Back at a website that is no longer with us, this series was begat. It was a discussion panel about what you might do during an outbreak of zombies. All three basic types of zombies. It’s nearing Halloween, and so, why not bring back the dead? Get your shotgun or baseball bat, you’ll need it. Here’s part 1.
What is it about zombies that intrigues us? While the popularity of the horror genre slips in and out of the mainstream like that of all things, why is it that we continue to return to enjoying the idea of mindless humans (alive or dead) returning to prey on our living species? It’s a funny concept of an apocalypse, and perhaps a result of the fact that it is one that any one of us could survive… for at least a while. Here at the Morphine Nation, we like to challenge political correctness. And as always, we return in panel discussion form to rant, rave, and spew rhetoric on all things zombies.
There’s been many articles written, and various other media made concerning our topic. So many debates as to what constitutes an actual zombie. As a result, we’ve decided to attempt to tackle this issue in regards to three zombie types. These are:
1). The Romero Zombie:
These are traditionally depicted in “The Night of the Living Dead.” These are undead creatures who do not speak. They are slow and lumbering. Since they are dead, they suffer from rigamortis and they are rotting away slowly. These zombies can only be killed by destroying the brain. Yes, they eat flesh.
2). The Fast Zombie:
These are best depicted in 28 Days Later. These zombies are not undead, rather, are suffering from something like super-rabies. They are superhuman in speed and strength (limited to extreme adrenaline rushes capabilities). They are capable of speech and whatnot. Since they are not undead, they can be killed like normal people. Yes, they eat flesh.
3). The Voodoo Zombie
These are people under the influence of some kind of mind control. Whether via intoxication of drugs (traditional Voodoo myth) or something else. Generally they are depicted as slave labour for their master, but we’ll assume if we use this creature, their mission is to kill you. They are unlikely to be flesh eaters, are capable of speech, and can be killed like normal people. They are likely normal human speed, but are also likely apathetic.
Considering this is our debut zombie discussion, we’ve decided to focus our questions and answers on the outbreak of the virus/infection/etc. That’s right, it’s day one… that constant knocking at your front door is certainly NOT the UPS guy…
Without much further ado, let’s meet our dead heads… in reverse alphabetical order because the other way is far too predictable.
ZooMeister, Seph Belmont, Phocas, Laurie Strode, JCC, J, Gunsage, G, Biohazard, and, Anghellica.
Question 1: “What do you consider a plausible, if not realistic, explanation for the onset of a zombie apocalypse in regards to each of our zombie types?”
Seph Belmont: I often tend to disregard any premise of religion based intervention or black magic to be the cause of certain events, but given the inclusion of voodoo zombies, I am torn as how to go about this inquiry.
For the first two types, and zombies in general I tend to think it’s far more plausible for the apocalypse to be the onset of a virus or infection that spreads either through repeated contact or direct bite. I prefer infection because it means there are various no-no’s in dealing with the undead. For example, let us remember in Night of the Living Dead how they killed zombies by setting them on fire, well if the infection can transmit via airborne pathogens, then incinerating the bodies would increase the infection rate.
For the voodoo zombies I don’t see how else to proceed, it’d have to be some sort of voodoo follower or deity bringing the dead back to life and in a scenario like this, attempting to destroy humanity. Perhaps you could tie them all together, and our other zombie types could be created via voodoo as well, but not have the same abilities as our black magic counterparts. For example: The slow zombies could be the corpses that have been dead for a long time, and due to stiffness can not move as fast they normally could, the fast moving type could be recent deaths which would mean the grand majority of zombies out in the infection zone would be this type, and is required by how they operate (swarmers).
The voodoo zombies in turn could be the generals of said mysterious entity. There are lots of ideas, but as I said, I am torn as to what exactly to stick on.
Laurie Strode: I think in the instance of both the Romero Zombie and the Fast Zombie it will have to do with Humans tampering to much with science. Of course this is the way it is depicted in most movies/stories. We are always trying to find the next cure, or the next marvel that we never stop to think of our consequences.
