Neglected zombies get their time ... in the shade

Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:52am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Zombies, the ugly cousin of more popular creatures such as werewolves and vampires, are experiencing a boost of fame that will finally get them some attention, according to Otto Penzler.

The editor of a recent anthology devoted solely to zombies believes they have been overlooked for too long.

"Vampires that we've seen from 'Dracula' to Anne Rice's Lestat, to the Stephenie Meyers characters -- they're well-dressed. They're articulate. They're educated. They have good manners. They just happen to have this little quirk of biting people in the neck and drinking their blood," Penzler said in a telephone interview.

"Zombies are really ugly; they don't look good in evening clothes. They're a different thing altogether. They're more extreme."

His anthology, "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!" looks at zombie stories from as early as those by Edgar Allan Poe and Sheridan Le Fanu to tales published within the last two decades, including one by Stephen King.

But as Penzler read through hundreds of stories, he realized there had been a fundamental shift in how the creatures were perceived with 1968 and George Romero's iconic "Night of the Living Dead" as the turning point.

"I had to expand the common usage these days, which now means bloodthirsty risen from the dead, want to eat brains and human flesh," said the writer who has also worked on a collection of vampire tales.

"But that's not always what zombies were, they were simply dead people -- dead people brought back to life. So many of the stories in the book are about that kind of zombie, not just the gory, brain-eating terrorists."   Continued...

<p>People dressed as zombies take part in a flashmob in Vienna, September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner</p>