A more vivid verb that describes the what and why of zombies. Ambitious!
O.K. How about transmute? That hasn't been suggested by anyone yet.
Looking into the history of transmutation, I discovered that the word was used in the 19th century several years before the advent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution: On The Origin of Species in 1859. Previously to that, it had been adopted by alchemists to describe the transformation of ordinary metal into gold. The promoter of the transmutation theory, the Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and author of Philosophie Zoologique (1809) claimed...
that simple forms of life were created continuously by
spontaneous generation. He also believed that an innate life force,
which he sometimes described as a nervous fluid, drove species to
become more complex over time, advancing up a linear ladder of
complexity that was related to the great chain of being.
Online Etymology has this to say
(v.) early 15c., from Latin transmutare, "change from one condition to another,"from trans-"thoroughly" + mutare "to change" Related: Transmuted; transmuting