March 6, 2010

What Are Zombies?


Although it is a geek's argument without end, I thought that today I'd discuss my personal definition of "ZOMBIE." I tried to do this in a four-part Youtube video series (Part One, Part Two), but I won't be able to finish the remaining segments until the gods grant me a better computer.

So, what do I consider to be a zombie? Well, my definition covers three types of zombie.


A living being enslaved – or a dead body reanimated – by a supernatural force (e.g. voodoo), scientific or psychological procedure (brain implants or hypnosis), or symbiont (parasite) for the primary purpose of (a.) serving as a slave to a more powerfully conscious master or (b.) acting as host vehicle for another controlling being

NOTABLE EXAMPLES:  White Zombie (1932); Creature with the Atom Brain (1955); The Plague of the Zombies (1966); Night of the Creeps (1986); Slither (2006).


An ambulatory dead body reanimated in a corporeal state by scientific or supernatural means that interacts with the world through mechanical or instinctual behavior motivated by a powerful desire or instinct (often violent) that overrides rational thinking. All traces of rational thinking may be absent, but this is not required.

NOTABLE EXAMPLES:  George Romero's Dead series (1968-2009); The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974); Return of the Living Dead (1985); Dance of the Dead (2008); Deadgirl (2008).


A conventionally living organism infected by a biological agent or chemical, subjected to psychological manipulation, or altered by some other condition that produces a consciousness-limiting state that mimics the traits of ZOMBIE SLAVES or INSTINCT-DRIVEN UNDEAD. Infected zombies are clearly mortal and serve no masters.

NOTABLE EXAMPLES:  Rabid (1977); 28 Days Later (2002); I Am Legend (2007); Zombieland (2009).


I believe this definition remains true to the historical consistencies in zombie media history and distinguishes zombies from other more specific creatures (i.e. vampires) and phenomena (i.e. demon / spirit possession).