Why zombies are the absolute pits

Nope Meme

There isn’t a nope big enough to convey how much I absolutely hate zombies.

Things really turned a corner for me while I watched 28 Days Later* in 2002 – it turned out that some zombies are capable of running. Actually, no, sprinting. Sprinting zombies. Fan-bloody-tastic. I didn’t sleep for a week.

There’s very little I’m afraid of – Spiders? No problem. Snakes? Easy peasy. Any other horrifying character? Allow me to introduce myself (well, except for the monster under the bed, obvs). But never, ever, ever, zombies.

The problem with zombies is you just cannot reason with them. Now, if you walked through the front door to find a vampire sitting at your kitchen table, odds are that you could have a rather grown-up discussion on the matter of how eating you probably isn’t such a hot idea, or attempt some terrible flirting to divert their attention (it seemed to work for Bella Swan). After all, there’s an entire movie about an interview with a vampire. Interview with a zombie? Nope, no chance.

Similarly with witches, you need to play their game, y’know, try and trick ’em. Witches are, after all, the ultimate tricksters themselves – they might even admire you for beating them at their own game and send you on your merry way. Or you could hope that they are making the arduous transition into becoming a white witch. A bit like the time Bruce Jenner transformed into Caitlyn Jenner – let’s call it ‘the awkward phase’ in between. Or failing that, pray for a tornado and a falling house. No, there’s no such thing as a good zombie (‘R’ from the movie ‘Warm Bodies’ doesn’t count – he fancied her).

Moving along the spooky character spectrum and you’ve got poltergeists, ghosts and ghouls. I mean essentially a poltergeist is a cat that can’t stop pushing things off ledges, and ghosts and ghouls are just puffs of air. Right? Dawn of the Ghosts? Poltergeist Apocolypse? I don’t think so. I mean, you’d probably barely notice, other than the need to keep picking up pens from the floor, or trying, and failing, to get rid of that draft.

No, Zombies are absolutely abominable. You can’t reason with them, you can’t stop them, they literally keep going regardless of detached limbs and ungainly limps – and since 2002 you can’t even run from them.

Running Zombie Gif

Stories of the dead being brought back to life are thousands of years old. 5,000 years ago (2,100 BC) the Middle Eastern tale the Epic of Gilgamesh, tells the tale of an angry spoiled goddess, Ishtar. She has an absolute meltdown and threatens to bring back the dead after she finds out her crush doesn’t feel the same way about her. Awks.

“I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living” Gilgamesh, p. 87

She didn’t, but I think it’s safe to say she wasn’t taking the news well.

Ishtar: “I’m fine” (Image via)

The word zombie is thought to have derived from the West African ndzumbi meaning ‘corpse’ in the Mitsogo language of Gabon, and nzambi meaning the ‘spirit of a dead person’ in the Kongo language. The subsequent enslavement of millions of West-Africans from their native homeland and their unwilling “conversion” to Christianity, created a religious fusion, and subsequently Voodooism was born in Haiti in the 1600s.

In traditional Voodooism it is believed that order to get back to lan guinée (Africa or “Heaven”) when you die, you must be taken by the Haitian god, Baron Samedi, the Lord of the Grave. This guy is all sorts of important, and it’s Baron’s job to dig your grave and organise the meet and greet which allows  you pass through to the other side. If, for some horrible reason, a person has angered Baron – by committing suicide, for example, this touchy god will not dig a grave and will not allow you through to Lan guinée. At this point you’re in a rather awkward position, neither dead nor alive – you have essentially become a zombie, and becoming a zombie was a slave’s worst nightmare – a slave with a master for all eternity, never to return to freedom, and home.

In 1791 Africans in Haiti overthrew their French slave-master captors and became the first independent black republic, causing Europe and the US to freak out and wage a war of progaganda on Haiti. They marketed it as a country of violence, human sacrifice, witchcraft, cannibalism and superstition, among many other things. The word “zombie” first appeared after rumours from American troops who had seen the walking dead while failing to invade Haiti in 1915. This was later followed up by the written ramblings of alcoholic travel writer, William Seabrook, and then a dodgy photo of a “zombie” was circulated by American novelist cum voodoo priestess cum Haitian reject, Zora Neale Hurston, in the 1920s.

A photo of a zombie according to Zora Neale Hurston, and her book ‘Tell My Horse’. Zora describes more details of her interaction with zombies, or people who have been “reanimated”, in the radio interview from 1943, below.

The very sad truth about the word “zombie” is that it most likely originated as a term to describe the hopeless feeling of enslavement in Haiti under the brutal French rule, rather than the brain-eating walking dead that we know today.

