it change midway through. There's this thing about zombies you see; they're dead. They're cold. They are the new reptiles. Let's put it this way, if you put your arm in snow, it gets cold, but the rest of your body keeps it from freezing. If you put a leg of lamb in the same place - it freezes. They put corpses on ice and while I appreciate that The Walking Dead is set in and around Atlanta, where sweat gets sweaty, you'd think they would just head north until they run out of Canada. That's what I'd do if we were over run by zombies; I'd head for the north of Scotland in the winter and shatter a few skulls on really frosty mornings.

The problem with Romero's zombie movies is that by the fourth one - spanning 25 years, the audience just didn't care any more; the novelty and uniqueness had disappeared and I think the same thing will likely happen to this new zombie fad by the end of 2012. The Walking Dead's problem is that you're now waiting for the less main cast to be picked off, because you know it's what is going to happen and you want to see if it's going to be different or just a bit of a bite to the arm.

This also doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching; I just think that it would be good to have a post apocalyptic story that has pragmatists and resourceful people in charge. Yes, it might be the drama equivalent of DIY SOS but at least I wouldn't be picking holes in the plasterboard so much.

1 comment:

  1. Kind of related...our chat t'other day about post-apocalyptic scenarios - what if the only other person you find alive in an otherwise dead world is someone you loathed with a passion back in the old world?...