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Years Of Rot: A Brief Look at Zombies Throughout Film History PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Mike Watt   
Mar 27, 2005 at 02:00 AM
Zombies, the walking dead, have become a staple of horror movies, particularly those of the low-budget, no-budget variety. Stumbling, lurching, shambling corpses reanimated by any variety of means, falling upon the living to add to their numbers. If you stop to think about it, they are the most frightening of all the movie monsters - no matter how ridiculous they appear on screen - because they represent the lack of rest and dignity in death. Death should be the final release, the blessing following a hard life - but there's your body, walking around against its will, against nature's will, devouring the flesh of the living or worse, forced to do slave labor for the sorcerer who brought you back.  

Originally, as most walking dead fans are well aware, the word "zombie" referred to a dead body reanimated by a voodoo priest. Zombies were monsters based on fact corrupted by superstition. As documented by anthropologist Wade Davis in his book "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (the bare-bones basis for Wes Craven's 1988 movie of the same name), practitioners of the darker aspects of voodoo actually used a drug - tetrodotoxin - to enduce catalepsy and control the minds of their victims, making them appear to have risen from the grave . The techniques of zombie raising were understandably shrouded in secrecy by the priests, who liked that people thought of their minions as walking corpses control. Fear means power.

In 1969, however, horror fans found themselves thinking about zombies a little differently, thanks to filmmaker George Romero and his classic "Night of the Living Dead". Though referred to tangentially as "ghouls" in both the script and the movie, the dead bodies reanimated by unknown means were still slow-moving, but were now out for human flesh. To make things worse, their bite infected the living, making more zombies (as detailed in the sequels "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead"). The only way to stop a Romero zombie is to kill the brain.

Dan O'Bannon's un-official sequel/homage to "NOTLD", "Return of the Living Dead" (so-named by "NOTLD"'s co-screenwriter, John Russo - his only contribution to "ROTLD") added another couple of levels to the zombie mythology. O'Bannon zombies are reanimated by military-created chemicals, "234 Trioxine", and are out for human brains - "to stop the pain of being dead". They also can not be stopped. Cut off the head, it will still come after you. Complete immolation will destroy the current crop, but will release the chemicals into the air and just start the whole process all over again. O'Bannon zombies can speak and strategize.

For a while, the Italians seemed to have cornered the market on the walking dead, offering corpses with faces covered with oatmeal - and they follow the Romero rules almost to the letter. For those dealing in zombies in their own cinematic offerings, the main choice seems to be between "classic" Romero or "modern" O'Bannon - voodoo zombies seem to have fallen by the wayside entirely.

  Whatever the means, and whatever the consequences, zombies don't seem to be going anywhere any time soon, thanks to a resurrgeance of video-game creepers in "Resident Evil" and "House of the Dead." There's always the apocalypse, with the walking dead taking over, chowing down on the living, and stumbling into the sunrise.

Recommended zombie offerings:

1932 "White Zombie" - one of the earliest "zombie" occurrences - Bela Lugosi is a plantation-owner who uses his walking corpses for slave labor and cheap thrills.

1936 "The Walking Dead" - in this rare and misleadingly-titled two-reeler, Boris Karloff is the sole zombie here, murdered by gangsters and brought back by mad scientist Edmund Gwenn.

1943 "I Walked with a Zombie" Moody, creepy Val Lewton produced tale of voodoo and unsavory-goings-on.

1966 "Plague of the Zombies" - Hammer Studios gets into the voodoo game with this tale of cheap labor in a Cornwall mining town.

1969 "Night of the Living Dead" - c'mon, if you haven't already seen this one (or the sequels, "Dawn" and "Day"), you have no business reading this! Be sure to avoid the "NOTLD - the 30th Aniversary Edition" which is an abominable rape of the original. Also recommended is the 1990 color remake directed by special effects master Tom Savini.

1981 "Dead and Buried" - Dan O'Bannon proves he's ahead of his time - his zombies pre-figure his own "ROTLD" reimagining in this outstanding tale of weird New Englanders who don't stay dead, thanks to some good old fashioned American voodoo.

1985 "Re-Animator", a comedy-horror classic from Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna that boasts zombies created through scientific means - the glow-in-the-dark neon-green "reanimate" formula.

1985 "Return of the Living Dead" - the tongue-in-cheek classic that reinvents the ghoul mythology. Features the premiere of the ghastly moan "Brains!"

