The month of October is synonymous with Halloween which is synonymous with hot cider, corn mazes, scary movies, and murder. You know, normal fall stuff. Often featured in these scary tales are the creatures known as zombies. But they’re not all the same. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Let me present to you, your A to Z guide to zombies:
Alice in Zombieland
One of my favorite things to try is retellings, especially retellings of Alice in Wonderland. This series, White Rabbit Chronicles, is written by Gina Showalter and the first book is called Alice in Zombieland. This version shows Alice as she tries to avenge her family and becomes a zombie slayer.
Badass Zombie Killers
This is a great card game for two to six players. The game sounds simple enough: you put together a badass weapon to fight off the zombies. And I’m not talking about a chainsaw: no, I’m talking about a pair of nunchucks with a laser guide or a gas-powered blade! Oh, and when it’s your friend’s turn? They can either add to their badass weapon or they can ruin yours like making it pink…or worse…The game ends when either the zombies or the National Guard arrives. Intrigued? You can buy this game on Amazon.
What makes a zombie? More often than not, there is some kind of virus that gets passed around and causes a corpse to come back to life as a zombie. From there, if a zombie bites a person, the bite victim will become a zombie, too. Sometimes, like the next item on the list, there is magic involved.
If you love zombie movies and/or are into westerns and you were a fan of the boy bands in the 90’s (don’t lie, you know you still know the words to “Tearin’ Up My Heart”), you have got to check out this campy film. Written by Backstreet Boys’ own Nick Carter, he stars in it along with many of the former 90’s heartthrobs, including Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. The story itself is a blend of western and zombie and weird magic (which is how the zombies are created) and post-apocalyptic and…well, it’s a bit of a mess and the acting is not the greatest. But it is a zombie film that everyone should see at least once, even if it is only to make fun of it. Hell, I’d even watch it again if there were a drinking game to go with it. Someone come up with one, okay?
What zombie guide would be complete without mentioning Ash and the Evil Dead anything? First there were the movies in the early 80’s that made people think twice about renting cabins in the woods and should have taught people to not read strange languages out loud (I’m looking at you, Steven from Portal). Then came the TV show Ash vs. Evil Dead in 2015 and how many seasons. Oh, and let’s not forget Evil Dead The Musical. You read that right: deadites, Ash, and music. It’s a bloody good time.
The zombie creature is not just a being in the cinematic universe. The idea of zombies as we know it originated in Haiti. According to Haitian folklore, a zombie is a dead reanimated through means like magic. Necromancy, the magic of reviving a person, was performed by a witch or bokor who would be able to control the zombie as a slave.
George A. Romero
No list about zombies would be complete without mentioning George A. Romero, the father of the zombie films. His 1968 film Night of the Living Dead introduced zombies to modern culture. And he didn’t stop there. Check out any of his …of the Dead films for more zombie fun.
There once was a man
who was bitten and got sick;
now he’s a zombie.
…Okay, my own haiku skills are not up to par, but if you like poems and you like zombies, you should definitely check out Ryan Mecum’s Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry For Your…Brains which follows one person’s transformation into a zombie…in haiku form, of course.
This show, which ran for five seasons, is perhaps one of the most original portrayals of zombies I have ever seen. In this show, they are not just mindless creatures (though they do exist), but they can also be walking, talking, very pale members of society. Yes, they need to eat brains, but Olivia Moore (Rose McIver) has recipes that make brains look like a dish I want to try.
Juan of the Dead
Throughout zombie films there are several ways shown on how to survive: people have hid in malls, people have hid in shelters, or people have gone to a bar to wait for the whole thing to blow over. In this film, Juan and his friends start a business to help take care of Cuba’s zombie problem.
Back in 2018 there was a rash of articles talking about people and zombie-like behavior. The cause? A drug known as K2, or synthetic marijuana. There were stories about overdoses which is really sad, but some of the behavior of people on the drug (confusion, staggering, overly aggressive, etc.) earned them the label of zombies.
Hey, even zombies need love. The 2013 film Warm Bodies was one of the first instances I’ve seen with a zombie and a human with a possible romantic connection. You can look on Goodreads.com to find a list of “zombie romance” books including titles like Love & the Zombie Apocalypse by Chelsea Luna, Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen, and I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer. I have not read these yet, but I have added them to my to-read list.
Zombies even have a role in music. There are musicals such as Evil Dead: The Musical and Zombie High School Prom. Oh, and love songs. Yes, love songs. Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs is a must-have for any zombie lover. Written by Michael P. Spradlin, I am sure you will find your next favorite love song in this paperback.
