It's been close to a decade since the gore-spattered snowball of the zombie fad started rolling -- check, for example, George Romero's filmography, which boasts zero Whatever of the Dead flicks between 1990 and 2004 and five in the time since -- and as this Halloween approaches, it's once again reaching a critical mass. There were no less than two zombie events over this last weekend alone -- Denver's Zombie Crawl (with a pre-party and after-party) and a (no shit) Zombie Mixed Martial Arts cage-match, and more to come. So popular are zombie costumes right now that they're a viable rival to Halloween costumes that begin with the word "slutty." It's enough to make you think some kind of virus infected everybody with a need to slavishly buy the shit (insert point about irony of zombies being a metaphor for consumerism here). And considering the array of unbelievably stupid zombie products out there, that's not a huge stretch.
How to Speak Zombie: A Guide for the Living, by Steve Mockus and Travis Millard $15 As the title indicates, this is a book that purportedly teaches you how to speak the language of zombies. From the synopsis: "How to Speak Zombie demonstrates how to blend in and avoid being eaten while carrying on with everyday activities like ordering a latte from a zombarista and shopping at a zombie-infested mall." So not only is this book unbelievably nonessential, its completely misses the fucking point of zombies. Zombies do not speak language. They do not work as "zombaristas" or shop at malls. They are dead and they eat brains -- their non-comprehension is what makes them so sinister. When the zombie-pocalypse comes, I dare you to try to use this book.
The Zombie Survival Guide Deck: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, by Max Brooks $9 For the truly zombie-obsessed, it's easy to see how creating a flash-card deck of zombie survival tips could be a fun thing to do and show to likewise zombie-obsessed friends. For those too lazy to do that shit themselves, Max Brooks has gone ahead and done the work for you, and now you, too, can have tips like the one that kid who looks and acts like Michael Cera developed in Zombieland, a movie that was only worth watching for Bill Murray's excellent cameo, by the way. At least this stays on point with tips that might actually come in handy (i.e. "once a chain saw runs out of fuel, it provides as much protection as a handheld stereo"), but they'll be wasted on the audience.
Marvel Zombies $16 It didn't take long for Marvel to cash on on the zombie craze (see if you can guess the year Marvel published its first zombie series -- if you guessed 2005, good job!), and, as you might expect, the set-up was intensely stupid: "On an Earth shockingly similar to the Marvel Universe's, an alien virus has mutated all of the world's greatest super heroes into flesh-eating monsters!" Sweet Jesus! They're superheroes that are more or less exactly like regular Marvel superheroes, but this time they're zombies! Sounds like a real fucking gem, right? Marvel has cranked out several of these in the ensuing years, so it can't possibly be long before a movie version gets greenlit. Prepare yourself.
Accoutrements Glow in The Dark Flesh Eating Zombies Play Set $11 If you're buying this Glow in The Dark Flesh Eating Zombies Play Set, one of two possible scenarios is in effect: Either, 1. you are buying it for yourself, which is weird, or 2. you are buying it for your children, which is... also weird. Then again, you might also be a teenager with a couple of dollars of disposable income looking to "Wreak havoc on your sister's precious diorama," as this effectively worthless product's tagline suggests, but even then, don't you have better things to do?
That's Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale, by Matt Mogk and Aja Wells $5 For a another example of people's compulsive need to indoctrinate their children with their own weird interests, look no further than That's Not Your Mommy Anymore: "In the ongoing effort to warn an unprepared world of the rising danger from zombie attacks," the tagline promises, "one vulnerable group has been left out -- small children." Actually, we're guessing that group has been left out on purpose, because, to small children, the idea of zombies is fucking terrifying. But hey, if you're trying to get your kids to never sleep, then by all means, here's your bedtime story.
Funworld Zombie 3D Adult Costume $35 How to make a zombie costume: 1. Wear clothing. 2. Tear said clothing. 3. Spatter said clothing/self with fake blood. 4. Apply purple and green makeup to face. 5. If desired, apply gore as necessary. The point is, there is no reason to buy a pre-made zombie costume from anyone -- though there are surely many out there to choose from -- because it defeats the whole purpose of a zombie costume, which is versatility: You can be anything you want, plus a zombie. Also, specific to this costume in particular, why is it designated 3D? Sure, 3D is also a fad, but don't most things in real life already fall into that category?
Zombies Christmas Carol, by Jim McCann $25 We're going to go ahead and admit that Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was pretty clever: Jane Austen's writing is beautiful but her plotlines are seriously boring, so it makes hilarious sense to toss zombies into the mix. But like all good ideas, it seems P&P&Z has spawned a legion of witless, groaning imitators who lurch about the zombie market in search of brains/revenue streams. Note to Jim McCann and other like-minded hacks: One 19th century classic adapted to include zombies is pretty much all the world is going to need. That joke isn't funny anymore.
Zombies and Shit, by Carlton Mellick, III $12 Carlton Mellick II studied under Chuck Palahnuik and was instrumental in founding the contemporary school of "bizarro fiction," so ostensibly, Zombies and Shit is supposed to be an artsy-fartsy dissection of zombie myth and culture. As such, it's about a craaayzy-ass game show where contestants must fight hordes of zombies -- and each other -- to make it out alive. So pretty much Death Race minus cars plus zombies. Also, if you're naming your book Zombies and Shit -- or really anything "and shit" -- you're just not trying hard enough.
Do Not Feed the Zombies Coffee Mug $25 Ha ha, get it? Because it's like, normally signs say like "don't feed the bears" or something like that, and this one says "do not feed the zombies. Because you don't normally expect a sign like that to say zombies, right? ROFL! Seriously, though, if you're going to identify yourself with a joke somebody else made up and put on a T-shirt and/or mug, it should at least be a funny joke.
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Zombie Erotica: An Undead Anthology about Sex $17 A book so shameful its author isn't even accredited, Zombie Erotica really needs only its synopsis to condemn it: "What would it be like to screw a zombie? Would it be exciting, gross, or something in between? Would it be dry or slippery with pus?" it wonders -- but it doesn't really matter, because in the end, the zombie apocalypse is really just a good excuse for rape: "Remember that little honey at work you had your eye on before the dead began to walk and thought was out of your league? Well, now she's one of the walking dead, and I bet if you ask her out, she won't say no. How could she? She can't talk or think anymore! ... I promise you, she will put out!" If you were looking for something even more disgusting than zombies, this book is it.