Thursday, November 20, 2008

Horror History 101!

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I like to think that my blog provides not just cheap thrills and mindless entertainment, but also a little bit of knowledge every so often. I've gathered tons and tons of useless information about the horror genre through my many years of being a superfan and my many years of sitting on the computer doing nothing but studying up on it, and if I don't share that knowledge, well then it truly is just kinda useless isn't it? So grab those pencils and those pads and sit up in that seat of yours! Horror History class is in session!

Today's lesson is on zombies. More importantly, the first zombies. By a show of hands, can anyone tell me what the FIRST zombie film ever made was?

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'Yes, Timmy?'

'That skirt looks nice on you'

'Thank you, Timmy. But answer the question'

'Night of the Living Dead?'

'No, it is not Night of the Living Dead, Timmy. But that is a common misconception.'

If you ask most of the general population what the first zombie movie ever made is, they'll probably give you the same answer as Timmy. Well this answer is quite wrong, but it also could be argued that it's kinda right. Allow me to explain.

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Yes, George Romero's 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead was the first film to show zombies as the flesh eaters we know them to be today. Romero pretty much drew up the blueprint for all of the zombies to come after him. But truth be told, it was over 3 decades earlier that the first zombie movie landed onto God's green earth.

That movie was 1932's White Zombie. Yes kids, that's where Rob got the name for his band from.

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The film starred Bela Lugosi and was about a young couple, Neil and Madeleine, who come to a man named Charles' plantation to be married. Charles has other plans, as he hopes to convince Madeleine to marry him instead, so he enlists the help of Lugosi's Vooodo master Murder Legendre to temporarily turn Maddy into a zombie. The idea being that her soon to be husband Neil will think she is dead and return back to the states, and Charles will then have her revived and he will wed her. Of course, those plans don't exactly work out the way they were intended.

Thus marks the first on screen film appeareance of the zombie. Yes, the first zombie was a woman!! All of the early film zombies took the similar approach of them being mindless slave types, up until Romero turned the idea on its ass and squeezed maximum horror out of the undead by making them flesh hungry animals.

Any questions?

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'Whats the etymology of the word zombie?'

'Wow good word, Jenny. We're straying a bit off topic here, but that's a wonderful question'

There are many possible origins of the term zombie. One possible origin is the word "jumbie", which is the West Indian term for 'ghost'. Another is "nzambie", the Kongo word meaning 'spirit of a dead person'. But perhaps the real origins came from the Creole word given to a person who has died and been brought back to life with no speech or free will. That word was "zonbi".

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Oh, look at that. Time's up already. Your homework is to watch White Zombie for free in its entirety (in one part!) on YouTube!!

Class is dismissed.

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