Death, Reanimation, and Even more Death, History of Zombies!

Cheyenne Zinnkosko, Staff Writer

Zombies! Yes, that’s right; zombies. The living dead, corpses that have reanimated to feast on the living, yes, these decaying and hungry corpses! The idea of zombies, or the living dead, have been integrated into our society to the point where novels, television shows, and movies about them have been created and are widely popular! But where did the idea of zombies come from? Who even had the idea of corpses reanimating? Well, that’s actually rather simple.

The term ‘zombi’ originated from Haitian folklore, which eventually made it’s way to the United States and other countries soon thereafter. In Haitian folklore, it was believed that the dead were revived through the act of necromancy, which was performed by someone known as a bokor. A bokor was another term for a witch or sorcerer. Those who identified themselves as a bokor reanimated the dead as to have a personal slave; having complete control over that corpse. This form of voodoo was not accepted, as it went against the formal laws of the voodoo religion. This specific practice went on to be used widely by the bokor, but in reality, this folklore or legend was to serve as a metaphor of slavery in Haiti.

Now fast forward to 1932 in which the first film revolving around zombies,White Zombie, has been released. This movie marks the beginning of zombies in the United States. Though, the more renown zombie film in America is Night of the Living Dead (1968), which is still a widely respected film. From there on, countless zombie films and novels were created; the idea of zombies becoming more and more popular throughout the world. More popular films/television shows and adaptations involving zombies include: the Resident Evil franchise, 28 Days Later, World War Z, Warm Bodies, and the Walking Dead (both the television show and the comics).

In addition to the rise of zombie films and television shows, an archetype has arisen; the zombie apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse is the breakdown of society as a result of a zombie outbreak. This archetype usually involves this concept, along with the idea that victims who have been bitten by a zombie become one themselves, that military and law enforcement organizations fall to the hands of chaos, and finally, that only a few survivors remain who are left to scavenge for supplies in their new world. Though the very interesting thing about this evolution of zombies is that the source of how zombies are created, has deviated greatly. Instead of corpses being reanimated through voodoo, zombies are created through the possibilities of viruses, bacteria, or other diseases that cause people to act out in an unorderly fashion, and eventually feast on the flesh of the living.