April 13, 2019
In the catacombs beneath Kakariko Village, zombie-like creatures known as ReDeads protect the tomb of the Royal Family. When Ganondorf took control of Hyrule Castle, these same creatures populated the castle town, ready to ambush Link when he awoke from his seven-year slumber. They are scattered throughout both the Shadow and Earth Temple, wander the Ikana Kingdom and lie dormant at the Bottom of the Well. The mystery of these beings is overshadowed by their terrifying nature—their bone-chilling scream that paralyzes anyone who hears it is pure nightmare-fuel.
In the Super Smash Bros. franchise, though not canon to the Zelda universe, offers an interesting perspective into where ReDeads may have originated from. Rather than outwardly refer to them as zombies, the Super Smash Bros. games claims they are born of both magic and clay, not unlike the golems of mythology. YouTuber Zeltik decided to take a deeper look into the origin of these creatures, and what he uncovers is nothing short of horrifying.
Zeltik’s video touches on an ancient Japanese tradition known as haniwa—ornamental figurines placed outside and around graves, assumed to be guardians that protected the dead from the living. The inspiration drawn from haniwa is clear in the design of the ReDeads, from the hollow features to the wooden mask (supposedly carved from coffin wood!) they don in the series. With that in mind, the video goes further into the franchise and the patterns spotted with where ReDeads are found. Every temple, dungeon, or mini-dungeon that are littered with ReDeads revolve heavily around the theme of death. Given the abundance of ReDeads found following Ganondorf’s rule over Hyrule in Ocarina of Time, it is an easy assumption to make that the King of Evil brought these horrifying creatures to life. However, their existence prior to Ganondorf’s reign shows that they are not made by his hand. An enormous statue replicating the ReDeads stands within the Wind Waker’s Earth Temple, further supporting the idea that ReDeads are meant to be protective guardians to the dead.
Inscriptions in the Royal Family’s tomb use terminology such as “living dead” and “restless souls”, dismissing the clay theory presented by Super Smash Bros. Instead, we are to believe that these creatures are of flesh and blood, reanimated corpses meant to mindlessly serve the Royal Family. I won’t spoil how they came to resurrect corpses, as Zeltik’s video will surely shock you with the horrifying truth of the ReDeads! Check it out for yourself below.