I just love zombie movies. It’s hard to explain why, but I can’t seem to get enough. A good, cheap-o zombie flick is better than a zillion dollar special effects blockbuster any day. It’ll eat the brains out of any romantic comedy and leave the latest super-hero craze in a gore-soaked splatter.
Lena thinks it’s because of the way that I dream. Back when the Jessica Lange/Jeff Bridges King Kong movie came out I was just an eight-year-old kid, and insane to see it. I still remember my dad complaining because the nighttime tickets, popcorn, candy, and drinks for three was seventeen dollars. Anyway, I thought the movie was terrific, but it gave me continual nightmares of being chased by Kong. One night, after my mom had been woken out of a sound sleep, she told me something that I think might have profoundly affected me for the rest of my life. She said that I never needed to be afraid in my dreams. If something was scaring me, I could tell it to just go away, or I would wake myself up and they would be gone forever.
Wake myself up? I had never considered this. You’re allowed to do that?
Very soon after that I had a dream I was being pursued by four women who all looked like variations of one of the keepers at the day-care I stayed at after school. The woman was tall and pinched looking and had always made me uncomfortable. (She wasn’t very nice, either.) I climbed up onto a swing set and they followed. In a moment, they had me surrounded and pinned. “You can’t catch me! I’ll just wake myself up!” I told the lead harridan. “I know.” she said with a resigned expression as I began forcing my eyelids open. The world grew lighter, I floated up into the air away from them, and I was awake.
The floating experience always accompanied moments like these, and soon I learned to take off and fly any time I wanted in my dreams. A spiritual woman I was friends with once told me that flying in dreams is one of the first signals of shamanism. I couldn’t say too much about that, but once I had the flying down pat, I quickly learned that I could do anything else I could imagine as well. I could grow bigger than the universe, frighten ghosts away just by thinking at them, and bring lost relatives back to life.
Being bulletproof was pretty much a no-brainer, as was being able to fight, shoot, woo women, and always win the day. My dreams became part action movie, part personal exploration, and part porno. (I remember the first time I grabbed a woman’s breast, for no other reason than I knew it was a dream and I couldn’t get in trouble for it. I was twelve.) Falling asleep was like opening the most magical, amazing toy box in the world.
And then came the zombie movies.
Like many, Dawn of the Dead was my first real zombie flick. The anti-rascist themes, while an imperfect metaphor, serve to make Romero’s flicks stick even more deeply in your head. (I think most minorities only want to be treated fairly. They’re not out to eat anyone.) When the zombies entered my dreams, the cap just flew off of what I could do in my dreams.
Suddenly I had a bad guy I could take out all my aggression on with no twinge of conscience. Not alive, evilly disposed, and capable of having any real-world villain projected onto them. I battled zombie nazis, zombie pirates, escaped animals from a zombie zoo, even zombie politicians. And the crazier and more out of control I let dream-Kevin be, the calmer, more serene, and more personally attentive real-Kevin became. And every time I watched a zombie movie, my dreams became reinfused with manic energy, and the fun house opened once more for business.
Nowadays my dreams are different. More focussed and less crazed. My wife figures prominently in most of my dreams—apparently I can’t get enough of her either. We’re always slim and muscular and incredibly intelligent. (That reminds me, I have a theory that in heaven you look like the person you picture yourself as when you masturbate. I sure hope so.) We solve all sorts of mysteries and rescue people from all kinds of dilemmas.
And ever so often, we kill tons of zombies.