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…on why a virus that takes over the entire world is unlikely. It caught my fancy on MSN, so I thought I’d share it:
This reminds me of 28 Weeks Later, when the mother and the son had natural immunity to the Rage virus that allowed them to be carriers of it but not susceptible to it. Of course, there are a lot of differences between a virus like that described in the video and one that turns people into flesh-craving monsters. If there really was a zombie pandemic, people would flock to those isolated places and those who have immunity can still be torn apart (they just won’t be able to turn into zombies and fuck things up afterwards).
We all like to hope, for us zombie lovers, that an apocalypse could be possible. Some even surmise that a zombie apocalypse is what will happen in the infamous year of 2012. The function of a zombie is simple biology. Once the body ceases to function the virus takes hold of the brain and uses it to reanimate the corpse. Makes perfect sense, right? Wrong. And here’s why.
The simple fact of life is that all cells in your body need water and oxygen in order to continue functioning. This is very pertinent to muscle function. Two reasons why your muscles need oxygen are: getting blood to the muscles and extracting oxygen from the blood into the muscle tissue (your working muscles can take oxygen out of the blood three times as well as your resting muscles). If your body is no longer taking in oxygen, then the oxygen-rich blood cannot reach your muscles, thus making any retraction impossible. In living organisms, the body uses several ways to make sure muscles get enough blood: diversion of blood flow from nonessential organs to the working muscle (such as your stomach), increased flow of blood from the heart, increased rate of breathing, and increased unloading of oxygen from hemoglobin in working muscles. All of these ways for your muscles to function are impossible if your body has stopped pumping blood or obtaining oxygen. The lack of oxygen also rids the body of making ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which your body needs to function. All this makes any mobile zombie completely impossible.
Some would probably retort with “well, that’s why zombies tend to limp and walk slowly.” Many also contribute the zombie’s restricted movement to rigormortis. Rigormortis is basically what I just described in the paragraph above. Without your muscles getting any oxygen the body becomes rigid and immovable. Now, here’s a possibility. A zombie could function if the virus reanimates the corpse in the three hours after death before rigormortis starts to take hold. From there, the next mark is twelve hours, at which this time the body is completely stiff and immobile. Nice little fact: heat can speed up the rigormortis process.
Now, another possibility is if the so called “zombie” virus is more like the rage virus found in 28 Days Later. Or, in Zombieland, where a disease causes the brain to swell and causes a huge craving in flesh. The only kind of zombie that could actually exist is the kind where the body does not have to be dead in order for the virus to take hold.
As the popularity of the zombie grew the zombie virus steadily began to branch off. Where it once thought the zombie virus was transferred through a bite, it is now believed to be transferred through airborne pathogens, vaccines, spells, and a freak experiment gone rampant. Each virus has it’s own little ‘oomph’ and its varying degree of severity. Here are some great examples:
Zombies are creations of the Umbrella corporation by the T-Virus and different variations of it. Like original zombie films, these are relatively slow but can affect other species (like dogs).
The T-virus has the ability to change from liquid to vapor. It was first released into the air vents in the Hive, infecting all of the employees. In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the vapor was released into Raccoon City and transferred into the soil of the cemetery when it rained, thus bringing the corpses to life.
Once bitten, a person has several hours to live before the bite kills and reanimates them. Fortunately, in the world of Resident Evil, there does exist a cure, if administered in a timely manner. However, the existence of both the virus and the cure leads to many experiments that result in uncontrollable mutations.
In Resident Evil 5 (video game), the virus is slightly different in that the main antagonists (Majini) are actually subjected to a type of mind control parasite, which is forced into their mouths. They are controlled by a head Majini and they undergo slight mutation where their mouths are able to split apart or their heads burst into giant, mutated whatever the hell they are.
I Am Legend
In I Am Legend (the movie, in the book everyone is turned into vampires) a vaccine made to prevent and cure cancer turns all those who were exposed into flesh-craving monsters. The symptoms of this particular virus include sensitivity to sunlight and loud noises. The zombies also experience constant rage, which makes them extremely combative and infinitely more dangerous.
The vaccine kills 5.4 billion humans (which is 90% of the human population). What is interesting about this story is that it proposes that out of 600 million survivors, only twelve are naturally immune to the disease. This reminds me of the Bubonic Plague, which wiped out 30-60% of Europe’s population, yet there were those who were immune. Scientist Robert Neville, an immune human, is a virologist who spends his time trying to find a cure for this horrible engineered disease. In the end the key to curing the zombie virus is within Neville’s blood.
The book was revolutionary, due to the fact that it was written in 1954. It popularized the idea that the zombie apocalypse can be brought about due to human meddling (also known as vaccines).
