Zombie – What’s in a name?

How does one define the word “zombie?” A reanimated corpse? That works, but then we would have to classify mummies and vampires, as well as the Frankenstein monster, as zombies. Even Jason and perhaps Michael Myers, if one posits that the latter’s heart ever actually stops beating or his brainwaves flatline, thus attaining clinical death. Technically, then, couldn’t we say ANYbody ever revived by CPR is a “zombie?” Should we amend that definition to reanimated corpses in a state of decomposition? Okay, but how much decomposition is necessary, here? The cells of the human body begin to die immediately upon cessation of life functions. An ADVANCED state of decomposition, you say? Again, mummies would qualify, albeit theirs is a state of arrested decomposition.

We get our word “zombie” from the “zuvembi” (sometimes alternately spelled as “xombi”) of Haitian lore, but these real-life zombies aren’t dead at all. Their hearts still beat, and they have some degree of brain function, though it is impaired. (The process by which Haitian witchdoctors create these pitiful creatures is a topic for another post.) The easiest thing would be to go with a definition of zombies as they exist today, in popular culture. Let us say a “zombie” is a reanimated corpse, largely mindless, in an advanced or advancing stage of decomposition, and possessed of a craving for human brains. (This latter trait, while common, need not be mandatory.) Also, any creature matching the above description that is NOT already classified as a mummy or a vampire. Sound about right?

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of Evil Cheez Productions ( - - specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. And he really likes vampires and werewolves. Like, a LOT.