Of course in the instance of the Voodoo Zombie I think it will be more deliberate. I think it will still have to do with people tampering, only this time it will be for the sole purpose of coming up with someone to do the bidding of someone else. Whether this is for evil or just for fun is unknown to me, but that is my theory.
JCC: Clearly, the only realistic type is the “fast, diseased” type. This could pretty easily happen, given that all over the world, various countries are looking into biological weapons, disease research, and all sorts of other shit in which super germs are grown and studied. Any sort of accident in one of these labs could release these super germs, resulting in the infection of anyone in the room at the time. Once fully infected, the unfortunate people would roam the building, infecting the rest of the people in it, until the infected finally exit the building entirely, and spread the disease among the general public.
Disbelief in Mumbo Jumbo aside, the traditional Romero zombies could conceivably get loose if lightning struck a grave, getting the corpse’s heart moving again. Once it started pumping, the corpse with its newfound imperviousness to pain would be able to claw its way out of its grave, with no regard for fatigue or the wearing away at its hands in the process. Then, in a “Night of the Living Dead”-like scenario, it would begin its attack on the living around the general area of the gravesite, and then slowly as more people become zombies, they would branch out, again wreaking havoc on the living.
The voodoo zombies is a little more simple, though even more contrived. Someone pisses off some practicioner of voodoo (let’s make it Papa Shango) in some profound way, and Shango vows revenge. Not content with the traditional type of curse, Papa Shango raises a bunch of corpses into a dead slave army, and sics them on his enemy. Through some bit of bad luck, Shango himself ends up getting killed, leaving the zombies roaming without master or purpose, and the result is that their attacks cease being limited to just the one enemy.
J: Well. The easiest and best source is pathological, probably manmade. Be it an engineered virus to prevent Alzheimers or Nanotechnology running amok, I’m pretty sure we’ll bring the Zombie Apocalypse on ourselves. I don’t think the causes would differ much between the 3 types. Outside of Obeh for the Voodoo Zombie.
Lately, my pet theory for zombies is LHC. Good times!
Gunsage: Rancid Taco Bell. There are so many different types of burritos and bullshit chalupas. If anything like that got contaminated with the T-virus, well shit, you might as well have raptor-human zombies
G: – The Fast Zombie: While I have problems and issues with the idea that an undead zombie can be fast, we are treating this type as not dead, rather infected with something similar to that of rabies, or the rage virus as depicted in 28 Days Later. Accordingly so, I could cite the plausibility of a virus outbreak that overwhelms the victims rational thoughts and normal functions to hyper accelerate bodily movements to their natural maximum limits. Human’s have often been capable of performing extraordinary feats when pushed to the limit, such as the case of a mother defending her children summoning strength not normally utilized. Accordingly, there are a number of diseases that affect cognitive activity allowing people to act outside of their normal morality. While I wouldn’t put it past humans creating such a sickness for military or terrorist use, I feel it is possible that a reaction of Mother Nature or that of natural selection. Mad Cow disease is one example of such a condition that could occur in other mammals, us not being exempt.
– The Voodoo Zombie: While hypnosis is generally believed to be the act of suggestion, it is also argued that people in such a state will not perform acts they normally would not do. So I am ruling that out, since we are assuming the Voodoo zombie is out to kill you.
However, the idea that a combination of drugs and/or nanotechnology might deliver a possible explanation of how a living human might be under control for a third power’s bidding. Whether or not military or corporate based, the value of having an army of workers. soldiers, etc., in itself would be a motivating factor for anyone with the means to enact this procedure. For what specific ends, could be many. Having a company where everyone shows up on time, does all their work efficiently and so forth would certainly appeal to a morally questionable business owner or share holders. An imperialistic minded military dictator would salavate if such a military could be amassed. Considering the attempts of social control by military using propaganda to control the citizenry’s minds, I completely buy into this as a possibility.
