Whatever flavour of zombie you have, there’s always something that caused the apocalypse.
That reason is never, however, ‘rage infected monkeys’. That just leads to the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Ten: Green Glowing Mist
Released from barrels stolen from a military research facility, the green glowing mist causes rampant mutation in nearby victims, both alive and dead. The resultant zombies are slow, intelligent enough to hold witty conversations, hunger for brains and have independant animate body parts.
Return of the Living Dead, Planet Terror
Most people discount demons as a cause of corpse reanimation, yet they are still a very real and active threat. Normally summoned by incantations from dread tomes bound in human skin, demonic zombies possess the living and the dead and reduce them to rotting killing machines.
Eight: Evil Necromancers
I don’t think I’ve ever met a ‘good’ necromancer. Some misguided souls who claimed they were good, one ‘extreme healer’ and loads of twisted death fetishists with a graveyard habit.
Seven: Viral Outbreak
Pushing the definition of undead somewhat, the viral zombie, or ‘Infected’, is still very much alive. They are, however, immune to pain, consumed with a hunger for flesh and seem to have lost the majority of their higher mental capacity.
28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, I Am Legend, Resident Evil
Die a violent death at the hands of a supernatural creature (most often a werewolf) and you are cursed to walk the earth as the undead until the werewolf’s line is severed.
And what’s more, dead people are boring!
American Werewolf in London, American Werewolf in Paris, Werewolf: The Forsaken (White Wolf/Onyx Path)
The natural world contains a dizzying array of horrendous parasitic organisms that change the behaviour of their hosts – from ants infected with fungus to wasp larvae controlling spider behaviour, from Toxoplasmosis affecting rat, cat and human behaviour (ask me about my old housemate) to cricket infesting hairworms.
Four: Mind Control
Once again stretching the definition of ‘zombie’, subliminal suggestion, alien mind rays and mutant psychic control can cause zombie like behaviour. Of course, they could just be hung over as well.
The Manchurian Candidate
Three: Mad Science/Hubris
Here’s a controversial opinion: Frankenstein’s Monster was a zombie. It was constructed from cadavers and reanimated by lightning. Basically, a zombie. Possibly a subset of zombies, but it fits my criteria. Dead body? Check. Reanimated? Check. Consumed with murderous rage? Check.
The classic, original zombie. Voodoo zombies were originally living people poisoned with strange chemicals and forced into servitude. As time went on, and hollywood seized upon the idea, zombies morphed into the dead, raised by loa gods.
House of the Dead (I’m so sorry)
One: We Will Never Know
The defining zombie movie and its successors never defined the cause of the outbreak. We don’t need to know. The scale is global and the setting is personal. This small band of survivors will struggle to make it through the night, let alone the resolve the cause.
It’s about where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, The Walking Dead