Why do Zombies Eat Brains?

The film The Return of the Living Dead pioneered the popular idea of zombies eating brains. Prior to this concept, zombies had an appetite for anything human, not just brains. For my new readers, this is Monday Mayhem where I talk about zombies. And other stuff. But mostly zombies.

The Human Brain

The Human Brain

In the movie Warm Bodies, the main character, a zombie named R, kills a man, cracks open his head and scoops out a vast portion of his brain to consume on the spot. R saves some for later. The film does a good job presenting a seamless string of memories from the victim’s brain as if it were streaming through R’s rot-laden head. R feels that much more human when taking in the victim’s memories. Here’s what R thinks:

“There’s a lot of ways to get to know a person. Eating her dead boyfriend’s brains is one of the more unorthodox methods.”

But is that the real reason why zombies eat brains?

Modern day zombies breed from a virus. The typical contagion seeps through the blood of the victim, changing their composition thereby rendering them undead. The term undead means the victim died and rose from the dead. Classic zombies sport a morbid, pasty look, their eyes dull and their clothes shredded. They are shells of their former selves with nothing in their hearts and minds other than the craving for human flesh. Not much different from the folks you meet on Twitter’s Direct Messaging.

The Brain

The Brain

This craving is the key to zombiehood. For those unsure, zombies eat the flesh not to survive, but to satisfy an inner hunger born from becoming undead. Even if the zombie has its stomach removed, the craving exists, which makes it all the more vicious since its hunger originates not from self-preservation but from malicious intent bent on destroying humans or propagating the zombie virus.

Regardless of knowing this, we still need an explanation as to why zombies eat brains.

Before The Return of the Living Dead made its debut, zombies only consumed human flesh. But once the movie came out, the modern version of a legend rose from its frames. All of a sudden, zombies ate brains.

Why?

Nothing could be simpler: Brains provide zombies with the necessary endorphins to dull the pain of Rigor Mortis brought about by decomposition. The more brains, the less pain. In some ways, zombies get a high consuming the delicacy. And with that idea in mind, is it a wonder no one thought of it sooner?

A Note of Thanks

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE shot to #5 last night on Amazon’s Horror Best Sellers list here in Canada. Check out who the top 5 horror authors are in Canada:

#1 Stephen King
#2 Dean Koontz
#3 Stephen King
#4 Eric Tozzi
#5 Jack Flacco

The book’s also hit #420 on the Amazon Best Sellers Rank on Amazon.ca.

It’s also tracking as #6 for both Best Sellers in Children’s Horror books and ebooks.

And #3 on the Hot New Releases in Horror Fiction.

Finally, #1 on the Hot New Releases list in Children’s Horror.

I’m in shock. I wouldn’t have imagined it possible that something like this would have happened. I’m sincerely grateful for all those who have reviewed my book prior to release. I thank all those who have thrown me kind words my way these past few weeks. And I can only say that you—the audience—have made this book a success. I’m now without words.

Thank you again, everybody.

Did you know that zombies eating brains is a recent concept originating from The Return of the Living Dead?

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49 Comments

  1. Not to mention that Return of the Living Dead zombies talked – which is how we know what they like to eat.

    Reply
  2. Untethereable

     /  March 20, 2015

    Wow! That’s a pretty thought-provoking way of looking at it. Suddenly, I feel sorry for zombies. I didn’t even consider the possibility that they might feel pain.

    Reply
  3. So how are the brains prepared? It makes a difference in the taste.

    Reply
  4. how do they know what is endorphins and the place to get it? Zombies should be brainless, aren’t they?

    Reply
  5. Why can’t they just *like* brains?

    Reply
  6. Congrats, Jack — and well deserved. By the way, I love the theory about endorphins eliminating the pain of rigor mortis, which makes me think of the way people take marijuana to stop the pain. Or in the case of mental pain, the addiction to cocaine as a way of escaping with a high. That level of addiction, which defies logic, would explain the zombies’ obsession with consumption of human brains.

    I’m releasing my book in two weeks on Amazon. It’s a humor book. I hope it does as well — which could be horrifying enough 😉

    Reply
  7. I dabble a little bit in writing zombie apocalypse fiction. My zombies do not eat brains just flesh or anything else that they can cram in their mouth. Your latest book sounds interesting, I might pick it up to add to my to be read pile. I try not to read too much of other author’s zombie fiction as I do not wish to steal ideas. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
  8. Currently reading your book. There’s a lot green brain matter getting splattered about/ For some reason I kind of imagine Ranger Martin to look a little bit like you 🙂

    Reply
    • Yes. As one reviewer put it–quite a bit of goo hits the windshield! 😉 And would it be a wonderful dream come true if I lived in Ranger Martin’s shoes?