– The Romero Zombie: While my favorite zombie “type,” I also think it is the most far fetched. Reanimation of a corpse remains to be seen as a functional concept. Clearly if dead, the life span and mobility of the undead zombie will be limited to rigamortis and the rotting of the deamons’ flesh. Accordingly, the rotting process would eventually be the undoing of this type, since without muscles and tendons… bones can’t move. But what would be necessary to be functioning in the brain would be the hypothalamus, that part of the brain which controls eating and other essential survival instincts necessary to explain the Romero zombies hunger. What would actually cause this part of the brain to remain concious? I’d have to gamble on a virus or bacteria, or even more logical, a parasite. A parasite needs a host to survive, and there could be a connection to the parasite controlling a dead human’s hypothalamus in order to feed. Furthermore, if the parasite lays eggs (or some kind of reproductive element) that could be transfered via zombie bite to a human, the infection could certainly spread. Again, I would argue that this would be a case of Mother Nature, evolution, or I guess, alien life.
Biohazard: –1: Romero zombies
Well, these are essentially walking corpses we’re talking about. The only way to kill them is by decapitation and destruction of the head, which suggests that whatever caused them to become zombies resides in their brain. Most likely, this type of zombie is caused by a disease or virus that is most likely a mutation of rabies, or any other disease that affects the brain. The fact that it is spread through bodily fluids means that it most likely comes from an infection that travels through the blood and to the brain, where it multiplies and takes over.
Though these zombies appear dead, that does not mean they are. Very possibly, whatever controls them may also weaken their immune system, causing any flesh wound they have to become infected and contract gangrene (which, by the way, is very unpleasant to the eyes, otherwise I would have included pictures).
–2: The Fast Zombie
I don’t view these as zombies, or even undead. They seem more like animals. Again, most likely caused by a disease or virus. Unlike Romero Zombies, where the disease takes over the entire body, becoming a parasite essentially, the virus that infects the Fast Zombie seems more like it destroys certain parts of the brain, but also accelerates growth in other parts. As seen in almost all movies with Fast Zombies, they seem to posses superhuman speed and strength, as well as advanced sight, hearing, and smell. It seems to me that this could be caused by a constant production of adrenaline. Also seen in many Fast Zombie movies, this type of zombie has accelerated healing powers. This may be the virus at work to keep its host alive.
Perhaps their goal isn’t to eat flesh so much as it is to become the dominant species of our planet.
–3: Voodoo Zombie
Unlike the other two types, these are actually fairly common in South America. A Voodoo Zombie isn’t resurrected from the dead by means of magic, they’re regular people who’ve been exposed to a substance made of a certain plant. This substance is called Zombie Powder. It causes the person to go into a coma and slows their breathing and heart rate, so many people who’ve been exposed to Zombie Powder have been pronounced dead and buried in a shallow grave, only to rise again once the effects of the powder wears off. They often stumble back to their house, half braindead because of the harsh side effects of Zombie Powder. Zombie Powder is used by Houngans to create braindead slaves, mentally retarded servants who will do what they are told.
Anghellica: As far as the slow and fast paced zombies go I think it would have to do with some type of virus or nuclear apocalypse and depending how much exposure to the virus or radiation would determine if they were slow or fast moving. As far as the Voodoo Zombies go I think some random fucktard that doesn’t know anything about black magic/voodoo gets his hands on some type of spell that resurrects the dead.
Great answers so far, but holy crap did we get something huge from Phocas! As a result, it’s best to cap off question one with his diatribe. It’s a short story in itself…
Phocas: Romero’s Creature :
Near the Aral Sea, the former Soviet Union had a few stations of a rather dubious nature. During it’s height of usage back in the 50’s the Soviets started to funnel much of a once thriving lake port town’s water supply to irrigate vast tracts of formerly non arable land to produce cotton. What was once coastline property now sits an astounding 6 km from a fluctuating water level.
During better times Aralsk Kazakhstan was the envy of the Aral basin, work was plentiful as was the sturgeon being pulled out from the cold indigo depths. Now rusting hulls leaking toxic waste lay on their side like sun dried carrion bags in the Kalahari weeks after the frenzied feeding.
The Arals can be a cruel place when one is put against all hope: While life had been otherwise unspoiled for generations for many in Aralsk City, it wouldn’t be that way for long once the Red Army found the need to better secure the Soviet People’s vast and far flung Republiks.
The Father of the Peoples, Josef Stalin had plans for the brightest of the Youth Pioneers. Sergi Bryshkashvilli had grown a fast learner, strong of mind, easy of temperament, and adaptable: All traits that made the 6th born to a “Mother of Russia ” an excellent cadet in Stalin’s youth movement, it was the last of these qualities that made Sergi the perfect choice however.
He had grown up poor, like all the others, he had grown up on the shoulders of large men who had fierce pride in work, family, and customs. Unfortunately unlike the qualities that made Sergi the perfect candidate for quick promotions through the rankings, it was the last of the values that had been instilled into him at such a young age that would bring him to the position he would suffer for.
Sergi was moved from his heritage home in the Greater Caucasus Mountains in Georgia to Aralsk to serve the glorious peoples research into bacterial and genetic excellence. It was there that he would find himself responsible for the bureau’s Khazak field research team.
For months Sergi and a constantly revolving crew of 5 or 6 junior scientists would be working on advancements in crop sciences- pesticides, growth hormones, and the such to ensure the Soviets excellence in self dependence for generations.
The tests went well under the supervision of Sergi and the Central Command was pleased with the groups progress in pest management, especially in regards to larger pests like rodents and the stray mongrels wandering too far from the numerous collectives that dot the landscape. Larger scale projects would make their way across Sergi’s desk and the trust given to him made Sergi beam with honour.
Sergi felt that he had much to prove to his family and roots back in Georgia and would follow his commanders orders without question.
The projects were of the highest classified order, and would not be delayed by the usual bureaucratic red tape that had looped and snagged many other department’s machinery. These portfolios would be hand delivered to Sergi every few weeks, the projects were mostly retooling and strengthening previously finished assignments.
Sergi had no one to talk to in this region. The local families observed strict rules and ideas on meeting outsiders, not harsh or indifferent but wary of outsiders. Tribes still held sway despite Mother Russia’s forced immigration practices. Old clashes would often re-ignite after sampling of assorted illegal stills hidden in the cellars of transplanted Ukranians, Poles, Latvian’s etc.
He had preformed these tests and experiments for close to four years, and despite living close to ghettos of fellow Georgians, his position had not allowed for it.
Sergi was closely supervised at all hours anyways, and his whereabouts were strongly accounted for. Two weeks of supervised relaxation in Sochi every 6 months was welcomed, but it was his crumpled and well worn journal that gave him the most relaxing times.
Rats, weevils, moths and such were destructive to the cotton industry without question, but the tests on the assorted dogs and livestock that had frightened Sergi secretly. “What threat do they serve, what purpose does this serve?” Sergi would write at the end of each chapter.
The bacterials were rapidly enhanced non aerobic staphylococcal strains that were powerful enough to eat the flesh of it’s host in under 72 hours while keeping the infected hosts vital organs active. To prevent any possible natural healing, the bacterium was triggered to find it’s way to the medulla oblongata, attack it and leave the host unable to breath and carry out any brain function. It was found that by this, body organs could be harvested for Russian soldiers in case of conflict.
Sergi had thought of the potential of catastrophe should the specimen be released among the general population and it made him drink more than anyone in a position such as his should, given the calm nerves one should posses when dealing with certain death in glass beakers and budget containment systems.
