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The K-Files


Welcome to the latest installment of The K-Files.

Shuffling stiffly through the streets, moaning a cry of discontent for the world through blood-crusted lips...I love zombies. Everything from books and movies to comics and games, if it's got zombies in it, odds are that I'm there. Therefore, I was as pleasantly surprised to tune into Ian Punnett last Saturday night discussing the zombie culture with author Kim Paffenroth. About as far up my alley as any Coast topic could possibly go, I enjoyed the interview immensely. If you've ever felt the desire to dress up like a zombie and rock out to techno music, odds are you'll want to keep reading.

You'd better get ready, 'cause here come The K-Files...

:: The Dead Walk::
Looking around my computer desk, its hard not to notice a recurring theme in my literary and entertainment interests. First off, in my modest DVD collection, about half of the titles end in the phrase, "...of the Dead." Let's see...I've got 2 Night of the Living Dead's (original and the 1990 Tom Savini remake), Day of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Creepshow, Land of the Dead and 3 copies of Dawn of the Dead (original, special edition box set and the 2004 remake). Moving slightly over to my collection of Xbox 360 games, you'll find the lovely title, Dead Rising. Next to my trusty clock radio that I depend on to wake me up after it keeps me up listening to Coast to Coast AM, I've got a collection of comic books, including such gems as Spawn, Escape of the Living Dead and of course Robert Kirkman's fantastic The Walking Dead. Finally, displayed prominently above my pillow resides a fullsize Dawn of the Dead movie poster.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the recurring theme here is reanimation. Zombies, man. They creep me out. But the mythos behind the zombie is also something I find quite interesting. Brought into the limelight by master of horror, George A. Romero, in 1968's Night of the Living Dead, the zombie genre has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the decades. However, we are right now in the midst of a veritable Zombie Renaissance. Starting with the films Resident Evil and 28 Days Later in 2002, and continuing with the more recent Shaun of the Dead, the genre is exploding. So popular, it has also spawned its own society of wannabe zombies--roaming the streets and rave scene dressed up as the shambling undead.

It was this topic that was on display during this past Saturday's Coast to Coast Live radio program. Host Ian Punnett welcomed guest  Dr. Kim Paffenroth to discuss his latest book, Gospel of the Living Dead. About as far up my alley as any Coast to Coast topic has even been, I enjoyed the hell out of the unfortunately brief interview.

A native Minnesotan like Ian, I remember the zombie news story he mentioned at the beginning of the show. It was featured in a sizeable front-page article in one of the local metro newspapers recently. I forget which paper it was in (both of our Twin Cities has its own, for those unfamiliar with area), but several people dressed as zombies were arrested on the streets of Minneapolis. Apparently the group was acting too strange, as they were soon arrested by police. Although I think the real reason they were booked was due to disrespect to the arresting officer, the official charge was that they were simulating a weapon of mass destruction because one of the zombies was wearing some kind of radio equipment on his back. Just so you know, yes, we are a bit wacko here in Minnesota. But in any case, the group was participating in what is known as a 'zombie rave.' Just as the name implies, there are gatherings all across the country--and the world, as Ian pointed out in the show--where people dress up like zombies and dance to techno music.

It sounds like quite the fun time, but despite my interest in the zombie culture, I have not yet attended any of these such events. I wouldn't be against going to one, necessarily (I do intend to dress up like a zombie some Halloween), but the dancing part kind of turns me off to it. Rather, I'd be more interested in the other zombie cultural outing Ian mentioned--mall walking. Inspired undoubtedly by the king of all zombie movies, Dawn of the Dead, people have been known to dress up and wander the halls of the Mall of America. I'd say at this point, walking around as a zombie would be the only thing that would make me want to go to that useless tourist trap.

Back on topic, Ian and Paffenroth discussed the various possibilities behind the recent surge in zombie popularity. Mr. Punnett brought up an interesting point that perhaps it has something to do with post-9/11 anxiety. I think that pretty much hits it right on the head. The zombie in these movies (the good ones, at least) is usually used as a metaphor for some kind of social commentary, and I think the current relevance of the genre can be seen in the way we as Americans view the threat of radical Islam. Like the zombie, they are an ever-present, utterly determined force that seems to have surrounded us. Part of the fear right now, and not only with terrorists but I think in the illegal immigration debate as well, is that there is this faceless crowd of malign strangers out there, threatening to devour our society and convert us into something we're not--which pretty much pegs the gist of just about every zombie movie ever made. But of course we mustn't forget about the subject of rampant consumerism, as it remains as prevalent now as it did in the 1970s when George Romero felt the need to make Dawn of the Dead.

All in all, this was just a quality interview by Ian Punnett. Paffenroth was an interesting guest, and his book sounds equally intriguing. I try to keep up on the latest happenings in the realm of the zombie, but I had not heard of Gospel of the Living Dead. It certainly sounds like something I'd consider purchasing in the near future. My only gripe with the interview was the length. Ian, in the minuscule chance that you ever read this, please...please try to get Paffenroth on for a full show, as you guys barely even scratched the surface on zombie films, let alone his book on science fiction. Oh, and about Shaun of the Dead...you have a good taste in movies, my friend.

:: Dead End ::


Well, that's all for this week. I trust you enjoyed your trip into this shadowy nether-realm known only as the K-Files.

For the latest updates on the world of Khyron, bookmark http://www.khyron.net/. With content updated regularly, you're sure to find your fix for all things entertaining and paranormal. As always, feel free to send any questions/comments/suggestions to KFiles@khyron.net.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next  K-Files, arriving sometime next week. Later.

~Khyron, 2006.


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