I saw World War Z on opening night, Friday, June 21, 2013. I have to say that I was entertained! Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are constantly vying for position of my favorite actor, and Brad really had a great performance in the movie.
Spoiler Free World War Z Summary
His character, Gerry Lane, was very believable and did pretty much everything I imagine a good father would be willing to do to take care of his family. The movie plays a great deal on the geopolitical climate of the world today, and could be interpreted as having some hidden satire. I liked the fact that Zombies in this movie were more terrifying, dangerous, and more creative (the way ants are creative) than your average zombie. It’s a fun movie if you don’t mind scary movies, and is very suspenseful. At times you could hear a pin drop in the theater. Definitely 4 out of 5 stars.
Zombies and disaster movies have been all the rage lately, from The Walking Dead TV Series, to I am Legend, to every Sci-fi movie in the last 2 years. People seem to be fascinated with the apocalypse, aliens, zombies, and destroying buildings.
I think part of the reason Zombies have become more popular is because they have changed over the years, to become somewhat more realistic. Zombies used to be dead corpses that came back to life by magic or some other means. They’d walk really slow, with their only purpose in life being to eat brains. Braaaaaiins…
Today’s zombie is a living, semi-living, or reanimated human being that has been infected with a deadly virus. This virus has either taken over their minds, giving them an earnest craving to eat (other humans) or has killed the congnitive portion of the host’s brain, leaving only the reptile brain (Amygdala) alive. The last possibility is that the person is entirely dead, and this virus is able to reanimate the host by using it’s brain to cause movement.
Zombies are Real
The funny thing is that with all these movies going around trying to make the ideas of zombies more scientific, zombies are actually real and documented in medical journals. I didn’t know this until I listened to an NPR broadcast about them.
Basically these “Zombies” are actually drugged, abused, and psychologically traumatized human beings that have become slaves to a “Zombie master”. This was first documented in Haiti, where a witch doctor would kidnap an unsuspecting human being and drug them with some powerful narcotics and poisons. They’d then be released and someone would rush them to the hospital. The hospital would eventually pronounce them dead, once the pulse disappeared. Little did the hospital and doctors know, the person was not really dead, just poisoned. They would literally have a funeral and bury the body in a coffin. The witch doctor, who is probably someone who knows the person and family would then come back 2 days later, and dig the person up. They’d use another chemical concoction to revive the person, and then using brainwashing, drugs, and daily beatings to manipulate the person into thinking they are dead. Once in this drugged and broken state, the victim actually believes they are dead and can be made to work as a slave on a sugar plantation.
When I listened to that interview, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That someone could be that wicked!
And I came, you know, there’s a lot of literature on zombies. There’s a Harvard ethnobiologist named Edmund Wade Davis who’s done a lot on them. And the thing I suppose I was most surprised by was, you know, they’re real. They are real. They’re, you know, zombies, you know, OK, fine, they are not the undead, but people would die. They would be buried, and they’d be then dragged out of the grave by a zombie master and turned into a zombie and made to work on a sugar plantation.
I couldn’t believe that this was true, but, you know, the academic papers, again, peer-reviewed science are out there. And, you know, it started with a guy in the 1960s who died. He came to an American hospital called the Albert Schweitzer Hospital. He was declared dead by a Haitian doctor and an American-trained doctor. And, you know, he was vomiting blood. He was – he had respiratory problems. He couldn’t move. It was bad. And so they buried him, and that’s what you do to people who are pulse-less, not breathing and poisoned. And 20 years later, he showed up at a marketplace near Port-au-Prince in Haiti, found his sister and said, hi, I’m back, and told her his boyhood name, said I’ve been made into a zombie. I’ve been gone for 20 years…
– Matt Kaplan
Read More or Listen on NPR.com
Unfortunately, from the type of things I’ve heard about that happen in Nigeria, I think it’s a problem that affects superstitious and impoverished cultures that still have sects or cults that practice ritual medicine, even human sacrifice. It’s really sad.
Zombies in the Animal Kingdom
Cordyceps are a type of fungi that are able to take over the brains of ants and other small bugs. They fungus infects the host and travels to it’s brain where it literally takes control of the bug and makes it climb to the highest branch of a tree. The bug then uses its claws or teeth to latch onto the leaf, or twig, and then it dies, while the fungus blooms and grows out of it’s head, consuming the dead bug. Once the fruiting body of the fungus is done growing, its spores explode from the tip and are then carried through the air to infect other bugs in the vicinity. Whole ant colonies can be wiped out by Cordyceps.
Hairworms and Toxoplasma gondii
Hairworms infect crickets, and Toxoplasma infects rodents. Hairworms make crickets leave their natural habitat and drown themselves in any nearby body of water, so the worms can leave the host and reproduce. Toxoplasma is a parasite that infects rodents, and there are indications that it makes rodents attracted to the scent of cats, including cat urine. This makes them basically commit suicide by searching out interactions with their predators.
Radio Controlled Animals
Small animals can now be radio controlled to force movement. These types of technologies are being created for surveillance, or rescue. All you need is a radio, a camera, and some high tech neuro-transmitting implants, and you can have these small animals go into very tiny spaces and do your bidding, so long as they don’t get eaten by other little animals!
Now time to scare you…
What if these fungi and parasites evolve to infect humans and make them behave erratically? Imagine a zombie movie where they don’t want to bite you at all. Fungi just infects humans at an unprecedented scale, and they climb into trees, telephone poles, the roofs of houses, and latch on and die. Rigor mortis takes care of the latching part. The fungi blooms out their skulls, and spores infect whole neighborhoods, and then whole cities. These humans are willing to kill anyone who tries to stop them from climbing.
It doesn’t exactly have your epic zombie movie feel to it, it’s more of a B movie. I’ll call up M. Night Shyamalan immediately!
Photo Credit: Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service, United States – SRS-4552, Bugwood.org