The Survivalist Fetish in the Zombie Genre: Part 2

The tools for survivalContinued from Part 1.

The modern zombie genre began in earnest with Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend and George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead. Both stories focus on hordes of shambling undead attacking the human survivors of the apocalypse, typically by besieging the shelter of the survivors. From these sources sprang an entire genre of zombie apocalyptic fiction. Romero’s trilogy of Dead films inspired literally thousands of zombie films and novels. The Zombie Movie Database website currently counts over 4600 films which contain zombies. However, the zombie genre also holds great sway in popular culture. Video games like the Resident Evil and Dead Rising series, Dead Island and Killing Floor are all extremely popular, selling millions of copies. Clearly the zombie holds great appeal to both the horror enthusiast and mainstream audiences.

Like the survivalist apocalypses, the zombie story makes the prevailing social institutions incompetent or malevolent, such as the sheriff mistaking Ben for a zombie in Night of the Living Dead or the military using nuclear weapons on a city overrun by zombies in Return of the Living Dead. Many times, the zombie apocalypse is brought on by the old order, either as a government or corporate experiment or accident. Furthermore, any help provided by the government is limited, suspect or worthless, such as plutocracy established in the film Land of the Dead. In any case, the social order quickly collapses and anarchy prevails in the typical zombie genre formula.

Continue reading

The Survivalist Fetish in the Zombie Genre: Part 1

An armed survivalist Introduction: I gave a presentation at the 2007 Popular Culture Association Conference about the link between the survivalist movement and the zombie genre. I’ve divided my presentation into two blog posts. In part 1, I focus on the survivalist movement while in the second part, I discuss its connection to popular zombie narratives. The second part will be posted Tuesday.

Civilization crumbles apart as the Other lay siege to its last bastions of safety. Millions die or are converted to the Other during the assault. Only small groups of isolated citizens survive the apocalypse safe from the Other. They collect stockpiles of weapons and supplies to build a better future, utilizing craft and military skills to maximize the effectiveness of their tools. Many times, the survivors are overcome by the Other, but die in a blaze of glory before succumbing to the horde. The post apocalyptic world is a new frontier where only the skilled and wise adapt and survive. This story formula is not unique to the zombie genre. Survivalists have been telling similar stories since the start of the Cold War. While zombie aficionados do not sincerely believe their tales of apocalypse will one day come true, both the survivalist and zombie mythos share several key motifs. In particular, the concept of bricolage is central to both genres, as the protagonists of these stories overcome the Other (in the form of the undead or various barbaric armies of the New World Order) through skilled tool use in a variety of fields.   In this sense, these stories aim for the same goal, the reassertion of individuality over the savage multitudes of the world.

Continue reading

8 Great Zombie Songs for Halloween

Dance the night away to zombie musicFestering hordes of shambling undead monsters may not seem like a good subject for music but zombies have inspired many great songs. While thousands of songs have been written about the undead, most are about death, the afterlife and revenge. Zombies, on the other hand, have inspired love ballads, protest songs and pop hits. It seems that musicians have found the shambling hordes to be quite adaptable as subject matter.

This is not meant to be an inclusive list but inspiration for your own zombie themed playlist for your upcoming Halloween parties and zombie walks.

1. Re: Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton:

Jonathan Coulton is best known for two songs: Still Alive and this one. Re: Your Brains is about a zombie named Bob singing to a human survivor named Tom trapped in mall, asking him to open the doors so he can eat the human’s brains. The zombie is extremely articulate for the undead and makes a convincing argument for Tom to just let the undead in:

I don’t want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan?
Spend your whole life locked inside a mall?
Maybe that’s OK for now but someday you’ll be out of food and guns
And you’ll have to make the call
I’m not surprised to see you haven’t thought it through enough
You never had the head for all that bigger picture stuff
But Tom, that’s what I do, and I plan on eating you slowly

The song has become a major hit in geek circles. It was included in the game Left 4 Dead 2 as an Easter egg. Cycle through the songs on a jukebox in the game and it will eventually land on Re: Your Brains.

Because Coulton released it with a Creative Commons license, anyone can make a derivative work based on it as long as they credit him and don’t make money off of it. This has led to multiple music videos and fan works across the Internet. I even used it as the song for an episode of my podcast Role Playing Public Radio.  If you ever want to create a zombie themed Youtube video, Re: Your Brains is the perfect go to choice for music.

Continue reading

October is Zombie Appreciation Month!

The North American Necrological Research Institute designates October as Zombie Appreciation Month. They aren’t alone – even the state of Kansas has declared October as “Zombie Preparedness Month”  So to celebrate, we’re having a sale and releasing some great free content for you all!


Zombies of the World is $13.95 with FREE shipping, this month only!
Ebook editions are $2.99
The Survivor Safety Poster is only $7.50 with FREE shipping
The Species Poster is now only $9.95 with FREE shipping

This isn’t all though. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we’ll post brand new zombie-related content to our blog like:


  • The conclusion of the Zombies of the World web series
  • Survivalism and the zombie apocalypse: a two part essay
  • Songs of the dead: great zombie songs you should hear
  • Behind the scenes: planning Zombies of the World
  • The new wave in foreign zombie films
  • A new excerpt from Zombies of the World
  • A podcast of Ross Payton’s Gencon 2011 Zombie Panel
  • and more!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog (RSS feed here)