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40oz

The Former Human

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The Former "Zombiemen" Humans in Doom seem to me to be often misremembered or misrepresented as traditional "Zombies" as in the slow-moving, moaning, groaning, yawning, deteriorated flesh resurrected from death zombies that bite people and turn them into their kind. With the growing trend in zombie fanaticism in games and movies, I feel it's important that the distinction be made.

Although, aptly titled "Zombiemen" have zombie in their nick name, they are far from what are depicted in Night of the Living Dead or World War Z. Former Humans (or the more accurate title, Possessed Humans) were once normal, sane, human marines, now possessed by an evil spirit. In Doom 3 these spirits were represented as lost souls. The Zombiemen are not bloodthirsty and don't thrive by eating people or reproduce by biting. They're just made mentally unstable by the demonic forces of the world around them. All of the "Zombieman's" physical and behavioral characteristics shown in Doom are reflected in Tom Cooney's "Warning Signs of Demonic Possession. This is why they have an inhuman-like guttural growl when alerted, and a death scream that sounds more like a roar than a fainting scream, and sometimes like multiple voices layered over each other. These sounds were selected for them through educated decision making. They have a strange change in hair color and eye color, and are drenched in the blood of their killed victims, but they're not undead or feral. They may walk slow, but that's because they are intended to be the easiest enemies in the game. The very-human Nazi's in Wolf3D walked at about a quarter of the speed of BJ to cite an example. The Possessed Humans are just as alive as ever before. They're just controlled under a supernatural force. Technically the humane thing to do would be to bring them back to normal by an exorcism, but there's not a priest for thousands of miles, and there's a fucking lot of them and they have guns. So the Doomguy has to make his own judgment call and kill them before they kill him.

I don't know how everyone here thinks about the zombiemen in Doom, so I may be strawmanning since I'm not posting any specific examples, but I do often see high-resolution art assets for Doom or artwork based on Doom where zombiemen are shown with missing jaws, bulletholes in their torsoes, having a jangly walk, or crowded around a bloodied corpse. Sometimes even in maps. I believe sometimes that the monsters in Doom are misunderstood as primitive alien creatures. While technically true, it shouldn't be forgotten that they are evil. They live to kill anyone and anything for more than self-defense but for their own self-righteous wiring of their being.

That is all.

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And then the former human was not a zombie?

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I prefer the term former human than zombie for this reason. While it's a fair distinction to make and possibly useful for artistic purposes I don't think it really informs their placement in mapping for extents or purposes.

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Actually, it could be argued that the "zombieman" actually is a zombie in the more traditional sense. The concept of zombies did exist before Romero, after all (the filmmaker, not the gamemaker). In traditional lore, a zombie was a corpse resurrected from the dead by an evil sorcerer who used a mind-control spell to force the corpse to do his bidding. Actually, it's even been suggested that there's a grain of truth to this - that people actually have used psychotropic drugs to simulate death and leave a person in a highly suggestive state to do the sorcerer's bidding. Whether there's any truth to the stories, nonetheless I think there are clear parallels between those zombies and the zombiemen of Doom - shambling corpses devoid of any willpower, subject to the commands of the entity which created them. Oh, yes, and the traditional zombie is also prone to fits of rage and violence, much like the zombiemen of Doom.

Just some food for thought.

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I can't argue with that, but the modern zombie in popular culture that is taking over movies and video games (notice the "Zombie Outbreak Response Team" bumper stickers on people's vehicles) is becoming the norm and I suspect it could lead to people forgetting that Doom Zombiemen are not that Zombies they think they are.

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Even in zombie movies, there can be quite a difference in depiction -or "schools" if you prefer. "Traditional", Romero-style zombies are indeed slow, shambling, mumbling corpses. But they are not the only possibility. Skills and abilities may also vary, from animalesque to still being able to operate machinery and complex weapons.

