The History of Zombies from Haiti to Hollywood
Whether we like it or not, the zombies are coming for us all. Films, books, computer games, comics and TV shows. From historical and mythical zombies to claims to have proven the scientific truth behind zombification. From the gruesome, cannibalistic monsters of horror, to the harmless creatures of children’s playground games. There are zombie flash mobs and parades, zombie cocktails and drinks. There’s zombie capitalism and zombie corporations. And, of course, the zombie apocalypse.
They are coming. Shuffling, inexorably, unthinkingly, to consume us all. To infect us. And there’s nothing, it seems, that we can do to stop it.
We’ve all seen a zombie film or TV show. Or maybe you’ve just dressed up as a zombie for a Halloween party. You know what a zombie is…Or maybe you don’t.
Episode 12 of Words To That Effect explores the complex cultural history of zombies, from the cane fields of Haiti to the Hollywood screen, from the mindless, shuffling undead to the concept of zombie consciousness. I am joined by Prof Roger Luckhurst, author of Zombies: A Cultural History.
Professor Roger Luckhurst is Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. His research is wide-ranging but focuses in particular on horror and science fiction. His full bio can be found here
His excellent book, Zombies: A Cultural History, is available on Amazon here
His most recent book is the edited collection, the Cambridge Companion to Dracula, which is available here.
Music this week was by Overhead, the Albatross and The Jimmy Cake
Tracks, in the order played:
1 HBG (Overhead, The Albatross)
2 Red Tony (The Jimmy Cake)
3 Last Breath (The Jimmy Cake)
4. The Art of Wrecking (The Jimmy Cake)
5 The Day the Arms that Came Out of the Wall (The Jimmy Cake)
Works & Authors Mentioned
William Seabrook: The Magic Island
Theodore Roscoe: Z is for Zombie
Henry Sinclair Whitehead
Victor Halperin (dir): White Zombie
George Romero (dir): Night of the Living Dead
Richard Matheson: I Am Legend
M.R. Carey: The Girl with All the Gifts
Danny Boyle (dir): 28 Days Later
Marc Forster (dir): World War Z
Frank Darabont: The Walking Dead
Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero-Wright: iZombie
If you’re looking for more iconic pop culture figures, check out this episode on Sherlock Holmes
Or, how about more on 19th century origins of contemporary fears? Check out this episode on fake news and invasion fiction
If you enjoy the episode and want to find out how to support the show then click here for more information.
What’s your favourite zombie film. Have I missed something in the history of zombies? Let me know in the comments below or check out the Words To That Effect Facebook Page
2 thoughts on “Episode 12: The Horrifically Complicated History of Zombies”
An interesting read that compliments what you have compiled is Wade Davis’ book, “The Serpent and The Rainbow”. Thanks for a delightful show!
Yeah, I came across the Wade Davis book when I was researching the episode but haven’t read it – I’ll have to throw it on the “to read” pile! Glad you’re enjoying the show!