Today’s blog by Pembroke Sinclair, looks at how zombie stories have evolved and where they might take us in the next step. Also, Pembroke shares info on the 2nd book in her zombie series.
It’s inevitable that monsters will evolve. They have to if they want to stay relevant in today’s society. Whether it’s movies or books, monsters have changed to scare audiences and bring in revenue.
Vampires evolved from Nosferatu to Edward Cullen.
Frankenstein’s monster went from Frankenstein’s monster to Adam from I, Frankenstein.
Even zombies have evolved from mindless corpses (Night of the Living Dead) to being fast (28 Days Later) to regaining their humanity (Warm Bodies). And they are evolving again. The next step in the evolution is intelligent zombies.
I had the pleasure of reading the book The Girl with All the Gifts
While it may appear that intelligent zombies are new on the scene, they’re not. George Romero originally proposed the idea that zombies could and would evolve from being mindless corpses to retaining some of their humanity but never losing their zombie instincts.
In Dawn of the Dead, zombies can be seen roaming around a mall. While the vast majority of this film is a metaphor for consumerism, there’s still the idea that the zombies remembered being there as humans and have returned because it’s something familiar.
In Day of the Dead, Bub remembers things from his human life such as music, a telephone, and even emotions. He establishes a bond with the doctor who has chained him up and feeds him. Bub won’t attack the doctor, and when the doctor is murdered, Bub finds a way to get revenge on the killer—going so far as remembering how to use a gun.
In Land of the Dead, Romero takes the evolution even further. The opening scene shows zombies re-enacting things they may have done while human. A couple walks through the park holding hands while a band plays in a gazebo. Big Daddy, who was a gas attendant, continues to do his job when the bell by the pumps is rung. They seem to be caught in this never-ending cycle of repeating the same actions over and over again.
Yet, they’re still zombies. They still rot before the audiences’ eyes and kill and devour humans when they can. They aren’t living even though they act like the living.
But Romero takes in one step further. In Land of the Dead, the humans have the ability to draw the zombies’ attention away from them by shooting fireworks into the sky. Because the zombies have child-like minds, they are fascinated by the lights. This gives the humans the ability to get in and out of zombie-infested zones with supplies—and it gives the humans a chance to cut down the zombies when they least suspect it.
This is what eventually leads to the confrontation between the humans and the undead. Big Daddy is aware of what is going on, and he sees that humans are slaughtering the other zombies. So, he organizes the undead into an army to get revenge. For this to be successful, Big Daddy has to be aware and use simple communication to rally his troops. Along the way, the creatures learn how to use weapons, including guns. They have evolved from mindless corpses driven by base instincts into thinking, vengeful corpses.
I can’t give too much away because I don’t want to spoil it, but The Girl with All the Gifts builds on this idea that Romero proposes and takes it a step further. I’m really excited to see how the movie shows the twist and what audiences think about it
What do you think about zombies evolving? Do you agree with the direction it’s going or do you think they should remain mindless undead?
Pembroke’s Information on the 2nd book in her zombie series:
Seventeen-year-old Krista has already proven she can survive the zombie hordes.
After moving to North Platte with her distant cousin General Liet to help build a wall that will keep the zombies in the West, it becomes apparent that the zombies aren’t the biggest threat—some survivors are far more dangerous than Krista had ever imagined.
With the help of Quinn, a survivor and fighter from the zombie-infested wildlands of the West, they free the garrison at North Platte from the power-hungry Liet. But there is a bigger battle to fight.
The Families who rule Florida and use intimidation and the threat of the zombie horde to coerce their territory want Krista and Quinn captured, the zombies want to devour them, and other survivors want them dead. Caught between powerful forces, will they survive long enough to devise a new plan and put it into action? Or will they self-destruct?
The day the world did end was pretty nondescript. By that I mean there was no nuclear explosion or asteroid or monumental natural disaster. There weren’t even any horsemen or plagues to announce the end was coming. The world ended fairly quietly. I couldn’t even give you a date because it happened at different times depending on where you were. It was never predicted, and I’m sure a scenario no one even considered. Who really thinks the dead are going to rise from the grave and destroy the majority of the population? No one but Hollywood, and we all know those are just movies, but that’s exactly what happened. Those of us who survived were left wide-eyed, mouth agape, trying to figure out what to do next.
There were a few who were able to pull their heads out and organize those left behind. They made sure the populace had food, shelter, and protection. They were saviors, the United States’ heroes. Life wouldn’t have gone on without them, and it was pretty difficult those first few years after the zompocalypse.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember what life was like before the rise of the undead. I was a teenager, though I hesitate to say normal. I wasn’t deformed or anything, but my classmates thought I was strange. I had a fascination with the dark, the macabre, although I wasn’t a Goth or Emo. I read books and magazines about serial killers. I didn’t idolize them or want to be like them—hell no—I was fascinated with how evil and black a human’s soul could get.
I wanted to be a psychologist and work with the criminally insane, maybe figure out why they did what they did. Apparently, when you’re fifteen, your friends think you’re weird if you have desires to help someone other than yourself. While they were worried about becoming popular and getting the right boyfriend, I tried to figure out how to make society better.
Of course, those dreams will never come true. Society doesn’t exist. Everything I once held dear is gone. I lost my parents to the horde, like a lot of kids. Unlike some of the others, mine weren’t taken by surprise or in some freak accident. They were taken because of their own stupidity. Some days I miss them a lot, but others I believe they got what they deserved. I might sound callous and uncaring, but what about them? Why would they abandon their fifteen-year-old daughter? It used to keep me up at night, trying to find the answer to that question, but I’ve given up asking it. No reason wasting time on things that could’ve or should’ve been.
As I stare out the passenger side window of the semi, I’m reminded how bleak the future has become. The truck rolls down a once heavily traveled highway that has been reduced to a cracked trail. Gas stations and towns dotting the landscape have been abandoned and are crumpling into the weeds that are taking them over. There are a few areas that still resemble pre-zombie destruction, and these are the military outposts set up along the road, used for protection and refueling. I use the term “military” loosely because there is no formal military anymore. It’s a rag-tag group of men and women who were lucky enough to get guns. I chuckle to myself. It’s been two years since I was last out in the world, and a lot has changed since then. I still remember the day the zombies attacked. It’s as clear as if it’d happened yesterday.