Zombies are a popular topic on this blog since, and this may be shocking to some, I’m a big fan of the zombie sub genre. In the past I have speculated on whether the plague zombie, the type of zombie most famous in pop culture these days, could occur outside the silver screen. However, there is one type of zombie that can and does exist in the real world–the voodoo zombie. And today, I’m going to tell you how to make a zombie, the Haitian way! [Disclaimer: This goes without saying, but please don't try this at home! Leave zombification to voodoo professionals =P]
First, you need to identify a victim. In Haiti, this would be a person who is what we in America would call a class A douchenozzle. By way of example, Clairvius Narcisse, probably the most famous “zombie” in history, was a deadbeat dad who screwed his brother out of a land deal prior to being marked for zombification.
Once you have your target in mind, it’s time to mix up some zombie powder. Now the recipe varies from bokor to bokor (bokors are voodoo sorcerers by the way), but the best mixes all have three things in common: ground human bones, plants with urticating hairs (science talk for irritating little spines–you can substitute ground glass or tarantula hairs. Anything that pricks the skin and makes a person itch), and dried, ground puffer fish.
Each component serves a distinct purpose. The bone dust is just damned creepy and really shows you’re dedicated to making your nemesis into a zombie (since, you know, unless you’re a serial killer most people don’t just have human bones laying around). The glass or stinging hairs serve to irritate your victim’s skin, giving a way for the puffer fish’s toxin to enter their system, especially when they start to scratch, while the puffer fish contains tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin five hundred times more deadly than cyanide. In sub lethal doses, tetrodotoxin can induce a death-like state in victims as it suppresses vital functions to the point where even a trained physician couldn’t tell they were still alive. Though paralyzed, victims of tetrodotoxin maintain consciousness throughout their entire ordeal, a fact that makes the later part of zombification all the more gruesome.
But more on that later. So now you have your zombie powder. It’s time to administer the dose! You’ll have to be sneaky. In order to work properly, you’ll need to apply the powder to the victim’s skin. Bokors suggest dumping it into a person’s shoes or down the back of their shirt. Ideally you’d find a way to dump the stuff into an open wound. It might take more than one application of the zombie powder to lay your victim low, so if they don’t immediately fall over into a coma, stick with it!
Once your soon to be zombie is in his or her death trance, make certain they’re buried soon after. Now they’ll be awake and conscious the entire time. They’ll know that they’ve just been declared dead, and they’ll be able to see the coffin lid as it is shut over them. Timing is critical, as you’ll want to dig them up before brain damage from lack of oxygen sets in. Once you and your henchmen (one who is inevitably named Igor, because I’m imagining you as a Frankenstein-esque mad scientist here) dig up your victim, you’ll need to feed him/her a concoction containing Datura, the so-called “zombie cucumber”. Datura contains hallucinogenic compounds that will keep your zombie in a docile, obedient fugue. After all, it wouldn’t do you much good should you go through all of this effort and your zombie doesn’t obey your every evil command. Sort of defeats the whole point of the exercise, doesn’t it?
There you have it! You’re well on your way to making a zombie, the Haitian way!