rehorror: Zombies – What’s the Big Deal?
Ask any longtime fan of the Resident Evil series what would make the game better and you get either one of two responses, if not both. So listen up, Capcom! Make it scary, and bring back zombies! While “make it scary” can be left open to interpretation, fans have been demanding zombies make a return in full to the series since 2005.
Longtime readers of the site might recognize this article from a long time ago. Well, we’ve decided to revisit the issue to commemorate the 15th anniversary of one of our favourite franchises. In that article, we discussed what makes zombies so frightening to the average gamer Joe.
“Zombies scare me because although they are just a bloodthirsty creature, they take their form from innocent victims. Your mother, babysitter or son could be there one minute, and then after you the next. I think the thing that scares me the most is the psychological struggle of realizing that this person you love is no longer there, and that in order to survive, you must kill them.”
“Because they do not behave in the most basic flight/fight response of every other living being. They will continue to destroy themselves/be destroyed in order to have a chance to kill you.”
As detailed in the previous article, the zombie origin story begins far before its more traditionally known the Voodoo roots. The undead, hungry for human contact, blood or flesh appear on historical artefacts as old as the Epic of Gligamesh (2150-2000BCE). The Epic of Gligamesh describes creatures under the control of the goddess Ishtar, who threatens to raise the dead and have them feast on the living. One Thousand and One Nights also references a family of ravenous ghouls, hungry for human flesh.
That would pretty much describe the Resident Evil baddies infected by the T-Virus in the games up to RE4. The recently departed, rising up again to feed on the living. But the story that everyone is more familiar with is from Voodoo origins, where people could be enslaved via the use of drugs and Voodoo priests. Gone your ability to think and act for yourself – doomed to spend eternity to do the will of another.
Well that kind of sounds like the Ganados from Resident Evil 4, and the Majini from the Resident Evil: Black Sheep Edition. Except of course there’s a gigantic parasite where their spine used to be, and they’re actually dead.
After the Ganados were infected in RE4, they all were controlled by Mendez, who had a Queen Plagas within him. Sure, they could be seen tending to crops and…stringing up police officers over a campfire, but they were being controlled the entire time. The Majini from RE5 were controlled as well by Wesker (SPOILER: you’ll note that Wesker and Excella are not attacked as they get onto the freighter after their encounter with Chris and Sheva). So technically, they were zombies, just not the kind that we all were hoping for.
So what is it about the traditional zombies of the classic RE games makes them so frightening, while the newer baddies of RE4 and 5 so off-putting to fans? Or are the games just a package deal? Is it the overall feel to a game that has to be frightening for the monsters to be effective? We want to know.
What makes RE’s monsters frightening to you? Why are zombies so important to the Resident Evil series? Will we ever be able to move on beyond the slow, plodding undead creatures roaming the streets of Raccoon City?