Those unmindful when they hear for all they make of their intelligence may be regarded as the walking dead.
—HERACLITUS, Fragment 3
Hollywood zombies are easily distinguished from ordinary civilians like you and me. They are ravenous, stalking, reanimated dead people with superhuman strength, overturning cars and breaking through doors. They feed on the living flesh of hapless victims, and with a single infectious bite they can turn others into zombies in a growing mob of the marauding Undead. We know them by their rotting limbs, sunken dull lifeless eyes, and gnashing teeth. The classic Hollywood zombie stagger gives them away even from a distance as we flee in our SUVs from one ravenous horde to the waiting maws of another hulking throng blocking the street at the edge of town.
Often we do not know even by the end of the movie where zombies come from. It’s a virus, or a curse, or just something that happens every once in a while. Filmmakers can cook up the flimsiest plots about why the Undead are loose, or they can just picture the world of today as though it suddenly had to barricade itself against an onslaught of the predeceased. It scares the pants off of us in the theater to watch these ghouls rampaging on the screen, just as it is meant to. The point, dramatically, is to portray these unfortunates as a frightening life- and even civilization-threatening menace, and then to blow their heads off in