Popular culture is currently being engulfed by its own zombie herd. We’ve come a long way since the days of top shelf video nasties and George A. Romero using the undead as social commentary disguised as genre movie.
Like a swamped, pre-disembowelled Dylan Moran in Shaun of the Dead, surrounded by the undead, everywhere you look there’s a different take on the zombie movie; fast, slow, “they’re not zombies, they’re infected”, so with the release of Matthew Fox vehicle, Extinction on DVD (who has tackled them before, albeit briefly thanks to World War Z’s production issues), it’s time to put all we’ve learned to hypothetical use.
You can win a copy of Extinction, out on DVD today, right here.
Using the popular narrative device of awakening from a long spell in hospital to find the world overrun by blood hungry spectres, a la Andrew Lincoln or Cillian Murphy, my own personal equivalent being a trip to the local A&E in response to a hypochondriac fear of the latest tabloid newspaper disease-of-the-week, the question posed is “What would you do?”
You don’t have time to read Max Brooks The Zombie Survival Guide, as any remaining copies have been looted from Waterstones, untouched paperbacks of Fifty Shades of Grey aren’t going to do you any good, plus all you remember from Zombieland’s hyperactive rule making is something about Twinkies. You’ll have to delve into your own internal imdb in order to survive.
1. The Great Mall Debate
So much of the advice on offer should the Zombie Apocalypse ever happen is frustratingly contradictory. Who in their right mind would want to head straight to a place already filled with shuffling people, nary a thought between them as they flit in-and-out of entrances to boutique shops in response to the bright lights and advertising? Oh, that was your point George!
In fact, the original Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake act as a great for and against when it comes to bedding in at your local Westfields. Romero’s film featured a much smaller group of survivors, eventually whittled down to Peter, Francine, and Stephen, who could have existed quite comfortably before effing it up with that helicopter flying lesson. The Dawn remake featured a larger, disparate group of people, which brings with it personality clashes, leadership quarrels, and that zombie catnip; noise. They were doomed from the off.
Sure, the environment brings the potential for stock-piling goods, but realistically, won’t the looters have already ransacked most of what’s useful? Admittedly, there is the added security of shutters and multiple floors, but this will undoubtedly attract other groups of survivors towards your stronghold.
By heading to the mall you’ve inviting too many variables into a situation you need to control, which is why you’re better off adhering to tip number 2…….
2. Avoid Other People
Will Smith got it right in I Am Legend, and although they weren’t technically zombies, more virally mutated humans in the same mould as 28 Days Later, his forced isolation gave him the best chance of survival. It’s only when the woman and child turned up that he got that vestige of hope, which ultimately led to his well-intentioned downfall.
Adding weight to this point is the plight of Ben, and what he had to put up with in the granddaddy of zombie flicks, Night of the Living Dead (1968), in which he helped everyone in that Pennsylvanian farmhouse, despite sabotage, infection, and madness, only to be shot in the head. Look out for number one, everyone else is.
3. Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Perhaps the greatest dilemma you’ll face is whether to bunker down in your home, like The Fresh Prince or Morgan from The Walking Dead, or keep moving. Brad Pitt’s World War Z hero, Gerry Lane, believes that “movement is life”, and it’s hard to argue with that when you look at the track record of stay-at-home survivors.
In fact, the family he bestows this crucial piece of advice upon are seemingly consumed by the zombie mass winding their way up the stairwell when they decide to stay. It’s also noticeable that everytime our band of dishevelled survivors set-up-home in The Walking Dead, they’re more susceptible to becoming zombie-chow than when they’re trudging along a road, or driving in one of the many fully-functioning cars they happen upon in an apocalyptic wasteland.
4. Emotional Detachment
The best way to avoid becoming a member of the undead is to act like one, whether that’s by mimicking their actions in the way that Shaun and Co did to get into the Winchester, or by switching off your emotions in order to make rational decisions.
How often have we seen a situation descend into intestine tugging simply because a character has been blinded by their feelings for the person turning into a dead-eyed Thriller extra?
Don’t be swayed by the gothic romanticism of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Nicholas Hoult’s emo stylings in Warm Bodies, or the underrated Life After Beth, you need to put them out of their misery. Setting them free can also backfire, as the movieverse has proved that zombies have residual memory, with Stephen’s recollection of the false wall in Dawn of the Dead (1978) being the most catastrophic example.
5. Get Outta Dodge
In other words, as much as it’d be great to get a seat on the tube, or not have to queue for a soy skinny latte on a Monday morning, you need to get as far away from the smoke as possible. Look at those narratives that end on a note of optimism. 28 Days Later finishes in a remote Scottish locale, and recent Schwarzenegger flick Maggie took place in a sun-kissed mid-America locale. There are the obvious benefits that come from a smaller population, plus you can forage and grow your own food for the long haul.
What will make the inevitable zombie plague that much more difficult is the fact that each one of you reading this will have your own preferences and cinematic influences that will dictate how you behave when Bub comes knocking on your front door, and having outlined my five main points for you to consider, chances are I’ll probably end up playing Playstation in the shed with my best mate.