In Episode 16, The Conversation Hat team, along with very cool kid, Jay Plent (some would say too cool), we had to decide whether they would be a vampire, zombie or a werewolf. The team unanimously decided against spending eternity as slowly rotting brain-eaters, however, have they misjudged undeath? Zombie’s aren’t all shambling sacks of viscera you know! We intend to list some possible zombie types to in an attempt persuade the team that there might be more to this option than they first thought.
The concept of Zombies originated in Haitian folklore, where people would be killed and reanimated by voodoo magic to act as slaves controlled by their creator. The term was first recorded in 1810 by historian Robert Southey whilst writing History of Brazil. The "Zombi" he referred to wasn't a brain eating monstrosity, but a West African deity. Later, the word came to mean a human lacking self-awareness, intelligence or indeed a soul, due to the human force leaving the body.
First seen in 1932's White Zombie, (that's a film, rather than a band fronted by Rob Zombie), these zombies echo the slow moving and brainless zombies of later films, but thankfully are more interested in following orders than snacking on living humans.
Echoing the modern understanding of, and concern regarding infectious diseases, these zombies are a relatively new type seen most notably in in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later These zombies are technically alive human hosts for a virus that turns them into super speedy, marathon running, enraged murderers, (yikes!). Not satisfied with the usual zombie bite, you could also risk infection through kisses, licks, or by being bled on, (not necessarily in that order). So, having accidentally exchanged bodily of fluids, you’ll be ripping out your loved one's eyeballs before you realise your mistake.
A mutated strain of mad cow disease is the zombie catalyst in Zombieland. These infection zombies are maybe too close-to-home with the films demonstrating how truly devastating these viruses could be. This film becomes more realistic with the random appearance of Bill Murray.
Most people consider George Romero’s zombies to be the classic: slow, unintelligent and bumbling along trying to have at your cankles. First seen in1968’s Night of the Living Dead, these zombies can, thankfully, be stopped by a bullet to the head. However, anyone who dies will be reanimated as a zombie, regardless of bite status. This makes the slow moving, clumsy zombies a lot more terrifying as they have no trouble recruiting more zombie pals from cemeteries and old people's homes across the world.
Popular comedy horror Shaun of the Dead sees pub surrounded by these zombies. Despite being easy to deal with individually, they become a deadly force en masse, (especially when your main weapon is a pool cue).
The most intimidating of all as they not only want to eat you, but can also devise a plan to do so without just waiting for you to stumble upon them. (They probably have a reasonable idea of how to season your entrails as well)
There have been a few types of intelligent zombie such as in Land of the Dead where Big Daddy organises them into an almost indestructible army of the hungry. Bub in Day of the Dead is actually regains the ability to use a gun and remembers to salute sarcastically - which is impressive as most of the living seem to have trouble with it.
The idea that zombies crave brains was introduced in 1985’s Return of the Living Dead, although not officially a member of Romero’s -of the dead series. These zombies can talk, with weird wiggly tongues emerging from skeletal mouths, and need brains to ease the pain of being a zombie. The ability to speak and to recognise they feel pain would classify them as intelligent, even though it’s unclear how a decomposed body could feel anything at all.
Nazi zombies are the most disturbing combination of zombie and, supposed, intelligence. Already evil prior to death, being a zombie doesn't seem to change much about the Nazis, except for making them much harder to kill, (again). To use a zeitgeisty term....
Most notably shown in Dead Snow, the Nazi’s are obsessed by their hoard of shiny things and will gruesomely kill any happy-go lucky Norwegian teenagers that stumble upon it. Other examples include Frankenstein’s Army where a descendant of Frankenstein makes Nazi monsters who surprisingly aren't very friendly; Blood Creek in which a whole lot of nonsense surrounding a Viking rune and Michael Fassbender occurs; and the atmospheric British series Outpost, where Nazi zombies are trying to play with the very fabric of reality… Because why not?