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The Zed Word – The Curious Ignorance of Zombiephiles in Zombie Movies

Why aren’t zombiephiles like us ever in Zombie Movies?

Anyone who’s seen a zombie movie like Shaun of the Dead knows the joke – the main characters in Zombie movies always seem to be completely ignorant of the nature, or even of the existence of Zombies. One Zombiephile asks, ‘What’s up with that?’

Dude, they're obviously zombies.

Dude, they're obviously zombies.

As a true lover of all things undying, I have to admit to harboring a secret fantasy that one day I’ll awaken to the sound of dull moans and thumping on my walls. Any zombiephile who’s ever looked around and wished the world was different can share in my secret; some of us keep bats near our beds, others have assembled small survival kits. Most every one of us has a copy of Max Brooks “The Zombie Survival Guide” somewhere in our bedrooms. The curious lack of zombiephiles within Zombie movies themselves is absolutely palpable; in fact, it’s so intrinsic to the very fabric of the Zombie movie that Shawn of the Dead openly satirizes it, blending ignorance of the nature of the Zombie into the everyday oblivion of daily life in London’s Crouch End.

From a writer’s perspective, an ignorance of Zombieness is an excellent plot element to handle – it’s always easier to introduce viewers to something you’re also introducing to the characters. Viewers respond best to heroes who are coming into a story in the same way that they, the viewers, are: ignorant and oblivious, typically. Casting a zombie movie full of characters who don’t know anything about Zombies allows writers to drag the viewers and characters along the same story. Over the years, though, the technique has become more than cheap; it’s become conspicuous, and that made it a target for satire.

“We don’t use the Zed Word,” Shawn tells us in the now classic Shaun of the Dead. It’s a tongue-in-cheek statement, a testament to the legacy of a movie genre that’s somehow remained ignorant of its own existence. It’s like everyone who’s ever seen a Zombie movie is suddenly gone and you’re left with an improbable bunch of people who must have been living under a rock or something. Who doesn’t know what a Zombie looks like these days? Who wouldn’t instantly recognize the whited-over eyes, blood-stained clothing, the gutteral moaning, the stink of rotting flesh? Who doesn’t know to shoot for the head, to destroy the brain?

Are we viewers really supposed to believe that the Zombiephiles of the world are somehow always the first ones to fall victim to the Zombie plague? Because I don’t remember seeing a single Zombie movie that had a well-educated, well-read Zombiephile in it. Perhaps that’s because Zombiephiles don’t make tactically poor decisions like holing up in undefendable places or lighting Zombies on fire.

As a result, most of the Zombie movies we see tend to suck. Is it so much to ask for a Zombie movie full of people like me and my fellow compatriots? People who are aware of the nature of global pandemic, of the unstoppable power of panic, of the need for preparation and planning? Someday I’d like to see the other Zombie movie, the one about all of the Zombiephiles who got wise and made scarce before they had to flee and live in a shopping mall…but since American like being led around by the nose so much, we’ll probably never see it. Kind of makes you wonder who’s the real Zombie, right?


  1. very true not only do i sleep with a bat next to my bed and spent countless hours planning but i share in your wish. however i think your wrong about people living under a rock to not know about zombies. talk to people at your workplace or school, not many people know much about zombies.

    -zombie sharks, they will fuck your shit up

  2. Since my time in the Army, I too sleep with a weapon in close proximity.

    I know of a guy who flew a script past me about a zombie outbreak in Chicago, and asked me for advice, I decided to change 2 key characters into zombiephiles just to make the story interesting. Our only problem now is there is nobody willing to allow us to shoot without money, We do not have that much between us, besides a couple cameras, and the balls enough to do our own stunts. Since then he and I parted ways, but I would love to sit down with someone and cook up a really tight script.

    Look for me on myspace I am SCORP look for the monkey at the keyboard.

  3. […] I have a sick fantasy that one day I’ll wake up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. I guess I’m not the only one with that fantasy […]

  4. GlowingOtaku

    This is all to true. Me and a few of my friends are actually working on an independent type film that should make most of you zombiephiles a little happier…we are actually working on a script for a couple of them. The main one is about 3 or 4 teens who get caught in the zombie apocalypse and use Maxs Brook’s “The Zombie Survival Guide” (who all 4 are familiar with already) to get out of the situation.
    If anyone wants to know when its out or more info bout our work hit me up at [email protected] (sorry to spam like that but i wanna spread the zombie love)

  5. Wookiejuice

    I would have to agree 100% with you guys. Man, I’d love to see a movie with at LEAST one zombiephile in the survival group, dishing out orders to the “brain dead” around them. “No, no, no! You have to shoot them in the head!” “We can’t stay here, we need something more defensible!”

    I’m hoping for both Rory and GlowingOtaku to get their movies off the ground, adn I’m also hoping that those with the ability to have huge budgets to make movies see posts like these, and start making some zombiephile friendly movies!

  6. Chardson

    The reason you never see zombiephiles in movies is that they were all smart enough to get themselves gone. Seriously, if you handle the necropocalypse right, you’ll never even see a zombie. Your biggest threats will be the elements and the living, and even that is easily manageable with some basic knowledge and some preparation. That’s a boring movie, folks.

Zombies moan. Zombiephiles moan back.

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