When I was 10 I started watching ‘The Twilight Zone’, the second show scared me out of my wits and gave me nightmares. I didn’t watch any SF/F or Horror for several years, until I was 13 and my BFF started teasing me about it. My Mom came up with an idea that worked great. She said “Jim, you love science and are very logical. Most of these movies are really very silly so why don’t you just work out how they are all wrong. Where the holes are, why the science is bad, and why they are illogical?” I gave it a try, an you know? It worked. Ever since then, when I watch SF&F and some Horror I can take them totally apart before the closing credits are over.
So, you ask, What does this have to do with the Zombie Apocalypes? Everything. Everyone of the Zombie Apocalypses (aka ZA) are scientific junk and often tottaly illogical. An this irritates me no end. But before I get started with my deconstructing of ZAs I’d like to make a couple of caviots. First I’m only talking about Zombies created my non-mystical means. Second I’m not dealing with ZAs that are comedies, spoofs or satires (like “Zombieland”). Finally, I’m not dealing with any ZAs that leave why the dead are rising tottaly a mystery (like the classic “Night of the Living Dead”). That said, let’s get started.
The first thing that has hit me, when dealing with Zombie outbreaks that don’t occur in a sealed environment, like the “Hive” Resident Evil, is where are all of the carrion eaters. Let’s start at the smallest and work up. I have never seen any flies or maggots much less carrion beatles and other lesser know insects that eat carrion. Next are the missing birds like buzzards, crows, and ravens. It’s not that they are missing, they aren’t. In the pilot for ‘The Walking Dead’. They make a point of showing the lead seeing crows eat a corpse. But not one crow is seen going after a single Zombie. Not One! Finally, where are all the dogs? In ZAs that are for many weeks/months/years there should be lots of starving dogs that have gone or are going feral, where are they? Even if they don’t go after the Zombies, they should be a threat to people. (Note: the novel “World War Z” does have a nice expiration for what happened to the dogs, the Zombies are poisonous to cannies.)
The next issue is related to the lack of carrion eaters, that is the lack of decomposition of the Zombies. We are told, as a fact, that the Zombies are reanimated dead. We are told that they don’t bleed, or breathe, and they smell like the dead. So my first question is where is the obvious decomposition? When a person dies the mechanism that keeps all of our intestinal flora and fona where they belong stops. Within hours these little nasties start digesting us. All of the bactiera in our mouth also starts attacking the soft tissue. Let’s not get started on all of the bactiera in the blood stream and other tissue. The point is that all of the soft tissue starts being broken down with in a few days. This all has to stop if the ZA is to happen, and that’s means the smell of the decaying body should not be there. Zombies don’t sweat, so no BO. The only smell should be from dried urea and shit. Anyone who has been around decomposing carcass will tell you it smells nothing like urea and shit.
Almost done here, I’m on my last few points. Given that the Zombies heart is not beating and the blood is not flowing. How does the oxygen and food get to the mussels and the fatigue poisons get removed? Or to the nerves for that mater. If the destruction of the brain is what stops, kills, a Zombie, the the nerve tissue Must be doing something. Some kind of chemical reaction is taking place, why aren’t the scientists looking into this? One final note on the scientific/medical issues.
The ‘bug’ that infects and kills people and then turns them into Zombies is always shown to be only transmitted by bites, scratches, or ingestion of zombie tissue with near total 100% fatality rate. This makes it a highly infectious. It doesn’t seem to be transmitted by contaminated water nor does in seem to be air born in any story I’ve seen. That means it not very contagious. In many ways it is just like rabies, in “World War Z” is is called “African Rabies” until it gets it’s own name. Like the Zombie bug, rabies is most often transmitted by being bitten by a ‘rabied’ animal. So, why do we not see any effort to use the same methods for controlling rabies, developed be for the vaccine, even tried?
Another interesting question is what do they do with all the ‘dead’ Zombies? Aren’t they still infectious? If by some mischance you get scratched or get some on your hands and then wipe you mouth aren’t you at risk of ‘turning’. It would seem that when you destroy the brain the Zombie bug ceases to be infectious. If you get some Zombie on you, how do you disinfect yourself? In most of the stories you just wipe yourself off and maybe wash in some water. Strange?
My last point is that the civil and military athoraties in most ZA stories are little more than idiots. Not once, in any of them, did I ever see them using fire. Not once. I’ve seen HE bombing runs, but not one run with napalm. No white phosphorous. No flame throwers. No mallatov cocktails. And little or no eveidace of any serous fires, even though I have seen lots and lots of cars exploding and burning. Also, in World War Z I did see some buildings burning in the background. Just who kept the fires from spreading? Just what would happen if we just raise the temperature of a zombie to 200 degrees F for 20 minutes an let us not over look cremating the whole Zombie, that should work too. In fact as a scientist I’d want to find out how long a Zombie stays active while being boiled and/or cremated. I can even think of how to set up the tests with little risk to the technicians involved.
Note, you do see a ‘tactical’ nuclear devise used in Resident Evil II but we don’t know how effective it is until the sequel came out.
That’s all for now. I’d really love to hear your comments and observations on my deconstruction of Zombie Apocalypses, both pro and con. I’d really enjoy any recommendations for reading/watching to answer any of my problems.