Sunday, October 10, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 10: Zombies

Real World Origin:
Folklore/Film, various, especially Night of the Living Dead (1968)

In-Universe Description:
In the voodoo tradition, a zombie is a corpse that is reanimated through magic. The magician then controls the corpse, often using it for menial labor. The 1932 film White Zombie features Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre, a Haitian voodoo master who uses the zombified locals as labor in his sugar mill. He also tends to turn his rivals into zombies, using them as his personal servants and body guards.

The primary threat of the voodoo zombie was that a person would become one after his or her death. While White Zombie depicts Legendre as using his zombies to threaten or attack people, they don't really harm anyone.

George Romero's Night of the Living Dead created the modern zombie by making it the result of a plague which not only raised the dead but could be passed along to the living as the result of contact with a zombie (usually by being bitten). The zombie menace was made significantly more threatening by turning them into eaters of human flesh.

There have been several variations on the modern zombie: some are created by supernatural forces, some by radiation, and others by chemicals. Romero's zombies ate human flesh while others specifically eat brains. Movies like 28 Days Later (2002) or I Am Legend (2007) depict zombie-like creatures that are not undead but are humans that have been transformed by disease. Although violent, the "Infected" in 28 Days Later aren't even flesh eaters, and the plague wanes as the the Infected start to die of starvation.

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