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

icecream1337's picture
869x
8x
icecream1337 8 November, 2015 - 20:22

I would not say that I am a zombie fan, but I like scary movies. The watching of the movie am I not such a big fan of, just talking about it and remembering is the fun part. I think that zombis are a bit overrated and that they in some movies look and act really strange. It depends on the movie wheather I like them or not.

I do not know why people like to scare themselves so much, I can only speak for my self. The idea of intimidating yourself and seeing where you draw your own line, is maybe why. It is not fun at the moment you are getting scared, but after when you look back and think about why.

up
0 users have voted.
wmandan's picture
298x
3x
wmandan 8 November, 2015 - 20:07

I like zombies and zombie movies, but only if they're not too gory. I love suspence and action, and that is something you often find in zombie movies.

I think that the reason why people like zombies so much is the same reason as why people generally like horror and gore. It gives you a adrenalin rush. Zombie movies also offen contain a hero and a good action plot which appeals to alot of people.

up
0 users have voted.
Mathii00's picture
257x
4x
Mathii00 8 November, 2015 - 19:56

I’m definitely not a zombie fan. I don’t like the idea of humans that are dead and evil. I think they’re gross and disgusting. I feel sick whenever I see a picture or a movie about zombies cause they have scars and very often you can see they’re brain or something else that are supposed to be in your body, not on the outside of it. I don’t believe that someday there are going to be a zombie apocalypse because I don’t believe in zombies, but I believe in vampires because they can easily hide who they are and you don’t know if a stranger has sharp teeth and is blood thirsting. If a real zombie looks like the ideal zombie, it’s very hard to hide when you look like a dead person. People would have noticed it at this point and would have killed them or found another solution.
The humankind is very curious. We don’t know if Zombies do exist or not, we don’t have any proof for either. The human loves to frighten itself because they don’t know what to believe in, if they exist or not. I think that people doesn’t like to frighten themselves they’re just curious. But if people really like to get scared I think that’s because you get this adrenalin rush when there is a jump scare but also if it’s just creepy. I really hate that rush but they’re the ones who love it. So people are different, we love different things and don’t hate the same things.

up
0 users have voted.
plingrid's picture
319x
3x
plingrid 8 November, 2015 - 19:17

I am a big Zombie fan for the simple reason that I think they are really cool, they are the perfect balance between gory and human, and there is also a lagre variety of styles in zombies. I think people like them because they are supernatural enough to make people realise that they are not real, but at the same time human-like enough to hit pretty close to home, like i said, a perfect balance.

up
0 users have voted.
FeddiH's picture
998x
9x
FeddiH 8 November, 2015 - 19:15

I do not find zombies themselves scary, the thing that scares me is the tension and the atmosphere that they can create. I do not enjoy horror films, but I have seen parts of the Walking Dead, and it was always the tension that scared me, knowing the fear that all the characters housed.

So why do people like being frightened? I believe that they want to feel something out of the ordinary, and in such a way get an adrenaline kick. This is also the reason why people go skydiving etc. Some people may feel too little excitement in their comfortable lives. This is their way of filling that gap.

up
0 users have voted.
agnesn's picture
883x
7x
agnesn 8 November, 2015 - 18:59

No, I'm not a zombie fan. Even when I've watched shows with mythical creatures, I've found zombies to be the least interesting ones.

