A Quest to Find Real-Life Zombies


Zombies, as you may or may not be aware, don't exist only in the realm of fiction. The term comes from Haiti, where a rare-but-real tradition exists of people being drugged into a state so like death as to fool Western doctors. They are given funerals and mourned and buried. Then the offending sorcerer unburies the "body" and when the victim comes to, doses it with another drug that strips the victim of free will. Thus, in Haiti, people don't fear zombies so much as they fear becoming a zombie.

Just in time for Halloween, VBS sent a correspondent to Haiti on the trail of real zombies and the drugs that create them. Four of six parts have hit the site -- two more are coming. In this first episode, we meet Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow, a 1985 book investigating a case of Haitian Voodoo zombie-making which was subsequently turned into a film.

In part two, Hamilton arrives in Port-Au-Prince and checks in to the Addams Family mansion. There he meets his guide Alex, a man who survived fourteen bullets to the face. Together they attend a Vodou ceremony and watch a pig become an ambassador to the gods.

Hamilton is granted a meeting with the leader of the Bizangos, a Haitian secret society and beholder of the formula for zombification. Negotiations are made and a local Bokor agrees to create a nzambi—for a price.

While waiting to consult another Bokor, Hamilton recruits Haitian guides to help him fetch the ingredients to create a zombie of his own.