Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Other Dead Meat


I've already covered my preference for ghosts over vampires, so let's talk about zombies.

Zombies were the one monster that could -and did- cause me nightmares in my childhood. When I was a kid, there were certain network shows that consisted of grade-B movies, mostly sci-fi or horror. My older brother and sister were really into these shows, so while I got my share of Garfield Goose and Captain Kangaroo after school, I also got a healthy helping of The Early Show or Science Fiction Theater. The Early Show, especially, with its logo of a cheeping bird (presumably the early bird), presented movies like "The H-Man," "Zombies of Mora Tau," and "Creature with the Atom Brain." Some of these movies were American, some of them were foreign, and all of them were cheesy and done in black and white. But they were enough to scare the bejesus out of me.

"The H-Man" featured people literally dissolving out of their clothes. If I remember correctly, one lady bought it in the lounge area of the women's rest room. All they found were her high heels, her purse, and her little cocktail dress. I was too terrified to use public bathrooms for months.

But the other two movies mentioned, "Zombies of Mora Tau" and "Creature with the Atom Brain," are true zombie flicks. There is something frankly horrifying about a recently-dead human being coming after you with unwavering persistence, despite where you go or try to hide. I've never liked being chased, not even in a game of tag. The idea of being chased by something that is not quite dead should have been enough to send me to therapy as an adult. And to make matters worse, of course these things always had mangled facial features and body parts that were decaying away from them. (When Stephen King said "I'm coming for you, but I'm coming very slowly because little bits of me keep falling off" he about summed it all up in a nutshell.)

I did have nightmares after "Zombies of Mora Tau." And those guys moved liked dead geezers. Nowadays, zombies can move at cheetah-speed, scale walls, leap like Superman, and come at you from the ceiling if need be. Despite this, somehow they are not as frightening to me as those old dead guys who couldn't shuffle more than a foot per second. Those older zombies seemed more dogged, inevitable, and contentious than their speedier counterparts, though I have no idea why.

Zombies. No one wants to become one, and no one wants to be near one. In other words, can't live with them, can't necessarily kill them.

That is why despite so many of my friends and relatives preparing for the zombie apocalypse (something they all assure me is imminent) by sharing information, detailed anecdotes, and books filled with anti-zombie wisdom, I'm still clinging to my ghost stories. Call it denial. Call it tunnel vision. Call it what you will - I prefer my dead to be corpse-free. Is that so much to ask?

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