Archive | November, 2012

The Zombie Appeal, part 7: The slow lumber towards the end.

18 Nov

Part 7: The slow lumber towards the end.

a.

I’m skipping the nineties.

Zombies represent decay, crumble, ruin, the passage of time, the inevitable end. The nineties were too vibrant with positivity. The end of the Cold War, the Clinton surplus, the dot-com boom. Even the culture wars—not our finest moment as a nation—were crackling with life; they now feel like the squabbling buzz of teenage siblings. The world was our oyster. The cocaine of the 1980s was passé. The drug of choice was ecstasy. Rave music and jam bands and loose clothes and a sense that history itself was finally over[1]. Zombies were nonexistent, silly remnants from another era. Even the alien invasion movies, (re) kick-started with Independence Day, were essentially tales of human ingenuity overcoming the apparent end of days.

But the 2000s found the zombies in their ascendancy. Two things happened. The sudden explosion of data concerning climate change—we were wearing the world out much faster than we thought—and 9/11 (and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and, later, Iraq). Resources were growing scarce. We are/were running out of phosphates, helium, the ozone layer. And there were huge swaths of death-obsessed people motivated by the destruction of the American empire.

The world was once again a treacherous place. The more uncertain the world feels, the more potent the metaphor of the zombie is. Thus in the 1970s, with the big cities failing to blight and white flight, the zombie became a stand-in for the crumbling of American civilization. And after 9/11, the zombie paradigm gained new virility. The end of the world was once again nigh.

Viola! Zombies were back in vogue.

b.

Zombies have always been the most political of horror metaphors. They are AIDS, the passage of time, the barbarians at the gate, the plague, terrorists, and so on. They represent magic, the occult, death itself. In the post-9/11 world, zombies were the threat of total civic and societal disintegration. 28 Days Later, followed by the remake of Dawn of the Dead, brought the zombie paradigm back to the fore.

28 Days Later is, at its heart, a study of the madness of the military mind. A British man wakes up from a coma in an empty hospital. He wanders outside to an empty London. The film follows him as he joins up with a band of survivors who eventually take refuge in a military outpost. And there the whole thing falls apart.

A variation on the theme of the world’s last man.

Director Danny Boyle uses the AIDS/monkey connection for his zombies. The outbreak is a government-backed virus created in a lab.

There’s a scene, near the end, where soldiers blast the surrounding trees with heavy caliber fire, pointlessly shooting into the night, a scene ripped straight from Heart of Darkness. There’s a racial undercurrent to the movie. Look at the zombie the soldiers have tied up. He’s black, and he’s bound by a metal chain around his neck. The argument is clear; humankind has brought this on itself. It harkens back to Romero’s major point in Day of the Dead. Armed isolation leads to paranoia and destruction.

It’s a pretty good movie, too, although after the fantastic first fifteen minutes the movie sort of disappoints.

The remake of Dawn of the Dead is in some ways very straight-forward. The big difference is the zombies are fast. The movie also has plenty of jokes, and a terrifying scene with a zombie baby.

The remake offers us something new: a zombie baby.

Planet Terror, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland, Quarantine, Shaun of the Dead[2], The Horde—zombies were everywhere. Romero returned with his latest installment of the zombie movie with Land of the Dead.

Zombies were everywhere, including in comics. The Walking Dead the comic was a surprise indie hit. Very quickly it moved from cult following to a major title. The story was pretty good, the art was strong, but I felt like it was a rehash of the Romero movies. I picked up a few titles and then moved along.

But the idea had legs. Writer Robert Kirkman invaded Marvel comics with a title called Marvel Zombies. The idea was that there was an alternate reality where the Marvel superheroes were infected by zombies. These characters eventually became big villains in the regular Marvel universe. These books were fine, too, although not really cutting edge or anything.

All of my heroes are now zombies.

But then the comic got optioned for television, just as AMC was breaking out with its hits Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And, against expectations, it became the biggest hit in the history of the network.

Which brings me back to where I began. The Walking Dead isn’t just bleak, but hopelessly bleak. It’s entertaining, but marbled through with a brutal, off-putting philosophy[3].

So why is it so popular?

c.

