Ooookay… I think I’ve about got this worked out. If there are any OTHER kinds of zombies running around that I haven’t classified, feel free to tack 'em on there… until I tackled this project, I had no idea there were so many different kinds of animated corpse!
Type: reanimated corpse
Source: mythology, the films Deathdream, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Pet Sematery, the short story The Monkey’s Paw
Reason For Existence: varies. Corpse can reactivate to seek revenge against its killer, or to accomplish a task left undone in life, or can be reactivated by mystic means.
Notes: Revenants’ intelligence varies, as does their physical appearance; the revenants posited in CSPWDT were mindless and obviously dead, whereas the protagonist of Deathdream seemed fine, aside from some unpleasant urges and requirements… Reactivation time ranges from minutes to days, depending on the stimulus for reactivation.
In most cases, revenants are demonstrably dead (no heartbeat or respiration), and even when evidence contradicts this, there will be some other major difference between the original person and the revenant it has become (turning evil, addiction to living flesh, or something similar).
Method of Destruction: varies. Some can be rekilled by ordinary methods, others require mystic methods or complete destruction of the body. Be prepared, and have a backup plan ready in case your first line of offense fails.
Type: reanimated corpse
Source: George Romero’s film trilogy Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and Day Of The Dead, and the Tom Savini remake of Night Of The Living Dead. The film *Sean Of The Dead * follows this pattern, as well.
Reason For Existence: Unknown. Suggested that the cause was weird radiation from a space probe returning from Venus, but it could as easily be a physical/metaphysical change in the basic order of things: now, instead of lying there, the dead get up and wander around. Time between death and reactivation is usually around eight to ten minutes.
Notes: Romero zombies are of roughly animal intelligence, are motivated by two things: trace memory and the instinctive hunger for the flesh of the living. They are clumsy, not well coordinated, and not quick, but often travel in packs, and can hunt cooperatively. They decay much more slowly than normal dead animal matter. Their condition is contagious; a human, bitten by a Romero Zombie, contracts a wasting disorder which results in death within three days, followed by zombie reactivation.
In the absence of prey, Romero Zombies wander aimlessly, and have been known to gravitate toward places they went when alive, and to attempt simple behaviors they might have performed when alive (sitting in cars, wandering in malls, etc.) It is theorized that Romero Zombies have some small remaining traces of their human memories, and perhaps even be trainable in some way…
…although it is unwise in the extreme to expect a Romero Zombie to behave as anything other than a flesh-eating predator.
Romero Zombies can feel pain, and avoid fire.
Method Of Destruction: Romero Zombies are dead, but are motivated via brain activity. Destroying the zombie’s brain renders the zombie inert; separating the head from the body will not kill the head, but will render the body inert. It has also been noted that Romero Zombies burn rather well, as opposed to normal human corpses, which do not.
Type: reanimated corpse
Source: The James Gunn-written remake of Dawn Of The Dead.
Reason For Existence: Unknown, presumably viral or bacterial.
Notes: The Gunn Zombie is similar in many ways to the Romero Zombie, with several major differences. The Gunn Zombie is MUCH faster than the Romero Zombie, as a rule, and is a much more aggressive and efficient hunter… and not a bad long distance runner, either. Time between death and reactivation as a zombie is generally measured in seconds, not minutes, and the degenerative disorder caused by zombie bites works MUCH faster, generally measured in hours for a bad bite, to as much as several days for a very minor bite or zombie tooth abrasion. However, the only way to become a Gunn Zombie seems to be as a result of a Gunn Zombie bite; humans killed by other methods do not reanimate, which implies a germ vector of some sort for the syndrome.
Gunn Zombies, like Romero Zombies, tend to wander aimlessly until triggered by the presence of prey. However, Gunn Zombies do not consider anything except living humans to BE prey, and will ignore other living creatures.
Gunn Zombies do not feel pain, per se, and while they tend to avoid fire, they seem to fear it less than Romero Zombies do. They do seem to dislike large bodies of water, though.
