A conversation with Douglas Clegg about ZOMBIES

While doing research for ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead I had the good fortune to have a frank discussion with bestselling author Douglass Clegg.

 

Pull up a chair and listen in….

 

JONATHAN: Doug, thanks for stopping by to share your views on pop culture and the walking dead.  Why is it about zombies that draws our attention?

 

DOUG CLEGG: We’re fascinated by the physical body and what happens after death to it. Additionally, with zombies, there’s the sense of the dumb, destructive crowd out there that’s going to somehow drive us insane or destroy us — sort of like the guy in Munch’s painting, The Scream, with the world all around him while he exists in his own nightmare.

 

Overall,  I really think it goes back to a kind of thrill about coming back from the grave. And eating brains and other organs. I suspect that would be a bit sloppier than the vampire, who drinks blood in a kind of erotic kiss. It’s interesting that both the zombie and the vampire — in terms of the horror genre — have a cannibalistic hunger for the living.   It’s not enough just to be killed, but to be eaten or drained of blood, that seems a wee bit more horrifying.

 

JONATHAN: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen humans do in a zombie film?

 

CLEGG:  Trust each other to do the right thing.

 

JONATHAN: What’s the smartest thing you’ve seen a human do in one of those flicks?

 

CLEGG: Keep running. Or else just shoot themselves in the head when surrounded by dozens of zombies. That’s what I’d do — after all, I don’t care what anyone does with my body after I’m dead. I just don’t want to be around to watch it happen.

 

JONATHAN: Okay,, quick question: Zombies…fast or slow?

 

CLEGG: Slow. There is something so terrifying about the slow attack that is inescapable. Serial killers can be fast, jaguars can be fast, a train about to hit you on the tracks can be fast — but there is a more nightmarish quality to the shambling corpse whose only goal is to find the nearest living human to eat. There is something incredibly horrible about the idea of being taken down by a slow, dumb predator — we expect the smart ones to get us, but not those relentless brainless ones.

 

JONATHAN: What are your favorite zombies movies and books?

 

CLEGG: Night of the Living Dead (the original) really launched the sub-genre of zombie flicks, but Shaun of the Dead certainly made its mark — as did 28 Days Later. I also enjoyed The Serpent and the Rainbow, more in book form than movie form — but still, the movie was fun to watch. For camp, those Return of the Living Dead movies were fun, too.

 

JONATHAN: Have you ever written zombie fiction? 

 

CLEGG: I have an unpublished illustrated children’s book for adults called The Saddest Little Zombie, with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne. In it, a boy named Tommy is killed by his mother as she tries to dislodge a stew-bone caught in his throat. Later, a voodoo priestess raises him from the grave. He returns to his family for supper on Christmas Eve, but can’t stop himself from eating people. There’s even a Christmas tree made of bones in it. It’s sort of a holiday book with the living dead, for adults who like scary kids’ books. I have to admit, I’m not sure a kid should read it.

 

 

Visit Doug’s website at: www.DouglasClegg.com

 

Look for ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry

Citadel Press – Fully Illustrated – $16.95

Available Everywhere August 26

Available for pre-order online at Borders, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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