Necromancy is another form of black magic which involves communicating with the dead. In the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter book series, the main character reanimates the dead, not to make a zombie but to help give relatives closure or to help the family figure out issues with a will or lack of one. But necromancy can also be evil. In fantasy films and video games, the villain often uses necromancy to raise an army of zombies for their own evil use: Mortal Kombat, World of Warcraft, and The Elder Scrolls, for example.
So apparently zombism is not exclusive to humans. This insect fungus can lead to zombie ants. You read that right. Once infected by this fungus, the ant will die, but as its dying, there is a reproductive stage during which bodies will grow from the ant’s head. It makes me itchy just thinking about this…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
This re-telling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice was so popular that they even made it into a movie. Now, Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet was already well-known as an obstinate, headstrong girl, but a zombie slayer, too? Badass.
Quick quiz: can you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Most people probably think they would. If you are like me and my team, we even have a plan in place already. But if you’re not really ready to face zombies in real life just yet, how about you just pick up Max Brallier’s Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? It’s a fun read (and re-read) as it is written in the style of the choose-your-own-adventure books.
You can’t have a list about zombies without including the evil Umbrella corporation and their zombies. First introduced as a video game, Resident Evil took place in a mansion overrun by zombies and was a first-person shooter game. Its popularity led to more video games in the franchise, which soon led to the movies starring Milla Jovovich as Alice. To date, there are six Resident Evil films, and there are talks of a reboot.
Shaun of the Dead
Not all zombie films need to be scary. I think this film has to be one of my all-time favorite zombie films because not only is it funny, but it feels real to me. No, I am not saying that this is what the zombie apocalypse will look like. But if you are being honest with yourself, everyone pictures themselves and their apocalypse survival team as, well, badass, right? All of a sudden, maybe a previously useless skill becomes extremely vital, and no matter how little you know about guns, you know exactly how to deliver kill shots to any attacking zombies. But will that really happen? No. With my luck, I’d give myself multiple bruises from the damn recoil of the weapon. Shaun of the Dead is what most people would probably be like in the case of a zombie emergency. If you haven’t already, you need to add this movie to your zombie-themed movie marathon.
From the creators who brought you the Sharknado films comes a film in which zombies comes a new way to get infected by zombies: the ocean. Seriously. In Zombie Tidal Wave the zombies are caused by a tidal wave. If you like campy movies, you’ve got to give this film a try. It aired on the SyFy channel in August 2019, so it may be available on-demand. A word of advice: watch it like you watched the Sharknado films and don’t try and take it too seriously.
Ultimate Guide to Zombies, The
Dave Robertson’s The Ultimate Guide to Zombies is not exactly a comprehensive guide, as it is under 130 pages, but it is pretty informative, including chapters on other names for zombies, movies you may not have seen yet, and more. Check out a more informative review here or go to Amazon and get yourself a copy.
Besides the well-known Resident Evil games, there are many other video games featuring zombies. Sega’s “The House of the Dead” was released in 1996 and was always the first game I’d go to play at any arcade. Another fun shooting game is Zombie Apocalypse. This was released in 2009 on PlayStation 3, but I still play it to this day.
Which came first: the movie or the band? The film, of course.
White Zombie is a 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi. As previously mentioned, a zombie can be created by magic which is the case in this film, when a man turns to a witch doctor for help. Instead of turning his love to his arms, the witch doctor instead turns her into a zombie.
The band White Zombie formed in 1985 and was co-founded by Rob Zombie. Zombie named the band after the film. You may know their song “More Human Than Human.” If you’re a fan of alternative music, you should check them out.
Yes, zombies have even infiltrated the world of Marvel comics. A limited series, Marvel Zombies only has five issues. Taking place in an alternate universe, the world’s superheroes have been infected with a virus which turns them into, you guessed it, zombies. Who is infected? All your favorites including the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. If you like zombies and superheroes, you’ve got to give this series a read.
Yaws is a disease that can be spread from skin to skin contact. It is an infection that causes sores all over the body which can make people look like zombies. It is listed as one of ten zombie-like diseases.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a section called Zombie Preparedness on their website. Don’t believe me? Go check it out. There is a blog, resources for educators to use in the classroom, and a graphic novel. I’m not kidding. The CDC helps you to plan your survival from a zombie apocalypse. Now before you get all worked up, no, the CDC is not saying that zombies exist, nor are they saying that zombies are an actual threat. But being prepared for a zombie apocalypse and having a plan would mean that you are actually prepared for other disasters that could actually happen.
If you do give anything on this list a try, tell us what you thought in the comments.