Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zombies 101 Lesson ! Sylabus!

Tomorrow Night (Jan. 25th) on the Creepercast... get your thinking cap on folks because its time to get schooled! Zombies 101: Lesson 1 – Origins, VooDoo and Re-animation! With philosophical discussions about White Zombie (1932), Serpent in the Rainbow (1988) & Frankenstein (2004). See the syllabus below or it is posted in the notes area of our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=341020252589019)! Join us Wednesday night @ 9pm MT/8 PT/11ET immediately following the Walking Dead Week in Review Fancast @ www.creepercast.com/live!

Zombies 101
A study of the zombie phenomena in culture and as a film genre:
Lesson 1 Syllabus
Origination – Voodoo and Re-Animation

On the Creepercast we will be discussing primarily the films in bold and their impact/influence on culture and the genre as a whole. This syllabus is reference material. Eventually I hope to it will grow into a well put together college course for any film studies program!

Definition of 'zombie':
Miriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com):
zom-bie noun \'zäm-bē\
  1. usually zombi
  2. a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead; especially : automaton
  3. a mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice

Examples of ZOMBIE
  1. If I don't go to bed early I'll be a zombie tomorrow.
  2. His students usually sat there in the classroom like zombies.
Origin of ZOMBIE
Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole zonbi, of Bantu origin; akin to Kimbundu nzúmbe ghost
First Known Use: circa 1871

  1. a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially : robot
  2. a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions
  3. an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion

Latin, from Greek, neuter of automatos
First Known Use: 1645

  1. a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human being; also : a similar but fictional machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often emphasized
  2. an efficient insensitive person who functions automatically
  3. a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks
  4. a mechanism guided by automatic controls

Czech, from robota compulsory labor; akin to Old High German arabeit trouble, Latin orbus orphaned — more at orphan
First Known Use: 1922

Encyclopedia Britannica:
  1. zombi, also spelled zombie, in Vodou, a dead person who is revived after burial and compelled to do the bidding of the reviver, including criminal acts and heavy manual labor. Scholars believe that actual zombis are living persons under the influence of powerful drugs, including burundanga (reportedly used by Colombian criminals) and drugs derived from poisonous toads and puffer fish. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/657810/zombi)
  2. Bad Voodoo: The distinctions between good and bad supernatural power are relative and depend on how moral legitimacy is judged. This becomes clear when the spiritual power invoked is studied more closely. In a number of revealing African cases, the word that denotes the essence of witchcraft (e.g., tsau among the West African Tiv and itonga among the East African Safwa), the epitome of illegitimate antisocial activity, also describes the righteous wrath of established authority, employed to curse wrongdoers. This essential ambivalence is particularly evident in Haitian voodoo, where there is a sharp distinction between man-made evil magic powers, connected with zombies (beings identified as familiars of witches in the beliefs of some African cultures), and benevolent invisible spirits identified with Catholic saints. This antithesis between witchcraft and religion, however, is always problematic: after his death, the malevolent spirits or powers that an ancestor has used for his personal benefit become accrued by his descendants’ protective spirits (loas). Magic has thus turned into religion (the converse of the more familiar process in which outmoded religions are stigmatized by their successors as magic). (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/646051/witchcraft/214882/Witchcraft-in-Africa-and-the-world?anchor=ref703868)


  1. Films
    1. Voodoo related
      1. White Zombie (1932)
        1. Director: Victor Halperin, 1932. This movie is on video and has a running time of 73 min. " Now we understand each other a little better", says Bela Lugosi, as he turns his rival into one of his eerie slaves. This, by no means, is one of his more well-known lines from a movie; but after seeing this film, I am convinced that it has to be one of his most sinister quotes. Lugosi plays the evil overseer of a sugarmill, who turns his workers into zombies to do his dirty work. White Zombie is a wonderful low-budget flick, with wonderful background settings that add to the eeriness of the film. For the most part, the zombies are mindless creatures that would not have hurt anybody, if it had not been for Lugosi. So, they really do not add to any of the misconceptions that Americans have about Voodoo. The few Haitians we do see in the film are burying one of their dead. None of them are depicted as being evil. The real big "misconception" in the film is a carved Voodoo doll. Iam under the impression that they do not exist. As one last note on the film; the way that Lugosi turned his victims into zombies, was to give them a special powder that would feign death. He would then go and get the body, giving it another concoction. Perhaps Victor Halperin was Wade Davis' "secret society." (Willey)
      2. Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
        1. Director: Wes Craven, 1988. This project is on video, with a running time of 98 min. "In the legends of Voodoo, the serpent is a symbol of Earth, the rainbow is a symbol of heaven. Between the two, all creatures live and die. But because he has a goal, man can be trapped in a terrible place, where death is only the beginning."
      3. Voodoo Dawn (1990)
      4. Plague of the Zombies (1966)
    1. Re-Animation part 1
      1. The Frankenstein's
        1. Frankenstein (1931)
        2. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
        3. Frankenstein (1991)
        4. Frankenstein (2004)
          1. Director: Marcus Nispel, 2004. This movie is on video and has a running time of 88 min. Two hundred years after Mary Shelley's novel the brilliant but mad Doctor has sustained his creature and himself over two centuries through genetic experimentation. In present-day America Detective O'Connor is investigating a series of horrific murders which leads her to the doctor and his creature. What she uncovers reveals the strange evolution the doctor and his creation undergo over the course of two centuries and the divergent paths creator and monster take in pursuing good or evil.
  2. Literature
    1. Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis
    2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    3. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean R. Koontz
    4. Voodoo in Haiti by Alfred Metraux
  3. Discussion questions
    1. Define “zombie” as it pertains to its use in the films of today.
    2. Define “the walking dead.” Are voodoo zombis or the reanimated “the walking dead?” explain.
    3. Frankenstein's monster is reanimated dead flesh, but is he a zombie? Explain.
    4. Who or what is the real thing to be feared in these films? Explain.
    5. Is a supernatural element required to make/have a zombie? Explain.

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