The Rising Of The Revenant: Medieval Zombies As Ostension

The Rising Of The Revenant: Medieval Zombies As Ostension

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During the mid-to-latter years of the 12th century respected chroniclers working in cathedrals and monasteries across England began writing, in all seriousness, about corpses rising from their graves to wander through the streets of towns spreading pestilence and death in their wake. Similar accounts popped up as late as 1370 AD in continental Europe. To the modern reader, these accounts sound uncomfortably similar to the tales of zombie plagues familiar to all who read about it in novels or seeing it on television and at the movies. So, what was happening 850 years ago? Did parts of England actually have a real problem with the walking dead? Was it a form of ‘moral panic’ or mass hysteria? Or was it even what modern folklorists would call ‘ostension’ or an urban legend?

William of Newburgh

William Of Newburgh

The most prolific and detailed author of these accounts was the Augustinian canon and chronicler William Parvus (1135?-1198), a man better known to history as William of Newburgh, after Newburgh Priory in North Yorkshire, where he lived and worked. He said: “ It would not be easy to believe the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony ”. He went on the say: “ were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome ,” and added, in a reference to another incident, that Bishop Hugh of Lincoln had been warned “ such things often happened in England…” In other words William of Newburgh was of the opinion these reports of the undead were not just reliable and accurate but also widespread – a plague of zombies in fact.

Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Edouard Cibot (1799–1877)

A Variety Of Undead

Who or what were these undead creatures? The term used almost universally by the English chroniclers of that era was ‘revenant’ but what is a revenant? Setting the term into some context, to people living in the Middle Ages, the supernatural threats they believed they faced included, firstly, demons, imps and devils – all agents of the Christian church’s arch-enemy Satan

Abbey Road: The Inside Story of the Most Famous Recording Studio in the World

We simply cannot talk about albums such as Revolver or The Dark Side of the Moon without mentioning the legendary EMI recording studios at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London, England.

Abbey Road Studios rose to prominence after producing some of rock ‘n’ roll’s pioneering bands, such as the Shadows, Manfred Man, and The Zombies, quickly becoming “the place to be” when it came to both quality and quantity.

Abbey Road Studios (formerly known as EMI Studios) is a recording studio located at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, City of Westminster, London, England.

It was a place of merging technology and art, and while many artists sprang from the chambers of Abbey Road, a number of professionals also learned their trade there, becoming cutting-edge sound engineers whose work would condition the booming of the music industry.

Among them was Ken Scott, who first entered Abbey Road in 1964 as a sixteen-year-old, just in time to witness the birth of the worldwide phenomenon that was The Beatles. Rising through the ranks, he went from being employed as an assistant in the tape library to full-time sound engineer by 1967.

British record producer Ken Scott. Photo by Andy Mabbett CC BY 2.0

From that point on, he knew that his life would revolve around rising talents as well as veterans of the music industry and that his skill could decide on the fate of many records.

In an interview for Noisy in 2015, Scott looked back to the early days of Abbey Road history, with insider stories from various recording sessions which took place there.

With Scott as navigator, the interview meanders through the unknown history of the EMI studio at Abbey Road, as it ventured from recording classical music in the 1930s to becoming the powerhouse of rock ‘n’ roll in the 󈧶s and 󈨀s.

A grand piano and 3 other treasured pianos in Studio 2 of Abbey Road Studios, London. Photo by Tomswain CC BY-SA 3.0

However, not much remains from the early period, apart from records and an oral history of several accounts which were deemed worthy of retelling:

“The one [story] that has stayed in my mind, unfortunately not very well, was about doing some recordings in a far off land with indigenous musicians playing their local style of music. This was in the days of going direct to disk, and the speed of the turntable was controlled by a weight falling at a constant speed. Unfortunately, the engineers doing the recordings really had no idea how long any given piece of music was so they had to keep their fingers crossed that the musicians would finish before the weight reached the ground.”

Cliff Richard. Photo by Raph_PH CC BY 2.0

By 1958, the collaboration with Cliff Richard and the Shadows would change the direction of the studio completely. The emergence of The Shadows was truly a landmark in rock ‘n’ roll history ― slick, well-dressed, creative and above all, masters of their instruments ― they were the crucial ingredient which influenced the upcoming generation of bands.

Another tectonic shift which also happened around that time was that the Abbey Road studios became available for bands who weren’t signed with EMI Records. The label started renting both space and the staff to emerging artists who weren’t obliged to sign anything in return.

Abbey Road zebra crossing made famous by the 1969 Beatles album, in London, England, UK.

This meant that unsigned artists could record a demo which would perhaps launch them into stardom. Anything was possible in the early days, and as Scott remembers, those were the glory days of music:

“EMI Recording Studios had so many great people working there… the experimentation they did for the Shadows and the early Beatles to Geoff Emerick and Alan Parsons with their work on later Beatles and Pink Floyd. Plus the electronics engineers…who invented ADT (Automatic Double Tracking). The place, the people, the acts and that wonderful time in history. It all came together and gave the world a legacy which will probably never be equaled.”

Close-up of a fan-decorated wall in Abbey Road, London.

He personally collaborated with The Beatles on several occasions, contributing to their fantastic rise to fame, and witnessing how overnight recording went from being an almost non-existing trade to one of the most appreciated jobs in the UK.

Furthermore, The Beatles helped put Abbey Road on the map, giving it prestige and a reputation that soon landed them deals with many more promising artists of the time.

However, that’s not all. According to Scott, The Beatles were also responsible for making “the general population aware of the recording process and the importance of the studio and its personnel.”

Beatles Abbey Road Billborad on Sunset Strip. Photo by Robert Landau/Corbis via Getty Images

Being at the epicenter of the British record industry, Scott was indeed a lucky soul. He recalled the experience of working with the lads from Liverpool who went on to conquer the world:

“Incredible. Awe-inspiring. Boring. The best pick up line any male could ever have. I was 16-years-old and working with the biggest band in the world. There really is no other way to describe those sessions, for me anyway, than amazing.”

Although Abbey Road truly proved its worth, it wasn’t long after The Beatles recorded their critically acclaimed White Album in 1968 that another shift in management occurred. By mid-1970, Abbey Road had shifted its resources into producing film music, collaborating with composers such as John Williams.

Although this was a new era for the studio, Ken Scott joined the recording team of Trident Records. At Trident he excelled and continued collaborating with renowned stars like David Bowie, Elton John, and Duran Duran.

As for Abbey Road, it went through various transformations and changed hands over the years, but it continues to operate on the forefront of music production, forging new and exciting artists while nurturing its relationships with veteran musicians whose work has long been part of Abbey Road history.

What is a Revenant?

A revenant is a creature that caused much fear in the hearts of the living. It was said that when a wicked person died, their restless spirits were sometimes able to reanimate their corpse from beyond the grave in order to carry out their malevolent intent.

Though it was common knowledge that a revenant had to have been wicked or engaged in dark practices when they were living, no one was certain what caused certain wicked people to reclaim their bodies after death while others seemed content to ‘rest in peace.’ Because of this, revenants were greatly feared. It was sometimes thought that the souls that created revenants were associated with a different type of evil than the average wrongdoer.

