Demons have their own label, which suggests right away that they’re not zombies.

What separates dramatic depictions of demons from those of the modern zombie is that demon aggression is a matter of choice and is often specifically targeted to a limited number of individuals, while zombies are relentlessly aggressive. Zombies never stop and have no favorites in who they go after.

Demons are also driven by supernatural possession, not biological infection like the modern zombie.

A demon enters the body of its choosing, either living or dead, and asserts its will on that body to its own ends. Demonic possession isn’t contagious, although it’s difficult to overcome. But once the evil spirit leaves the possessed body, it is returned to its natural state. There’s really nothing here that relates to zombies.

Nevertheless, some film critics have mistakenly tied them together. Sam Raimi’s 1981 romp, The Evil Dead, is the classic example of a demonic movie often mistaken to be a zombie movie. In it, demons are accidentally awakened in the woods surrounding an isolated cabin. They set about tormenting the film’s lead, Bruce Campbell, and picking off his friends one by one.

Though human corpses do stand up, dance about, and attack the living, the demonic force behind their actions also causes trees and plants to come alive, turns slight young women into flying, bug-eyed maniacs with superhuman strength, and makes windows and doors swing about wildly as if the demon is possessing the entire building.

What are some of your favorite demon movies of all time?

One comment

  1. What about the zombies of [REC] series?

    The source of the biomedical infectious disease that creates the living zombies is demonic possesion, and the demon takes the form of a parasite which protects the host body from contracting zombieism. The demon can manifest in any body that has contracted zombieism though, which grants access to an unlimited number of bodies as long as the disease spreads…

    Most of the infected are driven only by desire to infect others but:
    – Some of the zombies do not display obvious and make targeted attacks (and can pass the infection to animals) – Jennifer
    – Some of the living dead infection-driven zombies exhibit possession when Owen, the priest, forces them to talk in [REC]2
    – The original host of the zombie-causing demon parasite exists in alternate dimensions – The Madeiros girl in [REC], [REC]2, and [REC]3: Genesis
    – As the parsite moves form host to host, there are no visible/characteristic signs of posession -Ángela and Guzmán in [REC]4: Apocalypse.

    Narrative failure or pushing the boundaries of the genre?

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