Wednesday, October 7, 2009

contra vim mortis non crescit herba in hortis

So let's get down to brass tacks: is a mummy a zombie? Our esteemed colleague The Vicar asks this very question in his review of Dawn of the Mummy, and as a kind of goofball way of getting back into this blog after a pretty rough month I figured I'd give it the ol' college dropout try. Certainly we can state that both zombies and mummies are part of the same basic category titled The Living Dead; they are corpses what walk the earth by means of the blackest magic, or sometimes toxic waste, or sometimes biochemical warfare or whatever. There is a temptation to make a racial distinction here: zombies are traditionally created by Vodoun sorcerers while mummies are created by Egyptian priests, and the means of preparation are considerably different, but we live in an age of degraded expectations where any mope who looks sketchy might be the living dead so we can't really fall back on historical definitions. We also cannot stick to the outer trappings -- while the mummy is generally wrapped, an unwrapped mummy is a mummy eo ipso its means of preparation. This is the linchpin of the argument, and I feel ultimately we can make the most decisive break via intent and culpability: a mummy knew and agreed, prior to death, that the body was to be preserved until a state of reanimation was available, while the zombie was a generally unwitting victim of its progenitor whether localized (in the voodoo sense of a controller) or universal (in the "I caught the zombie flu!" sense). All of which is to say that the zombie/mummy dichotomy ultimately comes down to a question of consent -- a person becomes a mummy as part of a plan, whereas a person is turned into a zombie whether they want to be one or not. QED.

1 comment:

  1. I can already think of one film which refutes my theory: Young Sherlock Holmes.