Types of Revanents

Perhaps something that made revenants unique was that there could be different variations of revenants that came back to haunt the living. All that was required to create a revenant was a restless and vengeful spirit that had lived a wicked life when it walked among the living. Because these requirements were fairly loose, this opened the categories of revenants significantly. It was believed that other evil beings could come back as revenants as well.

Perhaps most notable are the accounts of supposed werewolves that came back to haunt the living because they had not been properly killed. These revenant werewolves were said to roam battlefields and drink the blood of dead soldiers.

With the addition of other mythical beings like werewolves and witches being able to come back as a revenant, it is understandable that these creatures posed such a threat to developing societies. Though it is agreed that the majority of revenants seem to be possessed by a need to come back and continue the wicked agenda they carried out during their days among the living, there are some accounts of revenants who seemed to be motivated by their violent and often tragic deaths.

Typically, revenants who were not violent or wicked during their lifetime but experienced a tragic or gruesome death were known to come back in order to harass living relatives. It is noted, however, that some of these creatures had a much more sinister agenda. Some revenants who were not wicked in their lifetime are said to come back with the sole purpose of exacting revenge on their murderer.

Although there seem to be many notable subcategories of revenants, the word for which the creature is named doesn’t suggest a limitation for who or what could be considered a revenant. The word ‘revenant’ is said to be derived from the Latin word ‘revenans’ which is said to mean ‘returning.’ This word was used to describe the manner in which the monster manifested itself – as a reanimated corpse instead of a ghost or demonic entity. It is, however, important to note that there seem to be variations of revenants that allow for ghostly categorizing.

Revenants who appear in ghostly form are said to take the appearance of their corpse in most cases, though there are revenant ghosts who can be identified because they appear soon after a corpse has been buried and are uncommonly clean as well as surprisingly overdressed. Other than taking a ghostly form, these revenants tend to follow the same rules as others who have come back from the land of the dead.

Common Practices of Revenants

Revenants are most commonly motivated by revenge and a restless spirit that feels its work in the land of the living has been left unfinished. Because of this, they will come back – either to haunt their living relatives, kill living people it holds a grudge against, or spread pestilence and disease. It is thought that their spirits are so dissatisfied that they are able to reanimate their bodies and dig their way out of the graves they were interred inside.

According to most legends, the revenant only holds power during the hours of the night. During the daylight hours, the creature is forced to retreat to its grave and sleep in a state of suspension that appeared similar to death, but was not thought to actually be death.

Although there are plenty of tales that tell of revenants who came back to life to hunt and haunt specific people, the majority of revenant stories consist of the creature seeking to spread death and disease among surviving members of their village. Because of this, it is often hypothesized that tales of the revenant came into being when people happened across a dead body that was in a stage of decomposition that was unfamiliar to the living at that point in time.

The First Vampirologist: William of Newburgh

William of Newburgh was born in 1136 in the Yorkshire town of Bridlington but as a youth moved to the Augustinian Priory at Newburgh where he lived for the rest of his life. From an early age, his superiors in the priory realized he had great scholarly talents and urged him to make use of them. His life’s work was culminated in his Historia Rerum Anglicarum, a chronicle of English history from 1066 until the year of his death, 1098.

His chronicle has been praised since it was written and is still readable today. It was particularly valued for the details of The Anarchy under Stephen of England and its glimpses into 12 th century life.

William was one of the earliest writers to discuss vampires, though this was not a word he used or probably knew. He called them by the Latin term ‘sanguisua’ which meant blood suckers more specifically – leeches.

He was not a vampirologist in the modern sense – he did not chronicle the vampires and other paranormal events for the purpose of sharing the knowledge of them. As a man of his time and his religious life, he used them as a way of showing people the evils that could befall them if they led a life of sin.

Whilst he did accept the existence of revenants and vampires, he was also aware people would be skeptical about the stories. He even made reference to people ‘not easily believing’ that corpses, rose from their graves and walked around the streets without the ‘ample testimony’ which supported the stories.

In his work, he documented a revenant in the county of Buckinghamshire that rose from its grave and harassed first its widow, then its brother. He soon began walking through the day as well until the towns people turned to the archdeacon for help. He in turn spoke to the Bishop of Lincoln, who had no personal experience of such a case. However, he recommended the archdeacon have the man disinterred to see what condition the body was in. When this was done, the corpse was found to have no signs of decomposition and looked as though it had just been buried. A charter of absolution was placed on the revenant’s breast which stopped it from rising as the ghoul was never seen around the town again.

William also documented a similar case in Berwick, in Northumberland, where the man who rose from his grave became such a nuisance that ten of the local men dug up his body, cut it from limb to limb and burned it to ashes. Interestingly, this was also a case where the fear of disease was mentioned, showing a realization amongst people that a dead body could carry some type of pestilence.

While not a vampirologist in a modern sense, William of Newburgh was a man who studied the undead in different forms and seemed to have a modern sense of the skepticism some people would show. This shows a very modern mind set in a time when people believed anything that came through religious sources such as the church and the Devil was blamed for most of the things that went wrong in their life.

A Focused History of Zombies

When one considers the history of the modern zombie, they are often directed to the role of zombies in West African Voodoo religion. This manifestation of the zombie is typically understood as a person that has been drugged or has had some kind of curse placed on them that has lead to their death. They are buried and resurrected by a sorcerer, or Bokor, who can control the corpse as a slave.

Paranormal author Brad Steiger in his book, Real Zombies, The Living Dead, and Creatures of the Apocalypse, argues that voodoo zombies and the modern zombie have little to do with one another. Touting voodoo zombies as the titular "real zombies" of his book, Steiger denies even Romero's zombies as the real thing. Discussing the modern zombie, he likens them more to vampires and other flesh-eating horrors. Indeed, the link between voodoo zombies and our modern zombie is largely etymological.

The word zombi itself has been traced to many origins, including the Cuban fumbi or the Central African nzambi or zumbi, among others. The first two terms refer to spirits of the dead, while the zumbi refers to vengeful corpses called revenants that terrorize those that wronged them in life. This dualism has caused Hans W. Ackerman and Jeanine Gauthier to argue that the traditional Voodoo zombi is actually one of two varieties the zombi as a soulless body and the zombi as a bodiless soul. Considering this, the Voodoo zombie begins to resemble the walking dead of other cultures that may prove better precedents to our modern flesh-eating zombies.

The idea of dead bodies rising from the grave and terrorizing humans is not limited to Voodoo belief, but has in fact appeared in writings dating back to Mesopotamian cultures. In Tablet VI of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the wrathful goddess Ishtar threatens to raise the dead who will "outnumber the living" and "devour them" unless her father Anu agrees to release the Bull of Heaven. Several thousands of years later, the Book of Revelation features dead bodies rising from the grave and terrifying the living.

This fear of corpses reanimated by supernatural means spread like a plague as civilization expanded. Northern European legends abound with tales of the previously mentioned revenant. Revenants in literature can be separated into those reanimated by demonic possession and those who reanimate of their own volition. The formation of possessed revenants is of particular interest, as demons are said to enter and exit through the corpse's mouth, the same vector as the modern zombie's virus. The demon wearing the corpse as a shell further causes it to walk slowly and with a shambling gait. Other similarities to modern zombies appear in stories such as one, reported by Thomas of Cantimpre (1201-1272), of a woman killing revenants by destroying their heads.