Gunn Zombies are in all other respects similar to Romero Zombies.
Method Of Destruction: Identical to the Romero Zombie in this respect.
Leichesoldat Projekt Zombie
Type: reanimated corpse
**Source: ** various films over the years incorporating zombies and Nazis, as well as the Hellboy comic series.
Reason For Existence: created by Nazi science to: (exact answer varies)
(a) win WWII, but they weren’t finished in time,
(b) start and win WWIII and help establish the Fourth Reich,
© occupy the time and alleviate the boredom of the several hundred Nazi scientists holed up on assorted uncharted islands all over the various oceans since they fled the collapse of the Third Reich.
Notes: Leichsoldats (literally, corpse soldiers) are scientifically created zombies. Their habits and appearance varies from film to film; *The Frozen Dead * had Leichsoldats that looked more or less human, aside from their deadish coloration, whereas *Shock Waves * portrayed them as drowned-looking corpses in German WWII uniforms and tank-drivers’ goggles. They are not especially smart, usually lacking the ability to speak or operate devices more complex than a doorknob. They have often been observed using tools, though (generally clubs).
Leichsoldats tend to make poor soldiers. They seldom recall how to operate firearms, and they have an alarming habit of turning on their officers and/or creators, for no apparent reason, with some consistency. They generally do not eat; their sole motivation seems to be highly focused homicidal mania. They do not feel pain, and some seem to have enhanced strength.
Method Of Destruction: Varies. Italian zombie films featuring Leichsoldats tend to follow Romerian canon, and require a bullet to the head, but The Frozen Dead had them vulnerable to gunfire (although far tougher than humans to actually kill,) and *Shock Waves’ * Leichsoldats were quite immune to gunfire; short of complete destruction of the body, the only way to kill them was to yank off their goggles, which caused the creatures extreme pain and consternation, resulting in death a few moments later.
Type: reanimated corpse
Source: The John Russo films *Return Of The Living Dead * and its sequels. The original was written by Dan O’Bannon.
Reason For Existence: U.S. Army experiments in reanimating the dead led to the creation of a reagent which reactivated corpses doused in the stuff. Dousing a living human in the stuff results in death and subsequent reactivation. The reagent bonds well with water and is unharmed by extreme heat; burning corpses contaminated with the stuff led to the reagent’s precipitation in a rainstorm, and subsequent reactivation of an entire graveyard full of corpses.
The Army promptly mothballed the project, upon realizing its danger. However, several canisters of reagent (which also contained the original corpses activated in the experiment) were lost due to bureaucratic error.
Notes: O’Bannon Zombies may well be the most dangerous of the reanimated corpses. They tend to retain most of their original intelligence, as well as the power of speech and are driven by an (apparently instinctive) desire to consume fresh human brains. They have demonstrated the ability to work in groups, and to construct complex and subtle traps in order to attract living humans on which to feed. A favorite involves simply calling for police or paramedics.
Interrogation of a captive zombie reveals that the creatures can and do feel pain, and consumption of fresh brain matter temporarily anaesthetizes the pain of rigor mortis and tissue necrosis – the pain of being dead.
O’Bannon Zombies are fast and strong, limited only by the condition of the zombie’s body in their ability to aggressively hunt prey.
The O’Bannon Zombie’s condition, however, is NOT contagious; a corpse must be subjected to a bath in the reagent in order to reactivate. However, a corpse, decerebrated by other O’Bannon Zombies, can reactivate if bathed in the reagent. How it retains its original intelligence even after its brains have been devoured is a mystery. Reactivation time is measurable in seconds.
Like Romero Zombies, O’Bannon Zombies are dead; their hearts do not beat, and their blood does not circulate. They do seem more subject to rigor mortis, though.
