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.

Reading

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.

Language level: 

Discussion

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

Comments

the29th's picture
57x
3x
the29th 6 November, 2015 - 19:36

I'm not actually sure why people love zombies so much. I guess it's for the same reason why people love horror movies, something that is also a mystery to me. Maybe they just like the adrenaline? Though I do think the idea is pretty cool and many good tv-shows/movies/video games have come from it.

up
0 users have voted.
Joh00's picture
53x
3x
Joh00 6 November, 2015 - 13:35

I'm not a fan of zombies. I don't find zombie stories that exciting and I think that is becuase it's so unrealistic , there is no way zombies could exist. I don't know why people like frightening themselves with zombies. Perhaps they think it's exciting to see if they get scared when watching or reading a zombie story.

up
0 users have voted.
Husmusen100's picture
54x
3x
Husmusen100 6 November, 2015 - 12:20

I don’t think zombies are frightening because I have always known that they are not real. When I was younger I thought they were frightening but not because of what they do but because of the way they looked.

I think people like to be scared by zombies because they are so well created in movies. They are also humans that are not dead or alive. We humans also like abnormal creatures. I’m not sure though because I personally can not relate to this.

up
0 users have voted.
Ameno's picture
682x
9x
Ameno 5 November, 2015 - 16:34

No, I am not a zombie fan and don't like to be afraid. I don't really know why people like to scare them selves and watching horror movies. But one of the reasons maybe is that the Adrenalin starts to flow through their veins. But as i said i have almost no clue to why people like to scare themselves.

up
0 users have voted.
Araz21's picture
54x
3x
Araz21 5 November, 2015 - 16:33

I am not a big fan of zombies because they are not funny and it's not specially funny to watch a zombie movie. From my Point of view, people like zombies and watch zombie Movies because they want to see if they get scared or not.

up
0 users have voted.
LallareN's picture
791x
10x
LallareN 5 November, 2015 - 16:32

I like different games that are set in a world where there's been a zombie apocalypse and you control a group of survivors. I also like horror movies that center around a few people who are escaping zombies etc. I think people like them because they are both alive and dead (the living dead) and because of their mythology.

up
0 users have voted.
Aaaa's picture
215x
4x
Aaaa 5 November, 2015 - 16:24

I am not a fan of zombies. Partly because I barely watch movies or tv-shows although I find them quite interesting and I would probably be a fan of them if I got exposed to the right material. I think that the part of becoming a zombie is the scariest part for me and for most people. Because when you get bitten by a zombie you don't become a cool vampire or a werewolf, you basically die (it doesn't seem like they are conscious). Also zombies usually mean that there is an apocalypse which comes with a lot of other scary stuff.

up
0 users have voted.
ainexs's picture
55x
3x
ainexs 5 November, 2015 - 15:54

Are you a zombie fan? Why do you think people like frightening themselves with zombies so much?
No, I can not say that I a a zombie fan. I do not "not like" them, I just have never been that into the whole "zombie thing". But I did actually really enjoy reading and also watching the book/movie; "Warm Bodies" which is abut a zombie apocalypse etc. It was really good! Someone else also mentioned this but I think that people enjoy zombies so much because they do not fit into the categorize "monsters", because they are closer to humans. They were literally humans before they turned into zombies. I also believe that there is another reason to why people like zombies, and it's that it's not really about the zombies but about the humans. In every movie and book, where there has been or is a zombie apocalypse, the people who still are alive, are really clever and strong and just very tough! So yeah, these are two reasons that I think explains why people like zombies so much!

up
0 users have voted.
CheckpointKalle's picture
654x
8x
CheckpointKalle 4 November, 2015 - 19:29

I'm not a fan of zombies, mainly because don't watch zombie movies. I find the idea of a decomposing and brain-dead creature more ridiculous and unrealistic than scary.

