Zombie evolution keeps the undead favourite alive

If you were to ask an audience to give their impressions of zombies back in the late 1980s or perhaps the early 1990s, you would find their take on the undead or rather reanimated corpses to be different compared to modern audiences. The reason being is that the way zombies are depicted in movies has changed considerably.

This is surely a good thing for moviegoers as the new reincarnation of an old cinematic foe has given them a new lease of life or perhaps death, depending on your opinion. It has certainly given directors something else to think about and consider when depicting how zombies react and move.


A Zombie at twilight in a field of sugar cane Hiati by JNL (copyright free)

Zombies originate from the idea of bringing a person back from the dead. The idea is rooted in Haitian culture with the practice of the Voodoo religion, where priests known as Bokors would administer a powder made from the poisonous flesh of porcupines to individuals to turn them into a zombie state. The practise is steeped in the history of slavery and the idea of working as a slave even after death played a predominant role in this idea. Of course, this was taken in a slightly different direction by western filmmakers.

If you look back at some of the earliest and most famous films such as The Night of the Living Dead, which was directed by George A Romero, you see that the zombies are slow-moving plodders. They overwhelm their opponents by sheer numbers rather than by using blitz attacks. This depiction of the zombie carried on through with Romero producing a famous series of zombie movies including Dawn of the Dead in 1978.

In the 1990s there was a more comical take on the zombie as a creature of fun rather than one to fear. These depictions can be seen in movies such as Peter Jackson’s Braindead in 1992 and Bob Balaban’s comic offering My Boyfriend’s Back in 1993.

Such is the success of the zombie movie that it has since seeped into all corners of popular culture from thousands of fancy dress costumes at Halloween to video games and theme park rides. Video games depict many different zombie incarnations such as those in the Resident Evil series. There are many slot machines offering the zombie themes, some of which can be played for free when taking up the free bet no deposit offer from the casinos compiled by Oddschecker. These games such as Attack of the Zombies allow players to use their free spins to win cash prizes in a zombie themed slot experience.

There are modern games and films that have evolved further than those produced in the 1990s indeed it was after this period that the very nature and characteristics of the zombies changed. Rather than being the slow dimwitted assailants of the past they became faster, more ferocious and, arguably, scarier altogether. This last statement is debatable as those who saw Romero’s early film probably found them truly terrifying but modern audiences have become more immune to the horror genre in general due to the overwhelming exposure they have had to its terrors.
British films such as 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, released in 2002 and 2007 respectively, changed the zombie into a vicious, fast and enraged creature that become more sinister by the fact that they are harder to escape from. Although these movies refer to them as infected rather than zombies they are essentially a modern version and can clearly be linked to those created by Romero.

In fact, Romero has seen his early offering remade in the new style with the zombies being far more agile and stronger than in his early work. The 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead was a massive box office success taking $102.4 million on a budget of just $26 million.


George A Romero at a convention in 2005 by Jane Doe Page (Copyright free)

The success of this remake prompted Romero to make and direct two more movies in his series with Diaries of the Dead and Survival of the Dead in 2008 and 2010 though neither of these had the success of the remake.

Where the zombie goes from here will be interesting to see but if films like World War Z or games like Days Gone are anything to go by then it sure will be exciting.