Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Zombie Fun Facts - Voodoo Child Zombie Uprising by William Burke


I’m a huge consumer of horror movies and weird factoids, which is a very dangerous combination. It occurred to me that readers that would enjoy my book VOODOO CHILD, BOOK ONE: ZOMBIE UPRISING might also savor some offbeat zombie trivia. So sit back and enjoy a few delightfully macabre bits of living dead data.

How’s that for a jump scare Fox News style headline? The parasite in question is called Toxoplasma Gondii, and it’s a literal mind-control bug. It primarily lives and breeds in a cat’s intestinal tract. The infected cat then excretes the parasite’s eggs, which in turn are eaten by rats or other animals that are later eaten by another cat. That’s how the parasite ingeniously passes itself on to a new host. Where does mind control come in? Rats infected with Toxoplasma Gondii actually seek out the smell of cat urine, which is the complete opposite of their survival instinct. The parasite is controlling the rat’s mind and inducing suicidal behavior.

How’s this relate to people? Well, besides living in cat’s intestines Toxoplasma Gondii is also present in the brains of over three billion people! It can damage the brain’s Glial cells which surround and support neurons. That damage is related to schizophrenia and can also cause pregnant women to give birth to schizophrenic children.

How does this relate to zombies? Toxoplasma Gondii is a mind-controlling parasite already living in billions of human brains. It’s engineered to reproduce prolifically so there’s little to prevent its next stage of evolution from becoming more aggressive- moving from mild schizophrenia to full on homicidal rage. And don’t forget that all those food additives, hormonally enriched meats and antibiotics you’re ingesting are known to induce mutation in parasites. So one morning you might just find three billion homicidal maniacs loose in the streets… or we’ll all just start savoring the smell of cat pee. I dread either fate.


Zombies are not only part of Voodoo folklore; they also exist in real life. There are many recorded cases of people who appeared to have died, only to be resurrected by Voodoo priests called bokors. Through the use of a deadly tetrodotoxin derived from Puffer-fish they’re placed in a hypnotic state and forced to work as mindless slaves. It’s a scary concept, but to the practitioners of Voodoo it strikes another deep-seated fear. Voodoo is a religion originated by slaves who suffered their entire (often short) lives performing backbreaking work under brutal conditions. For them death was the only salvation from a life of misery. This is why images of death such as skulls are revered in Voodoo- death is a reward to be honored, not something to be feared. But being transformed into a zombie meant enduring an eternity of slave labor, stealing the only peace these long suffering individuals could ever hope for.

Being turned into zombie was considered the worst of all fates. Voodoo priests were known to punish those who caused trouble by inducing their supposed death, reviving them and shipping them off to distant plantations to work the fields. It was a better deterrent than capital punishment… a genuine fate worse than death.  


 In the early part of the 20th century travelogue books were incredibly popular, allowing small town folks who might never leave the farm to vicariously experience a world of wonders. W.B. Seabrook’s accounting of his Haitian adventures The Magic Island (1929) was a monstrous best seller. It is also one of the earliest references to zombies, or le culte des morts’. The author told of his encounters with genuine zombies who were forced to work the fields of Haiti.

But Seabrook wasn’t the most reliable author when it came to facts. He was an occultist and long time devotee and friend of Aleister Crowley, as well as being a reported alcoholic and sadist. But his apex of weirdness was admittedly dabbling in cannibalism, though he claimed it was for research purposes. In case you're wondering… it tasted like veal but was a little stringy.

Despite Seabrook’s ghoulish dining habits his book captured the public’s imagination, inspiring a Broadway show entitled Zombie and the 1931 classic film White Zombie. So next time you enjoy a gut-munching zombie movie remember that the man who inspired it all actually ate human flesh.


In this era of big budget spectacles like The Walking Dead it’s hard to believe that Hollywood initially embraced zombies for one simple reason – they were cheap. Early Hollywood zombies movies didn’t employ expensive makeup effects, just regular extras slathered in gray makeup and dressed in battered clothes.

The first zombie film 1932’s White Zombie was a low budget production shot in a mere eleven nights (when studio space was cheap) reusing sets and props from bigger films. Although the producers employed legendary Universal Studios makeup artist Jack P. Pierce (Frankenstein and The Wolfman) he did little more than slap theatrical makeup onto out of work extras. The pennies spent resulted in box office gold.

Producers continued resorting to zombies whenever they couldn’t afford a full on rubber suit monster. 1959’s Invisible Invaders is a perfect example of zombie economics. Invisible (therefore cheap) aliens revive dead bodies (cheap extras in pale makeup) that shamble around Hollywood’s Box Canyon (a legendarily cheap location) attacking John Agar (a legendarily cheap leading man). Somehow this potboiler almost works and its makeup actually inspired the look of George Romero’s groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead.
To draw a comparison the monster costume for 1954’s Creature From the Black Lagoon cost $15,000 (about $175,000 adjusted for today) whereas the zombies in Invisible Invaders cost about $6.00 including the extras daily salary. By the way $6.00 was also the entire budget of Plan Nine From Outer Space, Ed Wood’s legendary aliens resurrecting zombies to conquer the world epic.

Movie zombies progressed, but still remained cheap. Italian maestro of the macabre Lucio Fulci actually used homeless drunks paid in liquor to portray the walking dead in Zombie (1979) and The Beyond (1981). So those poor guys were probably staggering around like that before they even got to work. This combination of cheap vino and a lack of ethics resulted in some truly memorable zombies.

I hope you enjoyed these little zombie tidbits and please check out VOODOO CHILD, BOOK ONE: ZOMBIE UPRISING to complete your core curriculum in living dead lore (three credits, non-transferable). Thanks. 