One reason to why people watch a lot of zombie movies might be that they're harder to take seriously than other horror movies. Zombies might be scary, but I still don't think people perceive them as much as a threat as other horror creatures. And even if you're scared of zombies, you (hopefully) have a higher IQ than one, so there should be no problem for you to outsmart a zombie. There shouldn't be that much of a problem to outrun one neither. I beg to pardon if I upset all zombie fans now. I'm just not really for the idea of something as unrealistic as a walking dead...

up
0 users have voted.
Jennie's picture
27x
3x
Jennie 4 November, 2015 - 18:29

I like supernatural movies and books, but I haven't read much about zombies. Yet, my favorite book series takes place in a world which is ravaged by a disease which turns the infected into basically a zombie, even though it is never written out in the book.

I believe that people are frightened of zombies and a zombie apocalypse because authors and movie directors in this genre are skilled in making the whole apocalypse realistic and trustworthy. Maybe zombie apocalypse movies takes horror to a different level since it's actually relatively realistic.

up
0 users have voted.
mmcats's picture
53x
3x
mmcats 4 November, 2015 - 17:17

I am not a fan of horror movies/books in general, but some zombie movies are exciting and sometimes i enjoy to watch them. I think people like to scare themselves because of the adrenaline, I like the rides on theme parks for example, and that is kind of the same thing. I wonder why I like one kind of adrenaline and not the other?

up
0 users have voted.
littlewanderer's picture
52x
3x
littlewanderer 4 November, 2015 - 15:52

I wouldn't say that I am a zombie fan, though I have to admit I do enjoy zombie movies to some extent, as long as the plot isn't extemely terrible. I'm not amused by movies that are too violent or gory, but I could sacrifice a few minutes spent hiding behind a pillow if the story isn't the exact same as every other zombie movie, because they tend to be quite similar.

Even though I personally am not fond of zombies, there are times when I watch movies about them anyway. I think the reason I do this is that we humans are entertained by abnormal things, something that we don't see every day, and a zombie movie guarantees this content. I would suppose that watching these things that make our heart rate go up leaves us with a rush of adrealine, and that is a reason why we do this.

up
0 users have voted.
matildae's picture
684x
8x
matildae 4 November, 2015 - 14:25

I would not say I am a zombie fan, sometimes I might enjoy watching a zombie movies. Perhaps the reason why people find such amusement in zombie culture is because it might not always be such a radical thought, they might actually believe zombies really exist.

up
0 users have voted.
its_me00's picture
68x
4x
its_me00 4 November, 2015 - 09:21

I would personally not consider myself a zombie fan, since I do not constantly seek out fiction containing these creatures allthough I do watch a lot of "horror" films containing zombies as I do not find them scary and am too much of a wuss to watch other horror films.

Because of that, I don't have personal experience with the situation in the second question but I can imagine that it is because people might enjoy the added scare that it is more realistic than horror movies featuring creatures like vampires or werewolves which might itensify their film experience if that is what they're looking for.

up
0 users have voted.
Dave___00's picture
52x
3x
Dave___00 4 November, 2015 - 09:17

Zombies is what i like the most of all other creatures because they are possed and they don´t have an own mind. and why so many people like to frighten themself, i don´t know why. the only reason i can find is that they like to be afraid at some time of the year.

up
0 users have voted.
lor123's picture
656x
8x
lor123 3 November, 2015 - 19:40

I enjoy reading books and watching movies that are mythical and zombies included. It's quite fascinating and enjoyable but I can also imagine it's frightening for people that don't like to hear about the unknown because it beings them fear. I don't like horror movies, but in my eyes movies about werewolfs, vampires and zombies aren't scary so I guess it's something that varies depending on the person.

up
0 users have voted.
adde00's picture
615x
8x
adde00 3 November, 2015 - 19:00

I don’t believe that I am a zombie fan, in my opinion it is pretty hard and strange to be a fan of zombies because they are ghastly creatures that are made to frighten people. From what I gather people might like to frighten themselves with creatures like zombies because then you seem cool and brave in front of your friends if you mange to see a whole horror film with zombies or other horrible creatures.

up
0 users have voted.
linkan1337's picture
55x
3x
linkan1337 3 November, 2015 - 12:28

I do enjoy a good zombie movie anytime, and even better, a really bad one. I think that the mysterious aura about them is spine-chilling. I think people like zombies because it's something that we don't want to have in the real world, but a small part of our brains thinks that it would be kind of cool to have it. It's also because it doesn't involve a "monster", but instead a real person that they can connect to. A real person that used to be conscious and live, just like them.

