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Where I contemplate the zombie infestation

July 8, 2011

By this point, it should not be a surprise that I enjoy a horror movie or seven. My perfect night may well include a few bottles of a good chianti, my ass in my “comfy chair,” and George Romero movies on repeat1. So, when my friend Lindsay, who is always trying to get me to run with her, asked me to run a “Zombie Run,” I toed the line between geeky excitement and dread. While I love watching zombies, they scare the shit out of me.

See, whenever I enter into an uncomfortable situation, I know my strengths. I can think on my feet. I’m well spoken. And if push comes to shove, I’m a better shover than most people around me. But waves of unthinking beings, looking to eat my brains? Well, I can’t reason with them, and eventually, I’ll get tired. So, yeah, zombies scare me. But, my obsessive movie watching research has me well-prepared, I believe.

There are three distinct groups of zombies – for argument’s sake, we’ll break them down into “Fast Zombies,” “Slow Zombies,” and “Rule 34 Zombies.” Based on the type of zombies I’m facing, the strategy changes. I can get into the whole history of zombies here – the whole Voodoo spell to bring a corpse back to life in order to do the caster’s bidding, but the Wikipedia article on zombies does a better job than I can there. No, those things aren’t really dangerous. We want the monsters from the movies.

Slow Zombies

These are the zombies that I’m anticipating on the run – and these are stereotypical zombies: slow-moving, disgusting and often injured, single-minded. They’re drawn to light and movement, and they’re looking to eat. For whatever reason, they seem to ignore one-another (which I don’t think has ever been explained), but they will relentlessly go after a single, non-zombie target. They want to eat you2. You’ll find yourself a zombie by simply being bitten – if zombie blood mixes with your blood, it’s too late . . . at some point, your body will die, but you’ll be something other than “dead.”

Because they’re mindless and they’ll just “keep on coming,” the only applicable strategy is avoidance. Stay away. Keep moving, whenever possible. If you absolutely must stop, ensure that you’re well-protected with multiple exit strategies. If you need to pause and think, do so in an open area, so that you can see all around you, as you have to assume that a zombie can hear your heart beat through a wall. If you need to make close contact, always chose the lesser population density – you should be able to dance in & around, and avoid, a single, slow, zombie. It’s not that you should dance in & around a single zombie – but if the choice is a single zombie or a group of them, go against the single.

If you must attack, be careful. Use a ranged weapon whenever possible because, well, there will be splatter if you have to get close. It’s not good if you chop off a zombie’s head with a sword, but in the act of doing so, end up with a drop of the zombie’s blood in a minor cut on your body. But, really avoid.

For research, check out:

Fast Zombies

These are much freakier versions of their contemporaries. Something went wrong in a lab, and some sort of disease passed along the population. In short, somebody fucked up, shit went down, and now the world is screwed3. Based on the line of how they got here, these zombies can think & formulate a strategy, but have some sort of weakness – they can’t come out in the daylight, or they’ll fight each other. In all cases, fast zombies can be destroyed by making their heart stop (slow zombies, they’re “alive” until the brain is destroyed).

As opposed to a slow zombie change, once you have some “fast zombie” juice in you, you’re turned4

Here, avoidance is, again, necessary. However – if they’re susceptible to light, you have all day to plan, rest, and barricade yourself. If the zombies will fight each other, groups of them aren’t nearly as scary. But, fast zombies mean you have to be that much faster – and some of the slow zombie tricks, like climbing a tree and laughing at the damn thing that can’t catch you won’t work nearly as well, as the damn thing can plot how to get you down.

For research, check out:

Rule 34 Zombies

Here, the rules are still being written . . . and, easily, these are the most intriguing of all the zombies out there.

If you’re not familiar with Rule 34 – well, it’s simple. If it exists, there is porn about it. Zombie porn is something that I’m quite new to. But, I’m me, so of course I love it. Zombie infestations in the world of porn are far less problematic than they are anywhere else. Not only do people not really care about the plot, but zombie make-up if fucking expensive. Because of that, when you encounter zombies in your pornographic world, the pockets tends to be small – seldom is there more than a single zombie to start.

Unlike Slow or Fast zombies, where being smart, conservative, and measured in your responses is likely to allow you to stay alive, if you want to avoid being turned by a Rule 34 zombie, it’s best to not be attractive or particularly well-endowed. While I guess the “zombie infection” is, technically, a sexually transmitted disease, as it can only be passed from person to person via exchange of bodily fluids, this is a whole different type of STD.

It’s unclear whether a Rule 34 zombie actually dies or just turns into a brain-hungry nymphomaniac5, but once you encounter one, well, it’s damn near impossible to look away for at least a few minutes – and then, far more relaxed, you might find something else to draw your attention.

1 The other night, I did this with a boxed cabernet and the Rob Zombie duology: House of 1000 Corpses & Devil’s Rejects. While these weren’t zombie movies (despite the director’s staged last name), it was marvelous.

