Apparently, it's truly impossible to kill zombies. Popular culture has tried via hugely successful books, movies and television shows, but recent macabre news items have surfaced to remind us that flesh-eating ghouls still walk among us.
Certainly cannibalism exists. But just how much do legends of zombies play into that?
To quell the fears of a nervous public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the populace that there is no such thing as zombies. Nevertheless, "Zombie Apocalypse" has been trending high in Google search, after a week of horrific news that's been creeping out the living.
- A naked man who was eating the face of another naked man on a Miami highway ramp was shot and killed by a police officer.
- A porn actor who reportedly killed a man in Canada, dismembered his body and ate flesh from his corpse, fled Canada and was eventually caught in Germany.
- A Maryland man allegedly admitted to eating the heart and brain of his dismembered roommate.
Maryland's cannibal case:
To be accurate, nobody is seriously claiming that these and similar incidents are being caused by individuals who are "undead" like the fictitious slow-moving, flesh-hungry creatures who wandered the rural countryside in "Night of the Living Dead" and the urban streets of "Resident Evil."
"This harkens back, I think, on some level of consciousness, to Homo sapiens and Neanderthals in those beginning days when we ate each other. Evidence has been found that cannibalism is in our bones," author Brad Steiger told The Huffington Post.
With 172 titles to his name, Steiger is one of the most prolific writers of books on topics ranging from unexplained phenomena, native American studies, conspiracy theories, secret societies, UFOs, spirituality and crime.
Steiger insists the spate of headline-grabbing flesh-eaters has nothing to do with zombies, real or imagined.
"It's cannibalism, let's face it. I don't think there's any evidence in any of these cases where the individual said, 'I'm a zombie.' None of them said it, they just did it."
Flesh-Eaters In The News:
Steiger's research shows how cannibalism is steeped in many traditions, including the mythology of Algonquian native Americans, who tell stories of a legendary creature referred to as a wendigo.
"The wendigo began when a great warrior became so impassioned in battle that he ripped off a piece of the flesh of his enemy and began to eat it. That was abhorrent, of course, to the other tribe members," said Steiger, author of "Real Zombies, The Living Dead and Creatures of the Apocalypse" (Visible Ink Press).
The voodoo culture and religion of Haiti is most often cited as the origin of the modern zombie legend. Haitian folklore even has its own four-part recipe for making a zombie: one part being drugged into a death-like state; one part being buried; one part being removed from the grave; and, finally, being revived and put into slavery on a Haitian plantation.
Watch the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who claimed he became a zombie:
The recent cannibalistic cases have struck a viral nerve on the Internet. "Zombie Apocalypse" is the buzz phrase du jour, at the 14 spot on the current Top 20 Google Hot Trends (as of this writing). Taken together with the ongoing popularity of doomsday predictions based on the Mayan calendar, which ends sometime in December, either way you look at it, it's the end of the world, right?
"People have seized upon that because of this madness for the apocalypse," said Steiger. "People want it to happen. They say, 'It's so damned bad here now, I want the gods to come, I want the aliens to come and just wipe it out and start over again.'
"I don't see an apocalypse or the end of the world," Steiger added. "I see that we're coming to a cycle of change with the zombie as a metaphor of the raising of the dead. We say it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. It's so ingrained in our unconscious."
Hopefully, it won't become a human-eat-human world out there.