In Seeing is Believing, author-critic Peter Biskind[4] offers a simple thesis about the political philosophies of (1950s) movies. If the hero is a specialist, a scientist or an expert, then the movie is left-leaning. These types of heroes tend to achieve victory through community-building, scientific know-how, or by the strength of their intellect. If the hero is a common man, a man who thinks with his gut, then the movie is right-leaning. These heroes eschew any type of formality, they hate the rules, and they tend to kill their way through the obstacles they face. They tend to be cops, firemen, and so on. Die Hard is the perfect example of this type of movie.

Left-leaning movies—which are rarer—tend to portray the gut-men as obstacles to peace or survival. Right-leaning movies tend to portray scientists as amoral narcissists willing to risk the lives of others for their discoveries. (The Thing, Aliens, and so many others.) Left-leaning movies respect process; the consequences of fighting for consensus may be messy, but necessary. Right-leaning movies honor decisive action; waiting around for paperwork, or falling protocols, almost always gets somebody killed.

Using Biskind’s approach, The Walking Dead is all common people. The only scientist in 20 hours of television is the CDC’s Jenner, a deranged creep who tries to kill them all in a blast of suicidal rage. The show’s hero is a cop. No one is an expert on anything. The veterinarian in season 2 is, until near the end, seen as obstinate and foolhardy.

I think this is a major part of its appeal. We can see ourselves acting in the very same ways. These characters are us.

Zombies are easy to kill, and yet dangerous. They represent the failure of civilization. The characters must engage in the daily tasks of survival that most Americans are utterly removed from. Survival requires violence against others. Life is simple under the new rules; there’s no money and no grind, and therefore existence takes on a kind of Edenic purity.

These qualities have combined with our current geopolitical uncertainty to make this strange, sad little show a smash.

And perhaps it’s a good thing. The writing is fine, the acting is fine, and the direction is often spot on.

But if the zombie paradigm is really about giving up, giving in to the forces of darkness and despair; if the zombie idea is really about accepting the indifference of the universe and throwing in the cosmic towel, then the show’s popularity is very disturbing indeed.

Do we want the world to end?


[1] Right-leaning theorist Fukuyama said that history was over; the whole world was entering a phase where Western-style, liberal democracy was “the final form of government.” Al Quaeda had a pungent rejoinder.

[2] Which I absolutely love.

[3] The Road, the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, also hopeless and bleak but thrilling, was a big flop.

[4] Biskind, Marx, and Romero—these are the founding fathers of the zombie ideal.

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The Zombie Appeal, part 6: Reaganing.

16 Nov

Part 6: Reaganing.

The boom boom go go cocaine fueled vulture capitalism privatize slash and burn no government 1980s shifted away from the slow-moving zombie—which had little to do with the boom bust paradigm—and turned toward two particular horror tropes: the young street tough and the vampire[1].

The blood-sucking, vaguely European, old-moneyed vampire was the perfect villain for the years of Reaganomics. Remember, this was the decade when Anne Rice hit it big. The only thing more frightening than Gordon Gecko was the creeping socialism of the Old World. Some of the movies were pretty good, too, including Fright Night and Near Dark. (The trend that picked up speed in the 1990s, another decade of filthy lucre and money money money. Blade, which isn’t a great movie, tapped into this by having the vampires be the super-rich, eating poor people. At one point Stephen Dorff says, “These people are our food!”)

Chris Sarandon as the vampire next door.

And the young? They’ve always been a tribe apart, but as movies catered to youth culture—disposable income combined with plenty of free time—teenagers became drivers, and targets, of popular culture. Children of the Corn gets it, at least in the first ten minutes, how terrifying the young can be. The street gangs that rove the eighties films are too numerous to mention. Garish costumed ruffians traversed an urban wasteland of burned out cinder buildings covered in graffiti. These movies had a profound impact on me and many other suburban children. Tucked into my enclave in Pensacola, I was convinced that, after ten minutes inside the city limits, a gang of scoundrels would mug me, beat me up, sodomize me a little, and then take photos. I’m not kidding.

Another movie that ushered in the end of my childhood.

Horror shifted away from terror towards camp. Hopelessness was passé; we wanted our monsters to wink into the camera. They weren’t there to threaten us. There was a push for re-occuring horror characters, usually in a sly mode. They were scary, but often not really menacing: Freddy Kreuger, Jason, Chucky. Horror lost something in the eighties, a seriousness that was replaced with often unfunny—and now dated—satire[2].

