Children in zombie costumes in Edmonton, Canada in 2007.

A zombie is a kind of monster that was formerly human but has either died and been brought back to life or has become infected by an unknown and terrible disease. Either way, a zombie looks like a rotting corpse and a has no free will. It will either do exactly as its human master commands or it merely follows its animal instinct to eat flesh.

The living dead of Haiti

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Graffiti art of a zombie in Vitoria, Spain.

The concept of zombies originated on the Caribbean island of Haiti. In Haitian folklore a zombie is a person whose food and drink has been spiked by an evil magician. The magician's potion makes the person appear to die. After the person is buried, the magician digs up the body and through use of witchcraft turns it into his zombie slave.

Much like the golem of Jewish folklore, the zombie will only respond to the commands of its magician master and will do whatever the magician asks it to do. The magician may just ask the zombie to do household chores or may send it out to murder his enemies.

A zombie's body does not regenerate itself in the way that a living person's one does but gradually rots instead. Eventually, the zombie decomposes completely and the magician has to find a new victim to become his next zombie slave.

Modern movie zombies

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Zombies from the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.

Recent movies have introduced the concept of a new type of zombie.In those movies, people change into zombies after being infected with an unknown virus. Whether or not they die first and then come back to life as zombies or become zombie-like monsters while they are still alive varies from movie to movie.

This type of zombie lacks any kind of human intelligence or emotion and simply follows its instinct to eat human flesh. They have superhuman strength and do not need to rest.

They are able to infect people and turn them into zombies by biting them, in a similar manner to the way in which vampires are often said to create more vampires.


A zombie can be killed by severing the brain from its body, immobilizing it. Another lesser-known method for stopping a zombie is to make it consume salt. This is said to remove the infection that transformed it.

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