The Walking Dead
Imagine knowing that you harbor the zombie virus; that no matter how, when, where, or why you die you will reanimate into a mindless automaton. This is what the characters within the Walking Dead must deal with every day. It is common knowledge that Zombies spread the virus through biting a living organism. Well, within this comic, that isn’t the case. The zombie virus within this comic is spread by airborne pathogens. What’s also fascinating is that the zombie virus doesn’t take over until the host dies BUT the virus itself does not kill the host. If bitten, the host will likely die from sepsis. Sepsis is an extreme immune system response to an infection that has spread throughout the blood and tissues. Severe sepsis often results in extremely low blood pressure. This low blood pressure limits blood flow to the rest of the body which will ultimately leave to organ failure and then death. Then what’s the next step? You be your sweet ass, reanimation! This comic book was the first I ever heard of the zombie virus being airborne, which makes this variation of the zombie infection truly unique.
Ever wonder where the word ‘zombie’ originates from? Believe it or not, the zombie originated from Haitian culture. The word voodoo derives from the word ‘vodu’ in the Fon language of Dahomey meaning “god” or “spirit.” The word also describes the complex religious beliefs of the Haitian people (if you don’t know where Haiti is, it’s an island of the West Indies). Slaves captured from Dahomey often practiced voodoo, which was integrated with underlying Roman Catholic beliefs from European settlers. Today, sixty-million people practice Voodoo worldwide. Unfortunately, voodoo has been reduced to “witchcraft” thanks to modern literature and movies. Now that some background history has been established, the time to discuss voodoo zombies is nigh. The Creole word “zombi” is apparently derived from Nzamb, which is a West African deity. Yet, the word only became well-known after the publishing of William B. Seabrook’s The Magic Island. Within the book, Seabrook discusses he experiences in Voodoo culture and ‘the walking dead.’ Within the book, Seabrook is quoted saying “the eyes were the worst. It was not my imagination. They were in truth like the eyes of a dead man, not blind, but staring, unfocused, unseeing.”
The difference between the modern zombie and the voodoo zombie is simple. While one is believed to be more virus-based, the voodoo zombie is zombified by sorcery (spell or potion). The only similarity that they have is the reanimation of their corpse and the fact that they are mindless, brain-dead automatons. Unlike modern zombies, voodoo zombies do not attack and feed on flesh. Voodoo zombies cannot recognize friends or family, cannot remember past events, and are irrevocably doomed to wander aimlessly.
Juju (an object of any kind superstitiously venerated by West African native tribes, and used as a charm, amulet, or means of protection) zombies have been known to sometimes regain mental function. This has only been documented when a zombie encounters a situation laden with emotional connotations, such as their favorite possession or a lover. When speaking of voodoo, one must imagine it happening long ago. Recordings of voodoo zombies still occur, quite frequently, in Haiti.
There’s going to be a lot of theories about zombies floating around after they’ve fucked up society. Where did they come from, is there any chance for a cure, why do they attack people? Here are my own zombie theories, so feel free to comment and discuss.
Biological warfare, mutated animal diseases, and a lack of vacancies in Hell are all at the forefront of any zombie theory. Whether you think the walking dead have come from a scientific or a religious origin doesn’t really matter, practicality-wise. They’re here for your brains and that’s all that you should be worried about.
A biological cause is just obscure enough to give an explanation without having to provide much evidence. It’s easy to believe the government is involved with some top-secret, you-really-shouldn’t-mess-with-this-shit science and it accidentally got released into the public. You don’t really need details because, well, you’re not a damn scientist. And if you are, well, good for you. Maybe you can come up with a chemical agent that targets the living dead.
When it comes to animal-related diseases crossing over to infect humans, this is the first thing that comes to mind:
Or, in the case of 28 Days Later, it gets released by retarded animal rights’ activists who decide to ignore the scientist’s warning and let Coco out in the hopes that it can be put up for adoption by a loving family. Fuck you, activists, you just started the apocalypse. Good job.
But really, I can’t imagine a bunch of undead monkeys running around. All I see is real-life Pet Sematary shit going down and that’d be weird (because walking corpses who crave living flesh aren’t weird at all). Maybe cross-species contamination would cause some twisted mutation, like the dogs in Resident Evil, but I can’t see it having the same effects on animals as it does on humans. Otherwise, we’d be fucked if it spread through the local zoo. Think about it: zombie lion. Fuck that.
Btw, there really IS an adorable little zombie lion stuffed animal.
As for a religious cause of zombies, while it makes for a badass quote (“When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth” will forever grace our T-shirts and hoodies), I’m going to go out on a limb here and say….no. Like a science-y origin, it could work because it’s vague and everything is explained nice and cleanly without any real evidence. Unlike a biological cause, you can’t prove it and with science, if you’re able to, you can actually figure out how a lab-made virus works. Sorry, but “Jesus was mad about our sins so he decided to bring all the dead back to life to fuck shit up, har har” isn’t going to work. For one, religion does not apply to everyone; it simply is not a given, nor a tangible explanation. To everyone who is now offended….well, if you’re that easily offended, you probably wouldn’t even be on this site, considering how delightful my word choice is. Golly gee whiz.
