The Problem With Those East Coast Zombies

What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis...?! (photo from George Romero's Day of the Dead.)
What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis…?! (photo from George Romero’s Day of the Dead.)

I’ve been a zombie fan for a long time. The first zombie movie I ever saw was George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Ever since then I’ve been hooked. Like any archetype there have been good and bad stories featuring those flesh eaters. Dead Alive, Romero’s first three Dead movies, Sean of the Dead, Zombie Land, The Walking Dead (both in print and TV) and I even liked the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Recently, I started watching the SyFy Channel’s original show Z Nation. On the surface you can easily say its the poor man’s version of The Walking Dead.  But after a few episodes I realized it had more on par with Romero’s first three film, especially Day of the Dead, then anything in The Walking Dead.  I think the reason being is the military aspect to the show, especially early in the first season. While I was watching the show it got me to thinking about the fact that almost every zombie movie, book or comic is set on the East Coast. Yeah, I know there are exceptions to this rule, but you gotta admit the major ones at least are East Coast based. I don’t want to turn this into a nerd rage debate over geography in fiction but when’s the last time you saw a zombie story set somewhere other than the East Coast?

What I like about Z Nation is they at least are traveling across the country from East to West. They’re actually doing it and have a mission rather than randomly rambling around and ”developing characters” like some other shows…

The other night I watched episode 4, I think. It took place in the midwest and not only did it involve a characters dealing with going back to her old home town and memories of her husband but there was a tornado. A zombie spinning and flinging tornado. How awesome is it to see a zombie get pegged in the head by a flying tree limb during a tornado? Pretty damn awesome let me tell you! Beside the gore-hound appeal, the tornado add another level of danger for the characters. They were forced to take shelter, but yeah you guessed it there’s the threat of zombies being in those houses/buildings that would make perfect shelter from the storm.  That’s the benefit of having your story take place somewhere else than downtown Manhattan.

I would love to see how some characters would handle facing a horde of zombies in the middle of the mind numbing expansive flatness and openness of a state like Nebraska. I think I’d rather take a zombie bite to the face then drive through Nebraska again…  But from a story point of view it’d be pretty awesome cause you’d see the zombies with no problem from quite a distance but where would you hide? The next farm might be acres and acres away, and what if they’re occupied by some undead Cornhuskers?  Or what about a blizzard on the Great Plains? Avalanches in the Rocky Mountains? Zombies in Las Vegas?

I think that the United States is big enough to have a wide variety of settings for the zombie outbreak. I think limiting the setting to the East Coast is boring.

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