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Zombies

  1. The word “zombie” is related to the African word nzambi, which means “god.” The Grand Serpent, the “Le Grand Zombi,” was the father of all “laos,” or other gods, and appeared in the shape of a python.b
  2. October 8th is World Zombie Day.a
  3. There are basically two theories on the origin of zombies: 1) a cursed person dies and returns as a zombie, and 2) a person contracts a virus or is exposed to radiation.g
  4. Mummies are not usually regarded as zombies because while zombies are in a constant state of decay, mummies are deliberately physically preserved.a
  5. According to zombie lore, the only way to kill a zombie is to damage its brain or cut off its head.g
  6. Because viruses are not independent living organisms and need a living organism to reproduce, a “zombie virus” could be considered a misnomer because zombies are generally thought to be dead.a
  7. While the causes and depictions of zombies throughout history have varied, one element links them: they all have compromised brains.c
  8. George A. Romero is often referred to as the “Father of the Modern Zombie” and is widely viewed as the creator of the modern zombie cinema. He has written and directed more zombie films that anyone in history.c
  9. voodoo doll Zombiism stems from the Vodun religion
  10. Modern conceptions of zombies originally began with voodoo religion in the West African Yorubi tribe and then traveled with captured slaves to the Caribbean island of Haiti, a busy slave center in the 1700s.e
  11. Prolific zombie filmmaker George A. Romero’s first paid directing job was filming Mr. Rogers’ tonsillectomy for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Romero said this project somehow inspired him to pursue a career in horror films.a
  12. Critics note that George Romero’s zombie films are great because they use zombies as a device for social commentary. In other words, they are not movies about zombies, but rather about groups of human beings and how they react in crises.c
  13. A parasitic fungus, a species of Ophiocordyceps, effectively turns ants into zombies. A recent study found that the fungus can synchronize several ants to bite down simultaneously on the underside of a leaf and then die. The fungus then sprouts through the dead ants’ bodies.a
  14. According to Haitian folklore, feeding salt to a zombie will restore the person to freedom. That doesn’t mean the zombie will become a living person again but, rather, that the body will return to the grave.d
  15. hatian zombie Clairvius Narcisse is said to have been turned into a zombie
  16. The most famous “real-life” zombie is Haitian Clairvius Narcisse. He claimed he was turned into a zombie by a combination of powerful neurotoxins and hallucinogens.b
  17. There is a law in Haiti that makes it a crime to turn someone into a zombie. Article 249 states that if someone drugs another person, buries him as though he were dead, and then digs the person up and brings him back to life, it is still considered murder.a
  18.  A disease called Yaws can actually make people look like zombies. The disease causes painful, oozing sores on the face, legs, arms, and feet. The painful wounds on the bottoms of the feet sometimes cause a sufferer to walk in a slow, zombie-like shuffle.b
  19. Besides being able to move after they are dead, zombies do not have superpowers. In fact, zombies actually have fewer abilities than they did when they were living human beings.a
  20. The abbreviation RLF stand for “reanimated life form,” which is another way of saying “zombie.”a
  21. In the case of a zombie outbreak, generic weapons are always preferable to custom or rare firearms with rarer forms of ammunition.a
  22. In the case of a zombie outbreak, a person’s physical fitness will have a significant influence on a person’s odds of surviving.a
  23. limp legs Zombies limp because their bodies are affected by decomposition
  24. Zombies may have the trademark zombie limp because their bodies are affected by the same decomposition process as any normal corpse. Additionally, rigor mortis would cause serious tissue and muscle damage at the zombie’s each step. Since zombies do not regenerate or heal, any damage is permanent. Eventually, a zombies’ top speed would be reduced to a crawl and perhaps even slow to the point where it could not move.b
  25. Some critics theorize that zombies prefer the taste of human flesh (if they can taste anything) because warm human flesh may have to do with a zombie virus needing fresh DNA or some parasitic microorganism receiving some form of nourishment from live blood cells.a
  26. While vampires are fast, strong, difficult to kill, relatively intelligent, and able to regenerate, zombies are slow, rather weak, easy to kill, and dumb. Any wound or damage they receive is permanent. So, in a fight between a zombie and vampire, the vampire would most likely win.b
