After taking part in Zombie Earth: Apocalypse, a real-life zombie event, it made me wonder if watching related films, TV and playing games taught me any tips.

Do films that portray end of the world scenarios subconsciously teach us how to respond in such situations? Or are we simply doomed when our inevitable demise descends?

I’ve always believed that watching and playing a lot of zombie related things would gear me up for the apocalypse, but really it depends completely on the type of zombies involved and their origins. With my knowledge on the subject, I managed to survive Zombie Earth and make it to the end without being infected. All my flesh eating know-how comes from the minds and creativity of others. I’m going to tell you what to watch to give you the best survival chance possible.

Think fast

Originally, zombies were portrayed as re-animated corpses; so the dead rose from the ground and started living again. The only problem was that they liked to eat humans. Since they’re dead, it seems only natural for them to be slow paced beings, because something that is rotting wouldn’t be quick.

Infamous zombie film director, George A. Romero, made the classic and influential ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978), which showed the stereotypical zombie. The more recent ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (2004) also shows the same slug like creatures, which have some brilliant tricks.

The House of the Dead (1997) was a popular arcade game where you fought against various species of the dead. While these zombies were mainly slow, they could move surprisingly fast as well. Whilst playing the game, it was easy to pick up that you had to be alert to keep shaking them off.

Blunt tools and zombie ladders

We can learn from this that slow speed zombies are probably the best-case scenario, if there is one. Due to their docile (until they’re biting a chunk out of your arm) state, it’s easy to hide and even blend in with the crowd. Walking corpses wouldn’t know the difference between a pack of bacon and human flesh.

‘Night of the Living Dead’ warns us that as a hoard, slow zombies are strong; they can overturn cars in a mass. But ‘Shaun of the Dead’ explains that the advantage of them being slow means you have time to search the house for the best blunt tool. The technicalities of the re-animated dead means that stakes would be high for surviving.

As we progress through the ideas of zombies, we start to see them develop into something else. In the Brad Pitt film, ‘World War Z’ (2007) although the monsters are dead, they become rapid and rabid. The film doesn’t fully explain how the virus makes a dead victim sprite again, which is slightly disappointing. But defending against fast hungry bodies isn’t as easy as before. In order to survive, you need to be quick, agile and able to keep your cool. Also avoid walls, as they know how to make a moving zombie ladder.

But we all know -including Romero who detests fast-moving zombies because he says they should be slow and weak- the dead would be lethargic. This brings us onto whether or not the zombie would really be dead or merely be a virus of some sort.

It’s ‘alive’

Two accredited virus-zombie movies are ’28 Days Later’ (2002) and ‘Resident Evil’ (2002), which both show the zombies as infected, rather than as corpses. These modern adaptations of zombies give us a more realistic feel on how it would be if the apocalypse were to happen. You wouldn’t be fighting against the dead; you’d be fighting against the living.

Not only would it be human, but ‘Resident Evil’ pictures the fleshless nightmare zombie dogs; scarier than any human zombie. Both films show symptoms of extreme rage, a cause of the virus itself. This rage then forces its host to bite and eat other living beings in order to reproduce. The clever take on the behaviour of zombies indicates that it would be a whole different ball game. You couldn’t sneak about and run away; you would have to fight. Balls and ruthlessness would be needed for this.

‘The Walking Dead’ is currently the biggest horror television show on, and it’s drawing much attention to the zombie genre. Watching it will give you many insightful tips, such as: be quiet, use knives, don’t trust anyone and move with caution. Everyone is infected in TWD, but not until you die, do you actually turn. If you are bitten or scratched, it only speeds up the transformation process. There seems to be an overwhelming sense that infections and viruses would be the main cause of any major epidemic.

Root cause

Now we’ve come to the root cause, which should give us our information on how to battle the end. Both ‘Carriers’ (2009) and ‘Contagion’ (2011) aren’t classed as zombie films, but they focus on our virus concept. The infection spreads rapidly throughout both films, and frighteningly easily. One cough, one sneeze, a single passing of germs and you’re infected.

We know the spread of disease is possible; therefore we need to be aware when symptoms break out. In an apocalypse, as soon as you hear of a “deadly” something, you stock up, board up windows and doors and wait it out. After that, you see who’s left and take your chances in the outside world.

But for as long as you can, avoid human contact at all costs. Not only will this protect you from infection, but it can also save you from scenarios where all of society’s rules go out the window and humanity takes a turn for the worst. You have to be smart in a zombie apocalypse.

Survivor stage

Once you find the root cause; which if we’re thinking realistically, would be a rage-inducing virus, then you need to start with prevention. After you’ve prevented the infection, you’re a survivor, and you need to be ready to find out what type of zombies you’re up against.

These films, television programmes and games could really help if the zombie apocalypse ever happens. Watching fiction may seem pointless, but if you look closely, there’s something to learn from it all. Next time you’re the last one standing, facing a hoard of ugly brain munching bodies, think back to what you’ve been shown; it might just save your life.

*Images courtesy of George A. Romero/Gomesia-Studio/Jason Garber

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