I haven’t watched all the zombie shows, but I watched Night of the Living Dead (1968) and The Omega Man (1971) a long time ago, and Shaun of the Dead (2004) a few years ago. A month ago we watched The Last Man on Earth (1964), an old Vincent Price flick in which the infected folk were a lot like vampires. All these films were loosely based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend (1954). Matheson wrote part of Last Man‘s screenplay, and Living Dead and Omega Man were each influenced by their predecessors.
Matheson’s vampire-zombies didn’t move slowly, didn’t stumble around, did use firearms and other hand weapons, and actually replaced uninfected humans on Earth, but most zombie films and tv shows feature strong but slow, thick-headed zombies that are more like the Hollywood mummy than the Hollywood vampire. Omega Man’s “Family” were fairly spry, but chose not to use technology, which made life possible for Charlton Heston and his new friends.
The underlying morality of zombie flicks is that zombies are no longer human, and that you are doing them a service by killing them even more – which usually involves separating the body from the brain, or destroying the brain. Since film zombies rarely use firearms or other weapons on the uninfected, the premise allows for a great deal of weapon brutality by otherwise sympathetic characters towards hordes of sick, but dangerous, strangers – some of whom may be former loved ones. (Blam! “Sorry about that, Uncle Bob!”).
Reading the news, however, it occurs to me that Hollywood could breathe new life into the genre by making films about armed zombies that shoot unarmed, uninfected people. We actually are infested by zombies – gun zombies – who carry guns and shoot uninfected people, each other or even themselves. Many gun zombies give their children guns and then act surprised when they shoot another child. One gun zombie was shot when her child reached into her purse and found a gun; another shot herself in the eye as she was adjusting her pistol in a brassiere holster.
Gun zombies don’t stumble or shuffle or moan, but they are greatly influenced by their firearms, and do spend a great deal of time preoccupied with “situational awareness” and the Federalist Papers. Situational awareness is the task of deciding how to best shoot anyone you meet in case they try to shoot you. I suppose it saves on small talk. Often they train by firing at pictures of movie zombies, or black zombies, or women zombies.
Sometimes the influence of owning a weapon becomes too much and a gun zombie will snap and shoot someone at random, or maybe just their ex-wife and kids. Other times they spend a lot of time planning to shoot as many people as possible, after which they will shoot themselves for good measure.
Some gun zombies wear uniforms, and are essentially allowed to shoot uninfected people, or even uninfected dogs, if they feel threatened. Not surprisingly they often do just that.
The only way to stop a gun zombie is to separate the body from the firearm. That, however, has become increasingly difficult because many non-zombies are convinced that guns will protect them from gun zombies. Buying more guns, of course, just leads to more gun-zombies, but no one seems to realize they are infected even when a bullet is heading their way. Even worse, many legislators are deathly afraid of the powerful gun-zombie lobby.
All I need is a title, like The Last Unarmed Man on Earth, or Night of the Good Guys with Guns. The screenplay will practically write itself.