Posted in Monday Mayhem

Rigor

One of the perks when writing books about zombies is the fact that I can research various subjects such as physics, epidemics and psychology. With each subject comes a set of fascinating facts I never knew, had I not looked into it on my own. The most interesting and morbid of all subjects I’ve had to study is the rate of decomposition of the dead, the various phases, and the ultimate appearance of the body weeks after the process had begun. It is not a subject for the faint of heart or for regular readers of my Monday Mayhem series to indulge in while having breakfast.

The Walking Dead cast
The Walking Dead cast

Having watched every episode of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, my perspective has changed from when I first became interested in the genre.

For instance, in the early years of my fixation with the undead, my focus fell on what the survivors had to do in order for them to stay alive. Coincidentally, the underlying theme in the early seasons of The Walking Dead is that of survival in the thick of a zombie apocalypse—even if no one really calls them zombies in the show. Survival means different things to different people. In the broad context of the show’s premise, survival means living another day without having had worried about a walker getting in the way. To this end, the survivors play a game of human vs. beast throughout the early part of the series.

As the years went on, however, and by no means would I compare my experience with others who follow the genre, I’ve noticed the plight of the survivors has not been against the walkers but against themselves. Nothing could be more evident of this fact than with last season’s premier when the survivors’ main enemy was a band of cannibals determined to make Rick and his crew their evening meal. For some, cannibalism may have crossed the line, but the ratings sure haven’t reflected that matter. If anything, the audience, including myself, keeps coming back for more.

When it comes to story, The Walking Dead, and now Fear the Walking Dead, has and is leading viewers through a range of emotions that only a good drama can deliver.

Getting back to my original thought about my education within the genre in relation to the shows—has anyone else noticed the walkers in The Walking Dead are different from when they hit the scene in the first episode? Recently, they’ve decomposed rapidly leaving no doubt they’re slowly dying but at a slower pace than otherwise any medical student would suggest. Their skin has lost much of its elasticity. Their color has turned darker. And they have become sluggish as opposed to their former selves, living or otherwise.

Yet, it leaves me wondering what the walkers will look like once the series is over. Will they explode like a bag a goo, as depicted in one episode of a walker trapped in a well? Or will they simply shrivel into a nub and crunch to their ultimate death?

I know that it’s a silly observation, but how can anyone ignore the basic levels of rigor? I can’t imagine what science will do to the walkers once it gets through with them.

Just a thought.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think will happen with the walkers when the series completes? Will the science of rigor finally take revenge on the undead?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Are Zombies Popular?

One of the most interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse is the beginning. How does it start? Can anyone prevent it? Is the zombie apocalypse really that scary to want to run away from it? With yesterday’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, today’s Monday Mayhem post would be a good place to have a look at the draw people have toward zombies and why these wretched disasters just won’t go away.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

On October 31, 2010, Halloween no less, The Walking Dead premiered. From there a series began that would eclipse all other television series. Its premise is simple: a zombie apocalypse has taken over the planet and no one knows how to defeat it. As the series progresses, the audience discovers human nature, with all its entrapments, becomes a central theme in the show. Sometimes, what people do to each other is more stomach-churning than the deeds of the walkers. Should Fear the Walking Dead follow in the footsteps of its parent The Walking Dead, then one would assume the show will depict the darkest aspects of human nature.

Although zombies have always had a sordid history in low-budget spectacles, even having transformed into cartoons (eg. Scooby-Doo), recent activities in the genre have placed the undead in the forefront of creative bedlam. One thing is certain, the media does not like a vacuum. With the departure of Twilight from the Horror scene a number of years ago, vampires took a backseat to walkers. To that end, the popularity of zombies has never been better.

Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead

Just like their genetic makeup, zombies have crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place and everyone will fear the walking dead.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you like zombies? Why? What draws you to the zombie genre?