Ghosts were around, most notably in Poltergeist and the Amityville Horror, but they receded a bit due to the material concerns of Reagan’s decade. They would remain absent for much of the 1990s, returning with a vengeance in the oughts, mostly due to a blast of Japanese Buddhist-techno-occultic-weirdness.

There were three notable zombie movies. The first was Night of the Creeps, a tiny little horror-comedy gem. Aliens in the form of slithery slugs shoot into people’s mouths and turn them into zombies.

Return of the Living Dead is a sequel, of sorts, to Night, only without Romero’s involvement. He shared the creation of the concept with Dan O’Bannon, who looked to cash in[3]. The movie is a nifty black comedy with a killer counterculture soundtrack, but it watches like an abomination to fans of the original. Gone is the hopelessness, the terror, replaced by slapstick morbidity. The zombies have green faces and wander around mumbling, “Brains! Brains!” It plays like a hipper Gremlins, backed by punk rock tunes. It isn’t bad at all, it’s just sort of weird.

A far cry from its predecessor: strippers, bikers, cemetery walkers, zombies as hambone slapstick players.

Romero returned to his wheelhouse with his third zombie movie, released at the same time. Day of the Dead is a strong movie, but also problematic. The story takes place in an underground military industrial complex—I’m making my way back to The Walking Dead, so remember this point—with some of the last earthlings still alive. The military are running things. There’s a scientist experimenting with humanizing a zombie and, to his delight and the chagrin of his fellow bunkermates, it’s working. The zombie is like a puppy. He can make noises, he can understand basic things, but he’s temperamental and has no understanding of his place in the world. There are some touching scenes. Romero teases out the notion that the zombies could be retrained as human beings, if only the scientist could have enough time.

He doesn’t. The inevitable happens. In-fighting, the anxiety of the constant threat of invasion, and finally human betrayal. The last twenty minutes are a harrowing journey through dimly lit subterranean hallways, the last humans being pursued by a gaggle of zombies. The tonal issues don’t mesh, but the movie mostly works anyway. Romero has never been accused of subtlety, but compared to Return, his zombie movie was a delicate exercise in mood and style. Return crushed, Day tanked, and Romero moved on.

A zombie hearing music and slowly regaining his humanity. Too bad the real humans have lost too much of theirs.

The nineties, even more concerned with material pleasures and the ruthless pursuit of possessions moved on, too. Zombies weren’t sexy. They weren’t unpredictable. They were too damn depressing. The Clinton years with the computer boom and the internet explosion would greet a new phantom for the movie-going public: the serial killer.


[1] Lost Boys was prescient in this regard, wedding the myth of vampirism to the sleep-all-day punk rock youth culture. Brilliant.

[2] John Carpenter offered a corrective to this nonsense with a string of very fine horror movies, including Christine, The Fog, and the underrated Prince of Darkness.

[3] In all fairness, Romero had become a marquis name while O’Bannon had languished, despite both contributing to the original film.

The Zombie Appeal, part 5: Return of the King.

15 Nov

5. Return of the King.

The 1970s were a grand, rollicking time for zombies. The undead quickly came to represent a decay in the social order. Our cities were crumbling; crime rates were soaring. The first taste of severe ecological disaster—wrought by the day to day living of the world’s people—was bitter and foul. Gas lines. Food shortages. Riots. Weird leather outfits. Nuclear armageddon. Disco.

The stuff of nightmares.

We were living in a movie all along . . . and that movie was Soylent Green.

There was a notion that the American experiment had failed and failed utterly. Hoodlums and street toughs and blank-faced murderers were inheriting the earth. (Take a look at the plethora of vigilante movies that came out during the period; people really believed that the governing institutions had failed.) The police were powerless. The politicians were corrupt. The bureaucrats were running things. There wasn’t enough money, food, water or land. The downward spiral was inescapable. Drought, or a new ice age, or mushrooms clouds on the horizon? The ways to the end were numerous.

The zombie film got at this notion of precipitous decline. The world was so messed up that the dead were walking around and feasting on the living. Plenty of directors took a stab at the genre, but the crown prince was elsewhere.