  27. Zombie fans debate whether how long it would take a person who died from a zombie virus to reanimate. Theories put the moment of reanimation between a few minutes to several hours.b
  28. Experts note that in order to survive a zombie attack, it is imperative to follow a few guidelines: 1) do not take shelter in a vehicle in which you do not have the keys, 2) do not leave weapons out for zombies to find, 3) do not give your only weapon to a hysterical person, 4) do not retreat to your basement without supplies, 5) do not get surrounded by zombies, especially in an elevator, and 6) do not let personal emotions and anger impede survival.a
  29. Some scientists claim that a zombie apocalypse is not necessarily an impossibility because humans are susceptible to neurotoxins, brain parasites, real rage virus (such as mad cow disease), neurogenesis, and nanobots (which can operate in a host even after the host has died).f
  30. In computer science, a zombie is a computer that has been taken over by a virus, a Trojan horse, or a hacker. Most owners of zombie computers are unaware their computers have been compromised.a
  31. The top 10 safest countries during a zombie outbreak according to geographic location, topography, armed populace, population density, and military preparedness are the following: 1) Australia, 2) Canada, 3) United States, 4) Russia, 5) Kazakhstan, 6) Bolivia, 7) Norway, 8) Finland, 9) Argentina, and 10) Sweden.g
  32. Stories of the dead being brought back to life are thousands of years old. For example, 5,000 years ago in the Middle Eastern tale the Epic of Gilgamesh, an angry goddess threatens to bring the dead back to eat the living.b
  33. Zombies in Chinese myth are called the Kuang Shi (the “hopping corpse”). While they have human bodies, they do not have independent thought or free will. In some Chinese myths, zombies are dead people who die far from home and must walk back to their home villages before they can rest in peace.b
  34. In Scandinavian stories, zombies are called draugr. According to legend, draugr were fierce warriors, but after they died, they were not content to lie in their grave. Instead, they came back to attack the living. To kill a draugr one had to cut off its head, burn its body, and scatter its ashes out to sea.b
  35. rigor mortis Zombies are at their strongest before rigor mortis sets in
  36. It is generally believed that in the hours before rigor mortis sets in, zombies would be at their most dangerous. They would, briefly, have the strength and speed of living humans before their bodies would be ravaged by decomposition.b
  37. A revenant—from the French term revenir, meaning “one who returns”—is a popular zombie-like creature. Like zombies, they begin to suffer decomposition and smell like a rotting body once they come back to life. However, unlike modern zombies, their teeth begin to grow into terribly crooked and jagged protrusions. Also unlike zombies, they do not eat people or drink blood.b
  38. Zombie stories have been found all over the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East—though Haiti has been the source of modern zombie stories.d
  39. Voodoo zombies, or zombies based in Haitian lore, are created by evil priests called bokors for several reasons: cheap labor, revenge, and power.c
  40. According to the Voodoo religion, once a zombie has been created, the bokor, or the evil priest who created the zombie, must keep the zombie obedient by feeding it a paste made from a plant called the “zombie’s cucumber.” Legend states that chemicals in the cucumber keep zombies weak so they are easy to order around. In the United States, the zombie’s cucumber is called jimsonweed.b
  41.  According to Haitian voodoo, there are several precautions people can take so that their deceased loved one can avoid being turned into a zombie: 1) bury the body under heavy stones so they are harder to dig up, 2) watch over the grave for 36 hours (after 36 hours, death is final and a bokor can no longer turn a dead body into a zombie), and 3) cut the head off the body.b
  42. George A. Romero’s 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead is universally credited as being the film from which all zombie movies today have their roots. In the movie, radiation from a fallen satellite brings dead people back to life—and they have an appetite for human flesh.c
  43. Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 “rom zom com” or romantic zombie comedy. The film was written as a spoof honoring George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. It stars Simon Pegg as the couch-potato-turned-zombie-hunter Shaun. It has also been called a “zomedy.”b
  44. The popular Dead World series is different from other zombie genres because it depicts a ruling class of zombies that are organized and intelligent.a
