Origin of the Zombies

The flesh-eating undead, the zombies, almost bring chills to our bones. We have all seen them in movies and serials. But where did these beliefs about the undead begin? The tale of the origin of the zombies is more pensive than one might think. However, those zombies were not exactly as we know them today.

Where did the zombie belief begin?

It all began when the US occupied a small town of Haiti in the early 20th century (1915-1934). A large number of Africans were getting kidnapped and brought to Haiti to work as slaves. They were forced to work there for life.


Along with the Africans also came their religious beliefs and their Vodou culture. Vodou is similar to voodoo and black magic in many aspects. A popular belief was to be able to bring back the dead to life with the help of wizards known as Bokor. The slaves feared that they will be brought back to life after their death and will be forced to work for eternity. This fear originated the term zombie – slaves brought back to life and forced to obey a master.

Also read: Birth of the Vampires

When a journalist and travel writer, William Seabrook, visited Haiti, he got fascinated by the slave’s beliefs and culture. He published a book The Magic Island which eventually introduced the world to Zombies.

Soon this caught the attention of Hollywood directors. In 1932, Victor Halperin’s movie, White Zombie was released. This movie depicted the zombies as lifeless slaves suffering and working for their masters.

This, however, is not how we know zombies today.

The modern zombies

The modern zombies, who kill and eat human flesh and have no senses and no master to follow. This view made its presence in the year 1968 when George Romero’s movie Night of The Living Dead was released. This movie was a huge hit. Here, George Romero displayed dead coming back to life to kill humans. However, they were referred to as Ghouls and the word zombie was never mentioned in the movie.

The word zombie later came into the picture in various remakes of Night of The Living Dead and other similar movies.

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