From the early proto-undead of HP Lovecraft and Mary Shelley to the ghouls of George Romero which revolutionised the horror genre, zombie fiction has been a big deal for decades, scaring countless people and providing social commentary through the sheer horror of an all-encompassing plague of rotting cannibals.
The genre did fall back into the underground around the 1980s, but with the new millennium it came back to life and is now enjoying success in the mainstream. The fact that Brad Pitt – one of the highest-profile actors in decades – produced and starred in a zombie film is testament to the genre’s success.
Not even Nottingham is safe from the zombie plague. At the end of this month, the living dead will descend on Sherwood Forest for Zombie Infection, an event which will see teams of people try to complete missions while surviving a legion of ghouls.
Just to highlight the popularity of the event, tickets have completely sold out, and bookings for next year are already being made. Which is a huge shame because, by the time I found out about the event, they had all gone. Likewise, when 2.8 Hours Later was hosted in the city two years ago, I was away that week and missed out.
And given that the company has now gone bust, I’ve missed the boat, but luckily Zombie Infection does events all across the country and, given they’re based in Sheffield, it’s not too far to travel for their flagship event – in an abandoned factory.
I’ve always been a fan of zombie fiction, ever since I played a demo of Resident Evil 2 and, not knowing how to control my character, watched in horror as a circle of ghouls slowly devoured the helpless policeman.
Let’s face it; zombies are the most terrifying horror villains out there. Whereas other monsters tend to lurk in some godforsaken haunt somewhere for confused teenagers to stumble upon on their search for somewhere to spend the weekend with their peers – and even then they’ll usually just kill you – zombies mutate you into one of them; they multiply, they spread, they come for you and your loved ones, and eventually they destroy all life as we know it. As World War Z says, they are “slate erasers”.
This is the key for the success of the zombie genre, from Romero’s films all the way to “The Walking Dead” and Max Brooks’s novels; the breakdown of civilisation often goes hand in hand with the threat of the living dead, and how the survivors deal with it all makes for some gripping fiction.
So if you were one of the fortunate ones to get tickets for Zombie Infection, enjoy your weekend and may the odds be ever in your favour. For those who aren’t so keen on the living dead, sorry to say this but they’re here to stay – and multiply.