Sunday, May 11, 2008
How to Survive a Zombie Invasion: A Practical Guide
It's a Zombie Invasion! What do I do?!
Have no fear. If the undead begin to rise and reak havok on civilization as you know it, this trusty guide will safely navigate your survival.
I watch a lot of zombie movies. It's my dad's fault. He used to sit down with me from the age of six to view any run of the mill slasher I wanted. I loved it. I saw all the Nightmare on Elm Streets (multiple times in fact – these were my favorites). I grew up on Jason, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, you name it. So, over time, I've come to consider myself somewhat of a horror amateur connoisseur.
In my experience, there are some practical actions we can take to avoid death should a zombie invasion occur that typically go unexamined on film. It's no accident – employing these rules will allow humans to win... and that's simply not as entertaining.
What is a zombie?
In order to successfully survive a zombie invasion, we have to be sure we've correctly identified what a zombie is. Not to be confused with vampires, zombies are an undead threat to us in daylight and nighttime. These reanimated corpses were previously living humans (or animal, see Resident Evil Zombie Dogs), that have died, and though dead, are now walking among and attacking the living.
Note that this definition excludes “zombies” in films like 28 Days/Weeks Later. Apologies to all the fans (I like the franchise, too), but although they contain a virus/cannibalistic component, they are not technically zombie films since the infected are not undead and are subject to starvation, death and other natural elements as normal individuals are. My survival “rules” only work given the standard characteristics of true zombies.
Survival in 3 Steps
Surviving a zombie invasion requires careful mastering of three items in order of priority: 1) Environment, 2) Body armor, and 3) Weaponry.
You cannot run forever, and zombies never sleep. They are forever walking around in hopes of stumbling across a member of the living to devour. So, it is vitally important to quickly identify a secure location to live and sleep.
Go upstairs and destroy the stairwell. Zombies cannot climb or swim. Apparently, this requires higher brain function than zombies have. Luckily, we can do both. So unless you can quickly identify a castle with a mote, I'd pick a second plus story apartment. Then, either destroy the stairwell, or you have to permanently block the door. From here on out, you will be scaling the building to climb in or out of your residence of choice. No zombie will be able to follow you.
Apartments are more desirable to houses, because they usually have crawl spaces that connect to other apartments. So, not only do you have to jump up to get in them, but they can give you a quick way out that the undead cannot follow if you need it.
Climb your way to safety.
I have yet to see this discussed in a zombie film, and to me the is the most surprising omission. One constant across all films: it will be very bad for you if you are bitten by a zombie.
The details tend to vary, but you are infected with zombie blood and one of two things will happen: 1) your wound will get infected because zombies have very poor hygiene and you will eventually die (and become a zombie), or 2) the zombie blood is lethal and so you will quickly die and, well... become a zombie.
You will eventually have to venture outside for supplies/human companionship/sheer boredom, and any exposed flesh will be ripe for a surprise zombie attack. For this, you will need to find the nearest military base or abandoned soldier's home and steal an army combat uniform plus boots.
Lucky for you, zombies really only have one weapon – their teeth. They will never pick up a gun, rock or other weapon. In fact, in most films, zombies are not intelligent enough to operate door turn handles. They are deadly when they surprise you, and when they swarm you in large numbers. The ACU protects you from both. It's not penetrable by human teeth (but you must protect your neck and face!), and is light enough to allow you to get up and run to avoid a potential attacking clan.
If you can't find an ACU, use what you have. Wear jeans, even bubblewrap is better than nothing! Why some individuals venture outside in a zombie situation in shorts and a tank top is beyond me. Sounds like a candidate for Darwin Awards.
Cover up exposed flesh.
Eventually, you will need to kill a zombie. Zombies can only “die” through blunt trauma to the head or decapitation. You cannot break their necks, burn them alive, or otherwise injure them. Zombies do not feel pain.
Guns are great, but you will eventually run out of bullets. Murphy's law instructs you this will happen at precisely the wrong moment. The key lies in being prepared with a variety of weapons.
Guns will help you for paving a way through a mob. You only need to shoot a clear path – then run for cover. Fresh meat and zombie mobs tend to attract more zombies.
Baseball bats are a fantastic choice. They are quick and pretty clean, minimal risk of zombie infection.
Knives and stabbing weapons are usually a mistake. They allow the undead too close, within biting range. But if you must, I would recommend attaching the stabbing weapon to a plastic broom or some other durable stick. The key here is to keep the zombie face as far away from the body as possible.
Remember that face offs with zombies always end up bad for the human. If all the above fails and your zombie has come within arms reach, don't panic. You simply have to maneuver yourself behind the zombie. Then, grab your foe by the back of the neck (you know, like the snake handlers on Animal Planet). Now you have control of your zombie and are free to bash his(/her?) head against the nearest wall or suitable solid object of choice.
With any luck, you are entangled with the pre-2001 flavor of zombie, which are extremely slow. In this case, out-maneuvering your opponent should be a snap.
And remember – aim for the head. :)
I hope you have enjoyed this little survival manual. I'm open to critique and further thoughts. Leave them below.