Watching horror movies and frightening yourself with ideas of zombies kind of acts as a roller coaster. You get scared but you also feel adrenaline, which is a feeling that many people enjoy.

up
0 users have voted.
pepparkaka's picture
278x
3x
pepparkaka 8 November, 2015 - 18:20

I'm not saying I want our world to be deeply shaken by a zombie apocalypse, just that I think zombies are cool. And no, I don't want to meet a zombie. I don't think anyone would want that. But considering zombies are kind of supernatural, why wouldn't you think they're cool or at least interesting? I think they are interesting. How can one become poisoned by someone else's bite? And according to the zombie shows I've seen, biting through humans flesh isn't that hard for zombies. But what, do they just magically get shaper teeth? Because I don't think taking a bite of human flesh is as easy as eating a banana. And if they DON'T get sharper teeth, they need a little strength to bite through that skin and flesh. But have you seen a zombie movie? They are basically just skin and bones! And how can they even function? What if they don't get to eat for years? Are they still going to function normally? How do they get nutrition during the years of "hunger"? Last time I checked, we can't live unless we get some kind of nutrition. And how can one get CAUGHT by a zombie? Have you seen how slow they are? Even I go faster on a Sunday than the speed they are going at. You see, I have tons of questions that need to be answered.

I think people get themselves scared because they want something to talk about. I mean, what would I talk about right now if it wasn't for zombies?

up
0 users have voted.
Samjo1's picture
289x
3x
Samjo1 8 November, 2015 - 18:06

I would consider myself a zombie fan and that is because I think they are very cool and scary and I think that my arguments would be the arguments for most other people aswell.

up
0 users have voted.
mux1911's picture
383x
4x
mux1911 8 November, 2015 - 16:59

I would say that I am a big fan of Zombies. I've watched quite a lot of movies/tv-series about zombies and i've also played som video games involving zombies and different apocalypses. The reason I think many people are scared of zombies is because in a apocalypse you are afraid of losing the ones you love. And if someone who is close to you turn into a Zombie that could be quite traumatic. But it can also be a relief perhaps your boss turns into a Zombie.

up
0 users have voted.
mux1911's picture
383x
4x
mux1911 8 November, 2015 - 16:59

I would say that I am a big fan of Zombies. I've watched quite a lot of movies/tv-series about zombies and i've also played som video games involving zombies and different apocalypses. The reason I think many people are scared of zombies is because in a apocalypse you are afraid of losing the ones you love. And if someone who is close to you turn into a Zombie that could be quite traumatic. But it can also be a relief perhaps your boss turns into a Zombie.

up
0 users have voted.
niastabes's picture
300x
3x
niastabes 8 November, 2015 - 16:25

I am not zombie fan, i do not watch every single zombie movie or series but I can watch a zombiemovie sometimes. I do not really have any experience with people frightening themselves with threats of a zombie apocalypse but I can imagine people are scared of it because there are so many diseases and viruses and parasites that they think it could make people into zombies somehow. I think believing in zombies is a bit to superstious.

up
0 users have voted.
Pencilandpaper's picture
443x
4x
Pencilandpaper 8 November, 2015 - 15:33

I am a fan of horror movies, but my favourites are more about demons and possessions, and not so much zombies and gore.

The i think fear people have for them are partially because in all movies they are brain eating creatures that every sain human being should be afraid of, and partially because everyone else is. No one wants to be the weird one that eats bugs and likes zombies.

up
0 users have voted.
Lizard20's picture
304x
4x
Lizard20 8 November, 2015 - 14:55

No i am not a big fan of zombies.
I dont known why people like scaring themselves with zombies so much because i dont like scaring my self with zombies and i dont know anyone who does thats why i dont know.
Maybe some people just enjoy being scared but i dont understand how anyone can enjoy being scared by zombies specifically

up
0 users have voted.
Dugg's picture
1049x
8x
Dugg 8 November, 2015 - 14:36

I am a pretty big zombie fan i watch some series involving zombies and i think zombies often bring a lot of action and fighting to mive anf sieres wich i appreciate. Personally and don't think zombies are scary but i think that people get a rush out of getting scared. Thats why there a so many horror movies people like to challange themself and se how tuff they are.