The concept immigrated to the Europe. Fulci, an Italian horror director, took the concept and ran with it in a number of strange movies, including Zombie, which is a great bad movie. There’s a scene, just to give you a taste, of a zombie fighting a shark out in the ocean. It’s gory, inspired, and quite stupid.

I wasn’t making it up: zombie versus shark.

Domestically, Bob Clark made two zombie movies, Deathdream, an adaptation of “The Monkey’s Paw”; and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, one of the greatest titles in the history of movies. (The movie does not live up to the title, although Robert and I amused ourselves endlessly with this one when we were in high school. And the movie has its charm.) There are others, but none compare favorably to the original.

Children really shouldn’t play with dead things.

Romero bopped around for a few years, making a number of movies of mixed quality—The Crazies is pretty good, Season of the Witch isn’t terrible, and Martin is a genuinely disturbing, if overrated, film—before returning to the zombie form. But it was worth the wait. He found a backer in Italian horror director Dario Argento, who gave him total creative control with the American version of the film. (Argento would retain the right to re-edit the film for the European market. And as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m no great fan of Argento, but for this decision alone he should be allowed into the pearly gates.)

Dawn of the Dead picks up a few days after Night ends. The entire scaffold of civilization, the news media and social and political structures, is collapsing. Four survivors flee in a helicopter and make a life for themselves in a giant shopping mall. They master the zombies and try to create a new world. They spend their time frolicking in their newfound, but worthless, wealth. They aren’t happy, but they busy themselves with worthless tasks to pass the time, and fool themselves into thinking they’ve begun a new society.

The shoppers all look a little strange. . .

They haven’t. Internal dissensions fester, and soon other humans come along and ruin everything. The mall isn’t a safe haven at all; it’s hell. The four survivors just don’t know yet it.

With Dawn, Romero moved the concept into steeper political territory, and mined it for humor, greater horror, and a kind of hopelessness inherent in the human condition. It’s an existential movie par excellence, a terrifying journey into the darkest aspects of consumerism. Consumerism strips us of our souls, our minds, leaving husks of soulless flesh. It gnaws at our ability to experience contentment. It erodes our ability to understand our own needs.

The larger budget allows for some terrifying crowd scenes, where thousands of zombies mill about parking lots and highways. The scale of the thing is overwhelming. It’s a doomed, disturbed vision of the human condition. Yet it’s thrilling and fun to watch. No small feat.

There’s something so sad about zombies milling about a parking lot.

I didn’t see Dawn until I was in college. It was never on network television and unavailable at the video stores in Pensacola. I watched it with Robert, my horror movie partner in crime, and we were mesmerized. Neither of us knew it was a sequel. Times were different; with no Internet you had to either subscribe to movie magazines or stumble upon the good stuff. Good stuff it was. After finishing it, I went outside. It was after midnight. The moon was a sliver in a cloudless sky. The neighborhood seemed hostile and alien. I blinked my eyes and for a minute saw a thousand zombies on those suburban streets. The movie wormed its way into my subconscious and didn’t let go.

One of the creepiest zombies in Dawn. I had nightmares about him.

Romero never let go of the zombies, returning over and over to his original creation. In the subsequent movies, of varying quality, the zombies become more and more human—they’re almost like newborn babies, only with rotting flesh—and the humans become more and more monstrous.

The Zombie Appeal, part 4: Hell is other people, right?

14 Nov

3. Hell is other people, right?

George Romero kicked off the modern zombie craze with Night of the Living Dead. It was a low budget drive-in cheapie, and arguably the greatest independent movie ever made. He made up for his low budget with weird camera angles, a mix of amateur and professional actors, on-location shooting and a no-frills, if very powerful, script. It’s the first night in a zombie infection and a small group of survivors have to overcome their squabbling, their differences, to make it through. If they could work together and make smart decisions, they would probably survive. But they don’t, they can’t, and the true obstacle to human flourishing isn’t the zombies, but rather other people.

The basic pattern of the zombie art form was established: slow but implacable zombies, worrisome only in their immense numbers and driven only by a ravenous hunger for human flesh. A small group of squabbling survivors who are unable to work together. The military response to the zombies itself a type of horror show. And undercurrents of racial, cultural and economic divides in the larger society. Finally the idea that the zombies are strangely innocent in their guilelessness; it is only the living who can betray. Romero and his people set the rules; we’re still living beneath them.

