As I play through the most recent Zombie apocalypse game, Dying Light from Techland, it occurs to me that we as a society have somewhat of an unhealthy fascination with these undead creatures that bring about the end of the world as we know it. It seems to me that we are constantly bombarded by all forms of media including movies and games depicting our world coming to an end in this horrific and terrifying way. What is it about these mindless killing machines we find so alluring? Is it that law and order breaks down and we must revert to our most primal instincts to survive, by killing, hunting and foraging? Looking back at where this fascination first came about is unclear, and for me Mary Shelly first brough the idea of the undead coming back to life in the early 1800’s with her novel Frankenstein. However, bringing the dead back to life has been part of Haitian culture and folklore for centuries, by reviving the dead through the act of necromancy performed by a Bokor sorcerer. This is all tied into the Voodoo religion that has been part of the culture for as long as anyone can remember.

None of these explain or even talk about a disease that turns humans into brain-dead killing machines, constantly wandering the earth in search of life to feed on. So where does our modern view on Zombies come from and why is it so deeply ingrained in media today? Some say it started with a movie in 1968 by George A. Romero called “Night Of The Living Dead”, where the Zombies were bred with Vampires causing them to bite and infect their victims. There were many earlier movies depicting the living undead, but it was George Romero’s movie that sparked “Zombie Revolution” if you wish, among all forms of media owing to its gruesome nature when it was made. This almost obsession we now have with this depiction of the end of the world being brought about by some virus turning us all into “The Walking Dead”, has truly spiralled out of control, so much so that a lot of people across the globe are actually preparing for the day when this will happen. Has our constant exposure to this Zombie Apocalypse theory gone so far as to convince people in their own minds that this is a real threat to humanity? We have so many forms of media these days, and even more ways to view and search for this media that it has convinced people it is actual fact, not fiction. It may be true what people say, ” if you tell yourself enough times, it becomes true”, and our constant exposure to this has made this a reality in some minds.

Many of us know the term “preppers”, people or groups of people that are preparing for some kind of global or national disaster. I have to say that I agree with being ready for some of the things these people are already prepared for such as, war, total crash of the world economy, natural disasters or hostile takeovers, because all of these to me are not out of the realm of possibility and may even occur in the future. Then you have people like Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas declaring October to be “Zombie Preparedness Month” detailing how he plans to defend the city from the living dead, that makes me think too much exposure to one thing in the media leads to a form of psychosis in some people. On the other side of the coin, could this actually happen? If you have ever looked up about Zombie outbreaks you may be a little surprised at the results. One site called The Federal Zombie And Vampire Agency for instance has the top three Zombie outbreaks recorded. They detail that these outbreaks occur around the time of natural disasters and one tells of such an outbreak in Key West, Florida 1935.

On Labor Day, September 2 of 1935, a major hurricane bore down on the Florida Keys, a string of islands separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane, one of only two Category 5 storms ever recorded in the United States, made landfall at Key West, the most populous of the keys. As day turned to night, heavy rains and winds of over 150 miles per hour rolled over the island, destroying virtually everything standing.

Key West; 1935: zombified corpses
being prepared for disposal

Amid the destruction, infected rats began roaming the island. By morning, the first of the zombies had appeared. Many islanders mistook the zombies for dazed hurricane survivors, and so the plague spread across the island like wildfire. To make matters worse, the roads and bridges connecting the keys to the mainland had been washed out by the storm, leaving the islanders with no way to escape. Scores of people drowned when they chose to leap into the choppy surf rather than face the voracious zombies.

Within 48 hours, FVZA troops from all over the South converged on Key West in a variety of seacraft. Soon after, they established a beachhead on the south side of the island and went about the process of extermination. It took up to three weeks to secure the entire island, wherein a total of 3500 people were infected and destroyed—an enormous number considering that there was a zombism vaccine available at the time.

This account along with two others starts to make you question what these rats were actually infected with and where did it come from. It also mentions a “zombism vaccine” being available at the time. Why is there a vaccine for something that has grown from our imagination? That is my question. When I started to write this article I began thinking that people have convinced themselves of a zombie outbreak due mainly to the fact of how often this scenario is presented to us through all forms of media. Now even I am starting to question myself and my sanity as I read and find more evidence of diseases that seem to cause Zombie like symptoms in humans, yet I had never heard of them before my research. Many conspiracy theory’s also surround the culture of Zombies and how the Governments are covering up what is really going on, much like the theories of Alien life and Area 51. It seems many more people across the globe are realising that this is a genuine threat to humanity, and you can even find online shops dedicated to helping you prepare for the inevitable Zombie outbreak. Are the rest of us blind to the fact that we will die, come back to life and forever wander the earth in search of our next meal, because we failed to prepare adequately? Or are we simple media Zombies, constantly bombarded by these images we have become brainwashed into thinking they are real? All the while others exploit that state of mind by feeding our fascination and selling us products that we are now convinced we need in order to survive.

One thing is true, Zombies both fascinate and horrify us and they have become such a big part of our entertainment we simply acknowledge their existence as being fact. If we had a vote on how we expect humanity to end, I bet Zombies would win. My quest to get to the bottom of this phenomenon is far from over as I continue to research Zombies and whether the threat is real or fiction, as even the most popular online shooter cannot go without adding in these undead hordes to keep people playing, what do you think?