Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a day in which we are supposed to reflect on the things that we are grateful for. We are to give thanks for family, friends, good fortune, and good health.
Zombies’ main driving force in life, er, death, is to devour humans. And on this day of all days, it is humans’ main desire to gather in hordes and devour the bodies of animals. Afterwards, the humans stumble around in a stupor, often moaning and groaning with bits of food hanging from their mouths.
In honor of Thanksgiving, the holiday of eating, I thought an appropriate topic for this week’s “Zombie Thursday” would be the diet of the zombie.
To eat brains, or not to eat brains? That is the question... When the average person pictures zombies in their minds, I am betting that the first thing they think of is a lumbering corpse groaning, “brrraaaiinnnsss.” And then that lumbering corpse finds a human too stupid to escape (or own a weapon), and they attack them and proceed to eat their brains. Right?
Brain eating is probably the number one stereotype when it comes to zombies. I will even admit to doodling zombies and always having a caption bubble that reads, “BRAINS!” The main reason why I do this is that my doodling is atrocious, so rather than have people confuse my drawings of zombies with self portraits, I add the stereotypical caption. This addition makes my doodle instantly recognizable to horror fans and nonbelievers alike.
Are zombies only drawn to brains? Will they consume other parts of humans? What about other living creatures? Do they even need to eat? And really, why brains???
There is a lot of debate surrounding these topics on the interwebz. Unfortunately, I find most of it dribble written in the forms of short twitter-esque replies to an initial inquiry of, “why do zombies eat brains?” To answer this time honored question (I mean, it has got to be right up there with, “what’s the meaning of life?”), let us look at some scientific facts.
At this point, please note that I am and have been a vegetarian for over ten years. My knowledge of ‘brain nutrition’ does not come from first hand experience, but do not let that fact discredit the following analysis-- Brains are VERY healthy to eat. Truly, they are one of the most nutritious foods a human or zombie could eat. Brains contain no sugars, are extremely low in carbohydrates, are very high in vitamin B12 and C, and also contain high levels of niacin which helps promote a healthy nervous system and healthy skin. Clearly, for a zombie who has enough trouble walking and whose skin is decomposing and falling off, a niacin rich diet would be key to long lasting undeath.
With all these great nutritional attributes, it is easy to see why brains might be the one thing that zombies crave above all other body parts. But let’s look at some down sides. Brains are extremely high in cholesterol. A brain can contain OVER FOUR THOUSAND PERCENT of a zombie’s recommended daily value. So, they may not die from a shot to the head, but a shot to the arteries! And although chewy and delicious, brains are encased behind the cranial bones which are designed to keep the human mind safe at all costs. Most zombies may not want to deal with getting chipped teeth since their dental insurance probably expired with their initial deaths.
Although brains are probably the healthiest choice in fine undead dining, I think we all know that when it comes down to it, zombies will eat whatever and whichever body part is accessible to them. After all, intestines can be quite a delicacy... just ask fans of blood sausage. And a quote from the original Night of the Living Dead states, “the killers are eating the flesh of the people they murdered.” Flesh, not brains.* So, where did all these “brraaaiiinnsss” stereotypes come from?
The moaning of “brains” can probably be traced back to the film Return of the Living Dead. This film was the creation of John Russo, partner in zombie-crime to George Romero on the original Night of the Living Dead. After the classic 1968 zombie film, the two parted over creative differences and Russo authored a novel in which the film Return of the Living Dead (directed and written by Dan O’Bannon) was based on. In the ‘Return’ films, the theme is much more comical and silly than the original Night of the Living Dead. Thus, one will see a dead body become quickly reanimated and start moaning, “brains” before ridiculously biting through the skulls of the poor teenaged victims. Return of the Living Dead was released right in the middle of the 80s horror movie craze and featured a younger, punk cast, all factors that made it easily accessible and popular with a zombie loving generation. In my mind, these reasons are what have contributed to the brain-centric way of zombie diet thinking!
So, the next time you see that all too familiar zombie catch-phrase, blame it on Russo, O’Bannon and the 80s. On this Thanksgiving, why don’t you skip the turkey and get straight for some
Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!
*It should also be noted that the living dead were never even called ‘zombies’ in the 1968 film; they were referred to as ‘ghouls.’ A future blog will be dedicated to this topic, terminology and more!