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Liam Reyes
Liam Reyes


How the creatures in contemporary zombie films came to be called "zombies" is not fully clear. The film Night of the Living Dead made no spoken reference to its undead antagonists as "zombies", describing them instead as "ghouls" (though ghouls, which derive from Arabic folklore, are demons, not undead). Although George Romero used the term "ghoul" in his original scripts, in later interviews he used the term "zombie". The word "zombie" is used exclusively by Romero in his script for his sequel Dawn of the Dead (1978),[16] including once in dialog. According to George Romero, film critics were influential in associating the term "zombie" to his creatures, and especially the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. He eventually accepted this linkage, even though he remained convinced at the time that "zombies" corresponded to the undead slaves of Haitian voodoo as depicted in White Zombie with Bela Lugosi.[17]



A related, but also often incorporeal, undead being is the jumbee of the English-speaking Caribbean, considered to be of the same etymology;[30] in the French West Indies also, local "zombies" are recognized, but these are of a more general spirit nature.[31]

Several decades after Hurston's work, Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in a 1983 article in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology,[35] and later in two popular books: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988).

Roland Littlewood, professor of anthropology and psychiatry, published a study supporting a social explanation of the zombie phenomenon in the medical journal The Lancet in 1997.[41]The social explanation sees observed cases of people identified as zombies as a culture-bound syndrome,[42] with a particular cultural form of adoption practiced in Haiti that unites the homeless and mentally ill with grieving families who see them as their "returned" lost loved ones, as Littlewood summarizes his findings in an article in Times Higher Education:[43]

I came to the conclusion that although it is unlikely that there is a single explanation for all cases where zombies are recognised by locals in Haiti, the mistaken identification of a wandering mentally ill stranger by bereaved relatives is the most likely explanation in many cases. People with a chronic schizophrenic illness, brain damage or learning disability are not uncommon in rural Haiti, and they would be particularly likely to be identified as zombies.

One of the first books to expose Western culture to the concept of the voodoo zombie was The Magic Island (1929) by W. B. Seabrook. This is the sensationalized account of a narrator who encounters voodoo cults in Haiti and their resurrected thralls. Time commented that the book "introduced 'zombi' into U.S. speech".[48] Zombies have a complex literary heritage, with antecedents ranging from Richard Matheson and H. P. Lovecraft to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein drawing on European folklore of the undead. Victor Halperin directed White Zombie (1932), a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Here zombies are depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. Zombies, often still using this voodoo-inspired rationale, were initially uncommon in cinema, but their appearances continued sporadically through the 1930s to the 1960s, with films including I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, while not a zombie novel per se, foreshadows many 20th century ideas about zombies in that the resurrection of the dead is portrayed as a scientific process rather than a mystical one and that the resurrected dead are degraded and more violent than their living selves. Frankenstein, published in 1818, has its roots in European folklore, whose tales of the vengeful dead also informed the evolution of the modern conception of the vampire.[49] Later notable 19th century stories about the avenging undead included Ambrose Bierce's "The Death of Halpin Frayser" and various Gothic Romanticism tales by Edgar Allan Poe. Though their works could not be properly considered zombie fiction, the supernatural tales of Bierce and Poe would prove influential on later writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, by Lovecraft's own admission.[50]

Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend, although classified as a vampire story, had a great impact on the zombie genre by way of George A. Romero. The novel and its 1964 film adaptation, The Last Man on Earth, which concern a lone human survivor waging war against a world of vampires, would by Romero's own admission greatly influence his 1968 low-budget film Night of the Living Dead, a work that was more influential on the concept of zombies than any literary or cinematic work before it.[53][54] The monsters in the film and its sequels, such as Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), as well as the many zombie films it inspired, such as The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Zombi 2 (1979), are usually hungry for human flesh, although Return of the Living Dead introduced the popular concept of zombies eating human brains.

There has also been shift towards an action approach, which has led to another evolution of the zombie archietype, the "fast zombie" or running zombie. In contrast to Romero's classic slow zombies, "fast zombies" can run, are more aggressive and are often more intelligent. This type of zombie has origins in 1990s Japanese horror video games. In 1996, Capcom's survival horror video game Resident Evil featured zombie dogs that run towards the player. Later the same year, Sega's arcade shooter The House of the Dead introduced running human zombies, who run towards the player and can also jump and swim. The running human zombies introduced in The House of the Dead video games became the basis for the "fast zombies" that became popular in zombie films during the early 21st century, starting with 28 Days Later (2002), the Resident Evil and House of the Dead films and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. These films also adopted an action approach to the zombie concept, which was also influenced by the Resident Evil and House of the Dead video games.[56]

Films featuring zombies have been a part of cinema since the 1930s. White Zombie (directed by Victor Halperin in 1932) and I Walked with a Zombie (directed by Jacques Tourneur; 1943) were early examples.[57][58][59] With George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968), the zombie trope began to be increasingly linked to consumerism and consumer culture.[60] Today, zombie films are released with such regularity (at least 55 films were released in 2014 alone)[61] that they constitute a separate subgenre of horror film.[62]

The modern conception of the zombie owes itself almost entirely to George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.[1][64][65] In his films, Romero "bred the zombie with the vampire, and what he got was the hybrid vigour of a ghoulish plague monster".[66] This entailed an apocalyptic vision of monsters that have come to be known as Romero zombies.

Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 was released just months after Dawn of the Dead as an ersatz sequel (Dawn of the Dead was released in several other countries as Zombi or Zombie).[1] Dawn of the Dead was the most commercially successful zombie film for decades, up until the zombie revival of the 2000s.[69] The 1981 film Hell of the Living Dead referenced a mutagenic gas as a source of zombie contagion: an idea also used in Dan O'Bannon's 1985 film Return of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead featured zombies that hungered specifically for human brains.

According to Kim Newman in the book Nightmare Movies (2011), the "zombie revival began in the Far East" during the late 1990s, largely inspired by two Japanese zombie games released in 1996:[72] Capcom's Resident Evil, which started the Resident Evil video game series that went on to sell 24 million copies worldwide by 2006,[71] and Sega's arcade shooter House of the Dead. The success of these two 1996 zombie games inspired a wave of Asian zombie films.[72] From the late 1990s, zombies experienced a renaissance in low-budget Asian cinema, with a sudden spate of dissimilar entries, including Bio Zombie (1998), Wild Zero (1999), Junk (1999), Versus (2000) and Stacy (2001).

Motion pictures created in the 2000s, like 28 Days Later, the House of the Dead and Resident Evil films, and the Dawn of the Dead remake,[56] have featured zombies that are more agile, vicious, intelligent, and stronger than the traditional zombie.[82] These new type of zombies, the fast zombie or running zombie, have origins in video games, with Resident Evil's running zombie dogs and especially The House of the Dead game's running human zombies.[56]

Intimately tied to the concept of the modern zombie is that of the "zombie apocalypse": the breakdown of society as a result of an initial zombie outbreak that spreads quickly. This archetype has emerged as a prolific subgenre of apocalyptic fiction and has been portrayed in many zombie-related media after Night of the Living Dead.[88] In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading phenomenon swamps normal military and law-enforcement organizations, leading to the panicked collapse of civilized society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain, scavenging for food and supplies in a world reduced to a pre-industrial hostile wilderness. Possible causes for zombie behavior in a modern population can be attributed to viruses, bacteria or other phenomena that reduce the mental capacity of humans, causing them to behave in a very primitive and destructive fashion. 041b061a72