A BRIEF HISTORY OF ZOMBIES

By ED PETRENKO
Illustrations by
MICHAEL DEFORGE

Many assume that zombies first arose in the 1950s as a by-invention of nuclear testing, television and race-relations allegory. Well, ‘many’ could not be further from the truth. Zombies, or as they now prefer to be called, “The Unstoppable Menace”, have a long and storied history as upstanding, if dead, members of society. Given the widespread discrimination many zombies face seeking employment from non-zombies (or “nombies” as they call them), many zombies stay in the well-established Hollywood zombie community and make films about the harsh realities of being a zombie in a nombie-dominated world. Often neglected in the shadow of their present media existence is the long and storied history of their ascent from the mausoleum to the matinee. While early records of zombie activities are scarce – being well-thought out, the evidence of brains in the records made them tasty treats for zombie eats – several noteworthy morsels survive.

1347: The Black Death ravages Europe, and no one helped less than zombies. While alchemists at the time believed it to be caused by tiny, invisible microbes transmitted via tactile contact from rats to humans, scientists currently believe it to have been caused by a man ancient texts identify as Olaf Zomberg, zombie. Stricken with polydipsia, Olaf’s hunger was psychologically unquenchable, and so he roamed the continent, devouring hamlet after hamlet. Also, he was magic. Eventually baked into a pie by the King of Bavaria (and baked into legend as eight different nursery rhymes), he nevertheless changed the course of history, and increased anti-zombiism to historically high levels. Over the centuries, Olaf’s oft-retold tale eventually turned into the story of Santa Claus.

1804: In the first successful slave rebellion, Haitian slaves overwhelm their French overlords with the aid of zombies, with their zombie powers. Lead by the zombie of Charlemagne, imported in secret from France, the ironic victory turns sarcastic when the zombies seize control from their slave overlords in the world’s first successful zombie rebellion. Unfortunately, strong resistance from the zombies’ subjugated Dracula population cuts short the zombie rule of the island, and tension between the four factions still continues today.

1898: Recorded on wax cylinders, and projected onto pressed onion meal, the first zombie film is released to a terrified public. These strange, moving pictures cause panic nationwide, settled only after careful consultation of Revelations reveals this only to be a sign of forecoming signs of the Apocalypse, and not a sign of the first degree. The pandemonium helps make the medievally-set Gadzookf!, Zombief Hath Abfconded In Poffeffion of Our Letterf! a hit, and also helps to set back the cause of zombie rights by some fifty years.

1939: Zombie warfare is unleashed on the battlefields of Europe, decimating the nombie population. Despite their tireless contributions to the slaughter, they are refused the vote upon their return, and many do not even receive benefits promised to them by FDR’s zombie, his power usurped by Harry S. Truman (the ‘S’ stands for ‘Sea Monster’). This issue is explored in depth some years later in the documentary Return of the Living Dead 3, remade for nombie consumption as the middle third of Forrest Gump.

1968: Night of the Living Dead is released, soiling pants worldwide. Despite being subpoenaed for slander by the Zombie Defamation League, the movie goes on to break box office records for zombie movies (easily surpassing the ZDL’s own progressive Guess Who’s Eating My Face?) Zombie opinion is split between the predominantly east-coast, liberal zombies who feel slighted by the publicity, and the middle American sons-of-the-soil zombies happy to gain publicity. Many of these doe-eyed zombies went to Hollywood to grab a piece of the pie offered by the “Zombie Invasion” sweeping the nation.

1971: Their Hollywood dreams in tear-soaked tatters, several desperate zombies bring their careers back from the grave with the release of Night of the Giving Head, touted (though not celebrated) as the first porno film ever, zombie or otherwise. Hailed by the Blowjob Defamation League as a milestone in film history, its plot follows several scantily-decomposed zombie females fresh-risen from the grave who overhear a conversation about ‘men thinking with their penises’. Assuming penises to have delicious brains hidden inside, the zombiettes proceed to extract them as best they can. Many groups complained that the film set an unrealistic portrayal of zombie love, as well as set unrealistic standards of corporeal integrity for female zombies, but they were silenced by the torrent of masturbation engulfing the nation.

1979: Zombi II is released. This sequel to Old Man and the Sea features the first (but not the last) battle between zombie and shark. The Shark Defamation League is silent, busy combating Saturday Night Live at the time. Sharks and zombies have since patched things up, but refuse to answer questions about the possible existence of zombie sharks.

2006: Shortly before this very zombie article is published, some jackass goes and publishes a whole freakin’ book about the damn things. I’m not saying who, and I’m not saying where you can buy the book, but I will say this: it probably sucks. Not that I’m bitter or anything, it’s just that I’m really, really petty.

Today, zombies occupy numerous high-ranking positions in all walks of life, but still struggle for social acceptance. Despite such luminaries as David Schwimmer and that girl in the Apple commercials who seemed really high (according to the Stoner De-fume-ation League), zombies are still seen as flesh-hungry monsters – a viewpoint totally unreasonable, as most zombies import their flesh from the third world via the CHUD act of 1986.

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