I was 14 when I saw my first zombie movie. My parents never really brought horror movies into the house, so when my friend George brought over his favourite one (Dawn of the Dead) on VHS and popped it into the player, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only seen one horror movie prior to this point (a slasher called Witchboard starring Patch from Days of Our Lives!) and I hadn’t much liked that, so I was expecting the worst from this flick as well.
And, at first, I didn’t like it. It felt kind of slow and the exploding zombie heads made me cringe. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw something of value in it, and it fueled an interest in the horror genre. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert and there are still things I most certainly will not watch (anything classified as torture porn falls into this category), but I get a kick out of old 80s slashers or some of the newer innovative stuff.
A little while ago, I was sitting around talking geekery with my friend Jack. Jack shoots, edits and writes his own stuff in addition to watching almost everything on the planet so we often chat about our favourite little geeky things, one of which is zombie flicks.
During the conversation, I told him he should try The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. It’s definitely not for everyone in that it is pretty dark and violent, but I’ve been reading it for about a year and have been enjoying the art and story, so I recommend it to anyone I know who is into zombies.
However, when I brought it up with Jack, he shook his head no, saying that he had heard of it and didn’t consider it good because it didn’t abide by the long established zombie code.
They can’t be fast.
They can’t be smart.
They must be infected through biting.
They must only be killed through destruction of the brain.
I thought this was kind of arbitrary, but then, when Boy and I were talking about it later, it turned out he too had zombie rules in that, if they were too fast and their movements too purposeful, he didn’t want to watch it.
I always thought that genre evolution was necessary to keep things interesting and watchable, but it seems there are a bunch of people who believe once a set of rules is established it must be followed or the item in question (book, tv show, movie etc.) isn’t a valid contribution to the style.
What say you, readers? Is killing a vampire with a stake a non-negotiable? Do you need a silver bullet to take out a werewolf? Is it necessary for genres to adhear to a specific set of rules or are you okay with a little wiggle room?
(The picture above was done by the very talented Jason Chan, and is available in print form for anyone who, like me, thinks it would be kind of awesome to hang in their kids room someday.)