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PBS Puts Viewers in the Halloween Spirit with EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES
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New One-Hour Special, Hosted by Dr. Emily Zarka, Premieres

Friday, October 30 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS

Watch Episodes of the PBS Digital Series MONSTRUM on and YouTube

ARLINGTON, VA; October 6, 2020 PBS is celebrating Halloween with the launch of EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES, a new special presented by PBS Digital Studios’ popular series MONSTRUM. The one-hour documentary will premiere on Friday, October 30 at 10:00 p.m. ET(check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS Video App.

EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES is written and presented by MONSTRUM’s Dr. Emily Zarka. She’ll take audiences deep into the lore of the zombie throughout American history, examining zombie legends and tales to share what these creatures reveal about shifts in society, history and our deepest anxieties. EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES also provides unique insight into America’s dark past of slavery and foreign occupation, as well as modern-day uncertainties about pandemics and bioterrorism.

“We can learn a lot about our culture by exploring the monsters we invent,” said Zarka.“Looking at the portrayal of zombies over the past two centuries, we can witness the evolving issues and anxieties Americans have faced.”

In the special, Zarka interviews experts, spiritual practitioners and academics, uncovering the historical roots of zombie folklore, including African spiritual practices, the Transatlantic slave trade, and Haitian Vodou and Voodoo beliefs. She also explores popular culture to witness how the monster has evolved to reflect different eras of American history as it became a staple of films, television and video games. Zombie stories over the decades represented a range of fears, including nuclear weapons, overpopulation and political uprisings.

“We’re excited to bring another PBS Digital Studios success to our broadcast platform,” said Brandon Arolfo, Head of PBS Digital Studios. “This ghoulish special will entertain and expand minds with great educational information in the unique way that only PBS can.”

Leading into its broadcast special, MONSTRUM will also present three new short-form episodes on PBS Storied, a YouTube channel that’s home to arts and humanities content from PBS Digital Studios. The channel's mission is to show how we can better understand ourselves through the art and culture we create, from mythology to movies to design and much more. With dozens of MONSTRUM episodes available, viewers can learn more about their favorite spooky creature, from Dracula to El Chupacabra and the Kraken to the Banshee.

Below are descriptions and premiere dates for the upcoming MONSTRUM digitalseries episodes and the one-hour broadcast special:

The Origins of the Zombie, from Haiti to the U.S.

Premieres:Wednesday, October 14 on PBS Storied

Description: In the first episode of our three-part special series, we explore the complex history of the zombie—from its origins in the spiritual beliefs of the African diaspora to the development of Vodou in Haiti. Learn how one of the most enduring monsters in popular culture evolved in the midst of slavery, racism and prejudice.

How Night of the Living Dead Changed Zombies Forever

Premieres:Wednesday, October 21 on PBS Storied

Description: One of the most influential movies in the zombie canon is George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead. We’re examining the impact of the iconic “Romero zombie,” how it took shape in the racially charged civil rights era and why it altered zombie history forever.

Why Modern-Day Zombies Are So Terrifying

Premieres:Wednesday, October 28 on PBS Storied

Description: Most zombies today are fast, strong, travel in hordes and continue to terrify us in new ways. In this final episode of our zombie trilogy, we look into how racism along with current fears of pandemics and bioterrorism in our society significantly change the characteristics of the modern zombie in video games, Hollywood—and beyond.


Premieres: Friday, October 30 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS

Description: There are few monsters more recognizable or popular than the zombie. The reanimated corpse has been a staple of folklore, film, literature and popular culture for nearly 200 years. In this new one-hour special, Dr. Emily Zarka, who studies literature and film through the lens of monsters and is the host/writer of PBS’s popular MONSTRUM digital series, will deconstruct some of the most significant moments in zombie popular culture over the last two centuries to reveal what these creatures say about us.

EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES will be available to stream starting Friday, October 30 on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video App, available for streaming on PBS Documentary Channel via Amazon, and available for purchase via Amazon, Apple and Comcast.

EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES is a Spotzen production for PBS. Brandon Arolfo and Adam Dylewski are the Executive Producers for PBS; Amanda Fox is Executive Producer for Spotzen. The program is produced by Amanda Fox and Stephanie Noone and directed by David Schulte.

For more information on EXHUMED: A HISTORY OF ZOMBIES, the MONSTRUM digital series and PBS Storied,visit and the Storied YouTube Channel. Viewers are also encouraged to engage in online conversation by tagging @PBS and using #MonstrumPBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Emily Zarka, Ph.D., Host of MONSTRUM

Dr. Emily Zarka earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Literature from Arizona State University, with an emphasis on the Gothic and the British Romantic period. She approaches literature and film through monsters, applying the theory that human history is monster history. She is the writer and host of PBS Digital Studios series MONSTRUM, which looks at complex histories and motivations behind some of the world's most famous monsters. Her teaching experience includes literature, composition, film and media, and humanities classes. Currently, she is part of the faculties of both Arizona State University and Mesa Community College. Fans are invited to engage in online conversation about Zarka’s PBS series MONSTRUM by tagging @ZarkaEmily and using #MonstrumPBS on Twitter and Instagram.

About PBS Digital Studios

PBS Digital Studiosproduces original, digital programming for YouTube and Facebook Watch, designed to engage, enlighten, and entertain online audiences. The PBS Digital Studios network has more than 23 million subscribers, generating an average of 50 million views a month and has acquired more than 2.6 billion views lifetime views. Currently, the Studio has 20 original series streaming online, including eight series from PBS member stations. Series include the Webby Award-winning It’s Okay to Be Smart, Physics Girl and Crash Course, as well as popular series such as Two Cents and PBS Space Time.

About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 126 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

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