Stuff Geeks Like #1: Zombies
Welcome to “Stuff Geeks Like”, a new regular feature on Six Demon Bag that explores the anthropological reasonings behind the attachments geeks form to a wide variety of genre media and culture. These posts will be familiar in structure and style to those found on the awesome blog, Stuff White People Like.
The legions of the undead have been a constant source of entertainment and obsession for geeks since the late 1960’s, serving as popular antagonists in countless films, TV shows, novels, comic books, and video games. Zombie geeks are a proud, tightly-knit subdivision of geek culture, openly displaying their love for zombies by wearing T-shirts, reading Fangoria magazine, and attending conventions where they can meet actors and actresses from zombie films and engage in social interaction with other zombie fans. Zombie geeks also have close ties with the geeks of the Heavy Metal community, sharing their affinity for long hair, black clothing, and bands that utilize horrific imagery such as Iron Maiden, Dio, and Slayer.
The prevalence of Zombies in geek culture can be traced back to the successful 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, directed by George Romero. Geeks regard Romero as the patron Saint of zombie filmmaking, holding him in the highest esteem. Though the concept of a re-animated corpse has existed for thousands of years (with its primary origins in Afro-Caribbean Voodoo culture), and several notable films such as 1932’s White Zombie pre-date Romero’s work by over 30 years, geeks firmly believe that the history of zombies begin and end with Romero. Do not attempt to dissuade a geek from this belief, as you will be met only with hostility and ridicule.
When questioned about their admiration for Romero, geeks will often cite his use of zombies as a device for social and political commentary. They will say things like, “Romero is holding a mirror up to society man! In Dawn of the Dead, he’s showing us that shopping malls, commerce, and urban sprawl are turning us into soulless, mindless, drones. WE’RE THE ZOMBIES, DUDE!”, in a thinly-veiled effort to sound scholarly and disguise their juvenile predilection for mutilation, decapitation, dismemberment, fake blood, latex intestines, exposed “scream queen” breasts, and cheesy synthesizer soundtracks.
If, by some strange reason, you wish to impress a zombie geek in a conversation, it would probably be beneficial to mention someone like Tom Savini. Savini is a powerful and well-loved figure in the zombie-geek community, as he was responsible for the majority of the gore and makeup effects in Romero’s movies. Saying something like, “Romero is fantastic, but Tom Savini is the man,too! That machete through the head effect he did as one of the bikers in Dawn was awesome and so innovative!” This will illicit an enthusiastically positive response from the geeks, and should protect you from further humiliation or social awkwardness in the presence of zombie fans.
Be cautious though, saying something like this may invite more probing questions from the zombie crowd, delving into obscure zombie trivia or even worse, they may attempt to engage you in a discussion of foreign zombie films such as Zombi 2 or directors like Lucio Fulci. If this happens, it’s best to just excuse yourself to the restroom or change the subject to another suitable geek topic that you are more knowledgeable about. Under no circumstances should you attempt to discuss the Resident Evil series as valid entries in the zombie genre. Doing so may result in permanent banishment from the zombie community. 28 Days Later is acceptable in some cases.
Many geeks, at some point in their lives, will inevitably feel “inspired” to make their own low-budget zombie movie using their parents’ video camera (or outdated video equipment borrowed from their local community college), thus adding to the countless thousands of no-budget zombie movies featuring nine or ten pasty high school/college students wearing torn flannel shirts and sloppily-applied $2.99 iParty makeup kits devouring overcooked linguine and cherry Jell-O “guts” off of some poor kid’s stomach.
Some geeks will make these films just for the fun of it, but a good percentage of geeks suffer from the delusional belief that their zombie project will be “unique and different”, and propel them into a successful and lucrative film career. This ludicrous pipe dream has been perpetuated by individuals such as Peter Jackson (Braindead), Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead series), and most recently, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), who have parlayed early low-budget zombie filmmaking into worldwide popularity and God-like status in the geek community. If a zombie geek approaches you to appear in his or her low-budget zombie film with promises of future fame, immediately run away. Fast. It’s likely the only audience this “film” will ever reach is the 10:45 AM “Intro To Video Production” class at (Insert town name) Technical Community College.