Zombies are a huge part of contemporary horror media, and sometimes they can be impossible to get away from. In many ways, they’re the perfect enemies, allowing us to entertain our own thoughts of how we’d survive while also being able to engage in hypothetical situations where we have to make tough decisions. The problems that zombies cause aren’t as easy to overcome as they might seem. So, put on your nerd glasses, get ready to explain to your friends why their plans won’t work, and let’s look at some of the mistakes survivors make in zombie media that would kill their chances.
Understanding Zombies in The Last of Us
Consider the range of different zombie creatures in The Last of Us, for instance. Some of these creatures share features with other popular zombies, but anyone operating by common understandings of the undead is still doomed. No matter the creature here, you’re dead if you’re bitten, though depending on the location of the bite, you might at least have time to say goodbye or traumatise your loved ones first.
In addition, only the first couple of stages of infection, called runners and stalkers, are semi-typical fast-zombie fare. The later stages of these creatures, called clickers, bloaters, and shamblers, lose their sight, which gives survivors an advantage to exploit. Then, the final stages can leak out infection, so you don’t even need to be bitten to be infected. There’s no point attempting a one-size-fits-all approach because you’ll end up dead. Then undead. As we saw in TLoU episode 5, when preparing for the simple ones and getting attacked by a bloater didn’t end up going especially well for anyone involved.
28 Days of Using the Wrong Weapons
If the infection can be spread by blood droplets, like in 28 Days Later, then any amount of melee combat is going to result in you getting infected unless you’re wearing a complete mask. When looking at the big picture, you need to understand armour and weapon types. A thick set of armour might slow you down, but given that humans can bite at 162 lbs per square inch, you’ll still need it for protection.
The Human Threat in The Walking Dead
If you stuck with The Walking Dead, you could attest to how often the humans are the bigger threats, at least for those who survive through the initial outbreak. The first few days and weeks of a breakout are going to see the most people running around infected, and it’s also going to see the human threat at its greatest. As stated by Alfred Henry in 1906 – “there are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” With no support, food supplies will run out quickly, and with that, starvation, dehydration, and the desperation they cause can be just as deadly. Sure, you can kill your kind old neighbour Stephanie if she’s a zombie, but can you attack her when she’s starving to death and holding you at gunpoint?
Don’t Forget Fuel in Zombieland, Too
Though it’s the most recent film we’ve seen that demonstrates a common misconception about driving after the undead take over, Zombieland: Double Tap is just one of many which overlook this next issue. In the short term, cars and transportation (suitably zombie-proofed) are going to be crucial, especially thanks to the early carnage survivors will face.
Longer-term, roads are going to be practically useless without maintenance and good maps. Not that this will matter because gas has a limited shelf-life unless preserved, so you’ll be going everywhere on foot. I hope you don’t mind spending every night camping in a tent and waiting to be jumped because that’s your life now unless you can learn how to sleep in a tree.
Combatting this problem means knowing that regular gasoline lasts about 3-6 months before it starts to degrade, and diesel begins its degradation process at around a year. Since Zombieland: Double Tap takes place six years after the outbreak, it’s beginning to push the lifespan drivers can expect. Fuel stabilisers can extend this process, but after much longer than a decade, most engines are going to have trouble keeping up. Factor in the poor maintenance expected in a zombie apocalypse, and investment in alternative travel methods is a must. Sure, this is something that almost never comes up in zombie media, but should corpses ever roam the earth, you’ll want to keep it in mind.
Having a plan for a zombie attack is a fun thing to consider, but like anything else in life, the fantasy is somewhat less enjoyable than the reality. Of course, odds are we’ll never have to face the walking unalive, but in case we do, you’ll need to consider the poor lessons that zombie media can teach. No, a baseball bat isn’t going to save you, and if a zombie ever ends up in any water supply, you’re toast. Have fun.