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Zombies are the main antagonists of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead and its various sequels and remakes, unlike the zombies found in movies such as 28 Days Later or videogames such as Resident Evil, the zombies of Night of the Living Dead are traditionally slow-moving monsters known as the "walking dead". Later remakes and reboots feature zombies moving fast and even evolving in terms of intelligence.
Contrary to early beliefs about zombies such as voodoo zombies that are living people brainwashed via. specific witchcraft which render them emotionless and corpse-like in appearance, George Romero's zombies are mindless living corpses that are driven by nothing but instinct to attack any and all living humans in their immediate vicinity, regardless of past ties to said individual. They do not feed to satisfy hunger, and even specimens who have been completely disemboweled will still desire to feed, as long as brain function is present.
Reanimation and Infection
In Romero's series, anyone who died during zombie apocalypse, no matter whether bitten/exposed by other zombies, would turn into zombie themselves. The one and only thing that would prevent a human to turned into zombie upon death/dying are either massive brain trauma (such as a gunshot wound to the head) or had their brain incapacitated post-mortem. No Romero film has definitively revealed the cause of reanimation, but several have featured characters speculating on possible causes, including radiation from a NASA probe, divine intervention, and viral infection. The length of time between death and reanimation seems to vary, but in most instance it is only a few minutes.
If a character is bitten by a zombie, they will become violently ill and die within three days. The interim till death seems to be dependent on the location and degree of the bite (meaning that bites on or near major arteries or veins will spread the infection much faster than small bites or scratches). Multiple bite wounds will cause the infection to spread all the faster. Also, massive blood loss caused by one of these bites will speed the death of the victim.
All zombies, upon reanimation, would immediately devoid of both thought and memory that they had in life as these instantly replaced with instinct to feed and nothing else. This explained how they become hazardous to the living, as their urge to feed was not to satisfy hunger.
Although, later films showed them to seemingly recalling memories of their past lives and performing familiar tasks. They even started to developed problem solving skill: Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead show zombies using firearms in a limited capacity, while blunt objects as weapons have been used by zombies since Night of the Living Dead. The full extent of the creature's learning abilities is unknown, but the process of discovery for them is not unlike that of a toddler. Nevertheless, this revealed the chance to make them regained their lost emotions which only come after much training, with ample "food" being provided to keep the zombie occupied.
In Land of the Dead, zombies are transfixed by fireworks looking up so people can get close and shoot them, although eventually the zombies stop being transfixed and resume attacking Fiddlers Green.
All members from classics and remakes:
- Karen Cooper
- Harry Cooper
- Helen Cooper
- Roger DeMarco
- Ben (1990 version)
- Stephen Andrews
- Major Cooper
- Pvt. Miller
- Pvt. Johnson
- Dr. Tongue
- Cholo DeMora
- Big Daddy
- Luis Clark
- Steve Marcus
- Dr. Engel
- Gordo Thorsen
- Francine Shane
- Mrs. Leitner
- Jane O'Flynn
- Elliott Stone
- Ridley Wilmott
- Patrick O'Flynn
- Seamus Muldoon
- Mary Dexter
- Captain Henry Rhodes
- Mrs. Muldoon
- Debra's Family
- Infected Leadville residents
In Popular Culture
- Night of the Living Dead, a 1974 novelization of the 1968 film written by John A. Russo.
- Night of the Living Dead, a 2009 new novelization of the 1968 film written by Christopher Andrews.
- Night of the Living Dead series, a comic book series.
- Night of the Living Dead (album), a 1996 live album by American hard rock band Jackyl.
- "Night of the Living Dead" (song), a 1979 single by horror punk band the Misfits.