By: Chris Fenton
Today, there is no point in hiding your face during a movie about zombies. Chances are the movie has humor and satire in it. Open your eyes, because there are zombies happening. The reason there is humor and satire in, what is supposed to be scary zombie movies, is because they are pointing out flaws that would not make sense for us to be afraid of in the first place. For example, the original zombies, before 28 Day later (2002) couldn’t run. This would make it funny to run from mindless things that just walk. Zombies have been scary, threatening, and just uncomfortable to people for as long as they have been around. So it only makes sense to humor people’s feelings, by making them feel humor.
“Why didn’t the zombie cross the road? He was gutless” (Zombiejokes n.pag).
We usually think of zombies as a threat or as scary monsters, but we do not have to look at them in that way. “The shuffling horde are horror-movie staples, but they’re lately skyrocketed in fame with humorous takes as in the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk Books 2009) and the movie Shaun of the Dead (2004), which follows a sad –sack salesman during the zombie apocalypse” (Pappas n. pag). It seem that now-a-days, zombies are just used for audience reaction, such as thrill or a scare effect or even make them comical. I personally find the zombies in the movie Land of the Dead (2005) to be funny, because of the way they continue doing the daily routines they did, before they became their lifeless selves. This includes; holding a gas pump, or pushing a stroller. Even the way they all try using weapons is kind of funny.
“What does it take to be a zombie? DEADication” (Zombiejokes n.pag).
We find zombies funny, because we already know so much about them. Think about it, the crusty old puns like vampires suck and zombies bite, would not make since if you had no idea what either of those were or meant. The reason is, because comedy is a relative trigger to what you know, with surprise and realization “Something is funny because it captures a moment, it contains an element of simple truth, it is something that we have always known for eternity and yet are hearing it now out loud for the first time” (Cook n.pag). Hearing it or seeing it, the satire in zombie movies have become more and more common with in the last 10 years. I personally think this is, because when things in movies get popular there is always someone that does not take it as seriously as it should. This leads to satire books, spoof movies, and even commercial advertisements. Zombies are represented as dead, but still have the ability to move around. Since they are blank slates, you can even make them talk, or give them character, like in the Starburst commercial, “the zombie starts talking to a boy and an older gentleman about how they are boring him to death” (Aera102 n.pag). There is as much comedy as there are zombies, so it only makes since to have all these jokes.
“Why don’t zombies eat comedians? They taste funny” (Zombiejokes n.pag).
Not only are zombies popular in visual media: like television and the internet, but books as well. There is no wonder that they made books about zombies, and most likely there was comedy in those as well. There are books like Warm Bodies (Marion, 2011), Pat the Zombie: A Cruel (Adult) Spoof (Top 10 Funniest Zombie Books, 2011), Jack and Jill Went Up to Kill: A Book of Zombie Nursery Rhymes (Top 10 Funniest Zombie Books, 2011), and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk books, 2009). With all these books there are hundreds of laughs and chuckles. They also point out the fact that zombies are silly creatures “My friend “M” says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile, because your lips have rotted off” and they know it (Quotes n.pag). There is also comedy in zombies being comfortable with being their zombie selves “Thank you, sir, but I am perfectly content being the bride of death” (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Quotes n.pag). Books really help audience realize that zombies do not need to be taken so seriously, by pointing out things in full and complete details.
Mostly books are boring and made into film. This started most of the modern day features about the undead. Zombie movies have been around since the 30s and have changed a lot since then. The first zombie movie was 1932’s White Zombie. It’s not very funny (at least not intentionally funny) and it definitely isn’t scary. Since then, there have been hundreds of zombie movies made, and I think the best ones are a combination of both. Some use funny moments to relieve the tension between zombie attacks; others use zombie attacks to break up the funny moments (Bennett n.pag).
Over time, zombies were able to spawn alone, without help of being summoned. Also zombies have become human flesh eaters, crawlers, runners, jumpers, and even talkers. With all these changes and the zombie being a clean slate; they have become an easy target to poke fun at. The satire is so clearly available, because of the variety of possibilities you can give a zombie. The fact that they run, it would be funny if a chain snaps their neck back. The fact that they eat human flesh, maybe they are on a Jenny Craig diet, where they only eat people named Jenny or Craig (Zombies on Diets n.pag).
There are hundreds of comedy zombie movies with plenty of funny bone crunchers. Such as Shaun of the Dead (2004), Dead and Breakfast (2004), Boy Eats Girl (2005), Die and Let Live (2006), and Zombieland (2009). There are even a few funny moments in zombie movies that are not necessarily labeled as comedies, such as Dawn of the Dead (2004). During the movie the survivors trapped in the shopping mall, kill zombies to kill time, as of doing this, they call out celebrities that the zombies look like: including Burt Reynolds, Rosie O ‘Donnell, and Jay Leno. There is also a funny moment in the original 1978 version, Dawn of the Dead, where a character stops to take his blood pressure and gets attacked by a zombie at the same time. Also in Night of the Living Dead some may find it funny, when the character Johnny says, “They’re coming to get you Barbra.” That is a little playful in a sadistic way. There are probably plenty of other funny moments in non-comical zombie movies, but that is depending on your sense of humor.
“What did the zombie do after her dumped his girlfriend? He wiped” (Zombiejokes n.pag).
Whether you feel this way or not, I believe there is comedy in everything. So zombies should not be any different. Ever since the zombie movies came out, they have changed quite a bit. Zombies have gone from mindless indentured servants, to vicious killing cannibals, to another thing to laugh about. This proves that what is scary today, may be funny tomorrow. Zombies are just another way to laugh at ourselves. You have to laugh at life, or it will eat you, much like zombies.
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