Zombies are coming. Are you prepared?
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They’re coming — some fast, some slow, all exceptionally nasty. And dead. Or undead. It’s not always clear. Neither does it matter, because the zombies are coming and they will eat your brain.
Perhaps it’s the approach of Halloween, or maybe it’s because zombies aren’t getting the regard they deserve with all the “Twilight,” “True Blood” and “Underworld” hoopla of late.
Whatever the case, they want your attention and one way or another they’ll get you.
In fact, both Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have actually included zombie apocalypse in campaigns to encourage preparation for disasters and emergencies.
Oh, please, you say.
Ahh, don’t be so hasty to dismiss the dead/undead.
Zombies stagger in and out of the public consciousness it seems, but right now they are definitely in the thick of pop culture nationally and locally. Here’s the list.
The “Resident Evil” franchise, with its Umbrella Corp. and zombie-creating T-virus, will never die. “Resident Evil: Retribution,” the fifth in the film series, came out Sept. 14, and the “Resident Evil 6” video game is set to be released in early October.
Speaking of October, the first episode of season three of the “The Walking Dead,” a drama about of a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse, premiers Oct. 14 on AMC.
And for the zombie bibliophiles out there, “Flesh & Bone,” the latest in Jonathan Maberry’s “Rot & Ruin” series following zombie hunter Benny Imura and his friends in post-apocalyptic America, was released Sept. 11.
In Grand Junction, episode 1 of “Surviving the Undead,” a locally shot and produced TV/Web series by filmmaker Todd E. Braley, will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Mesa Theater and Lounge, 538 Main St. Zombie attire is encouraged.
The “dead” will rise again for Zombie Prom to benefit KAFM 88.1 Community Radio at 8 p.m. Oct. 26, also at Mesa Theater and Lounge. Go to kafmradio.org for details.
And then there’s Halloween, Oct. 31.
For those unsure why zombies would want more attention after all these years of, well … decomposing, here’s a thought.
They’re “misunderstood monsters.” That’s how Johnny Call, lead writer for “Surviving the Undead,” sees them, at least for their portrayal in the local TV/Web series.
Zombies aren’t sexy, wealthy or attractively reclusive like vampires, Call said. And considering their all-consuming need for human flesh and gross lack of grooming, they’re likely not on anyone’s list of monster death wishes.
But zombies are made — virus, witchcraft, magic or contagious bite — through no fault of their own and can’t help themselves, Call said.
In “Surviving the Undead,” Call uses the “bath salts” drug as the impetus for a zombie apocalypse. The idea came from news stories out of Florida earlier this year about a man who attacked and gnawed on the face of another person. Initially, the horrible attack was reported to be the result of a “bath salts”-induced craze.
“Zombie!” thought Call and many other zombie watchers, some of whom left comments at websites such as zombiezonenews.com.
“Surviving the Undead” could happen anywhere, Call said, but it was staged in Grand Junction.
It follows the members of a dysfunctional American family — mom, dad and three daughters — who find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, which serves as a catalyst to bring the family together, Call said.
It “illustrates that family drama can still exist despite extraordinary circumstances,” said Call, who also is an actor in the first episode, playing the part of the boyfriend of one of the daughters.
Those who attend the screening will likely recognize some local faces among the actors and extras, as well as some familiar settings such as Central High School.
Which is fine, until a zombie comes at you with the seeming intent of ingesting your brain!
Which brings us to the cerebral side of zombies, if you will even consider such a thing.
Some people are simply fascinated by the horror genre, Call said.
It’s a straightforward interest in a “Dawn of the Dead,” over-the-top-B-movie kind of way.
For others, a zombie apocalypse appeals because it makes them consider how or if they could survive devastation without losing their humanity, Call said.
It’s the deeper question found in nearly all dystopian, post-apocalyptic movies or literature.
But don’t get too intellectual, because the portrayal of zombies as slow, instinctual flesh eaters is evolving and you need to keep up.
It used to be that a forceful blow to disconnect the brain stem was all it took to put a zombie out for good.
That still may be true in some cases, but Zombie brain activity beyond the stem has become a topic of plenty of interest.
Blog posts under “brain function” at the Zombie Research Society’s website, zombieresearchsociety.com, address topics such as zombie brain function as a whole, what the stem or frontal lobes might be capable of, if a zombie can learn and why blood flows through the zombie brain. Read and learn, or watch “I am Legend” starring Will Smith.
Or read “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion, a novel in which “R,” a zombie, somehow retains the urge to protect and even love the girlfriend of the guy whose brain he has just eaten.
Dr. Steven Schlozman, who is on the advisory board for the Zombie Research Society, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of the novel “The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse,” has written about and discussed the zombie brain at length. He’s admittedly keen on zombies and theorizing about them.
But in a June 1 blog post “Zombies are NOT Real” at psychologytoday.com, he had this to say as a reminder for us to keep our heads in the right place: “Our civilization has made it through some tough times, but the zombie movies teach us that there is a danger in taking for granted the importance of community, of compromise and of civility.”
So chew on that for awhile. Then you better start running. Grh!