Friday, August 14, 2009

Zombie Challenge: Zombie and Its Origins Part II

According to Gary Rhodes in his book White Zombie: Anatomy of a Horror Film common usage of the word zombie only really took off after the release of the highly successful movie White Zombie in 1932. There was even a court case over the use of the word zombie when the Halperins (the makers of the White Zombie film) wanted to make an unlicensed sequel (Revolt of the Zombies) to the original. According to More Word Histories and Mysteries the company that was suing them "successfully argued that most Americans knew the world only from the original film, even if it had been used previously in bestselling books and had already appeared in dictionaries." They also were able to force a witness for the Halperins to admit that "zombie had no general meaning in the English language and that not one person in a hundred knew what it meant before White Zombie."

And with the movie Night of the Living Dead in 1968 the association of zombies and Haitian Vodou was almost gone. From then on zombies were flesh-eating villains who could infect others and could only be killed by violent blows to the head! (Check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for this exact rendering of zombies)!

But there is also plenty of scholarly interest in Vodou and zombies. Ethnobotantist Wade Davis offered a scientific explanation for zombification: "Vodou sorcerers first induced a deathlike state in their victims and then woke them into a zombie trance by administering powerful drugs obtained from local plants and animals."

There's no doubt about it, there are plenty of resources on anything zombie, whether it's watching a movie, reading a book, or looking online! Go zombies!

5 comments:

  1. I am not a huge zombie fan.
    But...the joining of P&P and Zombies as just got to be fun.

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  2. Zombies are just crazy fun, but if they ever really did exist, I definitely wouldn't be a fan!

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  3. so cool. i'm going to have to netflix white zombie. hadn't heard of this previous.

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  4. I'm going to be watching White Zombie during Zombie week and reporting back!

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  5. The only zombie movies I've seen are Shawn of the Dead (hi-larious!) and a few Resident Evil flicks. All the other ones look too hardcore scary for my taste. For some reason it's easier to read about horribly gorey things than it is to see them.
    Anyway... Great post! Lovin' the zombie history lessons! :D

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