Similar monsters also appeared in Norse and Middle Eastern cultures. Icelandic cultures call their particular brand of revenant the draugr. Like revenant legends, the corpse's identity in life is an important element of the tale, as it often provides the foundation of their undead antagonism. In the Grettis Saga, an unpopular shepherd named Glam is killed violently and returns as a draugr. He terrorizes the countryside nearby his grave until he is subdued by beheading at the hands of the saga's hero, Grettir. Other sagas highlight draugrs whose victims also fall to draugrism, repopulating entire regions with the walking dead. The draugr's relationship with geography should be noted, as one element of their stories is a jealous guarding of their resting place, often littered with treasure.

Eastern cultures likewise dabble in myths of the undead. One Thousand and One Nights is one of the first pieces of Middle Eastern literature to mention the ghul, spelled "ghoul" in English. Ghouls wander at night and consume human flesh. Other tales describe ghouls as demons that can change shape and suck blood, taking the form of those they most recently consumed. Chinese folk tales likewise tell of the jiang shi, rotting undead that sleep in coffins during the day. Jiang shi hop around at night with arms outstretched, eager to eat the life force of the living. The classifications of these monsters can be difficult and have led to their being utilized in both zombie and vampire stories.

Indeed, the zombie's relationship with the vampire cannot be ignored when tracking the historical development of the zombie. Both vampires and the revenants are stock characters of the Gothic Novel that appear in several seminal works. Examples of such works include The Vampyre by John William Polidori, Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, and Dracula by Bram Stoker. The Gothic-like architectural settings and claustrophobic atmospheres of these novels have remained in the popular consciousness to this day, finding their way into horror films like those created by Hammer Film Productions. Indeed, their stylistic similarities have caused characters from both to be featured in the same works of fiction or mixed with one another.

This relationship is important to the development of the zombie, helping them move from ancient undead monsters to the viral cannibals we know today. In Frankenstein, a scientist creates a sentient being from previously dead elements that pursues the scientist and his friends as revenge for having been created with a hideous visage. This novel features a Gothic/Romantic take on revenant stories. Frankenstein's monster is born from dead tissue and brought to life through the work of Victor Frankenstein. Initially he is unintelligent but benevolent. As he experiences the cruelty of humans he decides to take revenge on his creator.

Shelley's story of a vengeful reanimated corpse was a direct influence on twentieth century writer H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote Herbert West - Reanimator in 1922 as a parody of Shelley's novel. Reanimator tells the tale of Herbert West, a medical student at Miskatonic University who develops a serum for reanimating necrotic tissue. In a series of morbidly comic scenes, he reanimates dead bodies with varying degrees of success, culminating in a coordinated attack by the resultant zombie horde. Reanimator is often considered the first modern zombie story to feature scientifically reanimated corpses that are uncontrollably violent and animalistic.

Decades later in 1954, Richard Matheson published the novel I Am Legend, the tale of the final human left alive in a world of disease-created monsters that prey on the uninfected. It is here that the Gothic literary proximity of vampire and zombie is its most influential. Despite the author calling the monsters "vampires", the novel depicts an apocalypse as a result of worldwide pandemic. It is this novel that George Romero claims he "ripped from" when developing the story for his seminal film, Night of the Living Dead.

The theme of the worldwide disease pandemic combines with the image of reanimated corpse as animalistic monster to generate the modern zombie. Romero's film came at a time when the public's only exposure to zombies were films such as Victor Haperin's White Zombie (1932) and Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie (1943). Though Romero himself utilized the term "ghoul" to describe his film's antagonists, evoking connections to the aforementioned Arabic proto-zombie, the film's monsters quickly became known as "zombies." Night of the Living Dead redefined the archetype of the zombie from a hypnotized slave to a flesh-eating monster.

Indeed, Romero's template helped establish a genre that has flourished since the late 1960's and through modern works such as Max Brooks's World War Z and The Walking Dead. It is not their history that maintains their cultural presence, however, but the elements of our psyche that keep us watching for these undead stalkers. It is also these elements that can be utilized to create interesting gameplay.

The Zombie as a Time Limit

As great as zombies are at backing a human into a corner, they also excel at keeping them on the go. The approach of zombies is a tense experience: you hear the moan or wail and then watch as the horde shambles over the horizon. You struggle to start your stalled vehicle or gather supplies as they approach, knowing that you are now working under a time limit.

The time limit is a useful method for creating drama in many types of visual media. Entire movies are based off the concept of racing against time. Likewise, games utilize time limits to dramatize in-game puzzles and fight sequences. Some are incredibly effective while others are merely annoying.

One series that has always used the "countdown clock" well is Metroid. At the end of the first game, players could only celebrate their defeat of the Mother Brain briefly before a countdown clock and message about the building's imminent destruction flashed across the screen. To escape the explosion, players had to navigate a precise series of jumps upwards to the exit. Many of the Mario games even utilize this mechanic by having a timer. When the warning jingle sounds, the level music drastically raises its tempo.

In zombie media, the approach of a zombie horde becomes a powerful indicator of a ticking clock. In Max Brooks's World War Z, multiple characters have chases with zombie hordes. The significance of Brooks' zombies is not only that they are a visual threat but also an auditory one. Their moan is a double threat as it indicates a zombie has found prey and calls other zombies in the area. For human characters, this means that audible moans indicate the proximity of zombies.

This is a rather simple element to add to a zombie game, as time is a classic dramatic component of many games. As zombies do not give numeric time limits, perhaps they can indicate their coming with sound or ground vibration. In this way, they can a terrifying part of a survival horror game's atmosphere.

The Revenant

In director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s spectacular tale of survival and revenge on the brutal 1800s American frontier, Leonardo DiCaprio takes the lead as true-to-life stuff-of-legend Hugh Glass.

In director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s spectacular new tale of survival and revenge on the brutal 1800s American frontier, Leonardo DiCaprio takes the lead as true-to-life stuff-of-legend Hugh Glass.

There’s already been talk of Academy Awards. Lots of talk, too, about the brutal cold during filming. And, no kidding, a bunch of talk about the beard.

If you’ve seen pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio with prodigious facial hair over the last year, you might have thought he’d gone all mountain man. And you’d have been right. He started sporting the bushy beard while getting ready for seven months of filming in frigid locations for the frontier revenge adventure The Revenant. Nasty rumors (started in a tabloid) that fleas had infested the beard were dismissed categorically by the film’s production company.

Credit the beard (fleas or not), the take-no-prisoners acting and directing, and the extreme conditions DiCaprio (and everyone else on location) had to endure with transforming the normally handsome, stylish actor into a believable revenant. The word conjures up images of zombies, ghosts, and those left for dead who come back to wreak havoc or exact retribution on the living. Or as Merriam-Webster puts it: “one that returns after death or a long absence,” usually motivated by revenge.

The word is sure to be added to the collective vocabulary after Academy Award-winning​ director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s new film opens on Christmas Day, but the theme has long been a favorite in westerns: A fearsome or mysterious character — Eastwood as The Stranger in 1973’s iconic High Plains Drifter immediately comes to mind — returns from some unspeakable injustice hellbent on vengeance. As revenants go, the real-life tale of Hugh Glass is a case of truth being at least as strange as fiction — and certainly as dramatic.

DiCaprio stars as Glass, an expert hunter and fur trapper, nearing or in his early 40s, who worked for Gen. William Ashley’s Upper Missouri River expedition. Mauled by a grizzly bear in the fall of 1823, he was left for dead by two members of the expedition, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and a teenage Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), who had been directed to tend to Glass until he died, give him a proper burial, and then catch up with the outfit. But believing hostile Natives were near, they instead buried him alive and stole his rifle and supplies. Against all odds, Glass lived to forage more than 200 miles to take retribution, and ultimately the extreme experience transformed him into a mountain man legend.

Iñárritu wasn’t the first to recognize the dramatic potential of the Hugh Glass story. The 1971 film Man in the Wilderness, loosely based on Glass’ travails, saw Irish actor Richard Harris as Zachary Bass, who is similarly left for dead by fellow trappers after a bear attack and lives to exact revenge. This time on the big screen, the story of the legendary survivor is inspired by true events and based in part on the historical novel The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke — ​but it’s all about Iñárritu’s and DiCaprio’s uncompromising vision.

Photography: Kimberley French/Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

“Alejandro and I were searching for the revenant theme throughout the film. It’s a very linear theme worth exploring,” DiCaprio says. “This is a man who loses his son, gets buried alive after a tragic bear attack, and comes back to wreak revenge on those who done him wrong. Hugh Glass is stripped of everything and is a broken man. The only thing that moves him forward is that retribution and revenge, but ultimately through that journey, he’s faced with that decision and makes a different choice. His journey has changed him.”

Iñárritu was especially interested in the aspect of transformation: “One of the producers on the film sent me a very early draft of the script,” he says. “The story was really simple, and I was less interested in this survival tale than in Glass’ endurance, the love under the pain, and the possibility of his spiritual transformation.”

If the shrinks and self-help books are right, transformative change generally doesn’t come without some kind of pain — and there was plenty of that both on the frontier and on location. In reality, Glass’ trek to civilization was set against the backdrop of what is now South Dakota in the 1820s. The movie, however, was actually filmed mostly in the Canadian wilderness in bitter temperatures and snow.

Iñárritu, known for railing against the niceties of modern film production and the resulting lack of true adventure (“We have GPS. We will never get lost,” he once complained to Entertainment Weekly), opted for no safe soundstages and very little green screen. With the director insisting that things be as authentic as possible on set, a couple of fleas would have been the least of DiCaprio’s concerns. Nobody died on location, but it was so cold for so long that some folks quit the picture — with plenty of subsequent kvetching in the press. And while some 300 cast and crew made it from start to finish, even the director allowed that “they were [bleeping] miserable.”

Photography: Kimberley French/Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

In Iñárritu’s world, that’s the price of epic filmmaking. “Making this film was such an odyssey,” he says. “We had to learn how to survive like the real trappers and explorers did almost 200 years ago we survived on just 10 percent of traditional comforts, which were the furs and heavy coats we all wore to ward off the extreme cold.”

DiCaprio went in with his eyes open. “If I was going to play this character, I knew I had to embody him the best I could and there was no room for movie star tantrums,” he says. “If I was going to tackle this character, I’d have to dive in head first. Every day was a unique challenge, trying to find a way to not have me freeze. We were shooting in a real environment with natural light, so we were constantly in the elements, pushing ourselves as hard as we could to tell this man’s story.”

The 2015 Academy Award winner for Best Director for Birdman (“This guy’s as bold as bold can be,” said Michael Keaton on Oscar night, when he was nominated for Best Actor for the film), Iñárritu led cast and crew far into the British Columbia and Alberta wilderness to capture the difficult reality of the lives of mountain men.

“This story is about the resilience and endurance of a heroic man who had to learn to survive in this unforgiving countryside,” says the director, who also co-wrote and produced the film. “The filmmakers and crew spent months and months in the cold and wilderness, and in a way it was a transformative experience. We were exposed 15 hours a day to the mercy of the weather, with no communication outside of the location. Even going to the bathroom in the frigid cold was a challenge. The unstable weather made us constantly change our plans, so we had to develop a trapper type of spirit, just like the men who traveled and explored before us. To touch that reality made us really appreciate what we have and think about what these explorers went through to survive.”

Photography: Kimberley French/Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Photography: Kimberley French/Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

Before there were lines to memorize, marks to hit, and cold to survive, DiCaprio and other cast members began their work on the film by reading firsthand accounts written by trappers from the same era and location on the Upper Missouri River.

“Without collaboration, there would never be the chance to move on past the next valley,” DiCaprio says. “Everyone needed to work together. I think that’s why Hugh Glass was such a legend in America — because he was a man absolutely left for dead and was able to survive in the harshest of winters completely on his own. In reading these journals, I was amazed to find out what these men had to work with and used to fight with. It took minutes to reload just one bullet. The conditions were very primal — close to what you imagine cave men lived in.”

Iñárritu was keen to capture that reality, whatever it took, and DiCaprio didn’t flinch. “Glass has seen death firsthand,” DiCaprio says, “so Alejandro and I decided to let nature dictate his path, being immersed in that environment. It’s the closest thing you’ll feel to a documentary. The audience will be a voyeur — like a fly flying around in the forest — the closest thing to getting into these characters’ heads, watching the vast landscapes, feeling like you’re completely immersed in the environment.”

British actor Will Poulter, who was a mere 21 years old when he landed the role of trapper, explorer, and guide Jim Bridger — who himself was only 18 when he met up with Hugh Glass — came away from the experience believing the mountain men were “kind of superhuman.” “We’ll never truly understand how bad the weather was that these men had to face,” he says, “but we did get a taste of those terrible conditions. It was amazing to discover what one human being could endure and the strength of the human spirit.”

Poulter anticipated the filming would be very difficult, but was surprised by Iñárritu’s ability to use the harsh conditions to his benefit. “We ended up shooting longer than expected because the weather was so changeable, and we did end up running out of snow. But Alejandro made it a point to use the weather to our advantage instead of making it the enemy,” Poulter says. “One of the central themes in the movie is Hugh Glass’ relationship with the weather and will he survive.”

Committing fully to that question required a certain fearlessness on everyone’s part, whether it was Iñárritu moving the production to another hemisphere when filming went so far into the summer that they lost snow and had to go to Patagonia at the southern end of South America to find enough, or DiCaprio repeatedly getting into an icy river with a wetsuit underneath his costume but fully exposed hands that afterward needed to be kept from frostbite with an industrial blow dryer. A few days of that — let alone seven months — and the mindset must have approached a moviemaking version of what Glass declares in the film: “I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I already done it.”

Photography: Kimberley French/Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

You might not necessarily peg the kid who was rumored to have been kicked off Romper Room at age 5 for being disruptive as a thinker. But Leonardo DiCaprio’s more than just a pretty face. He speaks German fluently, he’s building an eco-friendly resort on an island he bought off the coast of Belize, and he has his own nonprofit, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which supports — to the tune of a lot of money — innovative projects that protect biodiversity and endangered wildlife, conserve wildlands and the ocean, and seek to understand climate change.

A pretty serious sort, it turns out — despite the boyish good looks and penchant for dating models (he is now reportedly engaged to bikini beauty Kelly Rohrbach) — a fact that comes into sharp focus on review of his award-strewn résumé. Before he was even 20, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Arnie Grape, Johnny Depp’s younger developmentally challenged brother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He had clearly arrived on the scene when he followed that up playing Jim Carroll in 1995’s The Basketball Diaries, Carroll’s harrowing autobiographical tale of descent into drug addiction. But it would be his breakout role as the young, romantic, and ultimately tragic Jack Dawson opposite Kate Winslet in James Cameron’s 1997 epic drama Titanic that would make DiCaprio a huge international star.

For the more than 15 years since, he has tackled a host of diverse roles that defy the baby face. He’s played Howard Hughes in Aviator, con man Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can, working stiff Frank Wheeler in the relationship drama Revolutionary Road, 19th-century revenge-seeking ruffian Amsterdam Vallon in Gangs of New York, professional thief and dream infiltrator Dom Cobb in the sci-fi hit Inception, undercover cop Billy Costigan in The Departed, and white Rhodesian gun runner Danny Archer in the Sierra Leone political war thriller Blood Diamond. More recently, he memorably became evil plantation owner Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti western Django Unchained and the titular “wolf” Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s even been Jay Gatsby, for Pete’s sake.

It’s a film résumé full of snappy dialogue, something DiCaprio, who’s been nominated for five Academy Awards but has yet to win, is particularly good at. For The Revenant, though, it would be neither pretty face nor witty dialogue that would allow him to draw in the audience. He needed a different set of chops to compel and communicate mainly without words.

“All my characters have been incredibly articulate in what they’re feeling and drive the story along by their sheer will and emotion,” DiCaprio says. “[The Revenant] is a completely different exercise and felt very much like doing a period silent film. Most of the dialogue I have is Pawnee language, and this western frontier [after] Lewis and Clark was very much like the Amazon — it’s uncharted territory. Glass is in the middle of this wilderness, where he is living with the indigenous population and wants to disappear from society. But this choice comes back to haunt him and really affect his life in a major way.”

As much as history has recounted the story of Hugh Glass, DiCaprio says, “There’s ultimately very little known about this campfire legend. What I had to do was to strip away most of the dialogue and create an existential connection with nature and find what drives him to push forward against all odds and to survive in the hardest of conditions. It was silent acting in a way.”

For the seasoned actor, it was fascinating to have to try to find a way to tell the story through Glass’ actions and emotions. “You always know the camera’s there, but when you have no one else to bounce your scene off of and are in nature, all this has to be done with very subtle brushstrokes. At the same time, you need to move the character and story along. You have to pretend that no one is watching, and that was the challenge for me.”

All while freezing your you-know-what off.

In the end, DiCaprio really does live up to the beard. And he manages to convey — in silence, in Pawnee, in rising to the real-life challenges of the role — that Hugh Glass represents much more than the calamities of fate and climate he managed to survive.

“He represents that American spirit, the frontiersman in the new land,” DiCaprio says. “What I learned from his real-life story is that there’s so much more in all of us than we think there could possibly be. Ultimately what is so inspiring about Hugh Glass is that he had every reason to give up and let go. Instead, he chose to survive and went on to do great things.”

Ray Bradbury 1920 - 2012

One of the giants of science fiction and fantasy, Ray Bradbury has passed away at the age of 91.

Author of, among many others, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes and innumerable classic short stories, Ray Bradbury was - and continues to be - a guiding light of science fiction, often moving the genre away from its 'rockets and ray guns' roots, although equally often at home using the familar tropes of the genre.

For me, as for so many others of my generation, Bradbury was one of the first writers I read that showed me the possibilities of sf as a literary rather than generic form and I still have a battered copy of The Illustrated Man somewhere on my shelves, a book which I have owned for nearly thirty years.


A zombie is a creature that appears in books, films and popular culture. It is typically a reanimated corpse, or a human being who is being controlled by someone else by use of magic. More recent stories have used a pandemic illness to explain them. Stories of zombies originated in the West African spiritual belief system of voodoo, which told of the people being controlled as laborers by a powerful wizard. Zombies became a popular device in modern horror fiction, largely because of the success of George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.[1] Contents [hide]

Zombies in Voodoo See also: History of Haiti Question book-new.svg This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2009)

According to the tenets of Vodou, a dead person can be revived by a bokor, or sorcerer. Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. "Zombi" is also another name of the Vodou snake lwa Damballah Wedo, of Niger-Congo origin it is akin to the Kikongo word nzambi, which means "god". There also exists within the West African Vodun tradition the zombi astral, which is a part of the human soul that is captured by a bokor and used to enhance the bokor's power. The zombi astral is typically kept inside a bottle which the bokor can sell to clients for luck, healing or business success. It is believed that after a time God will take the soul back and so the zombi is a temporary spiritual entity.[2] It is also said in voudou legend, that feeding a zombie salt will make it return to the grave.

In 1937, while researching folklore in Haiti, Zora Neale Hurston encountered the case of a woman who appeared in a village, and a family claimed she was Felicia Felix-Mentor, a relative who had died and been buried in 1907 at the age of 29. Hurston pursued rumors that the affected persons were given powerful psychoactive drug, but she was unable to locate individuals willing to offer much information. She wrote: “ What is more, if science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony.[3] ”

Several decades later, Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, presented a pharmacological case for zombies in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985) and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie (1988). Davis traveled to Haiti in 1982 and, as a result of his investigations, claimed that a living person can be turned into a zombie by two special powders being entered into the blood stream (usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: 'powder strike'), includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), a powerful and frequently fatal neurotoxin found in the flesh of the pufferfish (order Tetraodontidae). The second powder consists of dissociative drugs such as datura. Together, these powders were said to induce a death-like state in which the victim's will would be entirely subjected to that of the bokor. Davis also popularized the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who was claimed to have succumbed to this practice.

The process described by Davis was an initial state of death-like suspended animation, followed by re-awakening—typically after being buried—into a psychotic state. The psychosis induced by the drug and psychological trauma was hypothesised by Davis to re-inforce culturally-learned beliefs and causing the individual to reconstruct their identity as that of a zombie, since they 'knew' they were dead, and had no other role to play in the Haitian society. Societal reinforcement of the belief was hypothesized by Davis to confirm for the zombie individual the zombie state, and such individuals were known to hang around in graveyards, exhibiting attitudes of low affect. A film was made of the book by Wes Craven, Director of the Nightmare on Elm Street horror series of movies, which follows remarkably closely to the storyline of the book.

Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing further highlighted the link between social and cultural expectations and compulsion, in the context of schizophrenia and other mental illness, suggesting that schizogenesis may account for some of the psychological aspects of zombification.[4]

Davis' claim has been criticized, particularly the suggestion that Haitian witch doctors can keep “zombies” in a state of pharmacologically induced trance for many years.[5] Symptoms of TTX poisoning range from numbness and nausea to paralysis (particularly of the muscles of the diaphragm), unconsciousness, and death, but do not include a stiffened gait or a death-like trance. According to neurologist Terence Hines, the scientific community dismisses tetrodotoxin as the cause of this state, and Davis's assessment of the nature of the reports of Haitian zombies is viewed as overly credulous.[6] South African beliefs

In some South African communities it is believed that a dead person can be turned into a zombie by a small child.[7] It is said that the spell can be broken by a powerful enough sangoma.[8] Popular culture Zombies from George Romero's Night of the Living Dead

Zombies are regularly encountered in horror and fantasy themed fiction and entertainment. They are typically depicted as mindless, shambling, decaying corpses with a hunger for human flesh. As of 2009, zombies are challenging the vogue for vampires in pop culture.[9] 1920s

