I thought I'd ask an expert. What is the difference between The Walking Dead and a zombie?? I'm being told, for our Haunted House, that zombies are passe' and Walking Dead are in? Clearly I'm clueless.
I will gladly field your question.
The Walking Dead are basically zombies, but with a particular look evocative of the type of art from the comic book from which they are based on for the TV show. Zombies have been around for years in Hollywood with many incarnations regarding appearance and behavior. Original African zombie lore puts the "zombie" in a subservient role to a "master" who creates them via a poisonous concoction that kills their ability to be or remember who they really are, making them stupid and controllable. And, they don't eat people. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead movies don't have that storyline. Some writers have them eat just the brain. Others, any human body part will do. Everyone has seen a zombie flick or 10.
What really might be going is that in the uber-popular tv show being referring to here, no one ever calls the zombies "zombies." They are called lots of other things instead. Walkers, Roamers, Biters, but NEVER zombies. That would be like a legend coming to life. It's kinda like Jesus. We all know the story of Him, right? Well, let's say Jesus reappeared on the earth. The real Jesus. The Son of God. And, he introduced Himself as such. People probably wouldn't feel remotely comfortable calling Him Christ, or Jesus or Emmanuel, or any other of His nicknames. People probably don't even like me using the word nickname to refer to His nicknames. Most people probably wouldn't even believe it was Him, the real Him, no matter what miracles He pulled off. Folks reading this don't even like me saying "pulled off," in all likelihood. It's just too big of a story and so much of a legend that it holds it's own mystique and power.
Zombies, not so much as Jesus, have a popular backstory, too. Movie-goers know the lore and legends. If a real bonafide zombie showed up in the CDC, no one in the CDC would declare this rotting, walking being, without a pulse or a care in the world (except an insatiable need to put human flesh in its pie hole round the clock) , a legitimate Zombie. It would officially be labeled something else, because zombies don't actually exist except in our imagination, and pretty much everybody knows that. You can't take a known tale and backspin a modern dilemma to make it fit. That would be like precognition, and it would be weird, and no one would accept that vernacular, except to sensationalize something to the point of absurdity, like a Weekly World News headline reading "Jesus Spotted Eating Cheetos on Malibu Beach." Yes, of course Jesus in human form would love Cheetos. Everybody does! And, everybody loves the beach. Jesus in a human body would enjoy doing those things too. But the CNN headline would read "Guy who Calls Himself Jesus Spotted Eating Popular Crunchy Artificial Cheese Puff-Type Snack food on Famous California Beach."