up
0 users have voted.
Noh8m8's picture
308x
5x
Noh8m8 8 November, 2015 - 13:59

I would not exactly call myself a zombie fan. I have watched some movies with zombies that I did enjoy but it was not the best movies i have ever seen, due to that I do not like the gross parts with blood and bodypieces everywhere. Also the movies are quite similar to each other. I do think the theories of zombies are very interesting though, actually more interseting than lots of other mythological creatures such as vampires and werewolves. That is probably because zombies feels close to us and the idea of a zombie apocalypse makes us wonder what we should have done in that situation. I think that is why zombies are popular and people like to frighten themselves with them a lot, it feels so realistic.

up
0 users have voted.
Daffodil4's picture
917x
8x
Daffodil4 8 November, 2015 - 12:38

I think that zombie fans believe that an inhuman creature, a former human who is controlled by a master is exciting and the fact that there have been some people who have given themselves out to be real zombies makes it much scarier.

Books, movies and tv-series nowadays are, as it says in the text, full of strange creatures like zombies, vampires and werewolfs. Many people like to explore alternative ways to live and they think that to imagine that maybe there are other kinds of humanlike living beings is thrilling. These zombie movies make the viewer’s everyday life more interesting.

I am not a zombie fan, I find it hard to believe in these creatures, and zombies are therefore not scaring me. Besides, I don’t like scary books or movies at all, zombies is just not my thing.

up
0 users have voted.
Wyvern's picture
194x
3x
Wyvern 8 November, 2015 - 11:39

I actually dislike zombies, mainly because it's been overused. The story (or reality) about the Haiti witch doctors however, I think is very interesting. Zombie slaves to do my laundry. Nice! Zombies are most popular in the western world where I think we live a little too safe and our fantasy tries too make up for the lack of thrills or kicks. That's the reason why zombies are not very popular in the middle east or other catastrophe-ridden areas don't like zombies because they got enough trouble and fear already.

up
0 users have voted.
Avalag's picture
196x
3x
Avalag 8 November, 2015 - 09:16

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

I find the possibility for zombies really interesting, but they have become so boring recently, all they do nowadays in most movies and games is that they are huge hordes but they walk really slowly and don't really try to catch you. I think people like frightening themselves because it's an easy way to get excited because fear isn't really that common anymore, not in that kind of way at least.

up
0 users have voted.
I_love_9gag's picture
183x
4x
I_love_9gag 8 November, 2015 - 08:38

I feel pretty neutral to zombies, I don't believe that they are scary but they aren't really "nice" either.
The mythes concerning them are very interesting, and the movies are mostly good, but then again, who doesn't enjoy a good horror movie/story. but to summarize my short text. No I am not a fan of zombies.

up
0 users have voted.
esouth's picture
137x
3x
esouth 7 November, 2015 - 19:28

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

I would not say that I am a zombie fan. I think the reason I don't like zombies is a magazine I read at the age of seven, which made me really scared at the time. Now I obviously know that zombies aren't and couldn't be real, but I still remember how frightened I was.
I think the main reason people get scared of xombes is the fact that they are supposed to be dead. If someone dies and gets buried, they should remain dead. Another reason might be the big influence zombies have on media, and they are portrayed. Someone who enjoys watching The Walking Dead probably have a pretty good idea of what a zombie would be like, and because of that they most likely know they wouldn't want to encounter one in real life.

up
0 users have voted.
daisybuchanan's picture
918x
9x
daisybuchanan 7 November, 2015 - 17:08

No, I'm not a zombie fan (at all, in fact). I just think that the thought that they once were normal people but don't have anything human left in them is really frightening.
So, not being a zombie fan, I can't understand why people would enjoy watching movies about them. I understand that one can like to read books about them, because it's a completely different thing and you can imagine the zombies to look in whatever way kind of resembles the author's description of them. But movies just make everything seem so real, but maybe that's just what people like about them. Perhaps they just like the adrenaline kick or the "excitement" in zombie movies.

up
0 users have voted.
20David00's picture
101x
3x
20David00 7 November, 2015 - 15:38

I would consider myself as a "zombie fan". I enjoy watching horror movies and the idea of a zombie apocalypse is rather fascinating. The main reason to why i like zombie/horror movies is that they are always very action packed, there is always something happening. I believe that the reason to why people frighten them selves with horror movies is the excitement and the action.

up
0 users have voted.
basket00's picture
149x
3x
basket00 7 November, 2015 - 15:21

I would not say I´m a zombie fan. I do understand why people like zombie so much but I mean for me it´s so unrealistic that it just becomes borring and that´s why I don´t like watch zombie programs.

I do understand why peolpe like to watch horror movie. I think they like feeling more alive when they watch horror and zombie movies. I also thnik that the "I do not know part" is frightening for a lot of people and I think that´s the reason why people frightening themself when they watch zombie movies. I aso think there´s one more reason, the zombie looks extremly scary.

up
0 users have voted.
millaw's picture
96x
3x
millaw 7 November, 2015 - 15:16

Yes, I guess I'm kind of a fan of zombies. I mean, I've seen a couple TV-series/movies and played some video games with zombies in that I've really enjoyed. Though, I think I starting to get pretty unoriginal with zombies. A lot of movies etc use them, and I'm getting kind of tired of it. But, if you can keep the story intresting I'm totally a fan.
I also think the thought about a zombie apocalypse is pretty intresting. Like, how would you survive? Who would survive? It's of course a terrible thought, but still intresting. I think others agree, it's frightening but you can't not think about it.
I think people like frightening themselves with the idea of zombies because it feels kind of realistic. Often in zombie movies/series/games it's a virus that turns people into zombies. And in real life new deceases and viruses is discovered and spread evey day. For example, ebola. Ebola came quick and was deadly. Deceases like ebola helps the theory that a zombie virus could exist, and makes it feel very close and realistic.

up
0 users have voted.
MBlomman's picture
77x
4x
MBlomman 7 November, 2015 - 13:28

i am not a big fan of zombies because I find them overly dramatized in some movies/tv-series and books. Although I like some Zombie movies like the walking dead. it depends on how you illustrate the zombies I think. If you make a series with Zombies you have to be careful so that it doesn't become to much of the zombies. I think people like frightening themselves with zombies because it's the cool thing to do right now and as the world is facing a lot of changes today anything can happen even a zombie apocalypse. I don't believe in zombies myself but I understand people who believe that the apocalypse will come and so on.

up
0 users have voted.
Dade's picture
784x
8x
Dade 7 November, 2015 - 13:13

I am not a zombie fan because I think, that the idea of a zombie, as represented in the movies and tv shows i have seen, is to unrealistic. On the other hand, the idea of a ''living dead'' is quite interesting. I believe that in general people like to scare themselves with this idea because it would turn the world upside down.

up
0 users have voted.
lussebullen's picture
51x
3x
lussebullen 7 November, 2015 - 12:28

I think zombies are really frightening, because of the fact that they are neither dead or alive. They are somewhere in between and plus that they eat human brains. They can't control their bodies because their brains aren't working as it should, so they have only one instinct, and that is too eat brains.

up
0 users have voted.
Paula2205's picture
805x
9x
Paula2205 7 November, 2015 - 12:04

I am indeed a zombie fan! I enjoy watching The Walking Dead and playing zombie-survival video games. I think that zombies are so frightening because a zombie outbreak could potentially wipe out the entire human race and put everyones survival skills to the test. Some people find that, well, kind of awesome. Although, I Believe their opinions would change if they were to actually face an apocalypse of that sort.

up
0 users have voted.
cupcake123's picture
56x
3x
cupcake123 7 November, 2015 - 12:02

I am not a fan of zombies, but I had a period when I watched and loved "The Walking dead". For some reason I stopped, and I really do not know why, because I loved it so much. Anyway, I think people like horror because it is kind of a rusch to get scared by movies and stuff. It is like a small adventure or something.

up
0 users have voted.
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.

Pages