Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zombies!

Before I delve into this interesting genre let me give a brief history of my zombie watching. It started for me with Dawn of the Dead in 2004 followed by watching Shaun of the Dead the day before it came out in my friend's room on our freshman dormitory. Then it was 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. From there I saw some Resident Evil stuff and of course I Am Legend and Zombieland. However, the recent The Walking Dead series took the genre to a new (and longer) level on AMC.

Why are zombie movies so interesting? They are the epitome of people persevering against nearly impossible odds. These movies and stories could be interpreted as a metaphor for surviving and thriving in difficult situations. I also like the science aspect. I Am Legend was very popular at my college campus because we are scientific minded and the idea of a zombie cure was very exciting.

Post-apocalyptic scenarios also interest me because I think I would do well in that type of situation. I have a range of skills that would surely benefit my continued survival. Although, I must admit that part of my attitude must be ego. I have had enough close calls to understand how fragile my life is and how clumsy I can be. Still, living after an apocalypse would surely be an adventure.

Fast forward to 2010 and AMC's The Walking Dead. Of course I watched the episodes as they came out. The series was losing a little of it's appeal until the fifth episode where Dr. Edwin Jenner (Dr. Edward Jenner was the guy that synthesized the first smallpox vaccine, coincidence? I think not) was seen in a CDC underground biohazard level 4 (crazy dangerous stuff) lab. The idea of one man trying for months until the last hours hoping that he might create an antivirus or a cure is romantic. It's noble, it's like 2000 bad light bulbs before one that works, it's like four years of gliders and wind tunnels until one airplane flies 130 feet, it's like starting and failing three car companies until the idea of the Model T comes along.

Unfortunately, AMC (or at least the writers and editorial staff) blew up the CDC and Dr. Jenner. The series is sure to still hold all sorts of character and plot development but what interests me is what happens after the initial zombie take over. I Am Legend and Zombieland both took a look at life in the months and years after the event, but failed to develop a community. I Am Legend left the future wide open with the closing scene and quote about finding a cure. Here is where it gets interesting from my point of view.

Perhaps we are supposed to believe that a group of research biologists and doctors refined and produced the cure. Judging from the percentage of those people in the general public and the theory that most doctors would probably be wiped out during the initial infection because of contact with the infected, wouldn't it be interesting if the people in Bethel that synthesized the cure were a high school biology teach, a retired nurse, and a chemical engineer? I gave blood last week and learned that those small vials they take after giving blood each has enough blood for 14 tests. What if the above group screwed up 10 of the 14 tests because they didn't know what they were doing? What if the cure killed half of the people that it was administered to? What about the people who returned to normal after the cure? Would they remember things? What kind of social and political climate would exist with the survivors? What about electricity and oil? How do they handle the winters in Vermont with, I assume, limited supplies? Once the infected become healthy again where are they all going to live? In three years most things would get destroyed.

Needless to say the zombie genre interest me. Hopefully there will be some movies in the future to satiate my appetite for survivors. Rumor has it there will be a Zombieland 2...

2 comments:

  1. I recommend reading the short story "I Am Legend". It's by Richard Matheson and describes something similar to what you have described; the main character is not a doctor or a biologist but attempts to teach himself how to cure the disease.

    It also has a significantly different and much better ending than the movie.

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  2. Thanks for the recommendation, I will do that.

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