One book to expose more recent western culture to the concept of the zombie was The Magic Island by W.B. Seabrook in 1929. Island is the sensationalized account of a narrator in Haiti who encounters voodoo cults and their resurrected thralls. Time claimed that the book "introduced 'zombi' into U.S. speech".[10]

In the 1920s and early 1930s, the American horror author H. P. Lovecraft wrote several novelettes that explored the zombie or undead theme from different angles. "Cool Air", "In the Vault" (which includes perhaps the first recorded character bitten by a zombie), "The Thing on the Doorstep", "The Outsider" and "Pickman's Model" are all undead or zombie-related, but the most definitive zombie story in Lovecraft's oeuvre was 1921's Herbert West--Reanimator, which "helped define zombies in popular culture".[11] This Frankenstein-inspired series featured Herbert West, a mad scientist who attempts to revive human corpses with mixed results. Notably, the resurrected dead are uncontrollable, mostly mute, primitive and extremely violent though they are not referred to as zombies, their portrayal was prescient, anticipating the modern conception of zombies by several decades. Tor Johnson as a zombie with his victim in the 1959 cult movie Plan 9 from Outer Space 1930s

In 1932, Victor Halperin directed White Zombie, a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. This film, capitalizing on the same voodoo zombie themes as Seabrook's book of three years prior, is often regarded as the first legitimate zombie film ever made.[12] Here zombies are depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. Zombies, often still using this voodoo-inspired rationale, were initially uncommon in cinema, but their appearances continued sporadically through the 1930s to the 1960s,[13] with notable films including I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959).

The 1936 film Things to Come, based on the novel by H.G. Wells, anticipates later zombie films with an apocalyptic scenario surrounding "the wandering sickness", a highly contagious viral plague that causes the infected to wander slowly and insensibly, very much like zombies, infecting others on contact.[14] Though this film's direct influence on later films isn't known, Things to Come is still compared favorably by some critics[15] to modern zombie movies. 1950s

Avenging zombies would feature prominently in the early 1950s EC Comics such as Tales from the Crypt, which George A. Romero would later claim as an influence.[16] The comics, including Tales, Vault of Horror and Weird Science, featured avenging undead in the Gothic tradition quite regularly, including adaptations of Lovecraft's stories which included "In the Vault", "Cool Air" and Herbert West—Reanimator.[17]

The 1954 publication of I Am Legend, by author Richard Matheson, would further influence the zombie genre. It is the story of a future Los Angeles, overrun with undead bloodsucking beings. Notable as influential on the zombie genre is the portrayal of a worldwide apocalypse due to the infestation, in addition to the initial conception of vampirism as a disease (a scenario comparable to recent zombie media such as Resident Evil). The novel was a success, and would be adapted to film as The Last Man on Earth in 1964, as The Omega Man in 1971, and again in 2007 as I Am Legend.

Although Voodoo Island and Voodoo Woman (both 1957) featured zombies in the traditional sense, the 1955 film Creature with the Atom Brain featured zombies as a result of mad science - engineered for exacting revenge for the benefit of their gangster creator, whereas 1958's notorious Plan 9 From Outer Space portrayed zombies as the result of alien technology, and 1959's Invisible Invaders showed them to be the result of alien possession. 1960s

The aforementioned I Am Legend by Matheson - although classified as a vampire story and referred to as "the first modern vampire novel",[18] - had definitive impact on the zombie genre by way of George A. Romero. Romero was heavily influenced by the novel and its 1964 adaptation when writing the film Night of the Living Dead,[19] by his own admission.[16] Critics have also noted extensive similarities between Night and Last Man on Earth,[20] indicating further influence. Initially released in 1968, Night of the Living Dead, a taboo-breaking and genre-defining classic, would prove to be more influential on the concept of zombies than any literary or cinematic work before it.[21] In this case, the film offered little explanation for the zombies' reanimation, other than the fact that it was happening. 1970s–present

Historically zombies have been portrayed as slow-moving creatures, however, zombies in recent popular culture have considerably increased their locomotion, as exampled in recent movies like Colin, 28 Days Later (and its sequel, 28 Weeks Later), the Dawn of the Dead remake, House of the Dead,[22] Zombieland and the video games Left 4 Dead,Fallout series, "Voodoo Kid", Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead 2, Dead Rising, Stubbs the Zombie, Plants vs Zombies and partly Prototype. George A. Romero and the modern zombie film See also: List of zombie films A young zombie (Kyra Schon) feeding on human flesh, from Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The modern conception of the zombie owes itself almost entirely to George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.[23][24] In his films, Romero "bred the zombie with the vampire, and what he got was the hybrid vigour of a ghoulish plague monster".[25] This entailed an apocalyptic vision of monsters that have come to be known as Romero zombies.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times chided theater owners and parents who allowed children access to the film. "I don't think the younger kids really knew what hit them," complained Ebert. "They were used to going to movies, sure, and they'd seen some horror movies before, sure, but this was something else." According to Ebert, the film affected the audience immediately:

Romero's reinvention of zombies is notable in terms of its thematics he used zombies not just for their own sake, but as a vehicle "to criticize real-world social ills—such as government ineptitude, bioengineering, slavery, greed and exploitation—while indulging our post-apocalyptic fantasies".[27] Night was the first of six films in the Living Dead series.

Innately tied with the conception of the modern zombie is the "zombie apocalypse", the breakdown of society as a result of zombie infestation, portrayed in countless zombie-related media post-Night.[28] Scholar Kim Paffrenroth notes that "more than any other monster, zombies are fully and literally apocalyptic . they signal the end of the world as we have known it."[28]

Night made no reference to the creatures as "zombies". In the film they are referred as "ghouls" on the TV news reports. However, the word zombie is used continually by Romero in his 1978 script for Dawn of the Dead,[29] including once in dialog. This "retroactively fits (the creatures) with an invisible Haitian/African prehistory, formally introducing the zombie as a new archetype".[30] Movie poster for the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead

Dawn of the Dead was released under this title just months before the release of Lucio Fulci's Zombi II (1979). Fulci's gory epic was filmed at the same time as Romero's Dawn, despite the popular belief that it was made in order to cash in on the success of Dawn. The only reference to Dawn was the title change to Zombi II (Dawn generally went by Zombi or Zombie in other countries.)[31]

The early 1980s was notable for the introduction of zombies into Chinese and other Asian films, often martial arts/horror crossover films, that featured zombies as thralls animated by magic for purposes of battle.[32] Though the idea never had large enough appeal to become a sub-genre, zombies are still used as martial-arts villains in some films today.[33]

1981's Hell of the Living Dead was the first film to reference a mutagenic gas as a source of zombie contagion, later echoed by Trioxin in Dan O'Bannon's 1985 film, Return of the Living Dead. RotLD took a more comedic approach than Romero's films Return was the first film to feature zombies which hungered specifically for brains instead of all human flesh (this included the vocalization of "Brains!" as a part of zombie vocabulary), and is the source of the now-familiar cliché of brain-devouring zombies seen elsewhere.

The mid-1980s produced few zombie films of note (the Evil Dead series, while highly influential and notable on their own, are not technically zombie films but films about demonic possession). 1985's Re-Animator, loosely based on the Lovecraft story, stood out in the genre, achieving nearly unanimous critical acclaim,[34] and becoming a modest success, nearly outstripping 1985's Day of the Dead for box office returns. Lovecraft's prescient depiction is notable here the zombies in the film are consistent with other zombie films of the period, and it may escape the viewer that they are nearly unchanged from the 1921 story.

The 1988 Wes Craven film The Serpent and the Rainbow, based on the non-fiction book by Wade Davis, attempted to re-connect the zombie genre with the Haitian vodou ("voodoo") roots that inspired it. The film poses both supernatural and scientific possibilities for "zombification" and other aspects of vodou, though the scientific explanations for them, which involve use of the poison tetrodotoxin, have been dismissed by the scientific community.[6] The film was relatively well-reviewed[35][36] and enjoyed modest financial success,[37] and is notable as perhaps the only serious, vodou-themed zombie film of recent times (Weekend at Bernie's II is decidedly less serious).

Also in 1988, the Romero zombies were featured in Waxwork, where the protagonists are drawn to the world of Night of the Living Dead.

After the mid-1980s, the subgenre was mostly relegated to the underground. Notable entries include director Peter Jackson's ultra-gory film Braindead (1992) (released as Dead Alive in the U.S.), Bob Balaban's comic 1993 film My Boyfriend's Back where a self-aware high school boy returns to profess his love for a girl and his love for human flesh, and Michele Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) (released as Cemetery Man in the U.S.). Several years later, zombies experienced a renaissance in low-budget Asian cinema, with a sudden spate of dissimilar entries including Bio Zombie (1998), Wild Zero (1999), Junk (1999), Versus (2000) and Stacy (2001).

In Disney's 1993 film Hocus Pocus, a "good zombie", Billy Butcherson played by Doug Jones, was introduced, giving yet a new kind of zombie in an intelligent, gentle, kind, and heroic being.[38]

The turn of the millennium coincided with a decade of box office successes in which the zombie sub-genre experienced a resurgence: the Resident Evil movies in 2002, 2004, and 2007 the Dawn of the Dead remake (2004), the British films 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later (2002, 2007)[39][40] and the homage/parody Shaun of the Dead (2004). The new interest allowed Romero to create the fourth entry in his zombie series: Land of the Dead, released in the summer of 2005. Romero has recently returned to the beginning of the series with the film Diary of the Dead (2008).

The depiction of zombies as biologically infected people has become increasingly popular, likely due to the 28 Days Later and Resident Evil series. More recently, Colin (UK, 2008) has taken the step of using an artisanal hand-held camcorder to provide the zombie point-of-view of the eponymous central protagonist, who is bitten (twice), turns yet retains some residual memories of his pre-revenant life. The short film screened at Cannes in 2009 and was released by Kaliedoscope Entertainment in the United Kingdom on October 31, 2009.

2006's Slither featured zombies infected with alien parasites, and 2007's Planet Terror featured a zombie outbreak caused by a biological weapon. The comedy films Zombie Strippers and Fido have also taken this approach.

As part of this resurgence, there have been numerous direct-to-video (or DVD) zombie movies made by extremely low-budget filmmakers using digital video. These can usually be found for sale online from the distributors themselves, rented in video rental stores or released internationally in such places as Thailand.

A USA Today review noted that "Zombie hordes are everywhere!"[9] Especially on screen and on stage, "There's no stopping the zombie invasion."[9] The modern zombie in print and literature See also: List of zombie novels

Though zombies have appeared in many books prior to and after Night of the Living Dead, it wouldn't be until 1990 that zombie fiction emerged as a distinct literary subgenre, with the publication of Book of the Dead in 1990 and its follow-up Still Dead: Book of the Dead 2 in 1992, both edited by horror authors John Skipp and Craig Spector. Featuring Romero-inspired stories from the likes of Stephen King and other famous names, the Book of the Dead compilations are regarded as influential in the horror genre and perhaps the first true "zombie literature".

Recent zombie fiction of note includes Brian Keene's 2005 novel The Rising, followed by its sequel City Of The Dead, which deal with a worldwide apocalypse of intelligent zombies, caused by demonic possession. Though the story took many liberties with the zombie concept, The Rising proved itself to be a success in the subgenre, even winning the 2005 Bram Stoker award.[41]

Famed horror novelist Stephen King has mined the zombie theme, first with 1990's "Home Delivery", written for the aforementioned Book of the Dead compilation and detailing a small town's attempt to defend itself from a classic zombie outbreak. In 2006 King published Cell, which concerns a struggling young artist on a trek from Boston to Maine in hopes of saving his family from a possible worldwide zombie outbreak, created by "The Pulse", a global electromagnetic phenomenon that turns the world's cellular phone users into bloodthirsty, zombie-like maniacs. Cell was a number-one bestseller upon its release[42]

Aside from Cell, the most well-known current work of zombie fiction is 2006's World War Z by Max Brooks, which was an immediate hit upon its release and a New York Times bestseller.[43] Brooks had previously authored the cult hit The Zombie Survival Guide, an exhaustively researched, zombie-themed parody of pop-fiction survival guides published in 2003.[9] Brooks has said that zombies are so popular because:

There have been a handful of zombie survival handbooks following the success of Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide. Many of these have been more specific works concentrating on elements such as zombie combat. Cole Louison’s U.S. Army Zombie Combat Skills, released in 2009, and Roger Ma’s Zombie Combat Guide, released in 2010, are examples of this trend.

David Wellington's trilogy of zombie novels began in 2004 with Monster Island, followed by two sequels, Monster Nation and Monster Planet.

Jonathan Maberry's Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, released in August 2008, interviewed over 250 experts in forensics, medicine, science, law enforcement, the military and similar disciplines to discuss how the real world would react, research and respond to zombies.

By 2009, zombies became all the rage in literature:

The 2009 mashup novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith combines the full text of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with a story about a zombie epidemic within the novel's British Regency period setting.[9]

Other zombie appearances have been cataloged in dozens of novels, comics, and webcomics. Like vampires and other famous archetypal creatures, the zombie archetype has spread far and wide. Zombies in comics

The fictional Disney cartoon character Bombie the Zombie, created by Carl Barks, first appeared in the Voodoo Hoodoo strip in 1949. Bombie had been reanimated by an African voodoo sorcerer, and was sent on a mission to poison Scrooge McDuck. Later on Don Rosa reused the character in his own McDuck stories.

Robert Kirkman, an admirer of Romero, has contributed to the recent popularity of the genre in comics, first by launching his self-published comic book The Walking Dead, then by writing Marvel Zombies in 2006. In response to its competitor's popular series, DC Comics' Geoff Johns introduced a revenant-staffed Black Lantern Corps, consisting of the maliciously animated corpses of fallen DC characters during its Blackest Night story arc.

DC Comics continued producing zombie comics on their digital imprint Zuda Comics. The Black Cherry Bombshells takes place in a world of all where all the men have turned into zombies and women gangs fight with them and each other. Zombies on television A promotional photo from the Thriller music video with the zombie backup dancers

One of the most famous zombie-themed television appearances was 1983's Thriller, a Michael Jackson short film and music video, directed by John Landis. One of the most popular music videos of all time, it is a horror film parody featuring choreographed zombies performing with Jackson. Many pop culture media have paid tribute to this scene alone, including zombie films such as Return of the Living Dead 2, cementing Thriller's place in zombie history.

