This is it guys, letter Z! I’m so excited and happy to have been going through this with you all. I can’t believe I actually kept up with every letter, because let me tell you, I did think I wasn’t going to do it at times. But here we are and Z stands for Zombies! Seriously, I cover Vampires and Werewolves, two of the biggest monsters to show up in geek culture and you didn’t think I’d cover Zombies too? So I miss the chance to cover cyborgs, but zombies have been oh so big lately haven’t they. I mean we’ve had everything from classics retold as zombie movies to all new takes on them, and the show The Walking Dead is one of the biggest on TV.
So, the idea of zombies comes from Haitian and African lore, where the corpses of the dead have been told to be reanimated by magic. The original name for the creature was zombi, in Haitian French and zonbi in Haitian Creole. In the folklore they are the dead being brought back by necromancy by a sorcerer, and they have no will of their own so they are essentially slaves of the sorcerer who brought them back.
The idea of the modern zombie we know does not truly take form until several novelettes by H.P. Lovecraft in which a mad scientist who tries to raise the dead. He is, to an extent, successful. however the dead he brings back are primal, violent, mostly mute, uncontrollable and the beginning of what we think of when we talk about zombies today. Though the creatures were never described as zombies, they were what other writers looked to when they began creating their own undead creatures. It was these stories, along with the book I Am Legend (though this is classified as a vampire novel) that greatly influenced George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which is (much like Dracula) the basis for all modern zombie films.
Romero meshed the idea of Vampires, with their ability to spread their disease with the idea of the primal and violent zombies and created something truly terrifying. A creature with no mind, no self-control, and the ability to spread it’s illness throughout the lands. This is the zombie we know today. After that, this is what zombies were, creatures created often by an inept government trying to create biological warfare or simply experimenting when it all goes horribly wrong. The idea that dead anywhere and everywhere could suddenly become the enemy was terrifying. But I honestly feel like the two factors which made the idea of zombies the most terrifying were that, 1: anyone could easily become a danger, because life is such a fragile thing to hold on to, and 2: the dead outnumber the living. We would literally start this battle at a disadvantage and be at rick every moment of losing the person fighting beside us to the other side.
Honestly, the idea of zombies has always scared me more than vampires or werewolves because unlike the other two diseases this one has been told to cross species. Also, being eaten alive sounds like the absolute worst way to go. Luckily for all of us, Neil Degrasse Tyson has proven why zombies would never be a threat. To give you all peace of mind, here is the link: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/iegury/neil-degrasse-tyson–buzzkill-of-science
Don’t you feel better now? I mean, except for the whole space zombies thing.