What is Undead Obsessed about?
Undead Obsessed is about my desire to find meaning in zombies. I’ve always wanted to write about them and figure out their deeper meaning, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. After watching World War Z, it all became clear. Horror films are not nice to science and scientists, and this is evident in zombie films, so that was where my focus took me. If you want the blurb from the book, here it is:
Jessica Robinson’s obsession with zombie films started when she was in junior high. Horror films are a great lens to examine concerns society has about modern science. Let’s face it, when it comes to horror movies, science has a bad reputation. Blind ambition, experimental serums, and genetic experiments are often blamed for the giant monster terrorizing the city or the reason aliens are taking human prisoners or the cause of the dead rising from the grave to consume living flesh.
Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, Robinson examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears. Robinson’s goal is to explore how zombies become a metaphor for our fears of science and what could happen if science gets out of hand.
Why not zombies? I have been fascinated with them since I first saw Night of the Living Dead, which was when I was in junior high. At the moment, they are the demon du jour. But it’s more than that. One of the things I find so fascinating is that they attempt to answer the question: what makes us human? And let me tell you, according to zombie films, the answer isn’t pretty.
What is your first scary memory?
Oh, man. That’s a tough one. One of the most vivid memories I have is centered on Gremlins. My sister and I used to share a room, and we had trundle beds. They used to be set up in an L shape, with my bed really low to the ground, and there was a space under my sister’s that was pitch black. I always imagined Gremlins would come out of there in the middle of the night and eat me.
You and I have talked a bit about your fears. How does your experience of the world differ from others, do you think?
Ha! Tamara always likes to joke that she doesn’t understand how I function in the world because of my fears (or neurosis, however you want to classify it).
I’m what you could classify as a nervous person—some people might say cynical. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, my mind instantly goes to the worst-case scenario. For example, when my family and I first moved into our new house, I was distressed that my kids’ bedrooms were at the front of the house. I had visions of cars losing control on icy streets and slamming into their bedrooms and killing them in their sleep. I always hang onto the rails when I go downstairs for fear I will trip and die. When I’m in a high place (doesn’t matter where, building, nature, wherever), I have visions that something will give way and I will plummet to my death—even if there are windows in front of me.
But I come by these thoughts honestly. My mom tells stories of how my grandmother would call randomly to tell her things like: make sure the girls don’t twirl their hair around their fingers because she just heard somewhere that a girl had done that and her finger fell off.
What is the single best book or movie about zombies and why?
I wish there was ONE book or movie about zombies that was the best, but there’s no way to narrow it down. There have been so many different people that have influenced and shaped the genre. I have some of my own favorites, which I will happily share.
First and foremost is Night of the Living Dead. This film changed how the zombie was portrayed (before they were created by Vodou magic) and gave us the shambling creatures most of us know and love today.
I’m also a huge fan of Day of the Dead (third film in the Romero triology), which gave us Bub, the zombie who remembered pieces of his humanity and used a gun to get revenge. This film is also a fantastic social commentary.
Then there’s 28 Days Later, which introduced the world to the fast zombie and allowed the creatures to evolve.
Book wise, I would say The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks took zombies out of the realm of fiction and turned it into a real threat. It also gave us practical ways to combat them.
I like zombies, so I can always find something to like about zombies.
Thank you so much for having me and asking these fun questions! I’m always down for chatting about the undead.
Thank you, Jessica. You rock! People: Pick up your copy today!