4. Zombies

Image: Night of the Living Dead (1968, Image Ten)

In recent years, Zombie stories have spread across the mainstream in a massive way, capturing the imagination of audiences the world over. They were popularized in their most recognizable form by George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (and its subsequent sequels), but the actual concept is borrowed from Haitian folklore, in which corpses are said to be reanimated by means of witchcraft.

The zombies that populate modern fiction are reanimated corpses (usually by scientific means, such as a virus of some kind) who hunger for human flesh, and whose bite will turn the uninfected into another zombie, spreading the disease/virus/curse. The idea of hungering for human flesh clearly stems from real cases (there are too many documented to speak about any one in particular) of cannibalism. The blending of the Haitian belief in reanimating the dead and the very real (and disturbing) idea of cannibalism have resulted in the modern movie zombie, a shambling (or sometimes running) infected former member of the human race that desperately wants to take a bite out of the living.