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Speaker: Zombies inspired by real-life Haitian practices

Speaker: Zombies inspired by real-life Haitian practices

Kim Bojorquez | Senior Staff Writer
Photo credit: Collin Cooper | Photo Senior Staff | @coop.97

The second annual Forum of Horror, an event co-organized by UVU’s Different Dimensions Club and the English and Literature Department, was held Oct. 28 to discuss horror topics, such as the origin of zombies in cinema, women as criminal masterminds and the appeal of horror. The event was co-organized by UVU’s Different Dimensions Club and the English and Literature department.

Dr. Kyle Bishop, the keynote speaker and author of “American Zombie Gothic”, discussed how the idea of zombies has become a pop culture phenomenon. According to Bishop, the idea concept of zombies came from Haiti and was popularized by films such as, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and compared them to other mythical monsters that come from literary texts and then were popularized by turn to movies.

Bishop noted several Haitian’s’ accounts of people coming back to life after their deaths. According to Bishop, witch doctors would poison Haitians with the poison of a puffer fish. The poisoned individual’s had a lower metabolic rate would slow down to the point where they would appear dead. Hours after their burial, the witch doctors would unbury the individual to find them alive and with enough brain damage for the individual to forget their identity and get sold into slavery.

The events in Haiti intrigued film directors to create monsters who come back from the dead in the 1930s. In 1968, “George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead”, was the first major shift introduction to the creation concept of zombies.

Bishop described zombies as a metaphor for a fear of loss of agency. Video games such as “Resident Evil” or the popular TV show “The Walking Dead” are examples of the undead creature in mainstream media.

Bishop noted that people’s fears of death, disease, infections, and the collapse of society encompass the metaphor of a zombie.

Bishop noted that people’s fears of death, disease, infections, and collapse of society encompass the metaphor of a zombie.

“We’re upset, we’re troubled and disturbed. We need monsters that speak to our problems, that help us unpack those problems and right now, that is the zombie. They teach us a lot about what we’re doing and why we’re here,” Bishop said.

Dan Wells, speaker at the event and author of “I Am Not a Serial Killer”, noted horror flicks are usually less inexpensive to make than films of other genres. The popularity of horror films in this decade gain the biggest return on investment for movie studios.

“You can look at horror almost like as a barometer of our culture and how we feel and what we’re afraid of. In an environment where we’re more afraid, then we watch more horror,” Wells said.

A discussion panel of female authors, Adrienne Monson, Lehua Parker, Angela Hartley and, and Cheree Alsop discussed women as criminal masterminds.

The authors discussed that female criminals don’t get caught or charged in for crimes at the same rate males do. The panel also noted how difficult it is to name female sociopaths such as Lizzie Borden and Bonnie Parker.

Dr. Ethan Sproat, advisor of the Different Dimensions Club, said, “The things that scare us are important to us. They are a mass psychological effort to cope culturally with the things that deeply profoundly concern and affect us and we get to work them out in symbolic ways in our horror stories.”

Sproat said that people in their early 20s may find their lives in transition is unsettling, which is why people in their 20s make up a big demographic amongst horror movie audiences.

Kimberly Bojorquez

Kimberly Bojorquez

Kimberly Bojórquez is a Los Angeles native currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in journalism, and a minor in Latin American Studies. From 2017-18 she served as the editor-in-chief of the UVU Review and worked at ABC4's morning show "Good Things Utah", Salt Lake City Weekly and the Daily Herald. She has written stories that relate to national issues, local crime and social justice. In her spare time, she loves to take photos, hike Utah's national parks and attend live rock concerts.

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