Here's something that's pissing me off:
"It now seems clear that Zombies have firmly displaced vampires as this season's go-to monster." - James F. Broderick, The Huffington Post
When the estrogen-driven vampire craze arrived in literature and then in film (yep, where do you think cinema finds it's ideas?), I was a young college dweeb overwhelmed by the tintinnabulation of Ball State's Bell Tower and laughter coming from apartments and dormitories, which ultimately denied me the chance to stand against the blood-sucking invasion.
My fear at the time was that Bram Stoker would become so enraged with certain works that he would rise from the grave, undead, and come to devour all of mankind.
Now as an active writer, I want to lead the resistance. My initial approach was to write an intense new view on the zombie that would remind everyone why the creature is cool and should stay in the realm of the cult.
I mean, our parents were stoked after seeing Night of the Living Dead by George Romero in 1968, but you know what they did? They didn't go out and wear zombie-faced clothes, make memes about bath salts, or drag zombies into the sea of mainstream reruns. No, they went out and smoked some pot or dropped a little acid and became part of one of the greatest movements that lead into the next twenty years.
Since drugs are super-illegal now (although a bit more ubiquitous), I suggest we make sure the zombie doesn't lose whatever it is the zombie has. We actually learned about zombies in one of the earliest surviving works in literature.
Don't believe me?
from the epic of Gilgamesh:
Ishtar spoke to her father, Anu, saying:
"Father, give the Bull of Heaven,
so he can kill Gilgamesh in his dwelling.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up and eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!"
So let's keep the zombie in tact.
Most Zombies Won't Kill You . . . ?
One of the most famous real-life stories of zombism comes from 1982. This is a story of a man from Haiti named Clairvius Narcisse who was sold in 1962 to a zombie master by his brothers, buried, and unburied to work on a plantation as a zombie slave. Once his master died, he went on to wander around the sugar plantation for almost 20 years until the zombie spell wore off. One day in the market, he spotted his sister from the past and they reunited after sharing stories only they would know. It actually became a book (The Serpent and the Rainbow) and several movies, proving the entertainment industry will saturate anything.
Harvard enthnobiologist Dr. Wade Davis (author of The Serpent and the Rainbow) researched the story to see if there was any truth behind it. He discovered that puffer fish and toad skin can kill someone without killing them, so to speak. The idea is, victims are drugged with theses toxins to a point before death, and then after hallucinations can be so severe they create memory loss. If a skilled voodoo priest performed these tasks appropriately, the victim would know nothing else besides what the master has taught it. However, after awhile, the drugs wear off.
There's quite a bit of controversy behind this story, so the answers are left in question. Whether it's possible to create a zombie or not, it seems they won't kill you until you order them to. Of course, if the victim is alive once the drugs wear off, then you'll probably have one pissed off mad man who wants nothing more than your blood.
If you want to stop entertainment companies from over-saturating zombies like they did vampires, become a skilled voodoo priest and turn their friends into zombies. Once they see this, they'll either pale in fear or sell-out their friends for some quick cash.
Just because it rises from the grave doesn't make it a zombie. There's a notion, that, when people are buried, they stay buried. You know, because they're dead.
There are also numerous urban legends about being buried alived, which have been made into countless novels and movies for a cheap buck. What's really unfortunate is some of these legends aren't legends at all.
In the 19th Century, people were buried alive more often than anyone would care to admit. At the break of the 20th Century, William Tebb tried to collect every true story of premature burial that he could find. Tebb's main prerogative was to find out how such a phenomenon could happen and to find the right preventive measures. Nonetheless, he found far more cases than he expected. How many did he find, you ask?
There were 219 known cases of premature burial and 149 cases in which embalming and dissection began without the person actually being dead-dead. Lucky for us, our medical science has evolved to the point we can bring someone back from near-death or comas, as well as bring them to such states.
Maybe if we have more patients escaping the grave and rushing over to California, we could stop the zombie abuse. Then again, they'll probably accept death at the hands of pissed-off undeads as they film the entire scenario.
Call From the Grave
You know what's interesting? Zombies never make phone calls. It's more of a ghost thing to call from the grave, but since we're all pretty much slaves to technology - myself included - it seems to make sense that a barely functional individual could thumb a few buttons before their hand falls off.
Zombie spells and premature burials aren't the only true stories that lead us to encounters with the undead. In fact, in 2008, Charles Peck died during a tragic Metrolink derailment. After his family watched the dreadful news and were told he died in the wreck, they claimed they received around 30 calls from his cell phone. Once the destruction was cleaned up, a search crew found Peck's body. Indeed, he died during the wreck.
There's a couple theories I've come up with: A) He landed on his phone. This wouldn't explain the unique calls, however, unless they were assigned similarly in his contacts. B) He was alive for a short while after the wreck, but in bad shape. He might've made the calls for help before his body gave out.
Although this is surely in bad taste, if you ever find yourself in a near-death situation, call someone in the entertainment industry and threaten to haunt them if they make a zombie flick out of you.
(Another interesting aspect to this case is, that, a Metrolink engineer sent out texts mere seconds before the crash happened. It's not that the engineer knew death was imminent, but he sent out 50-plus texts during his shift. The timing of the texts hints that he missed a signal about the incoming freight-train due to looking down at a his phone.)
Apology for Any Bad Aftertastes
As the title conveys, I apologize for any witticisms made in poor taste. However, I aim to prove a point that there's a reason stories from the grave and of the undead are taken so seriously.
Zombie tales should not be romanticized in any sense and they shouldn't be funny. There's nothing funny about the aforementioned events, accept maybe the cheesy don't-text-while-driving ending to the train wreck. (Is God a hack horror writer too?) These tales should criticize social, medical, and scientific experimentation. They should refer to our society and provide precautions.
If you think my comments were a little low-brow, just wait until some desperate writer teams up with a greedy movie-maker to create a zombie flick in the same vain of Twilight. When women are surrendering themselves as slaves to powerful, undead, shiny creatures, no one will be happy.
You Might Also Enjoy:
Zombie - ABC Science
Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead
Arm Yourself with Facts Against the Zombie Apocalypse
Phone Calls from the Dead
Zombies Aren't Funny
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.