Fans take a brainy bite out of zombie legends

·3 min read

Oct. 16—Americans have long had a fascination with zombies, the undead, or corpses that are supposedly revived through witchcraft. The modern zombie tradition derives from Haitian folklore, but the concept of the undead is seen throughout the world.

"Dawn of The Dead," "The Last Man on Earth," "Night of the Living Dead," "Warm Bodies," "Zombieland," "I Am Legend," "The Walking Dead," "iZombie," "World War Z," and "Zone One" are titles of movies, TV shows, and books regularly viewed and read this time of year. Librarians and students of the genre agree it's a factor in anticipation of the Halloween season.

"You can find the living dead in the folklore of every culture. It's as though our ancestors sat around the campfire and asked, 'What do we need to warn our grandchildren about"" said Anna Talbot, a graduate from Northeastern State University who received her Master of Arts in English and studied Gothic literature. "So it's interesting that in the folkloric tradition, the zombie has a feature that is universally recognized: mindless consuming."

In many portrayals in movies, TV, and books, people from diverse backgrounds must band together to defeat zombies.

"For a moment, you witness the walls of race, class, and gender fade into secondary issues next to preserving life. In that way, you can see that the zombie actually works as a uniting figure today. Nothing brings people together like a common enemy. Fear is funny like that," said Talbot.

Her favorite undead figure is Bram Stoker's Dracula, because he is both repugnant and admirable.

"You want to see his devilish plans succeed and be thwarted; you want to see him both escape death and meet his just end. And I just love that it is a Texan who deals him the fatal blow in the end," she said.

Kenny Limore is a manager of a commercial hunting facility in Stilwell and is also a zombie aficionado. His favorite shows are "Zombieland" and "The Walking Dead."

"'The Walking Dead' is my favorite, as far as movies and TV shows. It seems like it has a more real world application," he said.

Zombie enthusiasts, like Limore, recognize that zombies are fictitious, yet something about them is so appealing.

"I think it piques people's curiosity and makes them ask, 'what if?' People like to ask themselves, 'what if zombies hit?' Zombies hit all classes of people, and everyone knows it's not real, but it is still fun to talk about it. That's the fascination with it," said Limore.

Watching zombie movies can induce adrenaline into the body, a sensation many people enjoy.

"I am kind of a sissy, but I like to be scared. I really like 'Zombieland' because there's the humor that takes away from being scared. It's gory and gross," said Presley Phillips, mother of four in Tahlequah. "I grew up shooting, and we'd joke about the zombie apocalypse."

She also likes "World War Z," a Brad Pitt movie.

"In every other movie, they're not smart and they move slow. That one's pretty terrifying," she said.

One of her young sons is learning about zombies and is intrigued by them.

"We just found some old Halloween makeup, and he said, 'make me a zombie,'" she said.

Presley said that people are excited about zombies because the idea is fun to joke about.

"It's disgusting enough to make it interesting. It's gross, brain eating and oozing, but when you're watching those gross videos, you can't look away," said Phillips.

You're invited

Dewain's Place will be celebrating zombies on Halloween this year as it holds its Zombie Prom, which starts at 9 p.m. on Oct. 31. Members of the community are welcome to attend the formal event, dressed as zombies. For information, visit https://feedback.facebook.com/events/409534300711322/.

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