Zombies are big news at the moment, but do you know how it all started? Read this to find out about where zombie mania comes from.

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The history of zombies

Zombies are everywhere these days – on television, in movies and in books. The current image of the terrifying flesh-eating zombie comes from George Romero’s 1968 classic film Night of the Living Dead. Nowadays many people like to frighten themselves with the idea of the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, and enjoy learning how to destroy zombies by decapitation or shooting them in the head.

However zombies are not new. The term, from the Kongo word nzambi which means ‘spirit of a dead person’, has been long associated with the Vodou religion of Haiti (popularly known as Voodoo). As with West African Vodun, from which it is descended, Vodou has strong ties to the supernatural and magic practised by witch doctors called bokors.

In Haitian culture zombies are not evil creatures but victims. They are said to be people who have been killed by poisoning, then reanimated and controlled by bokors with magic potions for some specific purpose, usually to work as slave labour. The bokors were widely feared and respected. It is said that they used to be in the service of the secret police and those who defied the authorities were threatened with being turned into the living dead.

For a long time most people assumed that zombies were nothing more than mythical figures, like werewolves and vampires. However this changed in the 1980s when a man called Clairvius Narcisse claimed that he had been turned into a zombie by means of drugs and forced to work on a sugar plantation for two years before escaping. Wade Davis, a Harvard scientist, investigated the claim and obtained something called ‘zombie powder’ from Haitian bokors. The main active ingredient was a neurotoxin found in puffer fish which could be used to simulate death. The bokors also explained to Davis that a second poison, made from the datura plant, known as the zombie cucumber, was given to victims after they were revived from their death-like state. This kept the ‘zombies’ in a submissive state so that it was easy to force them to work. Davis wrote several books on the topic, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, later made into a horror film by director Wes Craven.

Although the book was very popular with the public, some scientists were sceptical of Davis’s claims. They said the amounts of toxin in the powder samples he found were inconsistent and not high enough to produce zombifying effects. Although many people in Haiti still believe in zombies, there have been no publicised cases in the last few decades and Davis’s theory remains controversial. The Zombie Apocalypse seems unlikely to take place soon.

Discussion

Are you a zombie fan? Why do you think people like frightening themselves with zombies so much?

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Comments

Tony2003's picture
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Tony2003 1 November, 2015 - 10:00

In my opinion,I super hate zombies,because of zombies do not look well.Secondly,their head got tear out but it still walking.It just like ''The Walking Dead''game.i like to play it but I hope that I would not see zombies just wondering around and harm people.They frightened themselves because of they want themselves to believe that zombies are real..That is all my idea

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English3113's picture
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English3113 27 October, 2015 - 16:30

I like supernatural things but I don't believe in it. I kinda like zombies and if the text is true (and of course are real) i feel bad for them because after all they are victims. I don't know why people like to scare themselves with ''Zombie Apocalypse'' for me it's stupid because there are no evidences of them. If there were evidences I would understand why,but for now I can't.

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Hello88's picture
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Hello88 24 October, 2015 - 15:09

I’m definitely a zombie fan. I really like horror films and the idea of the Zombie Apocalypse. I’ve always wanted to know about them. The fact that there is a little chance of them existing fascinates me and makes me more interested about mythical figures.
I think that people enjoy frightening themselves with zombies because they want to put some excitement in their ordinary lives. The feeling of fascination makes them more alive than ever. They feel as if they starred in a movie and had to save the human kind from dangerous creatures. This way, people live a thrilling life and have always something to think about.

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bojana13's picture
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bojana13 10 October, 2015 - 15:01

I am definetly not a zombie fan.I don t like anything scary at all,like every ordenery girl,but my sister likes horror movies.I really don t know why do people frighten themselves with zombies.

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Toma English's picture
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Toma English 4 September, 2015 - 21:22

I first met with zombies when I was a child ,,, in a cartoon :D ,, I watched an episode of powerpuff girls which contained zombies and I hated them then :D

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Alexander111's picture
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Alexander111 18 August, 2015 - 05:04

good explanation, so zombie is not real at all, just science fiction, but the game that kills zombies was still fun.

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vieht's picture
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vieht 31 July, 2015 - 02:31

I enjoy all the zombie movies, I don't believe in zombies at all, but I think somewhere in the world, people are creating danger virus that can destroy humanity, who knows'??

