They show no mercy. They have no remorse. They don’t discriminate and they love nothing more than to eat you alive. I’m talking about flesh-eating, scum-sucking Zombies. They are the undead, living corpses, walking stiffs. I have bad news for anyone who thinks they are safe in this world. If we don’t start paying attention to the warning signs, zombies may one day rise and take over the earth.
Fear not my friends. There have been many movies that feature zombies and detail their path of destruction. These films can teach us what we can do when the inevitable happens.
The problem lies in the fact that many zombie films feature different kinds of zombies. Some walk, some run, some can only die when the brain is destroyed, others need to be dismembered. Even the great book, The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks only gave us defence tips for the slow moving and lumbering type of zombie. How do we know what form the real zombies will take when they rise from the grave and begin attacking us? I don’t know about you, but I want to be ready for anything.
If I can equip just one person out there with the knowledge and skills needed to defend themselves, maybe I can make a difference. It may not save everybody from becoming zombie breakfast, but it is a start. I will be looking at four popular zombie films to study the variations within. All four films have their own subtle differences in their portrayal of the undead. We need to break down the basics about these pasty faced coffin-dwellers. How do they act? Where do they come from? Most importantly of all, how we can kill them?
1. HOW DO THEY BECOME ZOMBIES?
In order to overcome them, it is crucially important to look at how these once living humans actually became filthy, no-good zombies. They don’t just rise from the grave without good reason. Medical, demonic, environmental, scientific or biblical occurrences can all bring the dead back to life in a completely feasible and logical manner.
In George Romero’s classic 1978 film, Dawn of the Dead we are never given a direct explanation as to why the dead suddenly rise and begin strolling around America’s shopping malls, but the films tagline may be our best indication: When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. Basically, if old Satan puts up the “No Vacancy” sign, we need to be ready.
In the 1985 horror comedy, Return of the Living Dead the zombie origin travels a different path – green contaminated gas. This toxic waste not only reanimates the dead, but it continues to linger in their rotting bodies, threatening to keep reanimating them until they are properly destroyed.
In 28 Days Later (2002), a virus that travels through the bloodstream will render victims “infected” and turn them into ravaging zombies with a mean bloodlust in a matter of minutes.
The Evil Dead (1981) may not be your conventional zombie film, but it still features its fair share of zombie creatures that we would be foolish to ignore. Unlike the previously mentioned films, The Evil Dead zombies are the simple result of demonic possession, caused by the release of evil spirits from the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead). Reciting certain passages from this book will bring the evil into our realm.
2. ARE ZOMBIES FAST OR SLOW?
For the purists, there is only one form of zombie, and that is the George Romero/Dawn of the Dead variety. They may be slow, but underestimate them at your own peril. They often travel in numbers and sheer volume of zombie can bring with it a myriad of problems, regardless of their speed.
Recently there has been a spate of films depicting zombies as virtual Olympic athletes, capable of running long distances with endurance. The 28 Days Later zombie is a force to be reckoned with. They don’t seem to tire and won’t give up the chase until they have your warm flesh dripping from their lips.
Anyone who believes this fast running zombie phenomenon is a recent development is mistaken. In 1985, Return of the Living Dead had zombies that functioned very much like us living humans and were able to chase down their victims instead of lumbering slowly toward them.
The Evil Dead zombies may prove the most difficult of all, as they too are human-like in many ways. The difference being that they can not only run, but have superhuman strength, making it a real challenge to defend against for anyone without a shotgun and chainsaw within arms length.
3. ARE ZOMBIES SMART OR STUPID?
On the whole, outwitting a zombie should not be a problem. The Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later zombies may each have their menacing physical qualities, but they would struggle getting past the $100 question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Both forms of zombie are driven solely by instinct, although it is safe to presume that Dawn of the Dead zombies do show capacity to learn. They even display signs of base-level intelligence. This should be a warning to all of us. Given time, they could become an even greater threat.
The Evil Dead zombie is predominantly dangerous because of its human-like qualities. They have the luxury of being able to communicate as either zombies or humans. One of their favourite gags is to pretend they are completely restored humans. Don’t fall for this! It is a trick.
In terms of intelligence, Return of the Living Dead has the most worrisome zombies. Not only do they act similar to humans, but they can also make plans and cooperate between themselves. Even more frightening is the fact that they have the ability to talk, though conversing with them is not recommended. Not only can it be dangerous, but also extremely boring as they rarely say much more than, “BRAIIINS!!”
4. HOW DO WE KILL THEM?
It is the question we all want answered. How can these abominations be destroyed? What’s more, how can we be sure they never rise again? In the four films I have discussed, the killing of a zombie can range from fairly straightforward to excessively messy.
With the ferocious nature of the 28 Days Later zombie, not to mention its speed and agility, thank God their destruction is comparatively simple. These zombies can be killed in any way a human being can. A simple shot to the chest should suffice, just be careful not to get the blood on you.
To kill the Dawn of the Dead zombie takes more than a simple shot to the body. Only destroying the brain will render them fully dead. Although, a small tip I like to give people is that hacking off their legs can often do wonders in stopping them coming after you.
The Evil Dead and the Return of the Living Dead zombies pose even greater problems. Their destruction is only recommended to those with patience and time to spare. The Evil Dead zombie may stop attacking after complete body dismemberment, but there is every chance you may need to incinerate or bury the body parts for fear of further attack.
The Return of the Living Dead zombie has the added advantage of being filled with the dreaded green contaminated gas. Only dismemberment, closely followed by incineration will put you at peace of mind and safe from further problems. Remember that the gas will also infect you if you come in contact with it. I suggest wearing a full nuclear body suit when dealing with these zombies. It always pays to be safe.
I hope this brief lesson has been helpful to you. When the zombies rise, knowing a thing or two about them can only help us survive. Don’t be afraid. Their takeover does not have to mean the end of the human race. Gather up your weapons dear friends, and I will look out for you after the apocalypse.