      Reply
  9. #5!!!! Oh my gosh. So incredibly exciting!
    And thinking about zombies and their hankering for brains has completely destroyed my appetite. Ick.

    Reply
  10. soneascissorhands

     /  November 5, 2013

    I admire Stephen King alot, so to see you with them at the popular horror authors, well, it’s certainly an overwhelming and great feeling for you I’m sure. Happy for your success and now prehaps your book will be a next admiration to have sitting beside my bookshelf.

    Reply
    • Stephen King is one of my heroes as well, along with Anne Rice. I’m still in disbelief of what’s happening. I’m just thankful for everyone’s support.

      Reply
  11. Wowwwzers, when you can say the only ones ranking higher than your novel are the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, you’ve got yourself one heck of a book! That’s so awesome, congrats!! :

    Reply
    • Thanks! I’ve been in a state of shock these past few days and even today, when it hit #2–right behind Anne Rice, I’ve sat staring at the screen in disbelief. I’m amazed at the overwhelming acceptance my book has garnered. It’s been crazy. Seriously crazy!

      Reply
  12. Brigitte Chaulk

     /  November 4, 2013

    Congratulations Jack!!

    Reply
  13. Of course I need to see Warm Bodies, can’t believe I haven’t seen it. Being that I love a good zombie movie? Brain!!!

    Reply
  14. Congratulations on your success with the book Jack – I’ve started reading it and am really enjoying it so far. Maybe another aspect of zombies eating brains is to make it even more uncomfortable for us to deal with, since the brain contains a lot of who we are…

    Reply
  15. Congratulations, being a huge fan of the zombie genre I look forward to giving it a read. I enjoyed Warm Bodies more than I thought I would, it was an entertaining twist on Romeo and Juliet. I’ve never given much thought as to why they went for brain but thought it was wonderful how they explained it.

    Reply
  16. Didn’t ‘zombies’ originate from Voodoo rituals that turned people into mindless slaves? Or that’s what I’m lead to believe from movies like ‘White Zombie’ with Bella Lugosi and ‘The Ghost Breakers’ with Bob Hope.

    Reply
  17. Catherine Johnson

     /  November 4, 2013

    Awesome ranking, Jack! Congratulations. I’m intrigued how the info from the brain passes over. Do they become more intelligent from eating it?

    Reply
    • Thanks, Catherine! In the movie Warm Bodies, eating the brain makes zombies collect memories of the dead. In a way, the zombies become more alive with every morsel, but in reality, it’s almost a high for them. How the messages travel from mouth to brain is your best guess. Let’s call it creative license. I know they don’t become more intelligent, but they become more aware. It dulls the pain, for sure.

      Reply
      • Catherine Johnson

         /  November 4, 2013

        Who would want to collect memories lol? Thanks!

  18. Endorphins! Of course! Doesn’t make it any less creepy, but definitely makes more sense now.

    Also, congratulations on the success of your book! I’m sure it will only grow from here 🙂

    Reply
  19. Congratulations! That is an awesome ranking! 😀

    I’ve always wondered why zombies would want brains and very much enjoyed reading this post.

    Reply
  20. I love your zombie Mondays and I’m so happy about the rating

    Reply
  21. Not sure if you meant this post to be funny, but it made me smile how you clinically explained Zombies. As for you book, congratulations. When I finish, “419” by Will Ferguson, ( Another Canadian Author) I will have to read yours. (Although I hate being scared to death!)

    Reply
  22. First, congrats on the ranking. That’s amazing.

    Second, the brain eating makes a lot of sense. I keep thinking zombies eat to survive because you always hear people ask if they can starve to death. Yet, they can’t digest anything. So, that answers my wonderment about that. I was actually thinking of ‘Warm Bodies’ when I saw the title since I watched it last night. I do like the twist on brain eating that they threw in. Though, I don’t remember seeing a lot of modern zombie movies where they go for the brains or even mention the brains.

    Reply
    • Thanks! Believe me, I found it hard falling asleep last night after seeing how it was doing!

      Wasn’t Warm Bodies such a great film? I enjoyed it so much that I saw it two nights in a row. I watch World War Z over the weekend with friends. I got a kick seeing their reactions watching the movie for the very first time. And yes, weird how that brain-eating concept works, huh?

      Reply
      • I caught a few parts of Warm Bodies and finally saw it all last night. Enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Haven’t seen World War Z yet. Commercials reminded me of Resident Evil 5.

    • I think eating with a dead brain is a big strech there is no need to eat. So in reality fantasy strecht to the point of brake most people swallow it, I don’t.

      Reply
      • If the brain is even truly dead. With a totally dead brain, a zombie wouldn’t be able to do anything. So it could be possible that there is just enough activity to keep it moving and eating. This is one of the problems with zombies in general. They require a lot of removal from reality.

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