Method Of Destruction: O’Bannon Zombies are extremely hard to kill; dismemberment simply results in a series of disconnected body parts, all trying to kill YOU. The sole effective means of destruction is cremation; O’Bannon Zombies, unlike Romero Zombies, do not burn well and require special means of incineration (a standard mortuary crematorium works fine)… although doing so rereleases the activating reagent into the air, where it can be precipitated by rainfall…
Type: living plague victim
Source: the film 28 Days Later
Reason For Existence: bioengineered microbe that escaped containment due to idiot animal rights activists.
Notes: The Rage is a disease, although it was unclear whether it was a bacterium or a virus. It is limited to the primates (including man) and is transmitted via exchange of bodily fluids (bites, sneezes, saliva, blood splatters on open wounds, etc; one victim was infected when a drop of infected blood landed in his eye).
The Rage is incredibly virulent; its infection rate is 100%, and an infected person will begin showing symptoms inside one minute of infection. The ultimate effect of the disease is to subsume the victim’s intelligence, drive the adrenal glands into full adrenaline production, and send the victim into full fight-or-flight mode. It also tends to increase the victim’s aggressive tendencies.
Ultimately, an “Infected” becomes a shrieking, berserk killing machine, attacking any uninfected or animals it may encounter.
Infected do not attack each other. They are alive, and maintain all normal bodily functions, although excessive adrenaline production and the disease itself tends to interfere with this process; frequent vomiting for no apparent reason is one of the symptoms, as are bright red eyes, apparently due to ruptured blood vessels in the sclera caused by the increase in blood pressure.
Infected maintain enough intelligence to operate doorknobs, and understand the concept of object permanence… but not much beyond that. Language is beyond them. They do not seem to eat or drink, but will sleep when exhausted. They don’t seem to like sunlight, and will tend to hide indoors during daylight, coming out to roam randomly at night.
Method Of Destruction: Infected do not feel pain, per se, but they are vulnerable to anything that will kill a human, although they tend to be tougher to put down, due to their adrenaline frenzy. Furthermore, they tend to die off within 56 days or so of infection, due to dehydration, starvation, and complications brought on by the disease itself (heart attacks, and suchlike).
Type: reanimated corpse
Source: folklore, and films like I Walked With A Zombie, White Zombie, Macumba Love, etc.
Reason For Existence: Individuals reanimated via magic in order to perform tasks for the witch doctor reanimating them.
Notes: Juju zombies are made one at a time by a witch doctor or shaman, who uses various spells, powders, and suchlike upon a corpse. When the process is complete, the corpse becomes a Juju zombie, under the control of the animating shaman, who usually either uses the zombie as a henchman or assassin, or rents him out as a laborer and pockets the money. Reactivation time is unclear, but seems to be measured in days.
Juju zombies are not aggressive; lacking orders from the shaman or an overseer, a juju zombie will stand in one place, doing nothing, not even defending itself unless specifically ordered to. When ordered to kill, however, a juju zombie can be a formidable opponent; being dead, they are immune to most weaponry, they do not feel pain, and they lack any kind of self-preservation instinct.
The intelligence of the juju zombie is a matter of some question. Most cannot speak, but they can be shown how to operate machinery, provided the tasks in question are simple and/or repetitive. However, juju zombies have occasionally been known to turn on their masters when ordered to kill someone the zombie cared about in life, or perform other unconscionable tasks the zombie would likely have refused on moral grounds when alive.
Method Of Destruction: Traditionally, putting salt in the zombie’s mouth would stop him; actual effects vary, ranging from “zombie drops dead on the spot” to “zombie returns to his grave and buries himself” to “zombie loses interest in you and goes completely bughouse.” In addition, dismembering the zombie or destroying its body is effective.
Type: reanimated corpse/mutated human/mutated animal
Source: the *Resident Evil * games, as well as the film Resident Evil. (Japanese title: Biohazard.) Named for the corporation that commissioned the viruses’ creation.
Reason For Existence: Bioengineered viruses.