That being said, Doom's "zombiemen" may be "zombies" only in the sense that they are not capable of independent thought anymore, not in the sense that they are actually undead.

Doom 3 does a better job in separating between the decayed, clumsy undead zombies, and the much more functional and organized "Z-Secs".

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Maes said:

Doom 3 does a better job in separating between the decayed, clumsy undead zombies, and the much more functional and organized "Z-Secs".

But their origins are clearly depicted as the same, which doesn't make much sense.

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I see the Doom zombies as possessed humans, and indeed closer to voodoo zombies than to undead zombies. Nonetheless, the existence of the revenant shows that there's no real reason why there can't be possessed cadavers as well. If you want some rationalization, it takes a stronger spirit to animate a dead body than to control a living one. That explains why it's harder to kill a revenant than a chaingunner.

In franchises like Resident Evil, zombies move kinda away from "undead" and into "mutant". You get all sorts of monstrous zombies that aren't shambling decayed corpses.

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Yeah, there are a few variations on what a zombie is.

To me, a zombie is someone who has been dead for a while, and has been risen from the grave by magic, or spells or some force in another world....just a human that has come back to life, either with or without his free will and mind intact. He may or may also not eat people (Eating as in food, not turn them into zombies).

Then the ones much like how geekmarine explains it. A Voodoo sort of thing.

Then you get the modern Romero type, where they come in hordes and are usually created by some virus, which may or may not kill them before turning them into monsters.

And I'm sure you can get cross overs too...undead risen from the grave corpses, who horde and turn people into other zombies for example.

As for Doom, I saw them as possessed people, be they possessed while living, or reanimated by the lost souls. But even so, I can't imagine them to zombify other marines as there is no virus to do so. I always took it as each and every one of them has a lost soul inside of them to form a little Hell's army..and when killed the lost soul is destroyed along with them. To me a zombieman is a lost soul while it is possessing somebody, dead or alive.

As for the Revenants Gez mentions, the game does say these are the picked up corpses of the former humans and repackaged to carry on fighting....but it doesn't say HOW this happens does it? It could be a case of a skeleton getting kitted out with the latest hell tech, but as he is dead, it requires another lost soul to power it...so Revenents could just be another form of possessed corpse, the only living part of it is the lost soul. Or they could be legit resurrected, alive just like when they were human in their former life, by Hell's forces and be again like the voodoo zombies and have mind control making them do it. Or they could be dead and nothing is possessing them, not magic nor lost soul but they have the illusion of being alive because the technology they are wearing, essentially turns the skeleton into a robot.

I think when it comes to the Zombiemen and other former humans in Doom, there is a little bit of a cross over in zombie lore and belief to create them.

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a kind of zombie which acts very close to Doom's Former Human as they walk slowly and fire a weapon and make moaning sounds.

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Avooz, yea those guys. They're essentially brainfried because of that specific Lab later in the game so they would be similar to our possessed friends in the Doom games.

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Doom's zombiemen have visibly bloodstained clothes and mouths. I also prefer to imagine them as "irreversibly" possessed by evil, therefore "undead" since the moment they were possessed. That's enough for me to put them into the category "zombies" and call them "zombiemen". It's shorter and simpler than "former humans", too. :)

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POSS

I'm with the OP 100%. What a great distinction to make. Spot on.

I recently saw this fine film at a horror marathon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT7jOmxqBQI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l68Ub_5Gey0

We argued whether it was technically a zombie movie. Structurally, it is, but instead of zombies we have demons who are warped but living people who live to kill. Demonism is spread through biting and scratching. At the end of the movie, it becomes apparent that a zombie apocalypse, or rather a "demon apocalypse" has transpired.

This begs the question, how does one get possessed in the Doom universe? Does hellish energy just emanate from somewhere and "get" you?

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No, Former Human, you are not a zombie. And then the zombieman was the demons.

