Having walked with the dead this weekend (OK, we were pretending, but it was for a good cause) makes me curious about just what a zombie is - and if there are different kinds of zombies (there are) - and if they really are just shambling nomads looking for a good brain taco (nope).
The dictionary says that a zombie is basically a dead person brought back to life through a curse - either voodoo, black witchcraft or necromancy - or mutilation and has recovered some vital functions like movement.
The reanimated corpse or mindless human beings have origins in Haitian voodoo. Voodoo zombies are slaves and relatively harmless - i.e., we've all felt zombie-like before our morning coffee or when we do a chore over and over and over.
Pop culture, or "Hollywood" zombies came about after George Romero classic 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead."
The zombie mantra "BRAINS" came about from the movie "Return of the Living Dead" and many zombie imitators have adopted that as their quest. Why brains? A theory exists that zombies have an unquenchable thirst for chemicals in hypothalamus to maintain their existence. Another postures that glial cells, which make up the bulk of a brain, can perform as stem cells and replicate other brain cells. Others think that eating the brain of another kills them and eliminates the competition for food.
Hollywood zombies are nearly mindless, have little reasoning power and rely on remembered behaviors from mortal existence. They like music and sometimes "dance" (which explains Michael Jackson's "Thriller"). They never sleep, never get tired, are impervious to pain and immune to drugs, poison, gases, temperature extremes, high voltage, suffocation and drowning. Some can be dismembered and beheaded without dying.
These rotting pillars of monster society can sustain damage far beyond that of a normal, living human. They can only be killed by a wound to the head such as a head shot (or bullet, drill, long knife, hammer or blunt object) or being set on fire and can pass whatever syndrome that causes their condition on to others through bites or cuts.
Modern zombies have discolored eyes, decomposing flesh, open wounds and move with a slow, shambling gait. The open wounds are often evidence or the receptor to the zombie virus. They are clumsy and slow; covering a few miles in a 24-hour period, unlike vampires who can cover 20 miles in one night. The average zombie is 55 years old and female (hey, wait a minute...). They rarely live longer than a year, dying from zombie hunters and malnutrition.
The Zombie Apocalypse (yes, there are believers) is the collapse of civilization caused by a plague of undead. More than any monster, zombies are fully and literally apocalyptic; they signal the end of the world as we have known it.
Check hometownstation.com all week for the full series of Creature Features. On Tuesday, October 27 all five creatures will square off for a hypothetical battle royal. Tune in to Something to Talk About at 10:00 a.m. to hear our pitches and find out who our special guest judges believe is the most fearsome monster.
Check Out These Other Creature Features:
The Mummy 
The Werewolf 
The Vampire