Notes: The reasoning behind the Umbrella Corporation’s creation of the T-virus and its successor, the G-virus, is unclear; available information suggests that the viruses would have weapons potential, as well as uses in cosmetics.
The viruses are airborne, and have wildly variable effects. Creatures known to be susceptible include humans, dogs, spiders, wasps, apes, crows, monkeys, sharks, and certain forms of plant life. For some reason, the only creatures to reanimate as zombies include humans, dogs, and crows. Presumably, the other creatures were infected in a different manner, intended to promote mutation rather than reanimation.
The most common effect on humans is death and reanimation, the time frame depending on the amount of viral exposure; one account had the person becoming ill and developing eczema-like symptoms over several days, then finally dying and reanimating; exact time between death and reanimation is unknown. The Umbrella Zombie is similar to the Romero Zombie in most respects, notably the lack of intelligence, clumsiness, and slowness, as well as aggressiveness factors and the desire to consume living flesh.
It is worth noting that although bites from Umbrella Zombies are subject to normal infections, they do not seem to infect the victim with the virus in question.
A noteworthy fraction of viral victims, however, do not become zombies, but undergo an incredibly rapid mutation process, becoming monstrous, aggressive, and generally quite dangerous. These forms are too varied to list, but generally have the following factors in common: a lack of their previous intelligence, and aggressiveness bordering on the psychotic.
Method Of Destruction: Umbrella Zombies, although tougher to kill than ordinary humans, are susceptible to gunfire, which implies that in addition to reactivating the brain, the virus reactivates other bodily organs as well. Seven or eight shots with small arms, or one or two shotgun blasts, is generally sufficient to kill an Umbrella Zombie. The mutated bioforms, on the other hand, can be far tougher to deal with, requiring heavy ordnance or specialized equipment; one mutated plant form in particular resisted all attempts to kill it until a highly potent defoliant was used.
Zombie, Herbert West-type
Type: reanimated corpse (but see Notes section)
Source: “Herbert West, Re-Animator,” by H.P. Lovecraft. Filmed as Re-Animator by Stuart Gordon, with two sequels: Bride of Re-Animator and Return of Re-Animator.
Reason For Existence: Dr. Herbert West, a scientist of considerable skill and ambition and little in the way of scruples, developed a reagent that installs an “artificial metabolism” in a recently-deceased corpse. Note that the reagent can also be used on parts of corpses, and on constructs built from fragments of corpses. The reagent works on humans, bats, and felines; it may be effective on other creatures, as well.
Notes: West-type zombies are of low-functioning human intelligence, for the most part, with rare exceptions. Some are able to remember fragments of their previous lives, but most are no more than growling, savage beasts. They tend to be aggressive as far as the living are concerned; they do not eat the flesh of the living, but will often attack them with little or no provocation. They are not well coordinated, but better than Romero zombies, and somewhat quicker, resembling humans with neurological disorders. Note that West-Type Zombies are not actually dead; their organs reactivate, they respirate, and possess a heartbeat, blood circulation, and brain activity. Any medical examination of a West Zombie will conclude that the zombie is in fact alive!
A very small number of persons reactivated by the West Reanimation Reagent are able to access their full human memory and personality; the factors separating these individuals from the screaming, drooling homicidal zombie test subjects remain unknown, although the time between death and introduction of the reagent may have something to do with it.
In the absence of prey, West Zombies wander aimlessly, and have been known to gravitate toward places they went when alive, and to attempt simple behaviors they might have performed when alive.
West Zombies can feel pain, and avoid fire.
Method Of Destruction: West Zombies are living creatures, and can be destroyed using standard weaponry and combat techniques; it should be noted, however, that the artificial metabolism powering the zombie is considerably harder to shut down than a living metabolism; zombies have been known to remain active even after multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. Destroying the zombie’s brain renders the zombie inert; separating the head from the body will kill the head, unless a separate dose of Reagent has been applied to the head in question. Animated heads and body parts can function independently.