2 And not the good kind of “eat you,” see Rule 34 zombies for that.

3 And not the good kind of “screwed,” see Rule 34 zombies for that.

4 The drop off blood into the eye from 28 Days Later still makes me shudder.

5 There may also be some extra powers given to female Rule 34 zombies – much like vampires re-awaken with martial arts knowledge, it appears that women who specialize in shooting ping pong balls from the whoo-has suddenly gain the ability to mow down bystanders by launching billiard balls from the same orifice. It’s like the zombie infection acts as a super kegel exercise regimen and Spanish fly all at once.

  1. I never got the attraction of the ping pong ball thing. I’m not sure I want it explained either.

    • You know, I’m not sure I even know the attraction, either. Or share it. I think it’s a general fascination with stuff that we can’t do. I marvel at contortionists, because there’s no way I could make my body do what they do . . . . and there’s absolutely no way that I’d ever be able to shoot ping pong balls out of my genitals.

  2. There are categories??? Oh lord. I know ‘I Am Legend’ zombies. Or rather, I know ‘Will Smith doing pull ups with no shirt and all sweaty in a zombie movie’ zombies. Do you have a category for that? And ‘Zombie Strippers’ is on ‘On Demand’ every day and the title makes my husband I giggle like teen age boys.

    • All I can say about Zombie Strippers is that it’s an awesomely bad movie. It has the feeling that it tried to be a semi-serious movie at one point, that the actors actually cared when they got the script (hey, it’s something), and then everybody gave up just before shooting started. It’s tragic. And that makes it awesome. And, despite the name, there’s not a whole lot of sex. Or brain eating. Just a bunch of not-talented actors sneaking around a strip club. But, it’s still awesome.

  3. (as if being in a shopping mall didn’t make you a zombie in the first place)
    YES. THIS. My brother and I would occasionally make ventures to the shopping mall together when we’d both run out of clothing, which trips went fast. As we then agreed (and I hold true now), each step inside a mall sucks not only a little bit of your energy but also a little portion of your soul straight through your feet. That’s what I call incentive to move faster’n a fast zombie outta there!

    Seconded on the horror front, oh yes! I used to mock zombies, but Ba.D. got me out of that to the point where I named the zombie panel (with Max Brooks! yes!) as the one panel I demanded to attend, never mind that he was the one who introduced me to the special magic of ’em at all speeds.

    • Have you written about the zombie panel at all? I’d love to hear about it. The Zombie Survival Guide completely changed the way I live my life (kind-of, seriously).

      • I only wrote a very brief blurb here:

        I have yet to look at this year’s SDCC schedule, but I hope they’ve got more zombie-specific fun!

        Have you read Feed? It’s interesting to read a political novel featuring zombies as the core of politicking. Obviously not, y’know, as politicians themselves!

      • Just kidding! It turns out I did do a little write-up somewhere:

        Saturday I made it to the panel I’d hoped to see (zombie literature) and sat through the preceding panel – MAD Magazine – to nab second-row seating. Dave and I agreed the zombie panel was awesome, not just for Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks, but a brilliant writer in his own right) but for each of the eight panelists. Often you’ll find panelists who don’t really have much to say, or say lots without saying anything at all, but this panel was full of unique, thoughtful conversation, and lots of humor. I think my favorite part of the panel was when someone asked Max Brooks how hard it was for him to extract the humor from World War Z, prompting him to say earnestly he didn’t have to “extract” the humor from it because the other books weren’t meant to be funny. He’d grown up loving horror and, except for zombies, was able to rationalize why other people would be victim to other monsters. The thing he couldn’t get over about zombies was that anyone could fall prey to them. You don’t have to go out looking for zombies, he explained; they come right to you and will, more likely than not, find you in the end, no matter where you hide. Humor, he opined, was a social defense mechanism, a way of interacting with people when you’re really afraid that they’ll otherwise discover you’re “just a Jew,” not something he’d intentionally infuse his books with.

        The guy to his left was author of Sense, Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, but I can’t recall much of what he said. The guy who’d written Zombie Haiku answered almost exclusively in haiku, which was a blast.

  4. You are nothing if not thorough in your research… I think I’m mostly a fan of the Fast Zombie genre–something I wasn’t aware of until you broke it down for me.

    So thank you.

    • Watching 28 Days Later actually changed my appreciation of zombie movies. Somehow, the introduction of “fast zombies” turned things from being about the monsters, themselves, to being about the actual living situation when dealing with zombies. The monsters are bad, surely, but then they’re used as an excuse to justify monstrous behavior from the “heroes,” which, in typical zombie-movie fashion, was only ever hinted at.

  5. Before this post, my Zombie knowledge was zero. However, I think I would do a great job dodging a Rule 34 Zombie as I’ve had a lot of practice every Tuesday and Saturday. I am married.

  6. I’m more of a “Shaun of the Dead” type person. Horror movies give me nightmares and absolutely scare the shit out of me; can’t even watch the previews.

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