Wednesday, June 20, 2012


“I love zombies. If any monster could Riverdance, it would be zombies.”
―Craig Ferguson

Zombie apocalypse stuff is really big still, and there are some gaping problems with the entire genre which have always bothered me. Cracked hit on some of these with a recent article:
6) Why don't zombies eat the entire body? They eat part, just enough to kill them and make them a zombie, then stop. Why?
5) Why do zombies go after humans for brains instead of easier-to-kill creatures, or each other?
4) If they're dead and rotting why are they able to hunt humans so easily and effectively?
3) If your body is dead, how does a zombie digest what they eat?
2) Someone is always after a cure but the zombie seems pretty uncurable, given that they're... dead.
1) What are zombies going to eat once all the humans are zombies? Given that they won't eat each other out of some odd undead gentleman's agreement or something...
At least World War Z mentions something about zombies eating but not digesting food. And the book Apocalypse of Enoch by Shane Moore is about zombies being part of the end of the world, a punishment for sin, so they aren't motivated by the same thing as the usual kind.

But I still have some issues. For example, number six in the Cracked list. If zombies are always after brains, why do zombies they create always have a head left? Shouldn't it be torn apart and devoured, to get the brain? Or at least missing much of the brain pan? Except they never are, usually the head is quite intact.

Part of this is because its expensive and difficult to effectively depict someone with much of their head gone, and another is because in movies you want the zombie to have a face and be recognizable for shock effect (oh my god its Billy!!!). Its the same reason Spider-Man keeps taking his mask off, its to get the actor's face in the shot even if its completely unreasonable. But it doesn't make sense.

And honestly, unless they're fast pseudo-zombies like the ones in the 28 Days series or I Am Legend, zombies aren't really a threat. Any menace you can walk away from safely isn't particularly dangerous at all. This isn't like the Ebola virus which is in the air and being passed around unknowingly. A zombie outbreak wouldn't spread very quickly because people would just avoid rotting, undead humans and it would be isolated pretty rapidly.

And since they're dead and rotting away, the problem would literally fall to pieces within a matter of weeks anyway.

And consider this: Zombies are not hard to detect, unless they're really fresh. They move and act differently and as they are rotting, they're very easy to smell from a very long distance. Rotting meat, particularly long rotting meat, is instantly recognizable. Its part of how the decay process works, its been engineered to warn humans that its unsafe. You can tell when milk has gone bad with a single smell. You can tell when someone is a week-old zombie from a good half mile away. They aren't going to sneak up on anyone.

But to make the threat even remotely plausible, zombies have to have no smell at all, so they can suddenly leap out at people, show up out of nowhere. Its a running joke with my gaming group that zombies move very slowly but teleport when you aren't looking. That's what happens in the movies quite often. You can easily outrun one, but then once your back is turned they'll suddenly show up behind you. How? It shuffles as slow as an old guy in a walker, how did he suddenly catch up?

But even if they did you'd still notice them because of that godawful stench. That's what is so obnoxious to me about so many of these movies. People wandering around in fear, shining flashlights around or backing into dark rooms. Is one nearby? How can we tell, its unknowable! Except for that rotting meat smell, which you cannot depict in movies very easily, so the actors will just ignore that part.

The whole genre and fixation on this is just absurd. Zombies aren't much of a threat; just ask anyone who plays RPGs - the real ones, with paper and funny dice - they're slow, clumsy, and easy to take out or ignore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well thank god for the explanation as to why we need not worry about zombies. I was getting really freaked out until just now. Thank you for the public service.