Archive for the ‘Zombies’ Category

He was born in 1922(ish) and the Haitian man is said to have been turned into a zombie by a combination of drugs. He been of interested both in folklore and for those that have an interest in how his condition came to light.

It’s believed he was drugged by puffer-fish venom and toad venom, it induced a coma that mimicked the appearance of death. The general belief is that it the poisoning was done by his brother when they had quarrelled over land. 

He was then returned home, where he collapsed and seen as dead, he was then buried. The Bokor (sorcerer) then retrieved the man who was, in effect, buried alive. Once retrieved from his grave he was given a drug known as datura, which causes memory loss and hallucinations He was in a zombie-like compliant state and this meant he worked subserviently for two years on a sugar plantation. The owner of the plantation died and Narcisse was left to wander free, unaware of the death of his brother he slowly began to regain his senses as the drug left his system.

According to the interview with American Scientist after 18 years of being presumed dead he came back to his village, he managed to convince his sister and some of the villagers about who he was. After the hallucinogen worked it’s way out if his system the former was restored to his natural mental state. One of the things that is frustrating is that there are not enough notes, from Wade Davis who explored the case, to determine the actual neurotoxin used. 

Here is the account.

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A woman stumbled into Ennery, Haiti on 24th October 1936 in a terrible state. Her eyes were diseased and her eyelashes had fallen out, she was dressed in rags and walking barefoot. She hated direct sunlight and is cited as a famous zombie case, brought to the Western culture by American folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. She was looking for some confirmation about the zombie phenomena because of soldiers and sailors bringing back stories about them.

‘Felicia’ was said to have spoken in a very flat and emotionless way, she displayed little interested in anything and her laugh was flat and lacked real mirth. She was quite indifferent to events around her and an X-ray taken put into doubt that she might ever have been Felicia as they did not match, the original woman had suffered a fractured leg but there was no sign of this on the recently deceased woman.

The woman attracted a crowd and a local family, the Mentors, said she looked like a deceased relative called Felicia who died in 1907, aged 29 years-old. She was taken home to the family but was transferred to a state hospital a few days later. Hurston thought that what had happened was due to drugs or poison and not due to black magic.

The case for the drug/poison case is due to the postulation that tetrodotoxin (derived from puffer fish) is used in the bokor’s mixture used in Black Magic rituals. Wade Davis went out to look into it and found that they made their ‘zombie powders’ from various animal parts and plants. It was the use of this in various formats that could cause the brain-washed and lethargic nature of the victims they chose, before burial they looked dead and the bokor would then ‘revive’ them later. To get the dosage right would be something precise too, it could fail as often as it was recorded to succeed, and a bokor is hardly likely to hand over their secrets that easily either.

Dr Louis P Mars suggested that rather than her being a case as a zombie she was more likely to have been suffering schizophrenia. Unfortunately it was only a few weeks of survival, she died in the hospital.

Another interesting fact about these zombie cases is that it is a criminal offence in Haiti, under the Haitian Penal Code (Article 246) it is illegal to create a zombie, it is on par with murder only the victim is technically still alive.

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A small note on the picture. Whilst most sites are using this picture as Felicia I cannot verify this as her actual image.

Okay to be honest there are hundreds of posts that could be done around zombies but I’m just going to go with some generics and fun bits. There will no doubt be more as time goes on…

The fictional zombie is a walking undead creature that eats the flesh and brains of humans, once bitten you either get a slow agonising death or mauled apart as fodder. More flesh for the flesh eaters… if you should survive in tact(ish) then you can rise and join the army!

My first experience with zombies came thanks to Channel 4 screaming Zombie Flesh Eaters when I was in my teens, sitting up in the early hours of the morning I was entranced and disgusted by the old black and white horror. The modern evolvement from the gaming platforms and some of the other TV shows has brought the zombie phenomenon to the forefront.

For anyone that likes their horror to be light-hearted Shaun Of The Dead has always been a fun one. The idea that some seemingly random Brits are caught up in what is effectively the Zombie Apocalypse is headed up with the local pub and a bunch of misfits. If you’re familiar with Shaun Of The Dead you’d likely be aware of the shambling slow horde zombie that comes up along the street, or tries to grab you from it’s fallen position in the road.

America has also brought with it The Walking Dead that has spurned some games and a fan-base of people that are avidly watching a group trying to survive against innumerable odds. From the very opening scene’s the characters are brutally thrown into the war against the undead, against other survivors and the environment itself. The Walking Dead has everything the aspiring last stand enthusiast needs, abandoned city scapes, the harsh realities of desperate people and the fantastically created monsters themselves.

So if you haven’t checked out these two perhaps you might now?

And for good measure check out Zed Events, they organise Survival Weekends here in England, you can test your zombie survival skills in real time!

Okay here goes! This one is pretty famous to those of us that like to watch horror at the very least. As the setting for the Session 9 Film (the cast of CSI in a horror?) it has a very interesting history let alone the ghost stories… so hold on to your coffee/tea and get ready for a blog that could be rather lengthy. The State Lunatic Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. Built in 1874 and opened in 1878 it was a self-contained hospital built according to the Kirkbride Plan. One of the rumours boasts it as a birthplace of pre-frontal lobotomy (lush!).

It was originally two main centre buildings which had the administration and had four radiating wings. There were kitchens, laundry, a chapel, dormitories, boiler  house and other detailed rooms from the plans and records that exist. The water came from Middleton Pond. Over the years they added other buildings and most of the buildings on the campus were connected by a series of confusing underground tunnels. Part of this underground myriad of tunnels was a hub for maintenance; this was nicknamed “The Wagon Wheel”. The older tunnels were used in the Session 9 film. With the original plan being to house 500 patients it’s no surprise that with over 2000 by the late 40’s overcrowding was a major issue. People were held in the basements of the Kirkbride and of course this will add to the stories of  ghosts, tales of horror and anguish.

The asylum was established for residential treatment and care for the mentally ill, in the 1890’s Dr Charles Page, superintendent, declared the use of mechanical  restraint as unnecessary and harmful in some cases. There was more then one account of the way in which people that been treat, the idea of inhumane shock therapies, lobotomies, drugs to control the patients and the time honoured tradition of the straight-jackets. June 24th 1992 the hospital closed, the buildings were left to rot and it was not until many years later it was demolished.

The property was sold to Avalon Bay Development in December 2005 and they demolished most of the buildings, despite an outcry about the matter. June 2006  spelt  the last of the demolition, including the Kirkbride, only the Danvers Reservoir and original block shell remain, buildings are worked around it, Avalon Bay predicted they would have properties ready by Fall 2007.

A spanner in the works came up April 7th, 2007 when four of the complex buildings and four of their construction trailers burnt down. The fire was visible 17 miles away in Boston and investigation began. Avalon Bay provided a live webcam of the construction at the old hospital site however they cut out around 2:03am; it could be due to the damage from the fire. The underground tunnel to the power plant still exists though it is blocked off, and now the only thing left of the asylum are the cemeteries, blocked off tunnels and the brick shell of the Admin, D and G Wings.

So what of the ghosts? Now converted into apartments there have been reports of flickering lights, of full body apparitions, footsteps and audible sounds, and the doors that like to open and close seemingly of their own accord. Here goes:

2001 horror Session 9 is filmed around here, I thought it was a pretty good film.

In Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz teenagers break in to investigate the haunted asylum.

In Mage: The Awakening (Role play game) the hospital in the World of Darkness was administered by vampires who fed on the patients.

It is also believed to be a widely used source of inspiration for H P Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, alongside the Asylum that shares the name in Batman. It is referenced by name in H P Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model.

This is also known as All Saints’ Eve and Samhain, the celebration is observed around the world on October 31st. It is on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows but some scholars believe that this is part of the older festivals of the dead such as the Celtic Samhain, some say it developed independently.

Samhain itself is mentioned in Irish mythology as it marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or ‘darker half’ of the year. The stock-taking and preparing for the winter ahead, cattle were brought in from the pasture and the livestock slaughtered. In the Gaelic world they would light bonfires and enjoy the rituals involving them, the rituals hint that they might once indicated human sacrifice.

It was considered to be the door to the “otherworld” and opened enough for the souls of the dead to come into the home world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their old homes, and feasts were held with places of honour for the dead. It is also thought that the idea of wearing a costume came from the idea of of disguising themselves amongst the spirits and fairies. It might also be an extension to the Ireland custom from the 19th Century whewre a man dressed as a white man would lead youths door to door to collect food; by giving them the food the household could expect the good fortune from the Muck Olla.

There are lots of customs and rituals, historical citations about Halloween but this festival also migrated over to North America where it has become a national celebration with some very large parties and the tradition of trick or treat.

There are games and movies galore that incorporate or centralise on the Halloween theme, for instance Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas which was brought into the games series of Kingdom Hearts and saw the hero of the games fighting various troubles there. Halloween the film was an original blockbuster horror that has seen a revival and remake thanks to Rob Zombie. There are so many that I could mention but I could spend an age on it when really right now it’s time to go and stuff myself sick with candy, look at zombie nurses and drink a couple of Bloody Mary’s!

Enjoy your festive season all.