Will AMC's "The Walking Dead" Bring the Zombie Genre Back To Life?
Okay come on you guys, you know that was a super witty title there ^_^
This Halloween, the premier of AMC's new series The Walking Dead will hit the TV, and zombie fans everywhere are hoping it will re-kindle the genre of the living dead.
The show is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, and has been adapted for television by Frank Darabont (directer of The Shawshank Redemption).
The premise is fairly unoriginal - a man wakes up in a hospital to find a world overrun by zombies, with no recollection of how it got there (*cough* 28 Days Later). A small band of survivors now has to travel across America in the hopes of finding their lost loved ones and a zombie-free area to settle down. However, zombie movies are relatively derivative by nature, and it's worked well in the past, so I'm not letting that tar my opinion of the show yet.
AMC has been Tweeting the official zombie rules that govern a zombie's behavior (somewhat reminicent of Azimov's Laws of Robotics). They are as follows:
- Ability to run is based on the amount of time a zombie has been undead, and how much decay has set in.
- Zombies decay but at a much slower rate than humans, and it’s still possible to differentiate between young and old zombies.
- Zombies are like lions: if they’ve eaten, you can walk by them without fear, but a pack of hungry zombies will attack you.
- The quickest speed of any zombie is a shambling run. See Night of the Living Dead. NO sprinters exist.
- Zombies are not dexterous. They cannot pick up or use any items more complex than a rock or a stick.
Zombies have poor eyesight but they do have a strong sense of smell.
- Zombies cannot speak but can communicate by pack mentality. The herd tends to move together if they sight food.
So will the show be another mindless but entertaining bloodbath, or something more?
Hopefully, The Walking Dead will follow in the footsteps of George A. Romero's work (all hail the zombie king!) While most zombie movies solely emphasize gore and visually frightening images, Romero's films are always based around social commentry (while still maintaining an unpreccedented amount of grotesque cannabilistic violence). His imfamous 1968 Night of the Living Dead gave us a harsh view of how American's respond to crises, with the sole hero surviving the entire film by avoiding the zombie hordes, only to be killed by a fellow living human at the end. The film is also intended to be a commentary on the gruesome goings-on in Vietnam that were current to the time period. The 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead, in which is a group of survivers seek refuge in a shopping mall, was a scathing indictment of American consumer culture. The next installment, Day of the Dead (1985), touched on Americans' fears about secret military operations and genetic research. In the film, scientists commissioned by the military attempted to domesticate and study zombies, a comment on the growing controversy of stem cell research and what not. Finaly, in the 2005 chapter of the series Land of the Dead, Romero breaks the ground of class resentment in a post-apoctalyptic worl, where the upperclass still manipulated and took advantage of the less economically fortunant. All of these films have a biting social critique that is lost with many newer zombie films. While some are still well done, movies like Shaun of the Living Dead and Zombieland have really made zombies an almost camp idea. Luckily, a TV series is a mode somewhat more geared to intelligent and well written zombies media, as the characters have multiple seasons (provided everyone watches the premier this Halloween!) over which to develop, as opposed to the 2 hour blood fest movies provide. That being said, let's hope The Walking Dead will return some digity and social commentary to the zombie appocalypse genre.