Zombie Talk: The Best of the Zombies
Many years have gone by after theater goers got their first taste--pardon the pun--of the onscreen zombies that lurched slowly, moaning for brains and threatening the collective of mankind. Over the years, however, the question now remains--who’s done it better? My all-time favorite vote goes to the Master of Horror, Stephen King. Not only did he give his zombies a (spooky) reason for their existence besides a virus, but his story had heart. The scariest thing about his book, and the movie based on it, was that he didn’t need thousands of zombies running across the screen to scare you. He did it with the inference of evil, speaking of the unknown, the things that lie in the dark, the place behind the woods where you wouldn’t dare go at night--unless you’d completely lost your mind (or you had a little nudge in that particular direction). What book am I referring to exactly? Pet Sematary. Remarkably, the main zombie in the majority of the book is, of all things, a cat. But what’s implied with this “zombie cat” is worst than anything any of the more recent books or films fail to portray.
What is it, you ask? It’s that as far as the supernatural/paranormal world goes in fiction, it’s that the thing you may have a gut feeling about, that uneasy feeling that comes with the creak of a house in the middle of the night or that strange inclination that you’re being watched, could all be true. What lies behind the seemingly normal family down the road, or even scarier, what lies behind their house, under their house, what secrets they are carrying in that small town that the rest of us couldn’t believe even in our wildest dreams (or nightmares)? They’re all things we brush out of our heads, trying not to give a second thought to as we pass them everyday sometimes, but King always puts them between the pages of his books.
The first time I read Pet Sematary I was 16, and reading it again at 29 it’s lost none of its mojo. Every character between the pages plays his or her part to perfection and the movie actually did the story itself justice, which you can’t always say for an adaptation. For me, it stands as one of the best zombie stories of all time because what it deeply implies with fear, with emotion, with human fragility: What else is out there lying just beyond the woods?