Friday, 28 August 2009

Zombies: From Vodoo With Pop-Culture

Stories about zombies originated in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Voodoo, in which followers believe that a dead person can be revived by a sorcerer. After being revived, the zombies remain under the control of the sorcerer and have no will of their own, a bit like a microcosm version of an Orwellian hell-hole.

All opportunistic snarls aside, a friend of mine who had no reason to embellish his adventures because life did it for him, actually told me that he had filmed a Zombification process whilst he was out in one of the Pacific Islands, during his sailing tour – but I never heard from him again since.

I did however spot him in the crowd, would you believe, whilst watching the last World Cup on television, so he is still amongst the living.

The Road to Pop-Culture Zombification

According to the Zombies Studies department of the University of Ottawa , Pop-culture zombies (the ones illustrated in books, films and games ) are very different from the Voodoo and folklore zombies from whence they originate.
They follow a much-emulated standard, which involves the following components:

  • They are portrayed as mindless monsters who do not feel pain and who have an immense appetite for human flesh
  • Their aim is to kill, eat or infect people at any cost, at any time and don’t seem to need any sleep
  • They seem to have a sense which allows them to detect humans, as they always head towards them in swarms, out of the blue
  • They move in slow, limping steps, and make disjointed body movements
  • They show signs of physical decomposition such as rotting flesh, discoloured eyes and open wounds and just look plain unhealthy

For iconic Zombie posters, like the one displayed in this post, do drop in on Wrong Side of the Art: Horror, sci-fi, exploitation, cult, trash, B-movie posters blog. They hold an excellent Zombie poster archive.

Upcoming UK Zombie Films
This year, two eagerly anticipated UK Zombie films will add to the lexicon of Zombie background stories, characteristics and shenanigans.

COLIN, by British indie director Marc Price, was filmed in London and Wales and cost just £45 to make on a camcorder. It was a “surprise” hit at this year’s Cannes. This quote from Price sums up his film nicely: “A couple of friends were round a few years ago watching Romero’s Dawn of the Dead’,…and I wondered if a zombie movie from a zombie’s perspective had been done before.”

STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD, by Neil Jones, which basically boils down to a stag night gone wrong or very fun, depending on how you look at it. Strangely enough, one of the actors in it was an ex lover of mine.

Bring in the Mathematicians

Apart from the self-explanatory title, the strapline for Stag Night Of The Dead provides further insight into the plot: Six Stags, One Stripper, A Million Zombies – you do the maths.

Which is a very interesting strapline, as someone actually has done the maths.

Oh yes, the Zombies Studies department of the University of Ottawa have released an excellent study entitled “WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK! MATHEMATICAL MODELLING OF AN OUTBREAK OF ZOMBIE INFECTION” which is the first mathematical analysis of an outbreak of zombie infection.

An extract from the methodology of this genius study is included below:

“We model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead.

We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.”

Stay tuned for more Zombie stuff coming your way soon, with an insightful interview scheduled with one the UK’s top Pop-Cultia Zombie experts: including fashion tips for Zombinistas, what to do when they bite you and a whole village of the damned worth of trivia.

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