Night of the Living Dead works partially because it isn’t campy—the zombies have metaphoric heft but they are real, flesh-eating creatures—but mostly because Romero and his crew made a lean film with professionals on the fringe of the industry, but no budget. They had constraints, and those boundaries forced them to stay tight and close. The movie feels like an arthouse film, filtered through some grisly pulp netherworld. It’s Val Lewton intermingled with Jean Luc Godard.

Terrifying, yet guileless and predictable and strangely innocent.

Night was a bona fide international hit, and arguably the most influential horror movie ever made. It played for 18 months in Madrid’s largest theatre. Dozens of directors and writers point to it as the first horror film that grabbed them.

Including me.

I first watched it when I was nine. Alongside The Octagon, Beastmaster, First Blood, Over the Top, and Conan the Barbarian, TBS played Night all the time[1]. Due to an error in the credits of the film, the movie was without copyright for decades. The print they used for television was grainier than the original, but the hazy visuals made it seem more real. I saw it half a dozen times before I was a teenager and it scared the shit out of me with each and every viewing. (The basement scene with the daughter remains one of the most shocking scenes in the history of cinema. There’s a little kid munching on her father’s arm! It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.)

The exact moment when my childhood innocence went out the window.

The ending hits like a punch to the gut. The hero, for those of you who haven’t seen it, survives the zombie onslaught only to be shot in the head by a posse of deputized rednecks. There’s no moral, no balance, no lesson and no restoration of order. It’s just a stupid murder amidst vast, unexplained carnage. It chilled the blood. The stupid hopelessness of the world was laid bare.

I never quite got over it.


[1] This collection says more about me and the formation of my tastes than I would care to admit.

The Zombie Appeal, part 3: A brief history of zombies.

13 Nov

3. A brief history of zombies.

The notion of zombies has been in movies for a long time. The mummy is a zombie, empowered by some Egyptian magic. Frankenstein is a zombie, too—he’s dead limbs sewed together with thread—only imbued with more smarts and empathy.

The first on-screen zombies look more like sleepwalkers. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an early silent film from the Weimar Republic, the zombie of the film is a somnabulist, hypnotized by the villainous Caligari into committing crimes.

The first on-screen zombie, a poor, hypnotized sod.

The first good zombie film stars an unusually subdued Vincent Price, playing the sole human survivor in an America that has been infected by a plague that has turned everyone into a type of nocturnal flesh-eater. It’s a very fine movie, lean and angry, adapted from Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, which was the inspiration for Romero’s initial idea.

Vincent Price as God’s lonely man, the last man on earth.

Plan Nine from Outer Space—the justifiably ridiculed movie often called the worst film ever made—has a handful of zombies in it, as the aliens are using corpses as the foot-soldiers in their invasion. These animated corpses are the best thing about the movie, somehow silly and scary at the same time.

The dominant horror trope in the 1950s was science gone awry, with undercurrents of alien invasions. (Think Them or The Thing or Godzilla, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.) Horror in the 1960s was a combination of the earth and the ephemeral. There are ghosts, maniacs, sadists. With a few exceptions—The Innocents, The Haunting—these sixties horror movies were campy affairs. They lacked elegance and vision. And few of them remain scary at all.

But then, in 1968, a group of independent actors and makers of commercials decided to make a drive-in movie. They filmed on weekends and on their own time, with a combination of professionals and amateurs. The film was stripped bare of pretentions, shot on location on an abandoned farmhouse, a lean and ragged black and white nightmare.

They’re coming for you, Barbara.

The movie was tentatively titled Flesh Eaters, and then Night of Anubis. But before filming was completed, the title was switched to Night of the Living Dead.

The modern age of the zombie had begun.

The Zombie Appeal, part 2: A Very Marxist Plague.

13 Nov

2. A very Marxist plague.

Chuck Klosterman—pop culture writer extraordinaire—thinks the appeal of zombies is that everyone believes that he/she could survive, even thrive. They’re dumb, (usually) slow, and easily evaded. (Read his very fine take on zombies here.)