Zombie Uprising
Voodoo Child
Book One
William Burke

Genre: Horror/paranormal with Action/adventure

Publisher: William Burke

Date of Publication: June 17th 2016


Number of pages: 333
Word Count: 96,000

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor

Book Description:

The forces of darkness are out to destroy mankind… Too bad they never reckoned on facing Maggie Child!

Army chopper pilot Maggie Child has a reputation for being fearless, professional and, above all, rational. But when she's shot down over Iraq her well-ordered life spirals into a paranormal nightmare. Alone, wounded and surrounded by hostile forces, Maggie is rescued from certain death by a demon straight out of Dante's Inferno. Then, barely alive, she's abducted by a private military corporation conducting insidious medical experiments. Her escape from their covert hellhole lands her on a Caribbean island where an evil voodoo spirit and a psychotic female dictator are conspiring to unleash an apocalyptic zombie plague. Then she uncovers the most terrifying secret of all—her own destiny. It seems a Voodoo oracle has ordained her the only warrior capable of saving humanity from a supernatural Armageddon … whether she wants the job or not!

But saving the world isn't a one-woman job, so she teams up with a trio of unlikely heroes—a conspiracy obsessed marijuana smuggler, a Voodoo priestess with an appetite for reality television, and a burnt out ex-mercenary. Together, they'll take on an army of the walking dead, with the fate of humanity resting in their eccentric hands.

Voodoo Child, Book One: Zombie Uprising is the first novel in a new horror series packed with supernatural thrills, rousing adventure, dark humor, Voodoo lore and plenty of zombie stomping action. But a word of warning; don't shoot these zombies in the head … because that just makes them mad!

It's the legions of hell versus Maggie Child … and hell doesn't have a prayer!


Maggie groped under the vehicle, searching for any weapon. Her fingers found the other soldier's pistol belt, and she felt a knife handle. She screamed as the attacker dug his teeth into her arm. She yanked the knife from the belt scabbard and drove it into the attacking zombie's face. Furiously, she sank the blade into its skull again and again, until it released its grip.
The zombie scrambled to its feet, the knife still embedded in its head. It came at her again. Maggie rolled under the Land Rover to escape. The zombie pinned under the vehicle struggled to get at her but was stuck in place. Maggie realized the pinned zombie had a rifle slung across its back and the shoulder strap was caught on the shock absorber. She grabbed the strap and tried to wrench it loose. 
The other zombie dropped to its knees, hands groping under the vehicle. Maggie kicked at its hands while struggling to free the rifle. She yanked hard, and the weapon came free. She crawled over to the passenger side, but the attacking zombie was already clamoring over the hood of the Rover.
Maggie rolled out from under the vehicle and tried to stand but the pinned zombie grabbed her ankle, trying to pull her back underneath. She struggled with the mud caked AK-47. She pulled on the cocking bolt but it was fouled with muck. She wiped it with her hand and pulled again. This time it cocked. She opened fire on full auto as the zombie pounced over the hood; the bullets struck home, bursting its head like a centipede filled piñata, showering Maggie with blood and larvae. The headless body landed next to her, flailing wildly but no longer an immediate threat. But the pinned zombie still clung to her ankle.
She slammed the rifle butt down onto the pinned zombie’s wrist. After three more strikes its shattered hands could no longer grip. Now free, Maggie climbed to her feet.
She took a second to admire the mud-caked Russian rifle and thought, Say what you want but those Russians make one tough weapon.
She hopped into the Land Rover and backed it up, freeing the zombie pinned beneath. Maggie aimed and blew its head off before it could stand. She knelt over the writhing body, removing its cartridge belt. The belt held three full rifle magazines and a surprise bonus. "Well. I'll be… It's a God damn hand grenade," she muttered. "Sweet." Maggie saw the stripes and nametag on the zombie’s mud encrusted uniform. "Thanks, Corporal Sosa." She strapped on the belt.

About the Author:

After two years of ghostwriting, William Burke has released his first novel VOODOO CHILD, Book One: Zombie Uprising. It's the first installment of a new horror series chronicling the exploits of Maggie Child and her Voodoo priestess partner Sarafina as they battle to save the island of Fantomas from the wrath of evil Voodoo spirits.

The author was raised on a diet of late night creature features, comic books, Mad magazines and horror stories. As a result every volume will be packed with eccentric characters, dark humor, chills, zombies, ghosts, monsters, military hardware and plenty of stuff blowing up.

Prior to writing Voodoo Child he was the creator and director of the Destination America television series Hauntings and Horrors. He has also written scripts for two Cinemax television series, Forbidden Science and Lingerie, which he also produced. He has also written magazine pieces for Fangoria and the Phantom of the Movies Videoscope among others.

William began his film and television career as a perfectly respectable video engineer at the venerable United Nations. Budget cuts shifted him to becoming a production manager and assistant director on an array of New York based indie films. With that experience under his belt he relocated to Los Angeles where he eventually produced sixteen feature films and two television series for the Playboy Entertainment Group. After years of producing T&A extravaganzas, kickboxing epics and gangster rap videos, he created a self financed television pilot entitled American Mystery Tour. Canada's CTV picked up the series under the title Creepy Canada, which was then re-titled Hauntings and Horrors in the USA.  Since then he has successfully produced three series for HBO/Cinemax as well as documentaries and other … stuff.

After hundreds of hours of film and television production he is basking in the freedom of the written word, where small budgets and giant egos are only memories. He lives in Toronto.

If you enjoyed the first adventure please visit www.williamburkeauthor.com where you'll find lots of interesting information about Voodoo and military hardware, along with excerpts from Sarafina's personal diary AND, as a gift to readers, the author will be serializing a prequel novella

Author interview video: https://youtu.be/SXanlSkmHEIa
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