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A Field Guide to Zombies

Zombies: hordes of the living dead. Since their origins in Haitian folklore, the phenomenon has taken on a life (or death?) of its own. While early zombie films like White Zombie were true to the Voodoo formula, zombies achieved widespread popularity as a metaphor for herd behaviour.

Night of the Living Dead film poster
Night of the Living Dead, the film that launched the zombie craze.

This is exactly how the legendary George A. Romero orchestrated it with his Night of the Living Dead. Lately, zombie films have become virtually devoid of metaphor – a characteristic lamented by Romero. These films merely postulate a zombie apocalypse at some point in the future, without any social commentary. Zombie films have become nothing but mindless entertainment, albeit with an awful lot of brains.

I Walked With A Zombie

The word zombie has its roots in various languages. The most likely origin is the Kongo word nzambi, meaning the spirit of a dead person. Another candidate is zonbi, a word of Bantu origin, which means a person brought back from the dead without its own free will.

Although zombies were originally the result of Voodoo, most Hollywood films downplay this aspect and highlight a chemical cause of zombies instead.

The Zombie Stomp

In Voodoo, a bokor (Voodoo sorcerer) may revive a dead person, or zombi. This zombi is then a slave to the bokor. Although this might sound too good to be true, bokor actually do this with tetrodoxin, a powerful neurotoxin. Bokor traditionally find tetrodoxin in pufferfish.

Datura plant
Datura, a plant used to maintain the catatonic zombie state. Don't try this at home, kids!

Bokor create zombies with two powders. The first, coup de poudre, consisting mostly of tetrodoxin, creates a near death state in a victim. The second powder contains mainly dissociative drugs which create the catatonic zombie state. Datura is an example of a plant containing these dissociative chemicals (atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine).

Zombie In My Veins

Perhaps due to the religious overtones of Voodoo, Hollywood decided to avoid any occult connotations with zombies. While some early zombie films like Plague of the Zombies still used this traditional Voodoo link, biochemical zombies soon upstaged the occult zombies.

With biochemical zombies, the government is usually somehow responsible for the outbreak. A biochemical zombie plague inevitably results in zombie apocalypse, or at least the impending doom of such an apocalypse. Films of this nature include Return of the Living Dead 3 and 28 Days Later.

Lost Zombies: A Community Generated Zombie Documentary

This a really interesting zombie project. Community generated projects seem to be the future of film.

Find more videos like this on Lost Zombies

Our goal at Lost Zombies is to gather definitive proof that zombies are real and to compile that proof into a feature length documentary film. We are asking the general public to assist us by submitting any proof of zombies they may have. We believe as a community we can educate the world’s population of the reality of zombies and the potential, if not imminent, zombie apocalypse.

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petra said…
I had a puffer fish once. Ironically we named him "Puffer." He was so cool but having a brackish tank was a bit bothersome so we got rid of him. Too bad now that I know the benefits he had for zombi-ism.

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