Joe Kane, in his book-length history of the Night of the Living Dead, agrees, arguing that this dichotomy was there at the beginning. “[The Zombies] are a combination of the menacing (they want to eat you up) and the pathetic (they’re dead . . . and they’re all messed up).” (Kane, 64)

They’re both half-right. There’s another component. Zombie movies and shows—the good ones—deal in the basics of survival. The characters in The Walking Dead are engaged in a life or death struggle for food, water and shelter. They’ve been stripped of the fineries of the 21st Century. They don’t sit through meetings, shop at the mall, check email or flip through Yelp reviews. They aren’t hindered by fads, social pressures or the burden of not having enough time. They’ve been propelled back into the primeval past. The very things we are disconnected from—the fundamental aspects of living, the search for food and shelter—compose most of the show’s drama. It’s answering a need. It’s a fictional correction to what Marx wrote about, the disconnect between work and survival.

The lead character back in the primeval forest.

As Marx says, “And this life activity [the worker] sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. . . . He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another.”

He got it right, goddamn it.

We work outside the areas of our basic survival—in conflict with millions of years of evolution—so that we can afford the things that we must have to survive.[1] This, as hundreds of more credentialed people than me have pointed out, is the explanation for so much of the psychic dissonance of the modern and post-modern age. We are removed from the essence of our toils. We’ve outsourced our survival to big business. We’ve attempted to parse our lives into different modalities, when there’s only one big thing: life, and how to survive it. This disconnect explains the existential malaise that bedevils us in what is, inarguably, the richest era in the history of the world.

The show, on the other hand, is obsessed with simple tasks. Drawing water from a well; picking up antibiotics at the store; cleaning weapons, keeping watch, cooking and cleaning and mending fences. The show has removed the civilizing context that all other modern art relies upon. Gone are the midlife crises that drove so much of our mid-century novelists (Roth, Updike, Bellow, and so on). Gone are the social and economic ambitions that characterize so much of our film and fiction. Gone, even, are the sexual politics that defined so much of our lives in the last forty years.

The worse the human situation gets, the more beautiful the natural world becomes.

The new world has little time for racism, sexism, drug addiction, poverty and the like. There’s no money. There’s no pay. No managers, no investments, no capital, only work and survival. There’s no unemployment, no exploitation, no upper class. There’s no music, no internet, no post office. There’s no grind.

The world itself responds to the catastrophe with serenity. The outskirts of Atlanta are lush with verdant foliage and towering trees. There’s no pollution, no chugging factories, no airplanes, no traffic. In a word, it’s paradise, a pre-Lapsarian state, a place of pure existence.

Hindered only by those pesky zombies.


[1] My buddy Jonathan says this is why so many people are frustrated and miserable.

The Zombie Appeal, part 1: An odd puzzle.

13 Nov

1.

I just finished season two of The Walking Dead. The show is tailor made for me; I’ve been fascinated by zombies since I was a child; George Romero is one of my heroes; I love post-apocalyptic fiction and movies; near the top of my favorite movies of all time is Night of the Living Dead; and I’m from Atlanta (where the show is filmed), and spent my summers wandering around the creeks and woods of Decatur with my cousin, Keith. I have a glowing nostalgia for the show’s locales and immense love for the show’s inspirations.

I like it, quite a lot at time, but I’m puzzled by its popularity. It has three modes: slow and ponderous; turgid and melodramatic; and ultra-violent and gory. It’s bleak. It’s derivative; I don’t see how it’s improved on the original Dawn of the Dead, save for elongating the story. In some sense, the scale of the show, with a few memorable set pieces, is smaller than its on-screen counterparts.

What’s so appealing by flesh-eating corpses?

The acting has improved, but originally it was quite awful. Ditto for the script (although with crackerjack Glen Mazzara as a producer, the writing is much punchier). Some of the episodes are weak, and many are repetitive. Some of the characters are thin, some are redundant. It’s clear some of the characters are the equivalent of the red-shirted Star Trek dudes; they are on the show just to die.

The show was popular from the start, and there’s something to its popularity beyond its quality. It has double the audience of Breaking Bad and almost triple the audience of Mad Men. Ten million more people watched the first episode of season three than Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film, The Master. It’s a runaway smash, a blockbuster.

I’ve been working my way to figuring out why this is. So here’s a couple of entries on the history of zombies and why they’ve become more and more popular with age.