Most horror movies can be inspired from a number of events that have occurred in real life, but zombies are merely a work of fiction right? Well to some degree, yes, but there was record of something emulating the closest thing to a zombie outbreak during the High Renaissance era.
Italy was known for its art scene and flamboyant dress sense between the 1490s and 1527, what isn’t documented as much is the major outbreak of syphilis that occurred in 1494. The sexually transmitted disease in a modern day society poses very little threat and can be easily cured with antibiotics, but back in the High Renaissance era antibitotics were far from becoming part of the medical world leaving the disease to unleash devastation.
The disease was thought to have been brought to Italy by the French, and the end result for the Italian people was that their flesh rotted or melted, emulating the “walking dead.” Flesh would fall from victims’ faces and they would normally be dead within a few months. As well as the flesh falling away from the victims’ faces, they would also see destruction of other body parts, such as the nose and genitals.
The comparison to zombies can also be cited to the victims dragging themselves around as body parts fell from them, knowing that within a few months that they would be dead. Victims would also endure a painful few months while waiting for the demise as the disease was slow-acting in consuming the flesh of victims. Amazingly flesh would fall away from the bones, but the victims would still be alive, albeit in excruciating pain. So while not an actual zombie outbreak, it still chilling to know that a disease can create such havoc when it can’t be treated.