Lingerers

Lingerers

At first, I thought lingerers were kind of rare in zombie lore, but the more I look around the more I think they are basically the norm. Lingerers are zombies who retain something of their old selves. They remember something, either an ingrained skill or maybe even all their memory.

In the Romero movies many of the zombies slowly began regaining their human skills and memories over time. In Return of the Living Dead they were basically just angry versions of themselves.

Regardless of the film series, these are some of the most common zombies around.

lingerers

Survival of the Dead

And just to be clear, no, this movie did NOT inspire the title of my blog, comic or book. I hadn’t seen it yet and am not a particularly big fan of this one.

Survival_of_the_Dead
The Poster:
Has a nice classic horror movie feel to it, and is still pretty modern. A classic zombie with a scary look on her face reaching out to the viewer. What’s more classic than that? Plus the big full moon rising in the background and a few other zombies hinting at but not showing a crowd. It’s got good color choice with stripped down color saturation that’s almost black and white plus red lettering which I happen to love.

The Good:
The general concept is pretty interesting. Lots of people talk about trying to get to an island if the zombie apocalypse ever comes along. The thinking is that it’s a smaller place and should be easier to control since you won’t have people wandering in from all over creation. Survival follows the lives of two families living on an island when the dead start to rise and the chaos it brings to them. We see this through the eyes of a group of military guys who are mainland survivors and discover the island.

The Bad:
People continue to make the stupidest possible mistakes and do the most idiotic things in the world like watching a gameshow on a PC with the sound up and not wanting to turn it off because it’s funny. Yeah, never mind all the dead people wandering a round or the fact your crappy PC is going to bring them all for dinner.

Speaking of which, how does this movie fit in with the bigger world of Romero’s zombies? Is this the same world that went to shit years ago in the Night of the Living Dead? Are we meant to think that that story took place only a few years ago? Because when it came out, the internet didn’t even exist. Neither did the “cool” iPhone/Pod we see in the movie. Is this a second uprising of the dead? Have these people grown up in this world? Doesn’t seem like it. Some consistency with the other stories might have helped ground the movie.

There are gaps in the story that sort of baffle me. One major point of the story was hoping that the zombies would start eating something other than humans. This is part of Romero’s larger story of how the dead actually develop over time regaining some of their humanity and ability to remember and learn. But it leaves us wondering are they going to eat the animals and leave the humans alone or just eat both? Either way, only a small percentage of zombies are going to figure out how to eat animals and, starving will still try to eat humans. Meaning the world is still filled with zombies and there’s no real point to the conjecture.

The biggest gap for me though came in the ending. The island is finally clear of all the insane Irish hillbillies trying to kill each other, but the survivors leave. Why? If they thought an island was the place to go, they’ve got it. It’s a huge island with a finite number of zombies to take out. Plenty of farm land and a well developed infrastructure. New arrivals could easily be added to the group to strengthen it and rebuild society. Yet they leave. For where? The mainland? Where the challenges are that much harder?

The Ugly:
Some of the effects in this movie are downright awful. The opening is a great example where a soldier gets his head blown off. It’s a straight on shot of his face, a gun comes in from off camera, his head disappears except for the top bit which drops straight down onto his neck before he falls to the ground.

survival of the dead head shot
Throughout the film there are a number of flashy effects that seem more like they are there to surprise or wow us more than add to the story telling or evoke a response from the viewer other than the gross-out effect. The wow factor isn’t unusual particularly for horror movies but the fact that they look so badly staged and unbelievable makes it hard to swallow.

The original Night of the Living Dead has always been championed for its social commentary and inclusion of an African American actor as the lead hero. Yet this movie seems to play into all sorts of ridiculous stereotypes. The Mexican guy who only speaks the simplest of Spanish words and at times when he really doesn’t need to considering he’s speaking English the rest of the time. Begging someone to put him out of his misery and end his life he says “Por favor.” Really? I kind of feel he would maybe say something else. It just doesn’t ring true or realistic to me.

Larger than that is the oversexed lesbian who is written like every guy’s dream lesbian. She sits around masturbating, is totally hot, and she’s just itching to get some. The character feels like she was written by a man who didn’t really know any lesbians.