That being said, the existence of a law in Haiti that makes it a crime to turn someone into a zombie, is rather unsettling. Article 249 states that if someone zombifies another person, buries them, digs them up and then brings them back to life, it is still considered murder.

Seems reasonable.

Haitian Criminal Code 249 (in French)
Haitian Criminal Code 249 (in French via Library of Congress)
“Is considered a poisoning any attempt on the life of a person through the use of substances which can cause death more or less cleanly, regardless of the manner in which these substances were used or administered, and regardless of the consequences.
Is also considered attempt on life by poisoning the use made against a person of substances which, without giving death, will cause a more-or-less prolonged state of lethargy, regardless of the manner in which these substances were used and regardless of the consequences.
If the person was buried as a consequence of this state of lethargy, the attempt will be considered a murder.” Haitian Criminal Code 249 (English)

However it came to be, both film and literature have had an absolute blast with the concept of the zombie, either being depicted as the cannibalistic walking dead – leaving their graves to torment the living (and mostly me), or being biologically infected then sprinting around cities simultaneously infecting and terrifying everyone the world over. Either way, zombies have become a mainstay of popular horror iconography throughout the course of the last hundred years.

So, on the off-chance zombies aren’t fictional, and are in fact real (there’s been no proof either way, so far), it’s vitally important we’re prepared. Just in case. Better be safe than sorry.

So how does one kill a zombie? Basically we’re talking head and brain removal, so one or all of the following seems to have most zombie-experts nodding their heads in approval:

  • Cut of its head
  • Smash its brain in
  • Shoot it in the head
  • Don’t miss.

Shooting Zombie in the head gif

Simple. Just obviously don’t get bitten while doing it, and personally speaking, I don’t think I want to be that close to a zombie. Ever.

And if you want to up your cardio in preparation, follow the development of the Zombie Apocolypse KickStarter app, created by my friend Adele Kirby.

See. It’s not just me.

Adele Kirby Zombie Apocalypse

As luck would have it, according to these experts, there’s also a few zombie cures worth considering.

  • Salt
  • Seeing the ocean to revive the senses and, y’know, unzombify you

Being completely honest, again, the last thing I’m going to do with a zombie hungry for my brains is take him or her (it? them?) on a holiday to the seaside while chucking salt at them.

According to LiveScience.com The top 10 safest countries during a zombie outbreak according to geographic location, topography, armed populace, population density, and military preparedness are the following:

1) Australia, 2) Canada, 3) United States, 4) Russia, 5) Kazakhstan, 6) Bolivia, 7) Norway, 8) Finland, 9) Argentina, and 10) Sweden.

Australia is no doubt first in the list due to its plethora of serial killers posing as native wildlife.

My big issue right now is that my current hometown, the United Arab Emirates, isn’t on that list. The odds do not look in my favour.

But thank god someone out there is more terrified, and more prepared for zombies than me. Because in my opinion, during a zombie apocalypse, it’s much better to stay put and wait for it to all blow over than confront someone with a thirst for your blood face to face.

So, with that in mind, there are a few options for the zombie-wary shopper wishing to protect their home from the undead, such as this Zombie Fortification Cabin from Tiger Log Cabins – from £69,995

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 00.03.30

And thankfully, Rent.com also understand the imperative need of selecting a zombie-proof home, and have created this nifty infographic to help you prepare your home, and sleep that much more easily at night.

Zombie proofing your home

Or finally, as an absolute last resort, and entirely the most insane thing I’ve read on this subject, so far, you can become a paying member of an organised zombie survivalist group. There are groups upon groups to choose from including The Zombie Brigade, The Zombie Squad, The Zombie Outbreak Response Team, and the Zombie Eradication Response Team. Which doesn’t sound alarmingly over the top at all.

Stay safe.

More Zombie Reading

 The Atlantic – The Tragic Forgotten History of the Zombie

The BBC – Where Do Zombies Come From?

Discovery.com – The History of Zombies

NY Times – A Zombie is a Slave Forever 

LiveScience.com – Zombie Infographic

RandomHistory – Zombie Facts

Wikia.com – Zombies

Zombie Research Society

Oddee.com – 10 Most Amazing Apocalypse Bunkers

Adelekirby.com – Zombie Apocalypse Running App

gizmodo.com – The Curious History of Haiti’s Anti Zombie Laws

*some zombie lunatics fanatics believe these monsters in 28 Days Later are not zombies, but chemically infected humans. I don’t care, as far as I am concerned, irrational human eating monster = zombie.


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