If a cure were ever successfully developed, it would only be able to target those who are infected but not yet completely turned. There is not a damn thing you can do once they are a ravenous corpse except put a bullet between their eyes. You simply cannot cure death, because that is, essentially, all that they are. Don’t keep your infected loved ones nearby in the hopes that you will be able to bring them back one day. Chances are, you’ll just ending up having your face eaten by one of them and you won’t be able to draw enough breath to laugh about the irony of it all.
What drives a zombie to hunger after living flesh? Do they need it to survive or is it simply the disease’s way of spreading to every living organism and virtually becoming the most dominant form of life? Is there any significance to the brain or is it simply Hollywood’s way of making the zombie seem even more diabolical? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? To all of these questions, we may never know the answer but we’ll talk about them all anyway because, hell, zombies and sweets are always fun.
Seeing as there are many possibilities of the types of zombies that would arise, there isn’t just one answer to the most basic question about zombie behavior: why do they seem to need living flesh?
Scenario 1: Perhaps zombies simply require fresh meat in order to stay alive. The virus that has taken control of the corpse may need the specific nutrients of warm flesh and blood in order to sustain itself. Or maybe it just doesn’t like to eat its veggies. Either way, eating humans is the zombie’s way to survive like any other organism. Without this source of food, the zombie can starve to death or its body will simply be unable to function and it will succumb to deterioration and eventually die.
Scenario 2: Unfortunately for mankind, these zombies are animated only by the virus that makes them feast upon living human beings without having a real need for it. They will continue roaming the earth until they wear themselves right down to nothing but bones and tendons, which could be a very long time. An example of these would be those of Resident Evil, which can live for decades, decaying into dried husks of corpses but still capable of walking and, of course, eating. But why eat living flesh if it’s unnecessary for their survival? Perhaps it is the virus’ way of simply wiping out its biggest threat in an undead world: living human beings.
Hopefully the zombies will be those of Scenario 1, during which we can simply hold out in our fortresses and wait for the bastards to die of starvation. But if they’re not….you’d better have plans for long-term survival in a never-ending dying world.
I just realized I never discussed Tootsie Pops like I said I would. That simply won’t do.
Verdict: who gives a shit how many licks it takes, Tootsie Pops are bomb and last a pretty good amount of time. That’s all that matters.
…so that you don’t end up as a human Happy Meal.
Martial Arts and Self Defense
There will be times that you have to rely on defense techniques outside of weaponry. By ensuring that you can defend yourself no matter what the situation, your chances of survival increase exponentially. And you know you wish you were as badass as Mila Jovovich from Resident Evil, who can kick ass in a stylish dress and boots even without a gun or machete.
The best technique to avoid being bitten by a zombie is to avoid a zombie’s grip altogether. Being undead and all, the zombie won’t be able to feel any pain that most grip-breaking techniques rely on to work. If it’s decayed enough, you might be lucky enough to simply sever the hand or arm completely, though you will have to carefully pry it off you afterwards, which can prove difficult if you are surrounded by more than one zombie.
By far, your best advantage is your superior agility and analytical skills. If at all possible, you will most likely be able to simply dodge around the zombies and make your way to freedom. However, in the event that you are cornered in an enclosed space (or hell, maybe you’re just bored of conventional zombie-slaying methods and you’re looking for a challenge–whatever you like), there are a number of ways to fend a zombie off.
My personal technique for fending off a zombie relies mainly on flexibility. You must first ready yourself in a wide stance, feet shoulder-width apart so that you can shift your weight between each foot at a moment’s notice. The zombie’s arms need to be neutralized first as their grip will be very hard to break short of cutting them off. As they approach you, arms stretched out towards you, simply grab the zombie’s wrists (preferably from the top so that you can turn the hands away from you) and push the arms away from you in a lateral movement. At the same time, bring your foot up in a high kick delivered directly to the zombie’s face. This will snap their head back and disorient them. Or, if you’re lucky or if the zombie is decayed enough, this may remove the head from the neck entirely or crush the skull.
Of course, in order to properly perform this move, you need to have a good judgement of the zombie’s height and your own abilities to kick high enough to strike the face.
Other techniques similar to this instruct you to strike the zombie under the chin with the palm of your hand. Unless you’re wearing gloves, I’m a little wary of putting my exposed hand near a zombie’s mouth. I prefer to kick the shit out of them instead. Nonetheless, should you choose to use your palm instead, be sure to move quickly as you will not be able to hold both of the zombie’s arms away from you (unless it’s a one-armed zombie). When you strike the zombie, bring your entire shoulder and weight into it for maximum efficiency.
The important thing to remember when dealing with the infected at close quarters is to stay away from their mouth and avoid getting grabbed or surrounded by zombies. In the event that you are surrounded (mind you, I’m talking about maybe 10 zombies, not like you’re in downtown New York, ass deep in thousands of ’em), choose the thinnest area of zombies or a smaller/weaker looking zombie to break through. Another important detail to dealing closely with the undead is thick, protective clothing, which will be discussed in a later post.
So start practicing your high kicks, bitches. We’ve got zombies to kill.
A delightful site, should you still be bored.