Ah, zombies. Those things that, if you ask my mother, are black and white and stripey. (We think she may have got them muddled up with zebras, but shhh…)
I can’t watch zombie films or TV programmes, they give me nightmares for weeks – even Shaun of the Dead and that’s barely even a ‘real’ zombie film. I’m just lame.
Books however, I can deal with books. I actually quite enjoy zombie stories – there’s something about the disconnect of reading about zombies instead of watching them that takes them from nightmare inducing to enjoyably creepy.
The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant is one of my favourite series about zombies – it is clever and witty and well thought through, deliciously terrifying and the characters are great. I have blogged about the books a few times before so they may well sound familiar. You should go read them, they are awesome. (Review of Feed and a post about the main character, Georgia)
I also quite enjoyed Tim Lebbon’s Coldbrook – more of a traditional horror story than the Newsflesh books and not quite as brilliant but still very much worth reading. (Review here.)
I think the reason zombies are such great ‘bad guys’ for scary stories is because they seem the most plausible out of all the undead creatures. Vampires are easy to scoff at, but with the forward movement of science and the human tendency to do things we know we shouldn’t, the idea of someone working out how to reanimate a corpse and getting it a bit wrong is entirely plausible. Or a modified-virus that renders people brainless but shuffling around in a deadly manner? Also scarily plausible. Or even something all the more gruesome – people’s hearts and/or minds being replaced with something such as clockwork, rendering them technically dead but still functioning to somebody’s orders. A great example of this at work is Liesel Schwarz’s A Clockwork Heart (Review here).
There are so many different ways you can explore the ideas behind zombie and they can be fun to play with – there are no rules for their cause, creation or overall behaviour that you ultimately HAVE to follow which means the variety of zombie stories out there is endless. There have even been zombie romance novels and adaptations of classics to involve zombies (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is going to be a movie soon, I kid you not) – they can be great fun as well as mind-numbingly terrifying. I had a go at writing a zombie story myself a couple of years ago, too. (I published it on my blog in three parts: Part I, Part II and Part III)
So yes, zombies. Generally not black and white striped in my experience, but still awesome.