Small Talk

What’s up with zombies?

I am trying to understand the growing attraction of zombies.

And that is an oxymoron, right there. But there is no denying that zombies have left the back alleys of New Orleans and can probably get the best table at any restaurant in Hollywood.

What were my clues? My first hunch was Brad Pitt starring in “World War Z.” Then I began hearing more comedy bits about how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. The final blow is the dozens of lengthy teasers for the new TV series “In the Flesh,” and hearing the SyFy channel was launching “Z Nation.” So much for handsome leading actors.

Decaying flesh? Murderous tendencies? Apparently, I have no stomach for icky monsters. It’s probably from the same gene as my distaste for road kill and roller coasters. I prefer my bad guys a bit tidier. I’m such a wimp, I never really got over “The Blob,” which was pretty repugnant for its time. Even Jabba the Hut was pushing it for me.

All that yuckiness makes a good villain, I suppose, but it makes me want to turn that channel or, at least, look the other way. I don’t think that is the reaction movie-makers are looking for. Fortunately for them, sadly for me, I am over 40 and no longer fall into their target audience.

So when did zombies become big box office? I know they date way back to voodoo in Haiti. Research says the first zombie movie was made in 1932, but there seems to be a real jump in their popularity starting in the late ‘70s. It appears we Baby Boomers have bred a zombie-loving generation. I choose not to dwell on what might mean.

Wait! There was one zombie I actually liked, even as he creeped me out. Billy Butcherson, from “Hocus Pocus,” even took up with the humans. You just know that stripped him of any real standing in the zombie community. I’m pretty sure I heard him called the black sheep of the zombie world, and his mother is, of course, mortified. (From the Latin, “to kill.” Get it?)

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who has become a vegetarian movie watcher. Contact her at