And to me the most blatantly obvious stereotype that also throws off the tone and feel of the movie is the bizarre Irishmen. We basically have the Hatfields and the McCoys here and with thick Irish accents. All of them living on an island off the east coast of the U.S. Where is this island exactly? Off New Jersey? Because the survivors are in Philadelphia at one point and must have gotten to the coast in record time to get to a boat and then an island that size.

I’m from PA and I can tell you it’s a hell of a drive to the coast from Philly in good conditions. With society in total collapse and zombies roaming the world in one of the most densely populated parts of the U.S. it’s virtually impossible to believe they made it to the coast overnight. Imagine that happening on the Walking Dead. Forget it. Never.

Nun Zombie

The Nun
The Nun was in the classic Romero “Dawn of the Dead” although we only get a few brief glimpses of her during the movie. The nun is sort of similar to the Hari Krishna zombie who also appears in the same film, in that she seems to show that if there is a god in the story being told he’s not playing favorites.

After all, if god were sparing all the Christians and killing off everyone else, we’d have more zombie flicks with Kirk Cameron. And no one wants that.

No. No we don’t.

I’m more of the opinion that when things go wrong, really wrong, everyone gets screwed. All of us. The good, the bad, the believers and non believers. I’ll think differently when I see otherwise. The day a horrible disaster strikes, or a disease sweeps through and spares only the members of one “chose” group, then I’ll believe in something. Until then I’m happy to sit back and see just and fair nature really is in treating us all the same.

Doctor Tongue

I wasn’t sure what this fellow was actually called and had mistakenly been calling him zipper face since he sort of resembles a popular Halloween costume. After searching about a bit I finally found his real name, the venerable Doctor Tongue.

Dr. Tongue

Doctor Tongue is one of the first zombies we see in Romero’s Day of the Dead. He’s a horribly deformed zombie with a face that’s been seriously messed up. His lower jaw is partly missing and his teeth are all messed up with his tongue lolling out and his face split in the middle. He probably ended up that way from a  blast or a chop to the face. No matter what though, if you see him coming, head the other way!

Leaders

Leaders
It’s rare but there are zombies who manage to rise above their undead state and become leaders. These characters are pretty common in the Romero zombie stories. In Dawn of the Dead we saw Flyboy suddenly become a leader when, as soon as he turned, he lead the zombies in the mall through the false wall to where the other survivors were hiding. Romero seems to grant his zombies a high degree of tool use and intelligence. It also seems in the later movies that the zombies are somehow growing and developing. They are starting to come back to themselves in some ways. And so Big Daddy comes along and leads an all-out assault on the survivors city with weapon in hand. He calls out, well he moans out battle cries and even instructs other zombies in what to do. He showed compassion by trying to help the other zombies and keep them from getting killed. This level of intelligence is something more befitting a monster than a zombie yet there we have it in the heart of zombie country.

The Four Main Zombie Types

As I’ve been looking around at other stories, games, movies etc. I’ve noticed a lot of different kinds of zombies out there.

Thanks to the spread of zombies in pop cultures the stakes seem higher than ever to create horrible nasties that stand out from the crowd. Viewers and creators are no longer totally satisfied with just having fast zombies or slow zombies, or flesh eaters and brain eaters. Now we have Nazi zombies to contend with, exploding zombies, super zombies, giant zombies etc. It all gets to be a bit much after a while. So here I’ve collected a solid batch of information based on dubious research into the field of the undead in an attempt to catalogue the various types of zombies in the world today.

To set things straight I define four basic types of zombies: 
1. Chemical Zombies: Those reanimated due to the use of some sort of toxin.
Medical Zombies: Most typical type today. Infection is spread through blood or air born virus to infect the living. (I consider this a subgroup of Chemical zombies as bio-chemistry is simply another branch of chemistry. There is still some debate among scholars however and many consider these a separate group all together.)
2. Radiation Zombies: Zombies reanimated due to radiation. The classic Romero zombies were brought back due to radiation from a space probe.
3. Parasite Zombies: Caused by a worm or other parasite inhabiting and controlling the host body.
4. Supernatural Zombies: These include religious and magical zombies. Those brought back by wizards or gods for whatever purpose.

