Has anyone else put forth this theory before?
July 26, 2013 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I've never seen this theory about the origins of Zombie-dom before. And as much as I am generally opposed to the idea of trying to science up zombies and even though this is just a lark of a thought experiments, I rather like this idea.

Has anyone else (published, that is) ever had a similar idea?
posted by mediocre at 6:16 PM on July 26, 2013

Yeah, Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan's Team Human posits this same process, and I strongly doubt they are the first.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:18 PM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

The "hidden texts" of this comic are also all worth reading:

'Every time you're stuck watching a vampire movie, just say "They are one careless bite away from a zombie epidemic that could wipe everyone out. It could happen this very scene." and HEY PRESTO: your movie just got WAY BETTER.'

'Zombies have appeared and humanity is failing, until we get some help from a very unexpected source, long thought to be merely the stuff of folk tales: the vampires. Revealing themselves en masse worldwide, they join our side. With their help, humanity at last stands a fighting chance for survival. We don't know why the Vampires are helping us until a second-act reveal shocks us with the origin of Zombie Zero, whose mindless bite first began spreading the degenerate strain. But just as it seems like humanity might win, we discover even as society was crumbling, elements of the U.S. Army began experiments in weaponizing... The Bite. Army-branded pseudo-zombies have broken loose: and unlike the ones we were originally fighting, these ones think. These ones work in squads. These ones answer only to The General.'

'the vampire was within us all along'
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:28 PM on July 26, 2013 [12 favorites]

That's ... that's actually really elegant. Hmm.
posted by penduluum at 6:32 PM on July 26, 2013

All I can think of is how well this bodes for Robert Pattinson's career circa 2083
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:34 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or David Borneaz's post-Bones project.
posted by maryr at 6:41 PM on July 26, 2013

We don't know why the Vampires are helping us until a second-act reveal shocks us with the origin of Zombie Zero, whose mindless bite first began spreading the degenerate strain.

This is where you tie in mummies.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:43 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is where you tie in mummies.

Those are just vampires who are into The Fifth Element cosplay.
posted by stevis23 at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

Hellsing Ultimate sort of does this, but I think they refer to the "zombies" as ghouls (reanimated, vampire lord controlled corpses). IIRC you had to do the "drink your vampire master blood" to actually turn vampire on the death of your human body. So there it's more by design than by accident that you get your zombies running around and eating people.
posted by Iosephus at 6:47 PM on July 26, 2013

This is where you tie in mummies.

Work in creatures from the Black Lagoon and I'm sold.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:48 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Zombies were better when they were made by voodoo on sugar plantations because racism.

I like to kick it old school.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:01 PM on July 26, 2013 [13 favorites]

I still prefer the Peter Watts version.
posted by neckro23 at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

I won't be content until it somehow fits into the Pixar Theory of Everything,
posted by cacofonie at 7:56 PM on July 26, 2013

What of the "protect the tomb, enforce the curse" mummies? Body of a zombie, mind of a vampire, but no blood lust and able to be put into stasis for centuries until awoken and controlled by specific rituals as if programmed. Whatever it was it didn't just affect people like an outbreak, it required the Egyptian mummification process. Egypt may have the earliest examples of Bite-like phenomena so that may be where it was first encountered, and the priest class of the 18th Dynasty could have had some success controlling it, eventually making the step up from mummies to immortal, fully-functioning beings in Vampires and unintentionally creating the Zombie strain when a rogue faction of priests tried to wrest power from these new immortal shadow Pharaohs by making a mummy army that they thought they could control with their rituals...
posted by jason_steakums at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not to disagree with Dinosaur Comics, but this is an old argument.

If you go back to Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, Neville is beset by vampires that, initially, exhibit the same mindless, swarming behavior as zombies. Indeed, look back to the earlier legends of the undead and see how they pursue their prey.

Then look at the original zombies (ie, I Walked With A Zombie). They are slow, sad creatures, alive (I'm alive! Can't you see that? Help me!) enslaved by sorcerers.

George Romero changed all of that. His slow-walking, eternally-hungry zombies combined the swarms of vampires with the pathetic, struggling consumers that just wanted to live out their "lives," wandering up and down the escalators, eating whoever came in reach.

The current "fast zombie" trend is a return to the traditional vampire. And what of the slow, struggling zombies? I think of them as a metaphor for climate change. We can see the monster coming, step by step, to claim us and our children. Yet, we do nothing, because it is inconvenient.

At the end of the world, there will only be Al Gore and the zombie Polar Bears. And Al will laugh. His laughter will be humanity's tombstone.
posted by SPrintF at 8:01 PM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

Rory, of the three "hidden texts" you quote, I only see the second (the longest) one when I mouse over the comic. Where are the other two hidden?
posted by straight at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2013

The "Every time you're stuck watching a vampire movie..." one is the subject line for the email the Contact link creates, "the vampire was within us all along" was in the title text of the Transcribe This Comic link (which I think disappears once someone transcribes it, but it's in the page source), and there's also the RSS entry title for another easter egg: "i actually don't spend that much time thinking about vampires. mostly i think about, like, dogs"
posted by jason_steakums at 8:33 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recently watched Night Of The Living Dead, the first zombie movie, and I was surprised to find the monsters are never called "zombies" in there. They're always "ghouls." How did we come to have zombie as such a common term for these Romero-style lurching cadavers? As middleclasstool mentions above, the traditional "zombie" from folklore was a man killed and then reanimated by magical means into a servant.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:35 PM on July 26, 2013

This also KIND of what happens when Louis and Claudia go visit a poorly made vampire in eastern Europe in Interview with the Vampire.
posted by Brainy at 8:38 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is kind of what's happening with season nine of Buffy, which is being produced as a comic book.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:00 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

straight: One's in the email subject line for the "contact" link (visible w/ mouseover), and one on the "archives" page (comic date June 28th; this would also show up as the title in an RSS reader!)

