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Zombies are regularly encountered in horror fiction and entertainment. They are typically depicted as mindless, shambling, decaying corpses with a hunger for human flesh, and in some cases, human brains in particular.
Zombies are an extremely popular theme for video games, particularly in first-person shooters and role-playing genres. The most popular games in the theme include Resident Evil, Dead Rising, House of the Dead, and Left 4 Dead. Outside of console games, the 3D multiplayer online game, Dead Frontier, features survivors battling against zombies and mutants, and has over 2,000 players online every minute. Another zombie MMO is grid-based gamed Urban Dead, where players battle the undead. The Last Stand is also an online game and currently has four installments. Console games include:
- Resident Evil Series - Probably the most popular and best selling zombie video game franchise, Capcom's Resident Evil series has spawned nearly two-dozen titles and many films off the original. The games' interpretation of the zombie has evolved wildly, often unrecognizably from the original vision.
- Left 4 Dead Series - Both games have the players play as one of four survivors trying to reach different safe houses. This game features the basic undead as well as "specialized" zombies.
- Dead Space Series - Necromorphs were a human reanimated with a fluid injected to the brain, which can also lead to combining bodies to form more threatening beings.
- Call of Duty - The editions of World at War and Black Ops include Nazi zombies, a survival game that takes one through waves of Nazi zombies.
- Dead Island - A game where the player plays one of four survivors facing endless hoards of basic and special zombies.
- Dying Light - Zombie focused survival and parkour. This game features common undead as well as uncommon 'specialized' zombies.
- Castlevania Series - The Castlevania series uses the undead as a common enemy.
- Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare - The downloadable content has the main character fight zombies in a Western setting.
- Fallout Series - While there are no real zombies in this game, ghouls act like them.
- The Walking Dead - The game is based on the original comics by Robert Kirkman. It is a point-and-click narrative driven by the social and moral aspects of being in a group of survivors placed in a zombie apocalypse.
- The Last Stand Series - A popular series of flash-based games, where one can plan, scavenge, and hold a base amidst a zombie epidemic. The third game is a 2D adventure game where you must fight the zombies quarantined in Union City. The fourth game takes place after Union City is bombed, and you must hide out in an abandoned warehouse with other survivors to survive.
- Rebel Without a Pulse - A game where the player plays a zombie called Stubbs.
- In the "Yu-gi-oh" games Zombies also makes their appearance
- In the Halo trilogy, there is a zombie-like alien species (The Flood). There's also a book about them.
- Plants vs Zombies is one of the few humorus games to include zombies. They can still kill you horribly, though...
- The popular sandbox game Minecraft has zombies as one of the enimies. There are also zombified pigs.
Zombies and horror have become so popular that many songs and bands have been based on these flesh-eating zombies. Zombie references crop up in every genre from pop to death metal and some subgenres such as horror punk mine the zombie aesthetic extensively. Horror punk has also been linked with the subgenres of deathrock and psychobilly. The success of these genres has been mainly underground, although psychobilly has reached some mainstream popularity. the well known metal musician (and director) Rob Zombie incorporates zombie aesthetics and references into much of his music and music videos. As well, the zombie also appears in protest songs, symbolizing mindless adherence to authority (especially in law enforcement and the armed forces.) A well-known example is Fela Kuti's 1976 single Zombie. Likewise, The Cranberries hit single "Zombie" uses them as metaphors for the cultlike perpetrators of continued Irish violence centered around independance movements and religous divisions. Don't forget Micheal Jackson's famous Thriller where his back up dancers were dressed in frightening zombie costumes in the graveyard themed video.
Artist Jillian has made several works of video art involving zombies, and exhibited them in her 2007 show, "Horror Stories," at ThreeWalls Gallery in Chicago. Other zombie-related works by McDonald include "Zombies in Condoland" (prints and animations derived from internet documentation of zombie walks), and a series of lenticular animation photographs called "Zombie Portraits," in which the subjects transform into zombies.
Recent zombie fiction of note includes Brian Keene's 2005 novel The Rising, followed by its sequel City Of The Dead, which deal with a worldwide apocalypse of intelligent zombies, caused by demonic possession. Though the story took many liberties with the zombie concept, The Rising proved itself to be a success in the subgenre, even winning the 2005 Bram Stoker award.
Famed horror novelist Stephen King has mined the zombie theme, first with 1990's "Home Delivery", written for the aforementioned Book of the Dead compilation and detailing a small town's attempt to defend itself from a classic zombie outbreak. In 2006 King published Cell, which concerns a struggling young artist on a trek from Boston to Maine in hopes of saving his family from a possible worldwide zombie outbreak, created by "The Pulse", a global electromagnetic phenomenon that turns the world's cellular phone users into bloodthirsty, zombie-like maniacs. Cell was a number-one bestseller upon its release. Aside from Cell, the most well-known current work of zombie fiction is 2006's World War Z by Max Brooks, which was an immediate hit upon its release and a New York Times bestseller. Brooks had previously authored the cult hit The Zombie Survival Guide, an exhaustively researched, zombie-themed parody of pop-fiction survival guides.
David Wellington's trilogy of zombie novels began in 2004 with Monster Island, followed by two sequels, Monster Nation and Monster Planet. These were serialised in a weblog format before being published in paperback.
Robert Kirkman, an admirer of Romero, has contributed to the recent popularity of the genre in comics, first by launching his self-published comic book The Walking Dead, then by writing Marvel Zombies in 2006.
Jonathan Maberry's Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, released in August 2008, interviewed over 250 experts in forensics, medicine, science, law enforcement, the military and similar disciplines to discuss how the real world would react, research and respond to zombies.
The fictional Disney cartoon character Bombie the Zombie, created by Carl Barks, first appeared in the Voodoo Hoodoo strip in 1949. Bombie had been reanimated by an African voodoo sorcerer, and was sent on a mission to poison Scrooge McDuck. Later on Don Rosa reused the character in his own McDuck stories.
Other zombie appearances have been catalogued in dozens of novels, comics, and webcomics. Like vampires and other famous archetypal creatures, the zombie archetype has spread so far and wide that it is impossible to provide a definitive list of resources, though certain websites keep note of zombie references in detail.
J.K. Rowling includes zombies, known as Inferi, in the sixth book of her Harry Potter series. The Inferi are dead humans who are re-animated by Dark Magic.