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ZombiesZombies are fictional undead creatures regularly encountered in horror and fantasy themed works.


They are typically depicted as mindless, reanimated corpses with a hunger for human flesh, and particularly for human brains in some depictions. Although they share their name and some superficial similarities with the zombie from Haitian Vodun, their links to such folklore are unclear and many consider George A. Romero's seminal film The Night of the Living Dead to be the progenitor of these creatures. By 2011 the influence of zombies in popular consciousness had reached far enough that government agencies were using them to garner greater attention in public service messages.

How these creatures came to be called "zombies" is not fully clear. Night of the Living Dead made no reference to them as "zombies", describing them instead as "ghouls". However, the word zombie is used continually by Romero in his 1978 script for his sequel Dawn of the Dead, including once in dialog. This "retroactively fits (the creatures) with an invisible Haitian/African prehistory, formally introducing the zombie as a new archetype". It has been argued however that the name is not truly applicable to these creatures because the zombie of Hatian Vodun is not a monster, but a victim.

One of the first books to expose western culture to the concept of the Vodun zombie was The Magic Island by W.B. Seabrook in 1929. Island is the sensationalized account of a narrator in Haiti who encounters voodoo cults and their resurrected thralls. Time claimed that the book "introduced 'zombi' into U.S. speech".

In 1932, Victor Halperin directed White Zombie, a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. This film, capitalizing on the same voodoo zombie themes as Seabrook's book of three years prior, is often regarded as the first legitimate zombie film ever made. Here zombies are depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. Zombies, often still using this voodoo-inspired rationale, were initially uncommon in cinema, but their appearances continued sporadically through the 1930s to the 1960s, with notable films including I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

In his article, "The Evolution of the Zombie: the Monster That Keeps Coming Back", Shawn McIntosh notes that, "even after the traditional zombie largely disappeared from the screen, there was still a strong fascination with the word", and that "zombie" came to be applied to a wide variety of disfigured or deformed creatures throughout the 50s and 60s. However, even as they began to take on the shabbier, corpselike characteristics of later "zombies", these creatures always followed the Voodoo convention of being controlled by a master.

One of the most famous zombie-themed television appearances was 1983's Thriller, a Michael Jackson music video featuring choreographed zombies dancing with the singer. Many pop culture media have paid tribute to this scene alone, including zombie films such as Return of the Living Dead 2.

Romero-styled zombie outbreaks are often featured in animated shows, such as in the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons, South Park, and Invader Zim. In Japan, zombies often appear in manga and anime, such as Highschool of the Dead, Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho and Zombie-Loan.

In 2008, writer Charlie Brooker created Dead Set, a television miniseries set in a zombie apocalypse. The satirical horror storyline follows fictional contestants of the British Big Brother series, along with the studio employees who are trapped inside the Big Brother house as wild, savage zombies rampage outside.

In 2010, AMC premiered The Walking Dead, the first US television series to be set in a zombie apocalypse.

In August 2011, MTV premiered Death Valley, a spoof horror series about an "Undead Task Force" that capture various monsters, including zombies, that infest San Fernando Valley.

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