...or what jason_steakums said (that's what I get for writing the comment at work and not reloading before posting at home.)
posted by kagredon at 10:28 PM on July 26, 2013

So I've always thought that Zombies:Vampires::Beer commercials:Sex. And I sort of buy this description too.

The link between Vampires and sexuality is well-known and it's unclear there's much to say after Dworkin expounded on it in Intercourse. But yeah, Dracula itself is pretty blatant: this insatiable hunger that victims cannot resist, this seductive ability to turn people away from life, obsession with trading fluids, etc, etc.

Zombies have the same inability to stop themselves but with none of the seductiveness. They need to feed but there's no sensuality there - their victims are horrified and actively avoid becoming zombified.

For me this dovetails with the commercialization of sex and the overt tying of zombies to consumerism. The idea that desires have become overwhelming and blunted - that Romero was concerned that individuals were being turned not into desiring beings but consumers.

I think Romero and others would be fine describing Zombies as those who has their very dangerous yet wonderful human desire stunted - leaving them hungry with nothing redeeming about them. Now imagine a dinosaur said that and wham-o, comic.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:51 PM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Something like this happens, without getting too spoilery, in the original novel version of Let the Right One In (but not in the films).

Ryan North is a hilarious dude (he also writes the monthly Adventure Time comic book), and Dinosaur Comics is one of the best webcomics of all time -- of all time! -- but there is a major flaw in this idea, to wit: If zombies were really just vampires, only not so smart, then any zombie out milling around when the sun came up would be vaporized! This would be awesome, as far as I'm concerned; the horror genre would certainly be much improved. Sadly, though, this doesn't seem to be typical zombie behavior.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:45 AM on July 27, 2013

OK, so with some exceptions:
Vampirism is now widely understood as an (often thinly veiled if at all) act of seduction, so it is maybe more a First World Problem-i.e. "this person from the night club/bar/exotic carwash etc. got me to let him/her bite me and now I am all tired and hungry for rare steak."
So by this construction, zombie-ism then equals something on the order of developing world gang-rape? As in, "this person and their in excess of 30 friends approached me on the street and they BIT ME and now BRAINS?"
Rwanda? Rape/ machete-amputation gangs? One of my worst zombie nightmares (plagued by which for almost half my life and I'm almost 32) was actually precipitated by oversleeping to an NPR story about genocide, just hiding in the bushes in some weird dream-Rwanda, no actual zombie horde at the doors of the mall.
Zombies are are a too-good metaphor for too many things. I always read broadly political mob violence into them because that's how George Romero raised me, but considering them in relation to specifically sexual violence is a pretty nasty can of worms to be opening, see "A Sad Last Love at the Diner of the Damned" by Edward Bryant for an especially queasy example, but still one that should be read anyway probably before discussing zombies on the internet.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 1:03 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Modern zombies are created by flogging a long-dead horse.
posted by Segundus at 1:40 AM on July 27, 2013

In this scenario, are we assuming the vampire-gone-wrong zombies would make you into a zombie if they bit a chunk out of you? In other words, are they somehow passing on the glitch to their own victims?

Or would the effect be the same as a real vampire's bite, and your own transformation rely on whether the glitch just happened to arise independently as you began to change?

Because, you know, I worry about these things.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:05 AM on July 27, 2013

There are some free novels by David Wellington that incorporate this theme. To say too much about the mechanism would be a spoiler, but basically everybody that dies becomes a zombie. They're quite readable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:27 AM on July 27, 2013

The theory makes no sense. If that were the case then the children of zombies would be vampires. Unless all zombie stories exist in Lamarckian universes.
posted by jrsnr at 3:50 AM on July 27, 2013

I think as long as we're positing bite-instantiated immortality we can allow ourselves to play a bit fast and loose with the genetics.

Or treat the zombie glitch as a heritable mutation. Either way.
posted by ook at 5:30 AM on July 27, 2013

Werewolves aren't really transforming into wolves; they're just halfway to bat.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:18 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

It has been discussed at great length between myself and my five year old daughter over the last year.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:58 AM on July 27, 2013

I get most of my science from Dinosaur Comics now. Also most of my not-science.
posted by tommasz at 12:21 PM on July 27, 2013

I thought this was what a ghoul was. Someone killed by a vampire but not turned. Shambling undead, just not of the flesh-eating kind.
posted by cthuljew at 2:00 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is basically the premise behind the (excellent, free online) comic Last Blood.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:36 PM on July 28, 2013

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