Burriss: Zombie? Do it safely

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My father had a saying he used, more often than I liked: "If a job be great or small, do it right or not at all." And that, believe it or not, has lately gotten me thinking about zombies.

Everywhere you look, particularly in movies and on television, you'll find zombies. Sometimes they're called "the living dead," sometimes they're called the "undead," and sometimes they're called the "walking dead." But whatever they're called, you can blame George Romero's seminal 1968 film, "Night of the Living Dead," for setting us down the totally wrong zombie path.

But to his credit, Romero's film never used the term "zombie." Rather, the word was applied later by fans.

Actually the word "zombie" was introduced into the United States in a 1929 novel, The Magic Island." Later, in 1932, Bela Lugosi starred in "The White Zombie," the first film to use the term.

The true zombie, or at least the zombie of Haitian Creole or North Mbundu legend, is an animated corpse under the control of a sorcerer. In West African Vodun, the soul of the zombie is kept in a bottle, and pieces are sold for good luck. Haitian zombies are allegedly living people who have been given powerful psychoactive drugs that induce a trance-like state.

So unlike what we see in movies and on television, zombies are simply in a trance, and are under the control of someone else. They don't' eat flesh or brains, don't drag their feet, and don't have rotting skin falling from their bones.

So, before I check on that strange shuffling noise outside my house, let me say, if you're going to do a zombie, do it right.

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Larry Burriss
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