Fantasy-themed shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files sometimes include zombies as part of their horror/fantasy settings. Romero-styled zombie outbreaks are often featured in animated shows, such as in the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons, South Park, and Invader Zim. In the far east, zombies also often appear in anime, such as Samurai Champloo, Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho, Highschool of the Dead, YuYu Hakusho,[44][45][46] Zombie-Loan and many others both within and beyond the horror genre.

In 2008, journalist/writer Charlie Brooker created Dead Set, a television miniseries wholly centered around the zombie apocalypse. The satire/horror storyline follows fictional Big Brother contestants and studio employees, trapped within the Big Brother house as zombies rampage outside. Zombies in gaming Player characters battling enemy zombies from Konami's Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin See also: List of zombie video games

Zombies are a popular theme for video games, particularly in the first-person shooter and role-playing genres. Some important titles in this area include the Resident Evil series, Dead Rising, House of the Dead, CarnEvil, and Left 4 Dead.[47] The massively multiplayer online role-playing game Urban Dead, a free grid-based browser game where zombies and survivors fight for control of a ruined city, is one of the most popular games of its type, with an estimated 30,680 visits per day.[citation needed] Some games even allow the gamer to play as a zombie such as Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse". Commonly in these games, Zombies are impervious to most attacks, except trauma to the head (which would instantly destroy the zombie).

The concept of the infected dead appears often in video games, though not always as humans. The Flood from Halo and Headcrabs from Half-Life portray zombie-like aliens with the ability to kill opponents and possess their bodies.

Outside of video games, zombies frequently appear in collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering, as well as in role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop wargames such as Warhammer Fantasy. The RPG All Flesh Must Be Eaten is premised upon a zombie outbreak and features rules for zombie campaigns in many historical settings.

The award-winning Zombies. series of board games by Twilight Creations features players attempting to escape from a zombie-infested city. Cheapass Games has released five other zombie-themed games, including Give Me the Brain, The Great Brain Robbery, and Lord of the Fries, which takes place at Friedey's, a fast-food restaurant staffed by minimum wage zombies. Last Night on Earth is a board game covering many stereotypes of the zombie movie genre.

Humans vs. Zombies is a popular zombie-themed live-action game played on many college campuses. The game starts with one "Zombie" and a group of "Humans." The ultimate goal of the game is for either all Humans to be turned into Zombies, or for the humans to survive a set amount of time. Humans defend themselves using socks or dart guns, stunning the Zombie players Zombies are unarmed and must tag a Human in order to turn him or her into a Zombie. Safe zones are established so that players can eat and sleep in safety.[48] In music

Many songs and bands have been based on these flesh-eating ghouls most notably, the musician Rob Zombie has incorporated zombie aesthetics and references into virtually all of his work. Zombie references crop up in every genre from pop to death metal and some subgenres such as horror punk mine the zombie aesthetic extensively. Horror punk has also been linked with the subgenres of deathrock and psychobilly. The success of these genres has been mainly underground, although psychobilly has reached some mainstream popularity.

The zombie also appears in protest songs, symbolizing mindless adherence to authority, particularly in law enforcement and the armed forces. Well-known examples include Fela Kuti's 1976 single Zombie, and The Cranberries' 1994 single Zombie. British jazz trio The Recedents published the album "Zombie Bloodbath on the Isle of Dogs" in 1988. Another "zombie" song is "Dawn of the Dead" by Schoolyard Heroes, which portrays the actual movie "Night of the Living Dead".

Producers have acquired the rights to Michael Jackson's Thriller for a proposed Broadway musical, "complete with dancing undead."[9]

The Devil Wears Prada, a Christian metalcore band, released zombie-themed EP, fittingly titled Zombie EP. All aspects of the album refer to zombies and the zombie apocalypse, including song titles ("Escape" and "Survivor," to name two) and lyrics.

The Misfits wrote a song called "Astro Zombies". My Chemical Romance would later cover this.

The psychobilly band "Creature Feature" wrote a song named "Aim for the Head" which deals with a zombie outbreak/apocolypse and the removal/destruction of the brain theme in most zombie related stories. In art

Artist Jillian McDonald has made several works of video art involving zombies, and exhibited them in her 2006 show, “Horror Make-Up,” which debuted on September 8, 2006 at Art Moving Projects, a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Others have included “Zombie Loop” and “Zombie Portraits”.[49] Zombie apocalypse Main article: Zombie apocalypse

The zombie apocalypse is a particular scenario of apocalyptic fiction that customarily has a science fiction/horror rationale. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading "zombie plague/virus" swamps normal military and law enforcement organizations, leading to the panicked collapse of civilian society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain, scavenging for food and supplies in a world reduced to a pre-industrial hostile wilderness.

The literary subtext of a zombie apocalypse is usually that civilization is inherently fragile in the face of truly unprecedented threats and that most individuals cannot be relied upon to support the greater good if the personal cost becomes too high.[47] The narrative of a zombie apocalypse carries strong connections to the turbulent social landscape of the United States in the 1960s when the originator of this genre, the film Night of the Living Dead, was first created.[50][51] Many also feel that zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world.[52] In fact the breakdown of society as a result of zombie infestation has been portrayed in countless zombie-related media since Night of the Living Dead.[28] Kim Paffrenroth notes that "more than any other monster, zombies are fully and literally apocalyptic . they signal the end of the world as we have known it."[28]

Due to a large number of thematic films and video games, the idea of a zombie apocalypse has entered the mainstream and there have been efforts by many fans to prepare for the hypothetical future zombie apocalypse. Efforts include creating weapons [53] and selling posters to inform people on how to survive a zombie outbreak.[54] Philosophical zombie Main article: Philosophical zombie

A philosophical zombie is a concept used in the philosophy of mind, a field of research which examines the association between conscious thought and the physical world. A philosophical zombie is a hypothetical person who lacks full consciousness but has the biology or behavior of a normal human being it is used as a null hypothesis in debates regarding the identity of the mind and the brain. The term was coined by philosopher David Chalmers.[55] Social activism A zombie walk in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Main article: Zombie walk

Some zombie fans continue the George A. Romero tradition of using zombies as a social commentary. Organized zombie walks, which are primarily promoted through word of mouth, are regularly staged in some countries. Usually they are arranged as a sort of surrealist performance art but they are occasionally put on as part of a unique political protest.[56][57][58][59][60]

Powers and Abilities

Draug could spread disease and death among the living as well as manifest both ghostly abilities as well as more physical abilities - either haunting areas of land and people or rising physically from their burial sites and roaming the land as disease-spreading zombies. In fact, anyone who killed by draug can rise as another draug as well. In addition of superhuman strength and resilience (as it often mentioned that courageous heroes who confronted draug would often have to wrestle these undeads back to their graves), draug can infamously increase their size and mass: Thorolf of Eyrbyggja saga was "uncorrupted, and with an ugly look about him. swollen to the size of an ox," and his body was so heavy that it could not be raised without levers. Their dark influence in the land of the living, coupled with their hideous appearance, can drive living people insane. They are also noted for the ability to rise from the grave as wisps of smoke and "swim" through solid rock, which would be useful as a means of exiting their graves.

Draug also displayed an array of supernatural abilities resembling those of living witches and wizards in addition of afromentioned abilities above such as controlling the weather, seeing into the future, cursing the victim, and dreamwalking.

Watch the video: Medieval Revenants (February 2023).

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