So you can read my books

Monday, January 17, 2011


The undead.

They captivate us.

The appeal to vampires is obvious :

even Bram Stoker, who coined the term "undead," painted Dracula as sexy and seductive (at least in London).

Don't get me started on the "sparkly" ones.

While most vampires are etched as lovely, though deadly, predators, what is up with our fascination with zombies?

They are Id's brought to hungry life : only appetite, no morals or guidelines. And terrible table manners.

Why are we so obsessed with zombies? They are not seductive, not appealing, what with body parts missing or rotting away as you watch.

Zombies symbolize those threats like actual skin-eating diseases,

terrorist bombs,

and natural disasters like the promised California SuperStorm that will someday in the future dump ten FEET of rain over 30 days.

Zombies symbolize our fears of death that will not be reasoned or threatened away.

Does immersing ourselves in zombie movies give us an illusion of some measure of control over death, cancer, and other all-too-real threats in our modern lives?

Seeing teens surrounded in a cabin by milling, moaning zombies, we know that soon those pretty girls will be either eaten or transformed into eternally hungry zombies.

And in a sense, we, the viewer, have become with them Death in our imaginations : unstoppable, forces of nature, unthinking.

But the zombie is never at rest : like a shark, it must continually shamble in search of prey or it will die.

Then, take little Karen Cooper (please, you take her 'cuz me and Victor want nothing to do with the little munchkin), from the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD :

Newly undead, the zombie girl happily starts to feast on her father's arm, then lay waste to her mother with a trowel of all things. There is something deeply unsettling about seeing an innocent child turn to a flesh-eating monster in front of your eyes.

Which is why I chose the Zombie Playground picture in Misty's contest :

This, for me, is the worst facet of becoming a zombie : it robs you of your identity, of your sense of self.

Is our fascination with zombies an extension of 21st century Man's self-loathing? Or do we place ourselves in the roles of the survivors?

What would we do in their place? We revel in their violence against those shambling things which are already dead. We can mutilate and destroy with no regret, no remorse.

Or is it that zombies offer us the ultimate crucible : that arena which hones our characters and our souls into something better or into something infinitely worse than zombies -- a knowing evil against our brothers?

I already know what Victor Standish thinks about this. But don't be too sure you know. Remember his "ghoul friend," Alice.
What do you think?


  1. I've never understood the fascination with zombies. Perhaps it is the idea of killing a humanoid creature guilt free. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Resident Evil movies & games!

  2. Heather : I think it like America's fascination with post-Apocalypse stories : what would we do in such a situation? Thanks for commenting, Roland

  3. Decaying flesh brought to life, stripped of human morality and infused with the most basic desire: to survive. Zombies are the human being in their most savage form. Their undead state romanticizes the impossibility of rising from death. Their hunger for human flesh explores the taboo of cannibalism, an act that isn’t far from the impossible.

    Zombies allow us to experience death, the grotesque decomposition of the human body and the innate fight each and every one of us possesses to survive, no matter the cost.

    Think the Donner Party crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    The plane crash that inspired the 1993 movie Alaska.

    Wrap those events / people with the fantasy of the living dead and it allows our inhibited minds to rationalize something we would otherwise never understand: the decision to survive.

    Everyone wants to live, even Zombies.


  4. Jodi : Or those running away from or fighting against zombies! LOL.

    A very thoughtful and insightful comment on my post, Jodi. Yes, I think you've brought up a stirring reason why we are fascinated with zombies. They symbolize the fire within us that desires to live against all odds and obstacles. Thanks so much for commenting. Roland

  5. Vampires started out as the stuff of horror movies and over the years (beginning seriously perhaps with Anne Rice) they've become more and more mainstream in their appeal. Zombies are I think still well and truly within the realm of horror.

    I think you and your commenters have raised valid reasons for people's fascination with zombies, but it's not a fascination I personally share!

  6. Adina : I only share it during October when I make it a "Trick or Treat" DVD month.

    Still, I have my 13 year old hero, Victor Standish, fall in love with a Victorian ghoul named Alice. I gave her certain attributes not usually thought of as belonging to ghouls. But hey, it is my world.

    It helped me bring up thoughts as to what makes us human and lovable. It seems to work within the framework of my novel.

    Thanks for commenting and following. It means a lot to this feverish, coughing struggling author! Roland

  7. I think Zombie fascination is definitely related to our fear of death, but I also think it could be one of our worst fears come to life...the monster within ourselves, and to me, that is what the zombie represents. Our inner demons, fears, and monsters that come to life, consume us, and make us do things unimaginable, like eating your relatives, or yourself. What could be worse than that, I mean really?

  8. Erin : You brought up a good point. Like you, I think our fascination with zombies has to do with our horror of our own deaths --

    but more than physical death :

    the death of the best within us as we become monsters to fight the monsters around us.

    As I have Alice tell Victor : humans eat one another all the time and usually for trivial, ultimately worthless goals like fame and fortune.