Other types of zombies, such as Nazi zombies, partials, crawlers, arms, dogs etc. are all variations on these four or five main types.

medicals
This zombie has been reanimated through some sort of biochemical means. Perhaps a virus or other pathogen.

Whether he was brought back through the use of a chemical or a biological infection, he’s here and he needs to be dispatched. It’s good to be aware of what type zombie you are dealing with so as to reduce the risk of infection to yourself and those around you. Remember how easily the father became infected with “rage” in 28 Days Later? You don’t want that happening to you and yours now do you? No. So do what you have to to keep these zombies at a distance and watch for signs of infection in yourself and those around you.

tickers

This might sound a bit uncommon as many of the recent zombie pictures focus on disease carriers. This is more a reflection of popular culture as we live in a world where diseases like AIDS, SARS, N1H1, Avian flu and all those good things are in the headlines. This makes it easier to for us to accept the disease zombies.

But when Romero’s Night of the Living Dead came out the world was in the throws of nuclear panic. (Not that we are too far off of that these days either.) After a recent re-watching of the Night of the Living Dead I was reminded that all of Romero’s zombies were brought back by radiation carried from a space probe from Venus. (Thanks NASA.)

So be on the lookout for signs of radiation poisoning, fallout warnings or other signs of radiation. In the event that radioactive zombies do come into being it’s likely that you won’t even realize radiation is the culprit until it’s too late so prepare ahead of time by being informed and knowing what to do in case of radiation.

creeps

Reanimation by way of parasitic infestation is a terrifying form of zombification though not one of the most common in mammals.

Remember Night of the Creeps? It was a pretty goofy but fun zombie flick back in the 80′s.

The story was based around parasitic organisms from space that entered the human brain, laid eggs, gestated, then burst out destroying the host. If the host were dead, even long dead, the parasitic little slugs would still be able to reanimate the body into a fierce threat. Most of their victims were the recently dead or the unwilling living which is why I noted above that the “Creeps” would likely be the recently deceased. In some cases these creeps were even mistaken for humans.

For more on how parasites can “zombify” the living check out my early post on Zombie snails.

haitian zombies

One of the underlying problems with zombies is defining why they are the way they are. The movies have given us all sorts of explanations from chemicals to alien slugs in our bodies. The Hatian voodoo zombies were some of the first to be put on the silver screen in 1932′s White Zombie. There, they were recently deceased forced back to life with the help of voodoo and forced into labor. In some stories about them including White Zombie, Haitian zombies aren’t dead, they are simply the mesmerized victims of a voodoo curse. (For more on White Zombie check out my post here.)

By their nature zombies defy logic in that the damage they take from rotting or being attacked would stop any “living” thing. Loss of fluids would mean improper chemical reactions in the body and limited brain activity. Yet zombies keep on going despite all that. It’s an illogical but fun and magical story telling element.

I’ll be honest and say I think magic is pretty much a crock of shit. (And yeah I know how silly it is to be posting that sort of statement on a blog about zombies in the first place.) Regardless of my own biased disregard for the magical or semi-religious, it is a strong element in the telling of zombie tales and like all things religious it’s a great way to explain away all things logical.

preggers

I decided to hold off on posting this particular image until AFTER my wife had the baby. Which she did! I’m happy to say that I”m now the proud father of a bouncing baby boy who I love very VERY much. This image . . . is disgusting. 
preggers
This is really a two for one deal as I’ve also included this baby zombie at no extra cost! Some things about this zombie type should be pretty obvious. The pregnant zombies are only female and the babies themselves are harmless, not having teeth, muscular development or the size to do any harm. The female zombie may show signs of pregnancy like an enlarged midsection or enlarged breasts due to the child. This might not be readily apparent however.

Ok, this is one of the most horrifying zombie types there is. In Dawn of the Dead, Romero introduced a character who was pregnant who existed as a constant backdrop of tension. Viewers were always waiting for something to go wrong or something bad to happen to her. When the remake came out they filmmakers revisited that character and took it to it’s obvious conclusions.

It freaked me the hell out to be honest.

One fascinating thing about this zombie is a real-world phenomenon called coffin birth in which the child is birthed after the mother and child have died and begun to rot. The gases and pressure built up in the rotting corpse force the baby out.