(Ok, here's the beginning to the Thesis. I'll be posting them once a week, every Sunday afternoon until I've completed the Thesis. Keep in mind that this is being written for an internet audience that reads at leisure and this is not the formal draft that I will be submitting.)
Zombies are a fairly new addition to the long list of mythical beasts that plague the human imagination. From the beginning of man, we have feared these creatures of our psyche and have attributed much lore and superstition about them. Ghosts, demons, and monsters all have long stories in our history and even today with all our scientific evolution and understanding, our human nature still promotes the continuation of these lords of lore.
The Zombie concept is mostly attributed to the Haitian religion of Voodoo (aka Vodou).
According to legend, Zombies are the victims of sorcerers known as Bokor. What the myth tells us is that this shaman would find a living victim and somehow make them ingests a potion that would kill them. After the discovery of the body, the family would carry out their funeral rites and bury the body. Then, under the cover the darkness, the Bokor would unearth the corpse and reanimate the body. This body would now do the bidding of itís master. However, this zombie was still alive. The Zombie would still need to eat, sleep and had very basic reasoning skills. Attributed to this myth are stories of victims that had been found by their families years later, with no recollection of the time passed.
Haitian art portraying a zombie
This a basic explanation of the Zombie lore.
Previous to this, other cultures have created similar creatures worthy of fear. The Norsemen (Vikings) believed in a creature called the ďDraugrĒ. This beast was the mottled corpse of fallen Viking warriors and was feared for itís superhuman strength and itís ability to change forms. Although the word itself literally translates to ďghostĒ, the Draugr was known for eating the flesh of men that crossed itís path. The Japanese also have a similar creature in their culture. The Jikininki were loathsome creatures that trolled graveyards eating the flesh of the dead. Although both of these myths are not exactly picturesque of our concept of zombies, it is important to realize the implications of these creatures creations. Man has always fear death and what lies beyond it. And apparently, our ancestors found the most terrifying beings to be demons that resembled living humans in appearance and had an unexplainable hunger for our flesh.
Thatís fucking creepy.
Getting back to our modern monster, the underlying concept of Zombies should strike fear into any person. A dead ghoul that roams the realm of the living, always at the shadows edge, hungering for our flesh. It is an interesting evolution of fear. We have lost the fear of our forefathers of beasts and animals of great strength, but our fear of ourselves, the most powerful beings on the planet, has filled the void.
The first educational video of the Zombie Threat
In 1968, the concept of fear received a new recruit. A low budget film by a seemingly unknown director was shown across the world. You have undoubtedly already realized that the movie I am speaking of is none other than Night of the Living Dead, directed by his Holiness, George A. Romero. This film unleashed an evil upon the world that had never been thought of before. Although his idea was loosely based off the Voodoo Zombies, his re-invention of the Zombie (for the purpose of this line of articles, I will refer to the modern day concept of the zombie as the Romero Zombie) pushed us far past our level of comfort. A being that has died due to one reason or another and has come back from the dead as a soulless, unyielding demon that has only one goal, to feed on human flesh. It cannot be reasoned with. It is difficult to kill. It feels no pain, no remorse and no mercy. And the most terrifying of all, If you die, you will be sentenced to join their shuffling undead masses, swelling their ranks.
What was seen to be a flop or at the very least a B movie that would be ignored by the worlds youth and they made out in the seat of their cars in drive-ins around the globe has instead created a cult following of this idea and has influenced our culture to an unimaginable degree and this trend sees no end in sight. Since the creation of the Romero Zombie, countless numbers of films have popped up all over the globe portraying the horrors of a world being devoured by the dead. The lore of the Zombie has evolved over the years, with explanation of the cause being space radiation, nuclear waste, biological engineering, viruses and really, REALLY pissed off monkeys. But one thing has remained certain, the bite of a Zombie is a death sentence, one with no appeals, no remedies and no last minute cures.
A poor lost soul
The Romero Zombie can be described as this. It is the reanimated corpse of a once living individual that has succumbed to the virus which has changed the laws of life. From being a person capable of reason, the person has been transformed into a almost unstoppable force, whoís physiology alone makes them the top of the food chain. Having no need for sleep, air, shelter, or anything that was once a necessity in itís life, it is a creature with plenty of reason to fear. Itís sole motivation is to feed on the living, a instinct that cannot be supplemented in any other way. Once it sees a living human, it will pursue them to the ends of the earth, wanting only to sink itís teeth into our warm, living flesh.
However, it does have one weakness. As we human cannot live without our brain, the undead cannot exist without theirs either. That, is our only way to survive. By destroying the brain in one way or another, we extinguish the threat that has harassed us. The running theory of the Romero Zombie is that, however the cause of itís creation, the Brain must still be intact to give the creature movement. Unfortunately, their brain differs greatly from ours. It doesnít need a flow of oxygen for it to function and most of itís functions have ceased. The ability to reason and form cognitive memories is non-existent and other than the nervous systems control over the body, the pain receptors no longer carry that information to the brain. That means that the body, the most well engineered machine on the planet has no limitations. The body no longer feels pain, fatigue, exhaustion or need to let the body recuperate.
With this knowledge we are lead to only one conclusion. If we are to kill the thing, we gotta blow itís fucking brains out before it eats ours.