I’ve been meaning to write a quite rebuttal to this piece by David Dietle on cracked.com I found a few weeks ago. The article is entitled 7 Scientifc Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail Quickly and it attempts to look more realistically at the idea of a zombie outbreak. Now I know the idea of using scientific ideas to debunk a purely fantastical doomsday scenario is a bit silly and me taking the time to write a counter piece is even more silly but I thought it would get me in the mood for the upcoming Walking Dead TV adaptation (very very excited).
7. They have too many natural predators.
I’m not sure where Dietle thinks the majority of the human race live but there aren’t that many large natural predators around here. You could probably walk the length of the UK without being hassled by a dangerous animal that could and would seriously harm you. Even in the US most of the population live in towns where wild animals are scarce.
6. They can’t take the heat.
Again, when looking at the UK (and even parts of the US) we rarely get extended periods of hot weather. Even then Dietle suggests it would take a few weeks before zombies became too decomposed to pose a threat and whilst decomposition will be high on your average zombie’s worry list, s/he doesn’t need that long to infect others. In fact when we look at the vast array of zombie films we see that zombies are most dangerous just after they turn. Families are still in grief and are not ready to kill their recently risen relation or, if we are thinking about the early stages of the outbreak, the survivor will be unaware of the zombie’s dangerous habits.
Dietle describes the rather gruesome scenario whereby the gases trapped inside the walking dead build up in hot weather and eventually burst the zombie like a ‘rancid meat balloon’. Is it just me or does this sound like a fairly effective way to infect a large area with zombie blood? In fact, that sounds a little similar to the Boomers in Left 4 Dead 2. And lets not forget that even with a gaping wound in their abdomen a zombie will happily drag itself towards you for a bit of ankle biting.
5. They can’t handle the cold.
This I can’t argue with. Max Brooks describes in World War Z how survivors venture north as the zombies are frozen in artic climates. But again, this hardly accounts for most of the world’s population and even the cold areas thaw out in summer.
4. Biting is a terrible way to spread a disease.
Yes, the victim has to be in biting distance of the zombie but is that really hard to imagine? Shaun of the Dead shows us how zombies can easily be mistaken for the hopeless insane in the early stages. A person could be biten on the way home and turn later that night in the bosom of the family.
Even in the later stages we see in films such as Land of the Dead that armed soldiers can be taken unaware when looting shops. A zombie hiding in a dark stock cupboard could get a lucky shot.
3. They can’t heal from day to day damage.
Dietle highlights that zombies cannot heal from injuries sustained from day to day ‘life’. He argues that after a relatively short period of time (the length of all series of 24) all zombies will be rendered harmless due to falling from cliffs, bridges or buildings and breaking bones and teeth.
Whilst zombies do have a habit of receiving the odd gash or head wound they are incredibly hardy. Dr. Logan in Day of the Dead completely removes a zombie’s internal organs and it still wants to attack. As mentioned earlier a zombie is happy to pull itself across the floor with one arm and no legs to get a sneaky ankle bite. How many times have you been killed by that one zombie torso you missed in Resident Evil?
2. The landscape is full of zombie proof features.
Again, I think this is referring more to America but even then I doubt most towns are filled with cliffs, mountains and bridges. Densely populated cities aren’t filled with that many hazards except cars (and even then roads would clog up quickly) so zombies wouldn’t be falling off too many objects.
Cities also offer the zombie perpetual light so it won’t be walking into too many rivers (even if it did it could walk to the other side or resurface elsewhere). Even after the power supply is cut off pockets of survivors will undoubtedly use candles of portable generators to create light and this will provide a beacon for the horde.
Dietle argues we could all hide in high-rise buildings but there aren’t that many office blocks that are stocked out with food and medical supplies for a few months or years. Even if you don’t accidentally let in a carrier that has not yet turned, you’ll eventually have to venture out for food.
1. Weapons and the people who use them.
There’s no doubt that America is filled with guns. They would have a nice advantage over us in this department but it doesn’t help in the initial outbreak where people would have to be prepared to re-kill loved ones and even children.
Even later in the conflict zombies aren’t easy targets. Head-shots are much harder to get than than chest hits. Especially when we’re thinking about hundreds or thousands of zombies coming towards you at once.Even after a bombing raid there may be somebeaten up but still dangerous zombie fragments around.
Battle of Yonkers by John Peterson
In World War Z we see the army fail miserably at the Battle of Yonkers due to being unprepared and outnumbered. Your average military tactics aren’t always effective against such a alien enemy.