October 7, 2018

The Walking Dead Ruined Zombie Films

zombie walking
I am ashamed to admit that I have seen every episode of The Walking Dead up until the start of the current season. I finally came to my senses at the end of the previous season and decided that I was no longer going to watch a show I haven't enjoyed for several seasons out of some desperate hope that it might get better. Maybe it will get better, but I can't bring myself to care anymore. I have lost whatever interest I used to have in this particular soap opera.

Much to my horror, I have discovered that watching all those seasons of a show that treated zombies as meaningless set pieces may have ruined my love of horror films featuring zombies. Ever since I first saw Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), I have enjoyed zombie films. The last several I have watched, including some long-time favorites like Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and 28 Days Later, have fallen flat. Thanks to The Walking Dead, I seem to have lost my ability to find zombies scary or even to hold my attention.

This hit home for me recently when I put on Night of the Living Dead, turned off the lights, and settled in for a good scare from one of my favorite films. I have seen this one repeatedly, always enjoyed it, and seem to find something new that I'd never noticed before on each viewing. Not this time. This was the first time I've watched it and found myself feeling disappointed. It didn't do anything for me at all, and that was a shock.

I think part of this is due to habituation. By watching so much of The Walking Dead, I have immersed myself in zombie imagery. As a result, it seems almost mundane. Perhaps something similar would have happened if I had watched nothing but zombie-related movies for a period of time. Then again, I suspect that the real cause for this is not so much the frequency with which I've been exposed to zombie-related imagery but the disappointing way they have been used on The Walking Dead. As I mentioned above, they've become little more than scenery. They are no longer used to evoke fear, and they have not been a central part of the storyline for several seasons. I suppose one could argue that they never really were.

I had already decided that I was done with The Walking Dead before making this discovery. Now I just wish I had done this a few years ago. Maybe I could have continued to enjoy zombie films. I hope that this is temporary and reversible. I am going to steer clear of anything related to zombies for at least a few months before trying again. Of course, I may need to make an exception for Zombie Jesus.