Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kinemortophobia

So, i've been trying to read Max Brook's World War Z. If you're not afraid of zombies, I suggest you pick it up. It's sort-of fascinating. Not the living dead part, that's sort of been done. The cinematic landscape is littered with apocalyptic visions of swarms of the living dead, those nightmares are already in place. No, what's fascinating is the way he describes the breakdown of contemporary human functioning. The politics, the social landscape, the international business break downs, the money to be made. I'm just starting to get into the post-war landscape and how the U.S. government went about winning the war and rebuilding. It's interesting to find myself picking up the book and not feeling the weird physical sensation that is fear.

Because for the last month, that's all there was. The stomach clenching, the increased heart rate which you don't notice until after you've put the book down, the hyper-awareness of the floor creaking or a dog barking or god forbid, an unexplained noise. Every time I would go near the book i'd feel that physical sensation, Yet I kept going back.

I started out reading first thing in the morning with the sunlight streaming in through the windows, reassuring me that it was just a book and I was safe afterall. I'd read a few chapters, then go down stairs, have my breakfast and put something stupid on the television while I ate. Before you knew it zombies were no longer on my mind. That worked fine. Get scared, distract myself, move on.

Then, stupidly, I read it before going to bed. Don't ask me why i'm only afraid of the dark when thinking of zombies. Show me every Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th movie ever made and i'm fine. I'll sleep like a baby. Michael, Freddy and Jason combined and I snooze away. But one zombie and i'm a goner.

Looking over the dresser to see if the closet door has creaked open, compulsively looking behind me at the corner to see if the shadow has changed at all, pulling the covers up tight around my neck so nothing can bite me and listening like a dog for any noise. And I lay there thinking "This is insane. You are bat-shit insane. Zombies don't freaking exist! What is wrong with you?!?" And then the floor creaks downstairs and I jump under the covers.

And here's what I don't understand: why World War Z? These are the old school zombies. The slowly walking, moaning, arms outstretched, limping along at a snails pace zombies. What real threat do they pose? The rage-virus zombie from the 28 Days/Weeks Later movies, those I understand. They run faster, jump higher, and bite harder than the old school zombies. Plus the second you're bit you turn into one of them. That's fucking scary! But these guys? They're slow and shambly. They're undead- decaying, easily shot in the head from a distance. So why so scared?

Maybe because of how Brooks describes it- no where to hide, no way to escape. Entire cities being taken over in days. Miles of land littered with a slowly marching army of the undead invading every safe zone, every highway, every home. The idea that you're not gonna be up in a clock tower picking them off with a rifle for more than few weeks before your supplies run out and there's no way to get more. The idea that there's no help arriving, you're trapped. The idea that the vast majority of the human population is either dead or undead and coming to make you dead. The idea that they don't die- ever- until you destroy the brain. Freeze 'em, they'll thaw out and start walking again. Shoot 'em anywhere but the head, they keep coming. Chop off their legs, detonate them, disassemble them- any part left over will keep crawling along. The end of the world, with zombies.

I guess my point is it's a good read. It's gotta be if somebody as bat-shit crazy scared of zombies as I am will keep reading it.

2 comments:

  1. "Show me every Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th movie ever made and i'm fine. I'll sleep like a baby. Michael, Freddy and Jason combined and I snooze away. But one zombie and i'm a goner."

    Which is funny because Jason is really the president of all zombies.

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  2. He has too much personality to be a zombie in my mind. Plus the mask helps- no biting, no infection.

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