The Zombie Problem

I cut my teeth in the horror genre with The Vampire Chronicles and Stephen King. None of those stories kept me up at night or even made me nervous to go into dark rooms alone. That’s not to say sections didn’t freak me out. Heck, several scenes in Misery made me squirm in my seat while wanting to stop reading and yet turning the page to figure out what happened next. But those scenes didn’t stay with me.

This zombie is freaking adorable. Look at his little balloon and the propeller on his hat!

Then I read World War Z. Only my second experience with a zombie novel (the first being Cell by Stephen King), it reminded me a whole lot of a history book full of first-hand accounts of the Vietnam War. Each section detailed what became known as World War Z: how the zombies overwhelmed soldiers, how people learned how to fight them, and how the world changed in the years afterward. The book seemed just as real as the history one.

I’ve only read a couple zombie books since then, however I click on just about every zombie article I find. Since half of the internet devotes itself to discussing zombies and preparing to face them, that’s been a lot of reading. I researched vampires just as much when I read The Vampire Chronicles.

There was a difference between the monsters, though. At least in my mind and far beyond the simple differences between a blood-sucking creature of the night and a undead creatures that shuffles around in search of human flesh. Sure there are different versions of each creature, but they share the same traits

Dracula, the original vampire. Handsome enough to disarm; deadly enough to make you… well, dead.

Vampires can defend themselves. They possess heightened senses, superior speed, massive strength, and lightning fast reaction time. Then there’s the fact that those who’ve survived a century or two gained a measure of experience fighting off enemies. Plus consuming blood helps them to heal themselves from a fight. Killing one requires a whole lot of skill, or simply dumb luck.

Zombies own bodies work against them. They’re mindless walking corpses with one goal in mind: consuming flesh. If their prey decides to fight back, zombies struggle to fight back as death removes their coordination. Injuries or damage done to the zombie during a fight doesn’t heal. That’s why they keep coming even if they’ve had a limb chopped off.

That’s not even counting the damage done by insects feasting on the corpse, ambling over dangerous terrain, or coming into contact with predators in the animal kingdom. In a long term situation where zombies walked the earth, humans can wait for injuries to eventually take them out. That’s if people decide knocking their heads off gets boring. This article by Cracked.com does a great job of exploring the subject in greater detail.

Logic refuses to let me be afraid of zombies. They’re too easy to kill compared with vampires, and that’s probably why I chose vampires over zombies for my post-apocalyptic work-in-progress.

I like reading zombie novels, and I’ve found one or two that buck the traditional zombie mythology to create their own. Authors doing that always give them a good mark in my book.

I tried to put a creepy zombie here, but I just couldn’t do it. So here’s a cute one coming in for a hug.

Truth be told though, there’s a reason I read about zombies instead of watching them in movies or on television. Books rely on my imagination to craft an image. Movies and TV put the picture right in front of my face, leaving my mind free to imagine myself as a character facing down a zombie. The idea of facing down a mindless monster who’ll stop at nothing to hurt me, that scares the pants off of me more than any thought of Dracula hiding out in my closet.

7 thoughts on “The Zombie Problem

    • That could be the case in quite a few situations. I’m not sure how well people could actually reason with them and get their way, but the idea that we have that chance lets us fool ourselves into thinking they’re less scary. As for their looks, I think that we’re naturally attracted to people who are beautiful/handsome. We wouldn’t be wary of them at first.

      I do think that another reason they’re less scary than vampires is that they’ve been romanticized so much in books and movies. The author has to make the vampire a hero that the audience can root for during the story, so they’re romanticized as tortured souls rather than the mass murderers that they really are. The Sookie Stackhouse series, Twilight, and the Argeneu series all come to mind.

      • It depends on the vampire and the setting. Some will enjoy toying with/getting to know their victim; others will go straight for the kill. Whichever kind it is, it almost always wears a civilized face. For some stupid reason, I find that reassuring. You can talk to it. It can tell you what it wants. The most terrifying thing to me is a monster without motivation. Maybe because I write?

        I’ll admit to a fondness for the romanticized vampire. They just need wuv! No, but really, I would agree, except that the vampires in Twilight scare me more than the ones in Priest or Dracula. They’re like killer disco balls.

      • I certainly agree that that vampires in Twilight aren’t exactly the best ambassadors for vampires. I do like the vampires in what I’ve red (so far) in the Anita Blake series. Deadly yet seductive.

      • I’ve heard that as well, and I believe the author is still writing the series. But I would highly recommend the first book, “Guilty Pleasures”. It’s probably my favorite vampire hunter book.

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