    Always good to see your name here and to read a comment from you. Roland

  9. I think zombies are yet another treasure that came out of the horror genre.

    I think the Land of the Living Dead really was the start of the zombie movie genre.

    However, nowadays, zombies are taken more lightly in comparison to the grotesque horrors that they once were. I mean, look at Zombieland and Fido.

    But there are also those movies that bring back the scare in the living dead like The Walking Dead and World War Z.

    Cool and interesting post, Roland, and write on!

  10. I am not a zombie fan, but learning different genres and writing techniques... and your writing is definitely easy on the eyes. (compliment)

  11. My hubby is a MAJOR zombie fan. Never really understood, but he says it's the only thing that's truly ever freaked him out. Okay...

  12. Vatche : Yes, zombies have become the target of comedies now. SHAUN OF THE DEAD comes to mind among the others you stated.

    But you're right, too, in that there will always be works of terror centering on zombies. How could there not be? Thanks for commenting. Always a pleasure to read your comments.

    Imagery Imagined : I am only a zombie fan during October and Halloween. And thanks for the compliment. It means a lot and made my afternoon.

    Happily Cheesy : Watching externally frightening movies is sometimes a way of feeling in control of those internally frightening things in our hearts. Then, again I like horror movies during October because they bring back all those childhood memories of staying up late with my friends, watching THE WOLFMAN and THE MUMMY! Thanks for visiting and caring enough to comment, Roland

  13. Erin : You're welcome. And it is always a welcome sight to see your name among my comments. Have a great Tuesday. Me? I am in mortal combat with a savage cold. And guess what? I'm getting my you-know-what whipped! LOL.

  14. I think one of the deepest fears, maybe from humanity's past when we were sometimes preditor, but also prey, is to be fed upon. Eaten. It strikes a deep chord, both zombies, and say, sharks as in the movie Jaws. Or even the b-movie giant alligator in the lake/sewer or piranha movies.

    But with zombies, if you're quick, sharp and vigilant, you're probably going to make it. Stuck out in the ocean with a man-eating giant--you're totally out matched.

    My fantasy novel has zombies in it, but not in the flesh devouring fashion, and there's even souled zombies, with higher brain functions.

    Don't get me started on the sparkling vampires, either. And yes, I know I already missed my chance. The zombies in Flank Hawk should have sparkled in the sunlight.

    One of the best vampire books I've read was Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night.

    Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series has zombies, vampires and the whole range of undead (ghouls, ghosts, etc.). But as the series progressed she kinda (well kinda is an understatement) went off on a sexual content tangent. Okay for some, but not my cup of tea. Combat/action scenes, Hamilton does a top notch job.

    But back to the topic. Zombies? Dying at that hands of a monster is one thing. Being devoured, especially by a rotting corpse, is quite another.

  15. Terry : Yes, I've heard that about the Anita Blake series. Sad really. I don't like to made to feel like a Peeping Tom when I read. Makes one think her romantic life is not all she wants it to be.

    Yes, you're right. Dying at the hands of a monster is one thing, but to be slowly eaten alive is something horrendous -- which is why Victor tried to side-track Alice with the drug lord, Snowman, when he found out how she killed.

    I'll have to get THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT. It sounds like an interesting read.

    To be helpless and to be slowly mangled and tortured is certainly a nightmare for me. Which is why I never saw that James Cann, Cathy Bates movie about the injured author and the maniac fan/nurse. Brrrr.

    Thanks for such an insigtful, thought-provoking comment to my post. Don't be a stranger, Roland

  16. Hi Roland .. zombies have always struck me as ? - ie being so down to earth .. I could never get drawn in - however .. if I was in a culture where they featured - then who knows!

    Undead - I like that word .. and the picture of the munchkin .. I really do not like frightening blood curdling things!!

    I think I'll stay with my sunny day dawning .. cheers Hilary

  17. Um, no, zombies are NOT captivating. At. All. I just don't get it. That photo is really disgusting, too. Eeesh. To each his/her own, I guess--there are a lot of people who adore them for some reason...

  18. Hilary : I think it is what we become under the fulcrum of the threat of zombies that is interesting to me -- not the zombie menace itself. Thanks for writing, Roland

    Carol : Yes, that photo is disgusting! Yuck. But it got across the menace of innocence become monster. I am drawn to those zombie movies where the humanity and humor of the survivors are brought to the forefront. And thanks you, too, for caring enough to comment. It means a lot.

  19. While nursing a wicked case of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion last weekend, I watched two of the Resident Evil movies. I don't like zombies, but I'd love to be Alice. She kicks butt! I never thought of the underlying attraction, though. Now, I got to go chew on it a while. Bad pun, but it's there nonetheless:)

  20. Words Crafter : Gypsy loved your bad pun. I like to think why we like things every now and again. It's the counselor in me. And as you'd love to be Alice in the Resident Evil movies, I'd love to be Victor with his Alice and his adventures, too! Hope you're feeling better this weekend. Roland