  45. The most popular zombie-based manga (Japanese comics) storyline is called High School of the Dead. The story is about a group of high school students who have been caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Additionally, they must face the threat of the societal collapse and the decay of their own moral framework.a
  46. The Internet has opened up new venues for the zombie genre to grow, particularly zombie-themed Internet comics, such as the Zombie Hunters, Last Blood, Everyday Decay, and Slaughter, Inc.a
  47. three zombies Police stations are a hot spot for zombie outbreaks
  48. In the case of a zombie outbreak, there are certain “hot spots” for zombie infection, including hospitals, police stations, churches, malls, and department stores.a
  49. Early zombie movies were often associated with Voodoo-style zombies rather than viral or radiation zombies For example, White Zombie (1932) tells the story of a woman’s transformation into a zombie at the hands of a Voodoo master.
  50. The very first zombie movie ever made is the 1932 American film White Zombie. It was also the first horror movie that was not a silent film, as well as the first independent horror film to star Bela Lugosi, an icon of horror cinema.c
  51. In the very first zombie movie ever, White Zombie, lead actor Bela Lugosi was paid just $800 for his performance, making him the highest paid actor in the movie. Even in 1932, that wasn’t a lot of money. The movie grossed less than $25,000 at the box office, though the film’s budget was around $50,000. White Zombie is public domain, which means no one owns the rights to the film anymore.a
  52. The movies Zombie Strippers (2008) and Zombies, Zombies, Zombies (2008) are ranked as some the very worst zombie movies of all time.a
  53. Ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to Haiti in 1982 after hearing reports of zombification. He found that the “zombies” were most likely exposed to a dangerous mix of potent neurotoxins and hallucinogens. He wrote his discoveries in the book The Serpent in the Rainbow, which was adapted into a movie of the same name by horror director Wes Craven in 1988. Some critics have dismissed his work as unscientific or fraudulent.b
  54. The term “Zombophiles” is a term used to describe fans of the zombie genera.a
  55. According to Haitian lore, a Vodun (Voodoo) zombie’s soul is returned to the victim upon the creator’s death. Consequently, if someone used a zombie as a servant after the creator’s death, they would risk retribution for violating Vodun law.b
  56. In Haiti, “zombie powder” is most likely given to the victim through the skin on the left inner arm due to its proximity to the heart. After becoming exposed, the victim becomes violently ill and paralyzed. Though the person cannot move, he or she can still see, hear, and feel everything. Then the person is buried alive in a Haitian Vodun zombification ceremony and then later “reanimated.”b
  57. spacy zombie Zombies represent our fears about the human condition
  58. Many times victims of Vodun (Voodoo) zombification are reported to walk clumsily, speak with slurred speech, and act “spacy” or “inattentive.” Experts note this is probably a result of permanent brain damage caused by a combination of prolonged oxygen deprivation from being buried alive and exposure to “zombie powder,” which is a mix of the neurotoxin TTX and the hallucinogenic dautra and Calabar beans.b
  59. Recent research shows that most likely only about 1 in 100 attempts at Voodoo zombification in Haiti would be successful. The other 99 times would result in death.a
  60. Critics note that the profound influence the atomic age had on the public consciousness helped usher in the age of the modern zombie. Radiation became a staple of horror entertainment and was the cause for mutant animals, giant insects—and zombies.b
  61. George A. Romero’s 1968 The Night of the Living Dead was the first zombie movie to show a physical cause of zombification. Previously, zombies were created through Voodoo or other type of black magic.c
  62. The movie Dead Snow is a 2009 Norwegian zombie comedy about a group of students under attack from Nazi zombies in the mountains of Norway. It was nominated for the “Most Memorable Mutilation” scene.
  63. Toxic zombies are zombies who have come back to life through radiation, exposure to a virus, or poisonous chemical leaks. These zombies are usually rotting, smell bad, can’t feel pain, and prefer to feed on human flesh. They typically can’t move fast, but they can smell fresh blood and can hear very well. Voodoo zombies are zombies under another person’s control and they retain a limited capacity for human attributes, such as pain and emotion. They appear in stories in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the southern United States.b,c
