The Walking Dead

I’ll be honest up front about this one. I’m a complete and total coward who can’t handle horror most of the time (and I seem to stretch the definition of horror).

Seriously, when I was about fifteen and friend and I rented Pet Sematary it took us about five hours to watch it because we’d have to pause it and go do something else for a few minutes. This in broad daylight, too. And for about a year after that I’d hop onto my bed from about three feet away just in case a kid with a scalpel was hiding underneath it. Actually, looking back, that’s the origin of my stuffing piles of storage boxes and things under the bed. Practically, it saves space, yes, but it also means there’s no space for monsters underneath.

Another movie, and feel free to laugh, which gave me nightmares for half a decade was Robocop 2. No joke. That scene where the evil villain is lying in a hospital bed, conscious but paralysed and on a respirator, and another person looks him in the eye, unplugs his stuff and stands there watching him die? Yeah, years of waking up in a sweat to see if anyone had unplugged me while my eyes were closed.

Which is why I’m completely surprised at how much I’m enjoying The Walking Dead (The TV show, I haven’t yet checked out the comic books the show is based on). Some of the guys at work had taken to watching it during the lunch hour, and I avoided it for a while, then sat in on one, and another, and now I think I’m hooked.  I think a big part of it that for whatever reason, despite the roving herds of zombies, it doesn’t strike me as horror. For one thing, the zombies aren’t always around, and the characters spend a lot of time just interacting with each other. They grow closer, they fall apart; they stick together, or don’t. They do so much more than just try to outrun death, though it does hang over them constantly. And the zombies aren’t the only thing causing them problems. Maybe that’s the key for me. Yes there are dead people walking around trying to eat you, but there’s the issues of limited food, water, medical supplies – all the things we take for granted.

Plus, ya know, zombies aren’t really all that frightening. Vampires and werewolves and zombies have never been very scary to me, mostly because they never really did anything scary. Killing people? Meh. Monsters are supposed to kill people, that’s what they’re there for. Most monsters have never been able to hold a candle to the horror present when one person does something to another. Zombies and vampires, in a sense, turn the things we know and love against us, but they can get away with it because they aren’t those things anymore, as opposed to the kid with the scalpel from Pet Sematary or the person you watch as they pull the plug on your life.

For The Walking Dead – at work we’re into season two and I’m trying to get caught up on season one at home. Some quick research tells me that there’s a fair bit of difference between the show and the comic series, so I may look into those as well. I’m curious to dig deeper into what it is about this show that keeps me interested without giving me nightmares.

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