Reanimated monsters, like the mummy, the zombie,
Frankenstein's monster, and to some extent the vampire, are disturbances in the
relationship between life and death. It is presumed in Western culture that life
precedes death. Death is therefore, often viewed as an ending. Uncertainty about
post-death experiences fuels hope and fear: hope for something better than this
life had to offer, fear that something worse waits. Regardless, death is inevitable.
Reanimation tales caution against open post-mortem revolt. To refuse death after
it has claimed its victory is to exhibit great pride.
In many instances it is a male figure who "gives
birth" to the monster. Be he an archeologist delivering the mummy from his sarcophagus,
Dr. Frankenstein knitting together the remnants of corpses, or a voodoo priest
summoning the decayed form of zombie, the male birther is violating the male/female
division of procreative labor. Animal nature permits us to recreate new life through
biological mechanics provided by nature. Reanimation, however, depicts unnatural
creation-a power not given by a divine entity, but acquired from worldly knowledge.
Again, it is an act of great pride to defy the natural assignment of the world.
The following investigations delve deeper into
several examples of reanimated monsters. Each has its own history, development,
and impact on society. Each however, embodies a warning against refuting death
and bringing forth life in a way counter to natural rules.