The history of the Zombie Short Story derives itself from Haitian culture. If one was sick of a family member they could hire a VooDoo Priest or Bokor to administer a powdery substance made from the poison of a “Porcupine Puffer Fish.” It is said that this black magic would cause their heart rate to slow enough to be considered dead.
This appearance of death would cause them to be buried. Then, the Bokor would unearth them still alive. The concept would be that they would have their memory erased and no longer be the annoying person they had once been. Also for the rest of the subjects life they would basically belong to the Bokor, doing as they wished, becoming an undead slave.
The American Culture of the Zombie has primarily been led by film. Bela Lugosi starred in
“White Zombie” in 1932 following in the Haitian theme or style. In an effort to win the heart of a lady, Lugosi acting as a businessman turns her husband into a Zombie in order to rid him from the picture.
All through the 1930’s and 40’s the theme remained mostly of Haitian origin. Most Zombie characters were not actually dead, but reduced to a trance like state and turned into a slave controlled by a “Master.”
The 1950’s in American film brought out the more cannibalistic Zombie. Although they began to eat human flesh they were still controlled by a Master of sorts. Only now the control was brought about by a mystic or somewhat super natural power or being. This cannibal Zombie would continue into the 1960’s and evolves into what we know today.
All throughout their creation the Zombie has remained a rather slow un-intelligent being.
George Romero in 1968 brought us “Night of the Living Dead.” This rendition of monster changed forever the way movie goers were to be frightened. Ultimately Romero transformed the Zombie.
It is Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” that introduced a formula into the behaviors of the un-dead Zombie. Now they were able to spread the “disease” through biting their victims similar to that of a Vampire but possess no supernatural powers, their only strength was in that of being large in population.
George Romero approached the Zombie as a non-moral entity, a human in form only.
America was in the middle of the Viet Nam conflict when “Night of the Living Dead” was released. Television viewers were seeing bodies on their local news channels being brought home on a regular basis, a transformation throughout society was beginning, a numbing of what was once considered taboo slowly entrenched itself in the atmosphere of American culture.
Nothing after Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead” has swayed far from the new found monster. Not even the newest series “The Walking Dead.”
What do you think, how is “The Walking Dead” similar to Romero’s classic?
How does it differ?