Legendary filmmaker George Romero invented what we now know as the modern zombie with his 1968 classic film, Night of the Living Dead. But the monster he created did not evolved from the zombies of Haitian voodoo tradition, but rather from vampires.

Inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 vampire novel, I Am Legend, Romero developed a creature grounded in modern science that he called a Flesh Eater. In fact, the term “zombie” wasn’t officially applied to Romero’s ghouls until ten years later when Italian producer Claudio Argento bought the international rights to Dawn of the Dead, and renamed it Zombi for European audiences.

The new label stuck, spreading around the world, causing endless confusion, and prompting countless long-winded academics to theorize about the complex evolution of the Haitian zombie into its current pop culture form.

Anyone who claims that the connection between voodoo zombies and modern zombies goes deeper than their shared name has no understanding of the phenomenon that Romero created, and should be promptly fed to the undead hordes when they rise.

There, I said it.


  1. Actually, John Russo claims credit for making them both undead and flesh eaters. Watch the 40th year anniversary documentary. Romero had a short story based on I Am Legend, and Russo had his own story about flesh eating dead people in a cemetery. According to Russo they just combined the two stories and bang, Night was born. Of course, who trusts Russo? No one, thats who.

  2. My personal belief is that “Zombies” will not be the reanimated corpses, but more like an infection that renders the host mindless, and cannibalistic. Such as “28 Days later,” and “The Crazies.”
    I think they will feel no pain, and care for nothing more than to spread the disease to as many people as possibe, because in scientific research we see that diseases and parasites have some sort of survival instinct, that programs the brain to spread the virus.

  3. Saying Romero invented the modern zombie is like saying Columbus was the first European to discover America. It’s not entirely true but for all practical purposes, it might as well be.

    I mean absolutely no disrespect to Romero but it would be more accurate to say he discovered zombies, not invented them.

  4. So, what you’re saying is that your one interview is the only truth he’s ever said, which negates everything he’s been saying for 40+ years?

    • He has said repeatedly that he didn’t think of his flesh eaters as zombies, and that he tried to copy I Am Legend. Romero has said this in dozens of interviews. It’s not new news.

  5. Sorry, but there actually is a connection. “I Am Legend” was not the only influence for Romero’s film. Not only were the creatures in Matheson’s book an influence; voodoo zombies were (their mindless behaviour); and, actual ghouls (which is what Romero used to call them), which are grave-robbing creatures (the presence in the cemetery), were all influences over the flesh-eating reanimates in the film.

    And this comes right from Romero’s mouth to my ear.

    • We actually just interviewed Romero last week, and he said that voodoo zombies were not an influence, and that he didn’t even think of his “Flesh Eaters” as zombies at all. He said he tried to rip of Matheson’s novel 100%, but wanted to change the vampires to a new monster so it wasn’t a complete copy, and also so that he could take out the superstition of vampires (garlic, etc.).

      That was the reason behind this post.

  6. There is a connection. Zombies are much older than Romero, he didn’t invent the zombie from scratch.

    • The point is that Romero’s Flesh Eater evolved from vampires, not zombies. The term “zombie” is much older than Romero, and that is the only connection.

    • I agree.Didn’t Romero sometimes refer to his creatures as “ghouls”? For those who don’t know and to simplify this- The ghoul is an old Romanian superstition as old as (maybe older) than the wamphyr myths. It is a risen corpse that raids cemeteries etc and feeds upon the corpses of the recently buried. they were destroyed in the same manner as the wamphyri, by beheading and dismemberment

      • Romero called his creature “Flesh Eaters”, and in fact Night of the Living Dead was title Night of the Flesh Eaters until the distribution company changed the name after the movie was already completed.

      • The ghoul is from Arabic folklore, they are known as “ghul”.

  7. I did a informal presentation about how the zombie genre infected our society. I talked about this exact subject. I got to share my knowledge about zombies to my classmates. I think the voodoo zombies play a huge role on today’s modern zombies. In 1938″ White Zombie” was made it wasn’t like today zombie movies but it helped push the zombie genre. In the 1940’s the zombie genre almost died but today it’s stronger than ever.

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