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The “Our Zombies Are Different” Trope, Explained


The zombie craze was a fun & interesting period in pop culture history. Inexplicably, for a couple of years there, mankind was thrilled to see shambling corpses in just about any context. The idea feels overplayed today, but artists across every medium made a respectable effort to keep zombies fresh by changing some elements around.

Most people have a favorite zombie story, especially with so many unique takes on the idea to choose from. Whether it’s Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead, or even Frankenstein, each has a dedicated fanbase. However, a devoted fan would know that those three works take very different approaches to a seemingly simple concept.


RELATED: 8 Horror Games That Twist The Zombie Mythos

Everyone knows the classic zombie. Derived from old Haitian myth, the concept appeared in the occasional horror story throughout the 19th & 20th centuries. The idea was widely popularized by George A. Romero’s classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. Despite that film never using the word, it’s still seen today as the guidebook for what a zombie is. Slow-moving flesh-eating corpses granted new life through some unspecified supernatural power. Anyone who they kill joins their ranks, & they can only be stopped by decapitation or immolation. This baseline definition of the zombie is fine for purists, but what if they could move faster? What if they developed strange mutations that changed their physiology? What if they weren’t even reanimated corpses? The countless iterations of the classic zombie paved the way for the “Our Zombies are Different” trope.

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The ur-example of deliberately different zombies is unquestionably 28 Days Later. Danny Boyle’s well-regarded 2002 horror film defines itself as the foil to the movie that started the movement. Screenwriter Alex Garl& sought to redefine the nascent zombie film genre with a vastly different take on the central creature. The film introduced the Infected, zombie-like beings who were fiercely intelligent & extremely fast. Where Romero’s zombies moved like an all-consuming swarm & attacked their prey with sheer physical mass, Garl& & Boyle’s hunted & killed like wolves. The Infected aren’t technically living dead, they’re humans turned feral by a nightmarish disease. Alternatively, the transformation could be due to a parasite that spreads through zombification. This is one of the go-to options for creators looking for a more scientific explanation for their zombie story. The Infected are not driven by hunger, they’re a living infection that seeks to spread to new hosts. In popularity, the Plague Zombie concept has overtaken the original living dead model. See Resident Evil‘s viruses or the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead for more examples.

Another common alteration of the classic zombie is the Artificial Zombie. These creatures are living corpses, but their new lease on life is attained through more underst&able means. Mad scientists frequently bring lost love interests, dearly departed friends, & unlucky strangers back from the grave. The go-to example is still Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, arguably the original zombie story. The unnamed “monster” is constructed from disinterred body parts & reanimated through unspecified medical science. Scientifically crafted zombies tend to be more sentient than the traditional or Plague varieties. Look to Herbert West of the Re-Animator franchise. His creations Open as the typical Romero zombie, but his incredible serum eventually grants its victims their physical capabilities & a twisted version of their personality. There are countless ways a fictional scientist can beat the grim reaper, from electricity to nanomachines.

There are a ton of reasons why an artist would devise an alternative zombie. During the concept’s heyday, any project with a shambling corpse on the box would sell. Over time, fans were starved for variety, leading creators to make logical changes. Different zombies can set the tone for a specific type of story. A typical undead zombie wouldn’t quite fit into a science fiction story, but a horrific plague or a rogue scientist feels right at home. In some cases, a creator might feel that the st&ard shamblers wouldn’t serve as a suitably threatening antagonist. This is the motivation behind most video games, which need a variety of enemies of all shapes & sizes. Finally, unique zombies can also be used to poke fun. The zombie apocalypse changes sharply in tone if the explanation turns out to be sketchy freezer food, for example.

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Though it can feel like a desperate attempt to st& out, the “Our Zombies are Different” trope has added almost endless variety to a genre that would otherwise become stagnant. Mankind hasn’t fully gotten over zombie overload, but the concept hasn’t gone away either. Some of the most beloved ongoing & upcoming media franchises still have some version of a zombie at their center. Whether fans consider every take on the concept to be equal or only accept the original model, there’s a stunning amount of creativity that can Advance out of an idea as simple as a corpse that can walk.

MORE: 10 Anime That Twist The Zombie Mythos


Source link gamerant.com
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