Why are Zombies so Scary?

Since I do not feel like writing a book review today, I want to try some therapy write an article about why zombies are so scary.  They’re just walking hunks of dead meat, right?  Wrong.  Zombies, particularly in YA fiction, represent so much of what we as humans fear and I hope I can explore why they scare me us so much.  Warning: these pictures are not for the faint of heart.

1.  They are basically designed to kill/infect us.

In most new zombie tales, zombies are able to sense and track us humans.  Whether they are slow or fast, they pursue us with a single-minded determination that’s unmatched anywhere and because they lack any coherent thoughts, the only thing on their minds is food.  And guess what: we are their only (or sometimes main) source of food.  Therefore, they will do anything to get at us.  Their predatory instinct is, in my opinion, what makes them so terrifying.  Unlike most human villains in fiction, they lack redeeming qualities like mercy, so there is no chance of escaping from them once they have you cornered.

2.  They represent a loss of control for us.

We humans have quite a bit of control over our lives and those of the animals and plants around us.  But are we able to control zombies?  Of course not.  They take over the world in pretty much all fiction/movies/video games/whatever they are featured in.  A zombie apocalypse would change the lives of everyone on this planet irrevocably and that’s what is truly terrifying.  Humans are afraid of change and I don’t think things can get more different than zombies taking over.  Let’s face it; most of us would end up as zombies anyway.  But the survivors would have to have the courage, strength and knowledge to survive in such a changed world.  As much as we don’t like to admit it, being part of the small group of survivors would suck.

3.  They could actually exist at some point.

Do you remember how outbreaks in popular culture usually begin in a lab?  Well, scientists today are experimenting with some pretty weird stuff.  As unlikely as it is, there is still that tiny possibility that zombies could at one point become real in the future.  That plausibility factor—that sense of it could happen here—is what scares many of us.  Reading about or watching how the survivors live in constant fear of zombies strikes a chord with many of us because we can put ourselves in those survivors’ shoes.  And for most of us, those shoes don’t fit very well.

Well, I hope I’ve explained why zombies are so scary, but if you have any other reasons why zombies terrify you, please let me know.  I think group therapy a discussion would be beneficial to both of us.  After all, I’ve been terrified of zombies since I watched Dawn of the Dead at the tender age of eight.  It’s about time I got over this irrational fear.

8 comments

  1. kyllingsara

    I’ll tell you why they’re scary. Zombies are like cows. All seemingly empty inside, while all they are doing is plotting how they’re gonna trample you, eyes following your every movement…

  2. Nova Amiko

    Zombies are the ‘living’ embodiment of death – what we fear the most…

    …or cows. I like ‘cow theory better’ – it helps me to sleep better at night.

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