I don’t know what it is about me and zombie movies. I really don’t. But God help me, I do love them so. They don’t have to be good. They don’t have to have high production values. They don’t have to be available in Blue-Ray format. They just have to have a large number of zombies.
If there’s anybody to blame, I guess it’s George Romero. I was never a fan of his seminal Night of the Living Dead, but I’ve found something to like in every zombie film he’s made since: Dawn of the Dead (both of them), Day of the Dead, Bedtime of the Dead (just kidding), Diary of the Dead, Land of the Dead, The Crazies, ( add your titles here; this isn’t Wikipedia.) One of my favorite zombie movies is Shaun of the Dead (2004), which borrows heavily from Romero’s canon but leavens it with a healthy dose of British humor.
So yeah, I greatly enjoy the genre. Strangely though, I’d never read a zombie book. That is, until my daughter thrust a copy of World War Z (2006) into my hands at a recent family reunion. The premise is that a mankind has just emerged, somewhat worse for the wear, from a global zombie outbreak. The author has traveled far and wide gathering the stories from survivors. The book thus unfolds as a series of disconnected stories and vignettes, which are intended to cohere into a gripping narrative.
But they don’t, and that’s just one of my problems with World War Z. The other problem is that this style — each “survivor” gets at most a few pages — doesn’t allow much character development. I never found myself caring about the travails of any of the characters, simply because I didn’t know them. While author Max Brooks concocts dozens of brilliantly horrifying scenarios, the threadbare characterization makes each seem barely distinct from the one before.
I hear a movie based on this book is in development, and that Brad Pitt is expected to star. I’ll see it, of course, my complaints about the book notwithstanding. One thing the book does well is create these epic scenes that will translate seamlessly to CGI spectacle. Imagine 20 million dripping, moaning zombies advancing en masse toward Denver and you get the picture. I’d wait for the IMAX version.
I’d get on the bandwagon and write my own zombie book, but somehow I don’t think the bandwagon is all that large. First of all, zombies don’t really lend themselves to simpering romance, a la Twilight and all its sequels and clones. Because they are frequently missing large portions of their faces, they are unlikely to capture the fancy of teen-age girls. In any case, zombies don’t function well as individuals, particularly where long-term relationships are concerned.