Monday, March 09, 2009




By Wade Davis

Zombies are all the rage these days. Heck, there are even warnings about them on the trafic signs. If you need a fix of zombie but a re getting a bit tired of the cliches, here are two classics that look at zombies in the context of West Indian legend. Wade Davis got interested in zombies via the case of Clairvius Narcisse, a Haitian man pronounced dead, buried, yet who rose again as a true survivor of zombiesm. Davis’s explorations found startling evidence about how poisons could manipulate the appearance of life and death to create the “living dead” as part of an elaborate means of social control.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is Davis’s account of his adventures among dark wizards, secret societies, voodoo priests, and other folk in the latter days of the Duvalier regime in Haiti. Critics may note that Davis doesn’t much downplay the fedora & bullwhip aspects of his exploits. Not have scholars ever forgiven Davis for lending his book’s title to a horror movie. For myself, Serpent raises more questions than it answers about the relation between Haitian secret societies, the Duvalier dictatorship, and the role of zombies.

Passage of Darkness is a more scholarly book, but no less fascinating. It is also where Davis actually provides the recipe to turn a foe into a mindless living-dead slave. Good times.

-Dave Hardy

No comments: