the zombie debates – what is a zombie

zombies 3

Definition of ZOMBIE | Merriam-Webster

1 – usually zombi
a : the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body
b : a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated
2 – a : a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead; especially : automaton
b : a person markedly strange in appearance or behavior
3: a mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice
— zom·bie·like adjective


there are so many variations these days of what is classified as a zombie.
but if you really break it down, i think there’s really only two possibilities that could create a zombie.

natural vs supernatural

how have i concluded this? by my thoughts, zombies could be created by:

natural, meaning either science/viral/comet
supernatural, in terms of the Haitian sorcerers or some other means of the unexplained.


the following is the most common types I’ve seen so far (please feel free to correct me in the event I’m wrong about something, I have tough skin and can handle it):

a. Romero’s dead reanimated – traditional slow walking, rising from the dead, old school zombies.

b. voodoo/Haitian zombies – this blend can range from sorcerers animating dead to carry out tasks and objectives. they can be living people succumbing to drugs and losing self awareness as was the case in the serpent and the rainbow.

c. viral/science – virus, infection. body still alive, never died, just loses mental awareness and either mutates or falls back to very primal instincts. typically fast and capable of running, making them scary as hell.

how do i classify the following popular movies?


viral/science angle zombies:

1. 28 days later – animal rights group releases rage infected monkeys
2. i am legend – cure for cancer gone wrong
3. resident evil – umbrella corporation’s t-virus gets out
4. zombieland – bad burger causing Mad People Disease
5. reanimator – laboratory drug
6. night of the living dead – radiation from satellite falling
7. the return of the living dead – gas exposure from container of army experiment gone wrong

voodoo/haitian zombies:

1. serpent and the rainbow – drug produced by witch doctor
2. pet cemetery – ancient Micmac Indian burial ground/supernatural


shaun of the dead

1. shaun of the dead – when Shaun first goes to the shop we hear on the radio something about a satellite unexpectedly re-entering the Earth’s orbit. This is a tribute to George Romero’s zombie films, in which the cause of the infection was also never discussed. (source)
2. dawn of the dead – original and remake has no official cause
3. walking dead – no official cause and never discussed

other questions…

so i had some of the following questions with hope some folks might shed some light on:

frankenstein1. Frankenstein, does he count as a zombie? and his bride?
2. Golems – clay/dirt brought to life. would they count as zombies? i mean people are made from earth, so isn’t that kind of the same thing?
3. Night of the Comet – comet flies by earth and incinerates everyone who didn’t have some kind of protection shielding from the radiation. but those who survived became some form of monsters. however they still were able to speak or move and think. do those that survived count as zombies?

the verdict

my definition of a zombie is a host/vessel that no longer thinks for itself except on a very basic/primal level and is driven by instinct to feed or destroy by any means. by this definition, I guess this puts my general view of what a zombie is in a very generic and broad bucket. i know, sounds like a cop out of an answer – but thats my opinion and i’m sticking to it.

i guess i feel that the most likely version of “zombies” we’ll ever see will be one born from a virus or bacteria. it will come from some lab experiment that went wrong or bacteria from a pig/chicken farm that contaminated someone’s food… (wash your #@%$*!& hands people! we’ve all watched Contagion, you know how fast viruses can spread!!)virus_swineflu_web

what do you guys think? am I right? wrong? what’s YOUR definition of a zombie?
next question on the zombie debate – runners or walkers?


2 thoughts on “the zombie debates – what is a zombie

  1. Awesome post. Shaun of the Dead rocks. You’ve even included some of most favorite movies! Incredibly thorough. Good work! I’m an old school zombie kind of guy. Love my zombies rising from the dead, eating humans and dying with a bullet to the head. Virus zombies are cool too, but it’s a predictable story line. Eventually everyone becomes a zombie in those movies! Oh, and I also think Frankenstein counts as a zombie since he came from the dead and really hasn’t much of a brain (since Igor passed along a criminal brain to the good doctor to implant). But, that’s just me…what do I know!

    Again, awesome post!

    • thanks Jack! Shaun of the Dead was definitely a favorite. while i love the idea and concept of traditional old school zombies, unfortunately i really believe we’ll see virus zombies (if we see them at all). Virus zombies are predictable, but i think thats also what makes it so scary. no one is immune to becoming a monster, that it can happen so easily – thats just downright mortifying. and thanks for your opinion on Frankenstein! thanks again for visiting 😀

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