up
0 users have voted.
IWOUTO1337's picture
708x
8x
IWOUTO1337 3 November, 2015 - 12:26

Yes, I would say that I'm a fan of Zombies, In general I like mythical creatures, especially the supposedly evil ones such as vampires and zombies. Still I'm not a big fan of horror movies as they don't intrest me at all. I also enjoy games that focus around zombie-killing.

up
0 users have voted.
jasssrentas's picture
52x
3x
jasssrentas 3 November, 2015 - 09:32

i like zombies but i think that there are too many zombies in pop culture recently. i think that it i a cool idea where everytime one of you or your friends die another of your enemies are made. i think the reason for zombies being so popular is due to the fact that it can raise a lot of moral questions, like if your mom was going to kill you would you kill her in self defense or would you run.

up
0 users have voted.
00sil02's picture
774x
11x
00sil02 2 November, 2015 - 19:09

I'm not a zombie fan. Sometimes I like to watch zombie movies but they are often unrealistic and disgusting. But I've watched a very good zombie movie called "World war Z". It was really exciting and frightening at the same time. I think it's a bit silly that people get so scared that it would actually happen. I think that the reason that meny people are scared is that the way Zombies are presented in the movies actually is really scary and they look so real in some way.

up
0 users have voted.
Emilia's picture
51x
3x
Emilia 2 November, 2015 - 17:43

I wouldn't say I'm a fan of zombies, since I'm not a fan of horror films or anything scary for that matter. I get scared quite easily, but it doesn't stop me from watching scary films from time to time. However I would prefer not to. I've seen four seasons of The Walking Dead, but I stopped. I honestly don't know why I stopped, because it's a pretty good series in my opinion.

I think people find zombies frightning, due to the fact that they are these creepy, decomposing creatures that like to eat human flesh. Some may see it as threat of some sort, even though it's not real. At the same time it is still fun to watch content with zombies, because some people just love the feeling of being scared.

up
0 users have voted.
TheVolumebar's picture
701x
9x
TheVolumebar 2 November, 2015 - 16:41

I don't like zombies, the slow, creeping threat that you can't seem to escape and that will cause you to go crazy from paranoia. I like zombie costumes however. There is a YouTuber that I watch who makes something incredible with zombies and pop art. She calls them Zombaes. as for why we like to get frightened by the idea of the world endeing, I don't know, but i can try to analyse it. I Think we like to imagine the tension and 'excitement' of a constant threat and that we believe ourselves to be able to escape such a horror. We make plans and calculations for that rather than for how we will split up our salary on our costs. It's rather more thrilling to shoot zombies then to pay bills, and we all want some thrill in our lives. And that's whet I think the reason is to the love of supernatrual beings that kills.

up
0 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
105891x
781x
Jonathan - Coor... 3 November, 2015 - 02:05

I thought you made a really interesting point. I suppose we like to test ourselves by imagining how we would react in an extreme situation and wondering whether we have the skills to survive. But thankfully it's just in our imaginations and not reality. :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

up
0 users have voted.
Stinaj's picture
603x
8x
Stinaj 2 November, 2015 - 14:08

Personally, I enjoy watching the occasional tv-show and movie based on zombie apocalypses, such as The Walking Dead, but I'm not a big fan. I think people are fascinated by zombies because just like other mythical creatures, such as vampires, there have always been stories and legends about them, but never enough evidence to prove that they actually exist. People have always been curious about the unknown. By watching movies and reading books about them it's almost as if you're entering into another world where they actually exist and where you can experience it yourself, which is exciting and frightening at the same time.

up
0 users have voted.
Tony2003's picture
3345x
23x
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

up
0 users have voted.
English3113's picture
682x
6x
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.

up
0 users have voted.
Hello88's picture
563x
5x
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.

up
0 users have voted.
bojana13's picture
4031x
52x
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.

up
0 users have voted.
Toma English's picture
23905x
138x
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

up
0 users have voted.

Pages