  64. Zombie powder allegedly used in Haitian zombification is made from poisons taken from animals, such as the spiky puffer fish, the hyla tree frog, and the cane toad. In addition, the powders contain human remains as well as some hallucinogens.b
  65. Critics note that zombies—created either from superstition, radiation, or viral mutation—represent what is frightening in the human psyche and they serve to explore many profound assumptions about life and death.d
  66. The Germans have a version of the zombie called the Nachtzehrer, which has two common translations: “night waster” or “night eater/chewer/gnawer.” The Nachtzeher has traits of both the zombie and vampire. When a Nachtzeher is first reanimated, it gnaws on parts of its own body and then seeks other victims to feed upon.a
  67. buried alive People were sometimes buried alive, which led to zombie myths
  68. Long ago, people were sometimes buried alive because they were in a coma, which doctors mistook for death. When thieves dug up their graves to steal jewelry, the corpses seemed to come back to life. This has played a role in developing the zombie myth.e
  69. There are three general schools of thought about how a zombie virus would behave. First, dormant infection, where the virus would spread around the world and remain unnoticed until the recently dead begin to reanimate. In this case, everyone, bitten or not, would become a zombie. Next is active infection only, which means that only those who are bitten by a zombie would be infected and ultimately die as a result, only to reanimate after their deaths. Finally, dormant and active infection, which is the worst out of the three: all persons who die would reanimate, but those who are bitten would die much faster.a
  70. Critics note that zombies are an extreme representation of conformity and represent the inner struggle many humans have regarding the conflict of individuality versus conformity.b
  71. The term “philosophical zombies” represents a philosophical concept of a living human organism that has no conscious experience.a
  72. Zombie fans hotly debate whether Dr. Frankenstein’s creation can be considered a “zombie.” One side of the debate claims that a zombie should be defined as a reanimated corpse, regardless of how that reanimation occurs. The other side says that the corpse must be reanimated by either a virus or radiation and eat human flesh.a
  73. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was the first novel to approach the idea of human reanimation from a nonsuperstitious point of view. Whether Frankenstein’s monster is a zombie or not, Shelley was the first to depict a reanimated body caused by science.b
  74. A Canadian-based team of statisticians created a zombie virus outbreak scenario and found that the only hope for any human civilization faced with such an outbreak would be a fast, aggressive extermination response. Taking a defensive stance would not work. For example, in a stereotypical urban city with a population of 500,000 people, it would require an aggressive military response within 3-8 days. After 8 days, it would be nearly guaranteed that civilization would not bounce back.a
  75. Zombies represent all that is dark and base about the human condition. The fear of zombies often stems from real human fears regarding unfamiliar or chaotic forces in the world.b
  76. Most zombie survivalists adhere to the following survival list: 1) 14-90 days worth of nonperishable food, 2) a personal water source and/or 14 to 90 days worth of drinkable water, 3) at least one firearm with 1,000 to 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 5) a gasoline electricity generator with 2 to 4 weeks worth of fuel, and 6) a sturdy melee/close combat weapon and some form of martial arts/close combat training.a
  77. One of the most well organized zombie survivalist sites is ZCORE, which stands for Zombie Coalition Offensive Response Elite. It costs $4 to join.a
  78. The people in the popular horror film 28 Days are not technically zombies because they do not die before they take on a zombie-like appearance and become fixated on killing.b

-- Posted October 27, 2012

References

a Brown, Nathan Robert. 2010. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zombies. New York, NY: Penguin

b Hamilton, Sue L. 2007. Zombies (The World of Horror). Edino, MN: ABDO Publishing Company.

c Krensky, Stephen. 2008. Zombies (Monster Chronicles). Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company.

d Pipe, Jim. 2007. Zombies (Tales of Horror). New York NY: Bearport Publishing.

e Schuh, Mari C. and Aaron Sautter. 2007. Zombies (Blazers–Monsters). Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.

f Sloth, TE and David Wong. “5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen.” Cracked. October 29, 2007. Accessed: October 20, 2012.

g “Zombie Facts: Real and Imagined (Infographic).” Live Science. October 6, 2011. Accessed: October 20, 2012.