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Komorniki2015's picture
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Komorniki2015 21 June, 2015 - 15:09

I'm not a zombie fan, and I'm afraid of zombie apocalypse but I know that it couldn't create. Also I don't know why people are frightening them selves .

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VIOLETA's picture
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VIOLETA 5 April, 2015 - 15:24

This stories are very interesting.But I used to watch horrors before,but now I like funny movies.I m not afraid of zombies.

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Millah's picture
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Millah 2 December, 2014 - 07:54

I am definatly a zombie fan, especially in videogames. I think people like to get frightend in general, just not zombies. Normally, it's for the excitment.

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remus's picture
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remus 1 December, 2014 - 13:26

I'm no zombie fan, no. In fact, everything that's supposed to be dead should probably stay dead. That's disgusting and gross and full of flies and such, and I think that's why people don't like zombies...

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Magna99's picture
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Magna99 10 November, 2014 - 08:43

I am not a zombie fan and I don't think they are intresting at all. I think that the whole walking-dead concept is pretty ridiculous. The "modern" zombies are just a group of dead people walking around and eating brains. What's the point?

I think that all people want more excitement in their lives. That's why some people like to scare each other with zombies or other scary creatures.

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OrigamiCrane's picture
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OrigamiCrane 9 November, 2014 - 23:13

I enjoy zombies, mostly because they aren't about the monsters. Not really. The scares in zombie-fiction comes from the humans themselves.
It focuses on humans and what humans would do if the society around them would suddenly break down and they would have to fend for themselves.
So the real scary thing about zombies is not the gore but the darkness on humankind that is shown the clearest when they are put in a dangerous situation and have to make hard choices.
And since it focuses so much on the people it gives room to create some fantastic characters as well, and I always appreciate a good character.

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Streetlamp's picture
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Streetlamp 9 November, 2014 - 12:59

I'm not a big fan of zombies. I don't think that they're scary, but I just don't find them very interesting. All zombie movies pretty much contain the same concept. A group of survivors try to stay alive in a world where the entire population are zombies. I guess some people like the adrenaline rush these kind of movies provide with sudden popups and such, but I find them very monotone and predictable.

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DagJensen's picture
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DagJensen 9 November, 2014 - 12:28

I wouldn't say that I'm particularly fond of zombies, as I find that the subject of walking dead is too ridiculous and blown up.
However. I can definetley see a point with the interest in zombies. Huamns have always been interested in the supernatural, so why not? My supernatural stuff is more conspiracy theories, which is fun because people are so wrong.

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CarlosBocket's picture
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CarlosBocket 7 November, 2014 - 20:02

Yes, I am a fan of zombies, I kind of like the idea of a zombie apocalypse which is not weird at all if you have watched "The Walking Dead". I don't think that zombies are scary they are more like very not nice.
People like getting frightened by zombies and such so that's why I think people enjoy being scared.
People are crazy.

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helloholahej's picture
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helloholahej 7 November, 2014 - 18:14

Yes, I am a zombie fan even though I do not watch zombie movies that often. But when I do I really enjoy them 
I think that people like to scare themselves with the thought of zombies because it is something that we can’t really understand but still, it feels more real than wizards and witches for example. It’s realistic but at the same time very unlikely. People like the thought of a zombie apocalypse because the feeling of looking for shelter and fighting for your life is intriguing, but at the same time is the feeling of your loved ones getting hurt is heart breaking. This is what makes it entertaining.

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99magdalena's picture
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99magdalena 7 November, 2014 - 10:17

I don't like zombies because and I am not a fan of horror movies or books. I have heard a lot about zombies and the "zombie apocalypse" but I don't believe in it. I think people just want to have something to scare each other with and the zombie idea is good for that. I also think that zombies are good for one more thing, the Halloween costumes ;)

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MrCucumber's picture
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MrCucumber 7 November, 2014 - 07:30

No, I´m not a big fan of zombies. In my opinion they´re scary and disgusting even though I have to admit I´ve seen some good zombie movies.

