When it comes to classic zombie movies, everyone has their own favorites, and most can still remember the first time they sat in front of the television, watching a black and white portrayal of the undead slowly, but determinedly, chasing down their bumbling prey. Classic zombie movies are still a favorite amongst diehard fans, because they lend an element of gritty morbidity that pop culture based movies seem to lack these days; while this shouldn't take away from the latest releases within this genre, it definitely adds to the authority of the films that preceded them.
The reason why classic zombie movies seem to come with the tag line this is what actual zombies are supposed to look like, is because the archetype for these creatures stemmed from the Voodoo religion, which is, in essence, Haitian. When William S. Seabrook returned from his voyage to Haiti and published his travelogue, The magic island, westerners found themselves enthralled with the concept of a creature that rises from the grave due to the powers of a sorcerer called a Brokor. This fascination led to some of the best classic films on the subject, and all within a matter of a few decades.
Bela Lugosi's 'White Zombie' is perhaps one of the most famous classic films on this subject. It follows the story of a prosperous businessman by the name of Murder Legendre, based in Haiti, who has the power to transform men into zombies. When a man falls in love with a woman who is to marry someone else, he approaches the voodoo master for assistance, who then turns his beloved into a zombie. The movie itself is said to closely follow the writings of Seabrook, even going as far as mentioning the potion that was supposed to turn corpses into the undead slaves of the voodoo priest.
George Romero's 'The Night of the Living Dead' was another classic which altered the face of this genre, and remakes of this film continue to be released up until today. The film was released in 1968 and its reception was marked by shock and outrage, although when this subsided, it quickly became one of the penultimate favorite films on the subject. One of the reasons for its initial negative reception was the fact that it was gory, contained nudity, and the protagonist of the film was ultimately killed in the end. Basically, this film was unlike any other that had been released in the past, and it remains one of the most popular films based on the undead to date.
'The Night of the Living Dead' did not only alter the horror genre; it also added to the lore and myth surrounding these supernatural creatures. In the past, zombies were the creation of dark voodoo priests, but in this feature, they could transfer their supernatural abilities to others through a bite. The film also references methods on how to kill these creatures - shoot them through the head- which has become the first method of defense against the undead in countless films and games to date.
While classic zombie movies might have changed slightly during the first few decades when they began making their debuts on big screens all over the world, one thing remains certain; they inspired a fascination with these creatures that continues to thrive today.
Matt runs a site called Scary Zombie Costumes that offers zombie outfits and also news, articles and features on all things zombie related. You can see the site at: