Monday, February 11, 2013

Flogging the Corpse

There is nothing sadder than a long and loving relationship coming to an end. You can look back through the years with rosy tinted glasses and think, “We had so much fun. We had so much in common. Where did it all go wrong?” You look to the other half of this relationship and you barely recognise what is there, right in front of you anymore. Feelings of contempt and exasperation have now drowned the emotions of adoration and exhilaration, and there is nothing you want more than just snip it clean off like a wilted and dead flower.

When you have been in love since your childhood, it is painful to come to terms with the feelings of growing apart. The hardest thing to ever face is that it is time to let go and move on. I’m an adult now and I can see clearly that it has come to this. I can no longer dwell on the glory days when everything was new and so breath-takingly adventurous; I can now behold the reality in all of its disappointment. No longer can I keep kidding myself that I can learn to fall in love again, that all we need is time and we’ll find that spark again. No amount of booze will twist my vision into a gaudy kaleidoscope of wonder.

Sorrow floats, my friends.

Wait, wait, wait. Back up a second. You think this is some sort of “Woe is me! My beloved doesn’t love me anymore!” swan song? You actually think I would clutter up this temple to the horrific with that kind of teenage girl, tear-stained journal plea for your pity? Oh dear, sweet reader, I thought you, above all others, knew me better.

No, this is not a mere mortal relationship that I have grown enough to mourn. This is me finally coming to terms with the fact that it is time for me to break up with the undead. Get your coat and hat zombies, it’s time for you to go home and it’s a long cold walk back to the graveyard.

Let me rewind back a few years, many years….many, many years, when I was just a wee tiny horror pup.  Zombies had always had that spicy and slightly musty voodoo flavour that came from appearing in old black and white Bela Lugosi titles; this is how I knew them. I knew that the only real way one could be disposed of was to catch it, then fill its mouth with salt and sew it shut….right? Then, at a weekly outing to the neon and flickering cathode mecca that was the video store, I discovered something that would completely alter my view of zombies, something that would spark a decades-long love affair. My sweaty little paws had found the now legendary Return of the Living Dead.  That was it, it was love at first viewing and an obsession was spawned.

DO YOU WANT TO PAAAAAAAAAARTY?! Oh, yes, actually! Yes I do!        Return of the Living Dead 1985

It followed me from Scotland to England then all the way back to The Great White North. It shambled by my side through countless romantic relationships. It kept me distracted from my studies in high school, college and university with its adorable decaying flesh and cute, little, hungered groans. It was there happily munching on brains on every lunch hour at every job I worked. I was “That gal that really likes zombies.”  When it came to birthdays and Christmases, friends and family alike knew that if the gift was in anyway zombie related, it was a sure fire success.

Then the outbreak happened. 

In March of 2004, after years of neglect, the zombie returned. Two films from either side of the Atlantic premiered in one month: Dawn of the Dead and Shaun on the Dead.  Both films took the same subject matter, but each approached in an entirely different context. Dawn was the reimagining of the Romero classic with a huge Hollywood budget and angry, steroid stuffed zombies that are now referred to as “runners”. Shaun was the polar opposite: a romantic comedy set within in a zombie outbreak written and directed by a pair of zombie genre nerds. Both were huge successes and in turn sparked the tidal wave of animated corpses that would following their wake for what is now shambling towards nine years.

"Just look at the face: it's vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who's lost a bet. "    Shaun of the Dead 2004

The thing about zombies is that they are an easy target; anyone can smear a little dirt and a little blood around their chops and SHAZAAAM!! Zombie. This was something that the film industry, both the big execs and the little man caught on to with lightning speed.  The popularity of the zombie exploded into ridiculous heights, something it had never done before, knocking its “sexy” undead cousin, the vampire, down from its crushed velvet throne of everyone’s favourite monster. It wasn’t just the movie makers that had latched on to this unstoppable corpse: there were comics, there were books, there were music videos, there were songs, there were video games…they had infected every single media available. It didn’t matter where you looked the infection had taken hold and was just claiming more and more victims with every day that passed.

At first I was thrilled. This little subgenre that I had been so desperately in love with for so long was finally getting the attention I thought it deserved. All those old flicks I had spent digging my way through the most precarious of archaic video stores to find even a bootlegged copy of, were now getting a proper release on DVD with multiple discs and features and neat boxes and ZOMG ALL OF THE THINGS!!! It was like I was being rewarded for championing the little, rotting guy for so long. People started coming to me for recommendations since they had been swept up in this wave of putrescence and there was me riding the very crest of it on a surfboard made of tattered human flesh.
But, it was a deadly momentum that continued to stumble at a terrifying velocity. Zombies were turning up everywhere: kids’ shows, advertising campaigns, food and beverages, clothing lines, kids’ toys, phone apps…and even in porn. Movie after movie was being churned out with every available and able hand jumping on to that bulldozing bandwagon. Anything that had been written on the subject of zombies was being snapped up to be adapted into film and television and none of it was particularly good.

Zombie baby....really? it was all going so well too.   Dawn of the Dead 2004

I can pinpoint the exact moment when the disillusionment began to set in, thank you George A. Romero for Land of the Dead or what I now call “The Beginning of the End”. This has been something I have been battling with for quite a while and the over exposure to zombies has left me feeling apathetic to each and every “new” zombie related release.  AMC’s The Walking Dead has to be WAY up there with the afore mentioned Land of the Dead in terms of massive disappointment.  Like with Land, I was so incredibly excited for its existence, I was a huge fan of the comics, so even just the notion that it was going to be there, on my television screen in full colour glory was pants  wetting exciting….then I watched it. Sure it’s pretty and the makeup designs for the creatures are just stunning, but the one thing that made the comics so incredible seemed to have vanished, the human face. It just feels like yet another zombie thing with a bunch of people you know are either going to be eaten by zombies or turn on each other.  Yaaaaawn….

No, no matter how pretty you are, no more love for you Walking Dead zombie lady.   The  Walking Dead 2010

As with any thing of a horrific nature, once you see it in full daylight for an extended amount of time, it loses whatever it was that made it frightening. It’s happened with vampires, once they were monsters of legend that came in the night to feast upon unsuspecting innocents then taint them into godless creatures in their own image: now they are pretty boys with wounded hearts that sparkle in the summer sunshine as they play baseball and sip a skinny no fat Starbucks latte. Zombies can now run, think, learn, fall in love and now with the new release Warm Bodies (a film based on yet another “young adult” book…ew) they too can be pretty. Not very monstrous at all, is it?

So as my facebook is swamped with my friends all getting their frillies in a twist about the new season on Walking Dead starting tonight, I have come to the very sad and long time coming conclusion that it’s over. That final headshot rings clear and my decades long love affair with zombies has come to a close. 

At least I still have werewolves.