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. Contents [hide]
* 1 Zombies in Voodoo * 2 South African beliefs * 3 Popular culture o 3.1 1920s o 3.2 1930s o 3.3 1950s o 3.4 1960s o 3.5 1970s–present * 4 George A. Romero and the modern zombie film * 5 The modern zombie in print and literature * 6 Zombies in comics * 7 Zombies on television * 8 Zombies in gaming * 9 In music * 10 In art * 11 Zombie apocalypse * 12 Philosophical zombie * 13 Social activism * 14 See also * 15 References * 16 External links
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. 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. ”
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.
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. 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. 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. It is said that the spell can be broken by a powerful enough sangoma. 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. 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".
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". 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. 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, 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. Though this film's direct influence on later films isn't known, Things to Come is still compared favorably by some critics 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. 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.
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", - 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, by his own admission. Critics have also noted extensive similarities between Night and Last Man on Earth, 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. 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, 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. In his films, Romero "bred the zombie with the vampire, and what he got was the hybrid vigour of a ghoulish plague monster". 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:
The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying.
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". 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. 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."
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, including once in dialog. This "retroactively fits (the creatures) with an invisible Haitian/African prehistory, formally introducing the zombie as a new archetype". 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.)
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. 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.
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, 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. The film was relatively well-reviewed and enjoyed modest financial success, 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.
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) 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!" Especially on screen and on stage, "There's no stopping the zombie invasion." 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.
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
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. 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. Brooks has said that zombies are so popular because:
Other monsters may threaten individual humans, but the living dead threaten the entire human race.... Zombies are slate wipers.
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:
In the world of traditional horror, nothing is more popular right now than zombies.... The living dead are here to stay. —Katy Hershbereger, St. Martin's Press
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.
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, 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. 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. 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. 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."
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”. 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. 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. Many also feel that zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world. 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. 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."
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  and selling posters to inform people on how to survive a zombie outbreak. 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. 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.