Donnerstag, 14. Mai 2009

All about the Brains: What is a Zombie ?

So here we are for the next episode of All about the Brains. Todays Topic will be: What is a Zombie ?

To describe a zombie, or better, to define a zombie is quite a hard thing to do, because there are so many things that are defined as a zombie. Nearly every culture or zombie movie has one or invents a new zombie type. The zombie has it's roots deep in the history of mankind and goes back to the beginnings of mankind. The real reason for the zombie's origin was that the medicine of the early days, like that of the Egyptians, couldn't explain a seemingly death, so when they buried their family members and they came back to life, they thought they where posessed and wanted to harm the living. The most records of this happening are in Germany dating back to the Dark Ages. They called their zombies "Wiedergänger". Its German and means something like "those who come back/walk again". The actual word "zombie" has it's roots in central Africa, and stems from the word nzumbe, and the origin of their zombies is a totally different one than ours. Their zombies were made by Voodoo, then raised and controlled by a Voodoo priest. You can say that our image of the zombie is a little bit of the European Wiedergänger and the nzumbe. The nzumbe had a purpose, and that was to do very heavy work. Mostly it was a punishment for criminals. The new mindeset of the zombie during the 70s and 80s was a commercial one. The film makers described the zombie as the representative of the mainstream. Mindless people who will believe anything and ask no questions. In newer movies, the zombie usually isn't the enemy anymore, instead it is a condition and the other living people are the enemies. The origin of this fear is no goverment, no police, and no rules. The greatest fear is to be on your own, with no one to help you. These days, you see more and more cases of zombism via a virus, or because of biological weapons. This originates from todays fear of goverment, terroroist groups and medical corporations. For example, take the movie or the game Resident Evil, where the Umbrella Corporation is testing it's virus on a whole city. The interpretation of zombies depends on in which culture you live and which fears you have. You can get really deep about zombies. And thats the secret to the horror in zombie movies, to say, "Yes, this could happen", or ,"Look its just like that right now without zombies".

In movies, there are differences in how one becomes a zombie. We have the Virus Zombie, Bio Hazard Zombie, Atomic Zombie, Zombies that get raised by the Devil, a Wizard called the Magic Zombie or Vodoo Zombie, the fast rage Zombies from 28 Days Later and the good old shamblers that just shuffle around. Then there are also the ghouls, but a ghoul raises himself. He is like a Poltergeist. A lost soul that cannot rest until he has finished what he thinks he has to do. You see where im getting with this, I could go on and on with the zombie types.

A big point of discussion is also what makes a zombie, how they act and what their abilities are... I don't want to explain to you every zombie type because then this post would be 10 pages long, but in the end there are 3 main rules about what defines a zombie:

#1) It has to be a reanimated corpse. Therefore, the person has to have died and then turned into a zombie.
#2) It has to feed on flesh.
#3) Destroying the brain is the only way to kill it.

I will explain to you my version or my understanding of a zombie, because in my opinion, its the most logical and realistic one. I've always loved the Virus Zombie, because it is the most realistic one. Also, I like the idea that it's blood is contaminated with a virus and that you can get infected from it. It makes killing the zombie much more dangerous. Another thing is the speed: running, or shambling. At first, I really liked the Romero zombies. They are slow and its like death is slowly coming for you and you can't do shit about it, but I reconsidered this in 2004, when fast zombies were used in the remake of Dawn Of the Dead and 28 Days Later. That really portrayed a whole new version of the zombie. I wrapped my mind around that. I think the speed of a zombie should be relative to what injuries it has and how decomposed it is. If it has ripped out part of it's leg muscle, then it is logical that he can't move very fast, right? Also, what I liked about the Zombie Diaries was that they talked about the fact that zombies don't bleed like humans. They kinda like spray when you put a bullet into their head. I thought cool, but why?

And this is the idea that I've come up with: because of the virus, the blood gets thinner and because of the decomposition, the pressure gets higher in the body. Its like piercing a water balloon. Thats why I've added it to my zombie thoery; its very nice and logical. It makes the killing even more dangerous.

I hope you liked this excursion through the origins of the zombie, and I hope I've shown you a more in-depth view of the whole zombie genre, and shown you that its not just a stupid monster. It represents our fears. Maybe I made a zombie fan out of you, I hope so. If you want to add something please comment on it. And yes, I already knew everything I wrote and didn't have to look it up on Wikipedia. I'm a big zombie fan.

So next episode on All about the Brains will be a big review about 8 or 10 zombie movies. So stay tuned!

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