You are holed up in your dark, quiet house. Not a light is on, or they would come. A supply of food is ready, and your machete is in one hand at all times. They come out of nowhere and can hurt you with just one bite.

The zombies have arrived.

Well, these zombies don't really stalk your front steps - they are the monsters portrayed in film, books and other media for the past 50 years.

Even before Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" comic book became a popular television show, which just started its third season on AMC, movies such as "Shaun of the Dead" and "Zombieland" began a rise in zombie popularity. The undead even made its way into literature, with Seth Grahame-Smith's parody novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

This sub-genre of horror began with a low-budget film -- "Night of the Living Dead" in 1968 -- said James Udden, professor of film studies at Gettysburg College.

"What I find fascinating is that zombies in particular have real staying power," Udden said.

He added that he is surprised that even his smartest students would theorize about what they would do if a zombie apocalypse could occur.

Udden said the horror genre, which is only a couple hundred years old and began in the Age of Enlightenment, is about a violation of the scientific. Zombies violate the world between the living and the dead.

People are amazed with the dead and what happens after death, so zombies are particularly intriguing and frightening because of their limbo between both the living and the dead, said Ian Olney, professor of film studies at York College.

In recent years, horror movies started to become more disgusting, in an effort to not only scare but also gross out an audience, Olney said. Now in zombie movies, limbs are ripped apart and brains are fervently sought after.

It is the dream of FX makeup artist Aaron Chernak, bottom, to become a paid professional, hopefully before his brains are eaten by zombified Billy Duty of
It is the dream of FX makeup artist Aaron Chernak, bottom, to become a paid professional, hopefully before his brains are eaten by zombified Billy Duty of Windsor. Visit to see a video on how Duty became a zombie using professional makeup and a rubber mask, and listen to Chernak talk about his favorite scary things and the inspiration he gets to create monsters. (YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS -- J)

However, Olney said, he thinks we have to step back to the zombie movies of the 1930s, where "Night of the Living Dead" creator George A. Romero might have gotten his inspiration, Olney said.

Zombies began in Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean lore as someone being hypnotized or having witchcraft performed on them, and their souls are taken, making them slaves to that person who performed the act. Olney said zombies appeared to be dead, have no mind or will of their own and possibly had their soul stolen.

Olney said for Romero, the act of a soul being stolen might have meant they seemed dead or unliving.

Also, all zombie films are almost allegories for some of the trauma going in that era, such as assassinations, race riots, and social and political turmoil, Olney said. This is even true with the films from the 1930s, he added.

For example, he said, in the 1978 version of "Dawn of the Dead," the characters are trapped in a shopping mall, a possible critique of consumerism. And the remakes added the anxiety of later decades, he added.

"Are we like zombies consuming our resources, natural and otherwise?" he asked.

Udden said zombies also remind us that we are physical beings. People are drawn to this sub-genre because we deal with our humanity through the films. There is just no escaping our primal issues, including death, he said. Olney said one way to deal with fear is to embrace it, and that is how we can watch zombie movies or read about them.

zombie makeup
Ashley Ort of West Manchester Township agreed to be the model for the do-it-yourself zombie makeup lesson from makeup artist Aaron Chernak. Follow along with instructions below. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS PHOTOS -- JASON PLOTKIN)

With slasher movies, the villain often becomes the hero, and audiences want to identify with the monsters rather than the victims, so as not to feel weak, he said.

Also, the monsters become domesticated by the audience and comedy is interjected, so they are less scary than they should be, Olney said.

"There is something inherently humorous about zombies -- they have no brains and walk funny," Olney said. "Maybe that's why they don't seem quite as frightening."

717-771-2002, @wonder_vegan

Do-it-yourself: Become a zombie for Halloween

So, you decided to be a zombie for Halloween after watching 'The Walking Dead' or a scary zombie movie. Zombies are a specialty of FX makeup artist Aaron Chernak, owner of Trid Cloudwalker Props, Costumes & Makeup. To become the undead requires only a few items from your local costume shop and your own bathroom. Follow the steps below and the photos at right, and you will be ready to eat brains in no time.

Step one: Ashley Ort of West Manchester Township agreed to be the model for the do-it-yourself zombie makeup lesson from makeup artist Aaron Chernak. Start with a clean face, and wear a smock to prevent ruined clothes. If you have longer hair, pull it away from your face to keep it clean.

Step two: Chernak applies liquid latex and tissue to Ort's face. Dab the liquid latex, which you can get at any costume shop in a variety of sizes, to the area of your face with a makeup sponge and then place a thin strip of tissue or toilet paper to the area. It's OK if it rips, as makeup will be placed over it.

Step three: For added texture, use a stipple sponge to place more latex over the existing layer. Place a small amount of the liquid latex on the sponge and lightly dab around the face. Dab carefully around the eyes, nose and mouth to prevent any tear-inducing accidents.

Step four: Apply a layer of gray makeup, using a sea sponge for best results. Smudge black eyeliner around the eyes for an undead look. Keep shading gray, black, brown and a little white and yellow around the face until it is completely covered. For added effect, slightly rip a hole in the latex and fill in with yellow and white to mimic a bone or sore.

Join us at the 63rd Annual York Halloween Parade

Be on the lookout for York Daily Record/Sunday News zombies marching in the 63rd Annual York Halloween Parade, kicking off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28. Beginning at the York Expo Center, zombie staff will walk along the parade route with the NewsVroom.

Snap a picture of us -- or anything else at the parade - for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Target.

Upload the photo by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31 by clicking the contest banner that will appear Sunday on the FlipSide blog,

Then tell all your friends to vote for you through Nov. 8. We'll announce the winner Nov. 9.

Remember, in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse, the York Daily Record/Sunday News is your No. 1 source for news and information.

Get lightning-fast updates for slow-moving mobs through YDR email news alerts, tweets, live blogging, websites and social media accounts.

See your neighbors' zombie photos in the YDR photo gallery at