Remember Wes Craven's 1988 flick The Serpent and the Rainbow? It rocked, didn't it? Well, that film was believe it or not based on the true accounts of a man by the name of Wade Davis, who traveled to Haiti in 1982 to explore the secrets of zombification and then documented his experiences in a book, The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis then went on to write a second book on zombies, Passage Into Darkness, which covered the strange case of Clairvius Narcisse (seen above). I talked a bit about this in my Horror Film Fact or Fiction post a ways back, but i'll touch on it again for those who don't want to leave this post to go ahead and read that one. To make a long story short, Narcisse died in 1962 but was then seen again in his village in 1980. He claimed that he had spent the prior 18 years as a zombie slave. But was Narcisse ever really dead? Davis believes that he was not dead but rather that he was poisoned with a compound containing Tetrodoxin, which essentially has the effect of making a living human being appear, by all accounts, quite dead. The victim, naturally thought to dead, is then buried. ALIVE. Much like Pullman in the flick. Those who poisoned him come back later in the night, exhume the living corpse, reanimate it with another special compound, and use the essential brain-dead 'zombie' as a slave. The townspeople of course assume that the man or woman has died a natural death and is comfortably lying in his grave and are never the wiser to what's really going on. Pretty fucked, eh? This is what allegedly happened to Clairvius Narcisse and he's not the only one. But not all zombies are as lucky as Narcisse and not all of them escape their owners and return to somewhat normal existences. This brings us to the Men's Journal article that I read today that has inspired this post....
Mischa Berlinski is a writer that has lived in Haiti for the last several years and after rumors of a zombie roaming around town, he decided to investigate and put his findings down on paper for all to see. The article, Into The Zombie Underworld, is the true account of a young girl by the name of Nadathe Joassaint ; a living breathing zombie. This is not rumor and this is not speculation. This is real. If you want to read the full eight page article, you're gonna have to pick up the September 2009 issue of Men's Journal, which as I said is out now. But I will give you the basic gist of the story to whet your appetite. Sort of like the blurb you'd read on the back cover of the DVD. If this were a movie. I highly recommend you pick up the mag and read the whole article, which I can guarantee will shock and interest the hell out of you.
This is, in short, the story of Nadathe Joassaint.....
On the morning of November 7th, 2006, 26 year old Nadathe Joassaint became sick and was soon after found dead. Two men were accused of her murder and, before the judge, they admitted that they had killed Joassaint, via the use of a mysterious powder. "The body was buried at 5PM Friday", one of the men claimed, "By 9PM we were in possession of her zombie". Joassaint's mother was soon informed by her cousin that these claims were true ; her daughter was still alive and she was in fact a zombie. Despite various attempts to get her back, her mother never saw her again and although many sightings of the young girl were reported in the area, nothing was ever proven beyond speculation. Almost two years after the young girl was buried, her suspicious fiancee decided to break into her tomb and take a look inside, to once and for all find out the truth. When he opened the coffin, there was no sign of Nadathe Joassaint inside. Her whereabouts have never been discovered and Berlinski firmly believes that she is still out there, a zombie doing the bidding of her owner.
As far as i'm concerned, this article, like many reports that have come before it, are concrete proof that zombies do exist. Would Haiti really have rules pertaining to owning and transporting them if they didn't? They're not the way they are depicted in George Romero's zombie flicks, but they are zombies nonetheless. In fact, most pre-Romero zombie movies depicted them as they really are ; dead people brought back to life as slaves. It wasn't until Night of the Living Dead came along that they were depicted as flesh hungry monsters. So are Romero's zombies real? No, thankfully those ones are merely a figment of his imagination. But as I said in the intro up there, people in this world are being essentially killed, buried, and then brought back to life. If that's not a zombie, then I don't know what is.
Go pick up the mag or at least head over to your local bookstore and sit on the floor and read it!
What do you make of all this? Leave a comment and let me know your two cents!