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sonjath's picture
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sonjath 6 November, 2014 - 20:48

I'm not a zombie fan. I've seen one movie with zombies I think and I really didn't understand the point with them. They aren't frightening and they just ponce about, making weird noises. About getting frightened of zombies, I actually don't think that it's the zombies who make one scared, I think that it could be any creepy creature. Getting scared gives you an adrenaline rush and I think that that is the thing that people think is difficult to find in their regular life. That's why they watch horror movies.

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MalalaFan's picture
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MalalaFan 6 November, 2014 - 19:09

I'm a zombie fan. And I think that people who like to frighten themselves with the idea of the zombie apocalypse do that because they find it thrilling and fun, so they ask themselves the question "what would I do if the zombie apocalypse occured? And how would I survive?"

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Lydia_Efrem's picture
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Lydia_Efrem 6 November, 2014 - 18:33

I'm not really I zombie fan. I don't know why but it's just not that interesting at all times and I simply don't believe in them I guess. But I stil think that the thought of zombies can be frightening and I think people frighten themselves with zombies because they get some kind adrenalinkick when they get scared and they like that feeling. So to wrap it up, I'm not a fan but I can see why zombies are frightening and why you'd scare you're self with watching movies or just believing and worrying.

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Tomato's picture
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Tomato 6 November, 2014 - 13:03

No, I'm isn't because I don't like horror movie in general, but I think people like to frighten themselves with zombie-movies, cause they're thrilling.

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Tomato's picture
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Tomato 7 November, 2014 - 07:29

*No, i'm not because I don't like horror movies in general, but I think people like to frighten themselves with zombie-movies, cause they're thrilling.
(I rewrote my comment cause i didn't read through it before I send it)

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Fartasaki's picture
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Fartasaki 6 November, 2014 - 12:25

I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy the thought of bodies rising from the graves to feast on the flesh of the living. It is a chilling thought afterall and the idea does appear when my parents don't answer my calls because they work in a more populated area than where we live. It's more likely i'd die of starvation than actually being mangled by a horde of brainless corpses however. Why people like the idea of a zombie apocolypse can be because of a varitey of reasons. It may be because they regard this world as unpure or they think that they will fare better in a world where laws kind of stop mattering. Zombies have been used alot however, so the idea of them becomes less and less intimidating. I've seen my fair share of zombie variants and killed alot of them in games. As I said, less scary because of overuse.

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MetallicA's picture
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MetallicA 6 November, 2014 - 08:08

well a zombie is a person that's woken up from dead and seeks revenge.. i mean what's not frightening with that?! i think the reason why zombies are used so much in horror movies and such is because it's a crazy cool figure and can be used in alot of situations.
i just love zombies!!! when I watch a zombie apocalyptic movie it feels like all the zombies are so pointless and do no resistance. it's like the whole "slowmo zombie thing" is the way a zombie is suppose to be described. me personally I love the more dangerous ones, a zombie that can think and not just walk at their target but instead come up with a plan. but if the zombie apocalypse would actually become reallity I'd love if the zombies where stupid and could'nt live in sunlight!

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Fredde_Regge's picture
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Fredde_Regge 5 November, 2014 - 19:24

I am a huge zombie fan and i love watching zombie movies. I think people like zombies so much because they like to scare the selfs and if you would want to scare your self, what would be better than a nasty looking undead creature?

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dreamcatcher's picture
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dreamcatcher 5 November, 2014 - 19:06

No I am not a fan of zombies. Infact I do not like horror movies at all. I think that the reason why people frighten themselves is because they get a rush of adrenaline. It could also be to get their imagination to the next level and explore new stages of fear.

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Foten's picture
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Foten 5 November, 2014 - 13:05

I'm a big fan of zombies, i like zombie series like the walking dead. I like thats it's a bit scary sometimes with zombies. I think that they like the adrenaline kick from when they think of it, like every "myth" and mythical things that are happening in this world.

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Tocca's picture
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Tocca 3 November, 2014 - 15:24

I don't like zombies... I'm not comfortable at all with scary movies. Action movies with scary creatures, sure, but not horror movies of that kind. I felt sick by seeing the zombies in the walking dead. But I'm pretty sure it could be interesting to read about, therotical.
People are so different so it's hard to say why people want to scare themself. But you do get a kick by being scared and that is an awesome feeling. As long as it's not too much...

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