Although it took until 1932 for a zombie to appear on the big screen, the concept of a reanimated corpse walking the earth has existed since at least the early 1700s. The African populations of Haiti and the southern American states, at this time largely enslaved, brought their shamanic folk practices from their homelands and despite the Christian resistance it, Vodu (later Voodoo) developed and thrived. Most likely influenced by the horrific situations the practitioners found themselves living in, stories of evil wizards enslaving the will of unfortunate individuals through the use of black magic became a popular theme of the Voodoo religion and people, both black and white, started to fear the Bokor (the zombie master!)
Now these early zombies were quite different to the modern concept of the undead. These shambling unfortunates were not merciless killing machines with an insatiable lust for the dead (spot the Rob Zombie Easter egg), but victims of eternal servitude and oppression.
There is some evidence that actual zombification practices really occurred but you'd have to Google that shit....that's not why we are here. Things really kicked off in 1968 when George A. Romero wrote, directed and released his cult classic; Night of the Living Dead.
Thanks to some 'science' recently deceased individuals now rose up from their graves and developed a sudden and over whelming appetite for human flesh. These monsters were no passive slaves to mystical weirdos but unwaivering morons hellbent on biting people. The 'science' behind the condition allowed for anyone bitten by the undead to die an agonising death and shortly after get up and start making new zombies of their own.....Nice.
Throughout the next few years various movies developed the genre further and I think it's widely accepted that the nefarious activities of the recently deceased are probably due to a virus of some kind.
As the general population's understanding of the world increased, audiences started to fill in their own blanks and before long a string of writers and directors raised on conspiracy theories and pandemic diseases had pretty much conquered the zombie genre and decided that there is no such thing as magic (or Voodoo) and that humanity is ultimately to blame.
So how do we get this Apocalypse done then?
First we need a virus.
Well first we need a reason for the virus. It might be pharmaceutical companies getting greedy (never), or it could be humanities own self serving fall into moronic consumerism (cough, Love Island). It could even be people eating bats in the far East without washing their hands first. What ever the reason the virus will evolve and with only a few decades of consideration I've come up with a possible idea.....stay with me now.....science ahead......
Rabies is passed in through saliva, it's mammalian victims lose the ability to swallow and foam at the mouth. Then they want to bite stuff because the virus uses the creatures natural aggressive reflexes to spread itself. Humans with rabies generally avoid biting people although they can become aggressive. Our attack mechanisms have evolved differently. This might yet change.
Leucochloridium paradoxum is a parasite which spreads itself by taking control of a passing snail. Then it changes the appearance and behavior of said snail, making it look particularly delicious to passing birds. Once consumed by the birds the parasite reproduces in its intestines and is then 'dropped' by the bird ready to start the whole process over again.
What if the rabies virus evolved into something that could infect a parasite which could control a snail.....that's right.....zombie snails.....no wait that's not it....
With a bit of human intervention.....well you can see where it's going.....before you know it we are doomed. With a bit more 'science' who knows what could happen.
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comics, has recently confirmed that his version of the virus was infact caused by a 'space spore' (circa. Night of the Living Dead) but using organic alien substances as a point of origin is far more fantastical than it really needs to be. Let's stick with rabid snail parasites taking control of dead humans which reanimate and attack other humans with the express purpose of turning said humans into zombies.
If you want to see the consequences of such genetic tomfoolery I suggest booking onto one of Zombie Infections many award winning events found here which are held at several sites across the country.
These events will test your ability to organise, solve puzzles and survive. The events are organised into chapters with the first taking place in Sheffield - click here in a disused steelworks.....sound safe to you?
The Factory (chapter one) sees you tackle the infected but others in the series will have you going up against the infection itself as you take on escape room styled puzzles in a bid to find a cure. Assemble a team today. Preparation is key. As I said, these events will better prepare you for what lies ahead!
More so than stocking up on bog roll anyway.
Why not tune into our live weekly stream "Picking Brains" over on our twitch.tv/zombieinfection channel. Its totally free, here you can chat with our award winning cast and crew about all things horror and hear from industry professionals on the scare circuit! its super fun, week nights at 7.30!