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Well, as stated, in Doom 3 it's pretty clear that what happens is possession via means of Lost Souls entering the bodies of the soldiers. In the original, it's less clear, since there's virtually no backstory, though it does suggest that perhaps the teleporters are involved, since everyone who goes through the teleporters either explodes or goes insane. I don't know if we are to take it that entire armies of soldiers went through the teleporter or what, but I was always kind of impression that the zombiemen were related to the fact that the teleporters make you insane (and it's possible that possession occurs somewhere in the teleportation process). Of course, this in itself brings up a question I've asked elsewhere, namely why is the hero apparently not affected by the teleporters in the same way that everyone else is said to be. Unless, as I've speculated, there really are no demons at all and they're merely a side effect of teleporter psychosis.

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I suspected the Doomguy to be an exception to possession, perhaps too firm in his good judgment (the way he assaulted an officer for firing upon civilians the doom bible says) to be occupied by a spiritual invader. The other marines less so, and the ones who were good people that were immune to possession were the ones who were killed. Leaving Doomguy to be the only one left who was both badass and a naturally good person. i dunno.

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IIRC, the manual or text file explained that the possessed humans are those who were asleep when the demons invaded. Those who were awake during the outbreak couldn't be possessed and instead were simply slain.

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Gez said:

IIRC, the manual or text file explained that the possessed humans are those who were asleep when the demons invaded. Those who were awake during the outbreak couldn't be possessed and instead were simply slain.


And as we all know, Doomguy was too busy either scrubbing toilets or taking a dump when the invasion occured, so he was definitively awake.

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I'd say they're zombies that are possessed by the demons, which explains why they are able to carry and use firearms.

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Remember that one Romero zombie flick where one of the zombies was somehow smart enough to open doors, salute, and even fire a gun? Doom zombies are all kinda like that.

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Though the Doom Bible is not canon, it's a good reference nevertheless as it indicates what id was going for despite the changes made later down the road. To me, it serves as supplementary and canonical info about stuff in Doom as long as it is not contradicted by the release material.

It's pretty clear that the "alive but possessed" idea survived intact.

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The zombiemen are people who were killed by a lost soul and then the lost soul possessed them.

Or we can have the stupid shit from the movie and say that only good people were immune to the possession, but what happens if you kill a bad person? do they end up in hell as a demon and then you have to kill them again? oh geez...intense...

Or they are just bad guys who teamed up with the demons.

or they were the people sleeping when the demons came to kill everybody, but if the demons knew you could just have a lost soul possess someone while they're asleep why didn't they just try to knock people out and make them unconscious?

Why does the story keep changing? Oh wait, it's cause some stupid mofo decided they didn't need the doom bible, so that's why.

Shit's dumb. Think what you want, it won't matter when they change it again.

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They are supposed to be evil demon-possessed cannibals. I don't think they are actually undead. Get an Archvile into the equation and things get complicated.

The real question though... did they decide to dye their hair green before or after possession?

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Captain Toenail said:

The real question though... did they decide to dye their hair green before or after possession?

During it. Yep.

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I think the point of Doom's and Quake's former humans is "uncanny valley". They all look like blood-filthy, enraged, possibly wounded soldiers out to attack you. If you play Doom without digital audio speakers -- quite likely during 1994 -- you'd think they're just enemy soldiers. It's only when you hear their demon-like growls that it gets weird. It's probably that horror theme where humans you know are permanently turned into monsters (at least internally) without you realizing until they speak something.

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Jaxxoon R said:

I always thought they were demon-possessed corpses.

Doom 3 demonstrated that they are indeed possessed people. And by people, I mean once living and then immediately transformed into a zombie while still alive.

Doom suggests that the hell invasion was sudden, immediate. The zombies never had time to be previously dead and then reanimated, just possessed. But that doesn't explain why the Zombiemen are littered with bullet holes.

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Infighting?

There's also the fact that you're not the first one to go in -- in fact, in Doom, you're the guy who's left behind. Everyone else who was still sane is dead, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't have gotten some shots in.

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