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On The Walking Dead
The Pathos of The Walking Dead
Bringing Terror Back to Zombie Cinema
In his introduction to the first trade paperback collection of the comic book series American Vampire (2010), Stephen King laments the state of vampire mythology in contemporary popular culture:
Here’s what vampires shouldn’t be: pallid detectives who drink Bloody Marys and only work at night; lovelorn southern gentle-men; anorexic teenage girls; boy-toys with big dewy eyes.
What should they be?
Killers, honey. Stone killers who never get enough of that tasty Type-A. Bad boys and girls. Hunters. In other words, Midnight America. Red, white and blue, accent on the red. Those vamps got hijacked by a lot of soft-focus romance.
The man speaks some hard truths, and here’s where my concerns come in: zombies are suffering a similar treatment. Ever since Danny Boyle kicked off Hollywood’s Zombie Renaissance with 28 Days Later in 2002, pop culture has been flooded with zombie stories of all stripes. Sadly, many of these feature lame parody, excessive cliché, and illogical changes to the subgenre. The problem? Too many zombies just aren’t frightening anymore; in fact, they’ve even become bizarrely lovable, showing up at festive “zombie walks,” being sold as plush dolls and children’s toys, starring as revisionist superheroes in the Marvel Zombies series, and even appearing as the sympathetic leads in popular romantic fiction, as in S.G. Browne’s 2009 novel Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament. But zombies used to be scary, right?
Luckily for fans who recognize, and perhaps already miss, the visceral power of the living dead, Frank Darabont is working hard to …
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