1989 - "Night Life" - '80s heartthrob Scott Grimes is plagued by bullies who die and come back as O'Bannon zombies to bully him some more!

1992 "Dead*Alive" - Before "Lord of the Rings", Peter Jackson was a horror director, and made one of the goriest zombie movies of all time.

1993 "Return of the Living Dead 3" - a reimagining of a reimagining, Brian Yuzna takes the mythology a step further and winds up with a sentient and sexy zombie portrayed by Mindy (now Melinda) Clarke.

1999 "Meat Market" - Canadian low-budgeteer Brian Clement crafted a cool mish-mash of genres with a movie boasting Romero zombies, O'Bannon zombies, Mexican Wrestlers and lesbian vampires. (this was followed by a sequel, "Meat Market 2.")

The successful British "28 Days Later" does not count, as the folks in this movie are not technically dead, so don't start emailing me left and right claiming I left it out!

User Comments

Comment by Rahul on 2015-10-22 21:11:41
I've read that on the Archives of the Dead forum. It's a good idea but I'm not good at writing a ziobme story. I did write another story called "Charlie" that I think is good enough for publishing but that could be just my opinion. I also read from Living Dead press that they did a sequel to Dawn of the Dead in a book. Dawn doesn't need a sequel in my opinion. It was fine they way George wrote it except I think Peter should've got bitten and Roger should have survived. :-)

Comment by Dacson on 2015-10-23 04:44:02
, [For] if he does not help you [No, let the Lord help you!], from where can I get you help? Out of the threshing floor, or out of the wiepsrens?28And the king said to her, What ails you? She answered, This woman said to me, Give me your son so we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.29So we boiled my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, Give your son so we may eat him, but she had hidden her son.Jeremiah 19 (Amplified Bible) 9And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and they shall eat each one the flesh of his neighbor and friend in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their lives distress them.Ezekiel 5 (Amplified Bible) 10Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments on you and all who are left of you I will scatter to all the windsLamentations 4 (Amplified Bible) 10The hands of [heretofore] compassionate women have boiled their own children; they were their food during the destruction of the daughter of my people [Judah].John 6 (Amplified Bible) 53And Jesus said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood [unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood]. 54He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has (possesses now) eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.55For My flesh is true and genuine food, and My blood is true and genuine drink.56He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood dwells continually in Me, and I [in like manner dwell continually] in him.+++ Cannibalism in the Bible Most of the above passages apply to the siege of Jerusalem. The Deuteronomy and Leviticus passages are general predictions of what would happen to the Israelites if they disobeyed God, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are specific predictions of cannibalism during the siege, and Lamentations records the fulfillment. There are two important things to remember here. One is that the circumstances of the siege came about only after Israel persisted in doing wrong despite multiple warnings and lesser punishments. The punishment described in Leviticus 26 comes only after the Israelites have disobeyed and ignored punishments five times in succession (vv. 14-15, 18, 21, 23, 27). Prior to the actual siege, the Israelites had done more wrong than other nations that God had punished (2 Ki 21:9), and they ignored repeated warnings from the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.The second thing to remember is that the Israelites could have avoided these terrible circumstances by repenting at any time. Both the warnings in Deuteronomy and Leviticus are preceeded by promised blessings for obedience (Lev 26:3-13, Dt 28:1-14) and are followed by assurances that wrongdoers who repent will be forgiven and restored (Lev 26:40-45, Dt 30:1-10). In fact, God said through Jeremiah, If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I ha

Comment by Fachri on 2015-10-24 18:53:34
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Comment by Kikit on 2015-10-26 06:54:08
that she had made a deal with a neighbor that they would cook her son for dnienr that day, and cook her neighbor's son the next day. But then the neighbor reneged on the deal, and the woman was upset because her son was dead, and she had nothing to eat. When the king heard this, he ripped out his hair, and tore his robes, because it was just so horrible. That's one example of cannibalism being mentioned.

Comment by Sylvie on 2015-10-27 22:09:23
Deuteronomy 28:53 Because of the suffering that your enemy will icinflt on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; 2 Kings 6:28; 2 Kings 6:29; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 1 (New International Version) use the source for the full text. http://ccogfq.com [url=http://fbloptqfhbz.com]fbloptqfhbz[/url] [link=http://yjxtzwpv.com]yjxtzwpv[/link]

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