The Cinematic Evolution of the “Zombie”
August 24, 2012 Leave a Comment
The concept of a zombie is so disgustingly terrifying. Someone dies, rises from the dead looking like a possessed demon, and all of a sudden, has a craving for human flesh. Although it was not the most creative idea, zombies have been around since 1932 and are still roaming the cinematic streets searching for brains . Here is a time line of the zombie evolution.
The first zombie was introduced during the year 1932 in the movie “The White Zombie.”
(1932) The White Zombie – John Peters was the First Zombie On-Screen Ever..
Director(s) : Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin (Nope, George A. Romero did not create the zombie)
A woman is convinced to take a potion and become a zombie by ’Murder’ Legendre, a white Haitian voodoo master who commands a crew of people that he turned into zombies. These introductory zombies were not exactly frightening, but almost comical, with a sense of bloodlust usually only for their master, or the one who turned them into the zombie. They were created by a voodoo ritual rather than a virus. This made people piss their pants of laughter rather than fear.
(1941) King Of the Zombies – Zombies were still Created by Voodoo
During World War 2, a small plane off the south coast of America is low on fuel and blown off course by a storm. Guided by a faint radio signal, they crashland on an island. The passenger, his manservant and the pilot take refuge in a mansion owned by a doctor. The easily-spooked manservant soon becomes convinced the mansion is haunted by zombies and ghosts. Exploring, the 3 find a voodoo ritual in the cellar, where the doctor is trying to acquire war intelligence by transferring personalities into his zombies.
Zombies were still created by voodoo (which is corny), but they started getting a little scarier. They began showing signs of hate towards the living, and they start walking aimlessly with their arms in the air.
Still not a perfected zombie, but any part of a masterpieces history is a big part of its success.
(1941-1960) The Zombie Drought
Zombies disappeared. The idea became old, and viewers became sick of the typical voodoo induced zombies that were more funny than they were scary. But the 60′s were the beginning of a completely new style of zombie – the one that scared the living shit out of people. I would like to dedicate this sentence to directors Herk Harvey and George A. Romero for bringing back and recreating the zombie.
(1962) Carnival of Souls – The Return of the Zombie
Before the rise of George A. Romero, Carnival of Souls petrified the country. This movie was the scariest movie of its time, and some critics say it might be the scariest movie of all time. It was not a “zombie movie”, but it was a big help for the return of zombies.
Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons, or zombies. Although they may not be called zombies, the ghouls in this movie resembled the early zombies. Not quite yet the flesh-eating zombie, but much scarier then the 40′s.
(1968) Night of the Living Dead – The Birth of the Modern Zombie
Enter the true king of zombies GEORGE A. ROMERO. He may not have come up with the idea of zombies, but he did the best job creating them.
Many people tried their own styles of zombies that eventually failed, but Romero’s zombie was brilliant and is still used today.
My favorite change from the 40s zombies to the 60s was that they were not voodoo induced zombies. Instead, they supposedly rose from the dead due to the radiation of a fallen satellite.
These zombies were extremely viscous and hunted for human flesh. The scenes in these movies were much more gruesome than any other zombie movie. Zombies literally started tearing people apart. They ate in groups, tearing the victims stomachs open, eating them from the inside, out. They also have this amazing strength that allows them to tear right through a humans torso.
(1978) Dawn of the Dead – Zombie Apocalypse and Survival Methods
Well you can thank Mr. Romero and his movie Dawn of the Dead for that.
Four people take up residence in a deserted mall while trying to stay alive amid the armies of the dead and a vicious gang of militant bikers. You almost want to be a part of their team and fight off the zombies with them because of the fun they are having, until people start to die. These zombies are faster, smarter and come in much bigger packs. They literally tear people up and eat them alive. After this was another zombie drought, unless you consider the possessed demons in The Evil Dead series (1980′s) actual zombies.
(2002) Resident Evil – The Virus
Stemming from the best zombie video games of all time is the movie Resident Evil. The zombies are now much faster, and come in a variety of different..types of zombie..
My favorite cause of zombie outbreak, a virus, was the cause of the zombie apocalypse in this movie. A virus escaped in a secret facility called “The Hive,” turning the staff into hungry zombies and releasing the mutated Lab “Animals” that they were studying. The complex computer shuts down the base to prevent infection. The parent corporation sends in an elite military unit, where they meet Alice, who is suffering from amnesia due to exposure to nerve gas. The military team must shut down the computer and get out, fighting their way past zombies, mutants, and the computer itself, before the virus escapes and infects the rest of the world.
This movie was the beginning of the “fast zombie.” Zombies were never able to run until this movie came out and all of its sequels.This was a drastic change to zombies, and in my opinion it made them a hell of a lot scarier. Now these flesh-eating monsters can run? ah Shit.
(2002) 28 Days Later – A Continuation of the Sprinting Zombies
I was so excited to hear about another virus influenced zombie outbreak, but these fast zombies really do give me a hard time sleeping at night. This to me is one of the most underrated zombie movies. In my opinion, it is the scariest zombie movie of all time.
Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim, wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena and Mark rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart.
(2007) I am Legend – Was this the End of Zombie Movies? I don’t Think So
Although they were never called zombies, The creatures in I am Legend ARE ZOMBIES. In fact, they resemble the zombies from 28 Days Later so much that I was convinced they were exactly the same.
Robert Neville is a scientist who was unable to stop the spread of the terrible virus that was incurable and man-made. Immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and perhaps the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague — The Infected — lurk in the shadows… watching Neville’s every move… waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered… and quickly running out of time.
There has not been anymore zombie movies since this, so is it the end? Many critics have said that this movie ended the 75-year long zombie outbreak. It is quite fitting because of how this movie ended with basically the end of human kind, but I believe that it will never end. I have also heard of a zombie documentary movie coming out called World War Z.
I’m not worried. As long as we have AMC’s The Walking Dead, we will always have our zombie fix.
Movie Plots via ImDb.com