Vinson: The zombie X factor

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Zombie: the supernatural power that, according to voodoo belief, may enter into and reanimate a dead body (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).

The first time I recall hearing the word “zombie” was back in 1968, when the movie Night of the Living Dead was released in theaters across the country. Over the years, since its debut in fall 1968, Night of the Living Dead has become a bit of a cult classic, having earned its way into both the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry.
To emphasize just how uninterested I was (and still am) in zombie-themed movies I can’t say whether I ever saw Night of the Living Dead. And, even if I did see it once-upon-a-time, I can’t tell you one single thing about it.

Though I was aware that zombie-type movies, TV programs, and video games had become immensely popular and commercially successful in recent years, a particular incident in late 2012 “slapped me upside the head,” to coin an old adage, and really got my attention:

I was inside Northside Video Store, in McMinnville, talking to the owner Dave Williams. We were discussing the movie Lincoln, directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, and starring actor Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had already ceased being shown at theaters; however, it had not yet come out on DVD.

(NOTE: Lincoln was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, and Daniel Day-Lewis won the Best Actor award, for his portrayal of Lincoln, at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony.)

I told Dave, once it came out on DVD, I thoroughly intended to rent and watch the movie Lincoln, due to its historical significance. Dave sorta chuckled and said that while I was waiting for Lincoln to come out on DVD, I should consider watching Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.

I chuckled back at Dave and commented along the lines of, “Well, as neurotic and far-out as Hollywood is these days, I wouldn’t put it past someone trying to make a nutty movie like that.”

“Trying to make a movie like that,” Dave retorted,” they’ve already made it! Go look on the shelf over there!”

Sure enough, pretty as you please, there on the shelf, was a DVD titled Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. And if that didn’t blow back my hair far enough, there was another one titled, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. To say the least, I was dumbfounded. How in the world do you dare mix in zombies and vampires with a man such as Abraham Lincoln? I asked myself.

Since that 2012 incident at Northside Video Store, I’ve given the “zombie” thing much thought, and have reached this conclusion: Though I still don’t care for zombie-themed movies and TV shows I am a major proponent of Freedom of Speech and the “creative process.” Therefore, people have the right to make, watch, and play zombie-themed material.

Enter the X FACTOR:

I voiced the above sentiment to a lady friend. After hearing me out, a cold expression replaced her smile, and she rebutted with this: “I’ve got a 16-year-old grandson—about 350 lbs.—who won’t get out of bed in the morning, won’t study, makes bad grades, and won’t mind his momma and daddy.

“He sits up all night eating pizza and watching these cheap, hardcore zombie movies . . . and I mean that’s all he’s interested in!

“You can talk ‘creative process’ all you want, Mike, but I believe all this zombie blood-and-gore crap is frying the brains and morals of our young people. If we, as a nation, don’t wake up, we’re gonna end up just like the Roman Empire. They went from being the greatest nation in the world to eating and drinking till they vomited, and cheering in a coliseum as they watched lions tear apart and eat humans . . . creative process, my ass!”

Just prior to submitting this column, I learned that scheduled for release in June 2014 is a movie titled, Rockabilly Zombie Weekend. Reckon it will include anything about Elvis Presley?

You must admit it is sufficient cause to pause, ponder, and wonder.

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