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ANATOMY OF A ZOMBIE
Part One of a Two Part Series
Essay by Terry Baker
The life of a zombie must be pretty damn simple. Find the living. Kill the living. Eat the living. Repeat. That’s pretty much the daily routine for the living dead. They don’t have to worry about long distance phone bills, overdue library books. Yep. Pretty damn simple. You may criticize our life-challenged brethren for their one dimensional existence, but don’t think for a second that they all fall from the same tree. No, my pal, like us, zombies are rich with distinctive backgrounds and flavors. Like America, the zombie world is a melting pot of colorful characters. Don’t run around thinking they are all mindless killers. Drop your petty pretenses, your unjustified stereotypes and delve in the sociological case study of the zombie community.
Ultimately, the genesis of all zombies can be categorized in two major groups. There is Group A: The zombie born of science, and Group B: The zombie born of nature. Both groups contain a wide subset of definitions. For instance, Group A, the science breed, can be a product of a secret military experiment gone awry. They can be a product of a biologically created virus or chemical anomaly. Also in this group are the isolated mad scientist experiments gone awry. In all subsets, notice the operative word. Gone awry. The Group B zombie, spawned from nature is a little easier to classify. These breeds exist purely from the evil. Be it an underworld, demonic impetus, these zombies are simply a spawn to kill for revenge and meanness. For laughs, we can consider them the “Blues Zombies”. Someone has done them wrong during their life. Instead of going down to the crossroads to make a deal with the devil and write a blues song, they just set out to kill and get some payback.
Our first case is the classic zombie, portrayed in such films as Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD trilogy. This is an interesting phylum to classify. Although the zombie uprising was spawned by radiation (and radiation does exist in nature), it was due to a satellite that fell from space. Thus, having the satellite being the vessel that brings this anomaly to fruition, we can consider the zombies born of science. These zombies prefer the simpleton’s approach with only the most primordial functions of the brain at work. They move methodically, searching for their daily bread, i.e, flesh. They have no need for talking. They prefer to not lead an active lifestyle. This brand of zombie almost takes a communal approach for the hunt for food. They share their kill with the clan. On one occasion, they even use logic to cook the flesh over open flame. Hillary Clinton may have hit home with them. It does take a village to raise a family…of the undead.
From the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, we see an evolution of the zombie born of science. Spawned from the biochemical, Tioxin, these zombies possess a little more smarts. They become more animated. Also, while still enjoying the random piece of living flesh, they develop a certain taste for the living brain. In the RotLD series, we find the zombie can obtain superb strength and agility, as well as a horrible sense of humor.
The zombie born of nature is brought about through many forms. The ancient practice of voodoo is a good way to bring the dead back among us. Another way includes the dreadful idea of grave robbing. However, in this phylum, the best way to bring a zombie to its feet is simply by doing them wrong.
For a reference of this kind, we can easily turn to a film reviewed on this very site. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD is a classic case of this ilk. The Knights of the Templars were a wronged clan. They were punished and put to death. Be it an evil force or the like, they return from the grave. This phylum is plausible considering that positive, negative, good and evil forces exist throughout nature. We can justify this simply by saying that though unexplainable, supernatural elements to exist in our realm of the cosmos. The Knights of the Templar zombie has no primary function but to kill human and seek revenge. He cares not for sustenance. Just as the knights did while mortal, they remain as a union in their rotting state. They hunt together, using guile and cunning to seek out their victims. The knights posses much more skills of deduction as do most of their zombie brethren. If we wish to introduce a crossbreeding aspect to our study, we could reasonably say that this particular breed can also be linked to the ghoul family. However, we can leave the ghouls for a later study.
To bring the natural, or supernatural, aspect more into focus, we can also study Aured’s EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA. In this Spanish case, we find the danger of putting to death an already evil and demonic couple. As mortal humans, the subjects were not nice people. Putting them to death in a grotesque manner is asking for bloodshed from beyond the grave. Of course, centuries later, our demonic couple rises from the grave to get the heir that did them wrong and whoever may fall into their path along the way. This zombie couple, like most of the zombies born of nature, prefers a more sadistic reign of terror and does so with bloody abandon. Again, there is no desire for nourishment, only mayhem. As was the case during the couple’s mortal time, they have a strong link to a dark, “satanic” power. This evil dwelled in their spiritual natural realm and was the catalyst for their unnatural upheaval.
This is only scratching the surface of the anatomy of the zombie. Film wise, this horror genre is full of the many facets and idiosyncrasies of the undead. Truly, they are a wide and interesting breed. For some, motives are entirely different. Likewise, their mannerisms, skill set, and evolution are as broad sweeping as their living counterparts. But, all differences aside, the zombies have one common trait that pose a threat to us all. Regardless of their genesis, they will kill you. The zombie should be thought of with respect and fear. Now, perhaps, this will help you better understand the living dead among us and we can all evolve in this diverse melting pot we call life. But I doubt it. They still want to kill and eat you.
(Do not worry. The zombie culture is one doomed to extinction. Next time, we’ll explore the inevitable truth of “Zombie Genocide”.)
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