Then the order had come. The Kremlin wanted to see how effective their crop sciences project was and demanded live specimens on display, however it wasn’t hares or stay mutts this time, but a larger subject; larger and more in common with the tester’s vascular blueprints. In fact, the blueprints would be extremely similar to one particular scientists identity. The Kremlin had decided that the Georgian population in Aralsk would be perfect specimens and should be honoured that they would make the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of millions.
Given Sergi’s heritage, he couldn’t allow this to happen and was mortified at the idea that his country peoples would be used for this testing, under the guise of progress. He had heard stories of daming projects were the exhausted bodies of fellow countrymen and Ukranians would be dropped into the concrete forms to act as human rebar, but those were stories weren’t they?
The scientist who had raced so fast for the prize was now finding everything running out of control. Mere hours away and he would have contributed to the demise of thousands of his fellow displaced countrymen, and countless millions after that. Knowing that the infection was transmittable through water, Sergi had purposely infected the water supply of his station, the same towered water supply that supplied the entire base.
Months later, when it was deemed safe, the bulldozers and cement pumpers had finally buried the base and locked the gates for ever.
Until the unthinkable happened, the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the new land rush slowly took form by developers and the new science of water conservation came to the shrink Aral Sea decades later.
Superfast (28 Days Later) Zombies.
The projects given to scientists back in the day were for a world on edge, seemingly by between two ideals. Strike first seemed to be the threat, but that was just posturing, who wants to hit quickly with the assured threat of retaliation. No, the true weapon was not a hi-tech missle, but a fast spreading but controlled strain. Thousands of hours were invested, along with millions of state money spent to create every strain of potentially deadly bacteria and store in the Aral Region. Experiments in state owned abattoirs happened around the clock on every animal that was found stray.
After the collapse of the Union, the facility had fallen into disuse, padlocked and manned by a local observer. The project had been mothballed, but still electricity serving the refrigeration had been kept on.
The new government of Kazakhstan felt that given the geographic remoteness of the facility, it didn’t rank very high on the list of priorities, and the lab and warehouse stayed with extremely poor supervision.
Christopher Bulger and Kazeem Nadir were on the fifth month of their global wanderlust. Having been inspired by the countless traveling documentaries and publications for global tourism on a shoe string, they had set out from Scarborough, Ont. to step foot far from the brothels of Amsterdam, or flesh pots of Thailand that so many other grads were undertaking. Adventure was on their minds and having decided to take the Silk Route, adventure wasn’t far from your next step.
The best souvenirs are memories, but oddities from past civilizations young and old were of great interest to Kazeem, a bio-chemical researcher-in-waiting, and worth collecting. Teamed with a civil engineer like Christopher, a stop to Aral Sea to witness mankind’s exploitive ways was too much to resist.
The storms had been returning to the Aral basin as of late, and it was certainly welcome to those that remained, foolishly holding on to the belief that their grandkids could have water at their door again. The storms still kicked up much of the silt that had baked in the sun and would get everywhere to those who wouldn’t find shelter, and in those storms, a loosely guarded facility would suffice.
I can only think of mindless automatons so this will be a bit weak. Former KGB agent goes rogue and wants to form an army of serving mercenaries who work for essentially nothing, except altered heroin. He used to work as a young man at a research facility in the Aral sea basin. He carries a grudge due to the xenophobic hostilities he and his family received, resulting in the abduction of his sister and murder of his older brother.
Vowing to exact revenge on the tribal gang lords now occupying the regions, he has amassed his own group to do his bidding as he wrests command from the war lords and spread his circle outward to sell more heroin, gain control, and become more powerful than anyone else in Central Asia, and beyond! Every school in Russia, Eastern Europe, and eventually the west will succumb to his wishes, or his name isn’t Putin by gum!
TO BE CONTINUED…
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR MORE ZOMBIE ACTION!!!
Last Chance to Rant
Since this panel has become so long for the first installment, we’ve decided to to break it up into multiple parts. As a result, we will also divide up the bonus content (i.e. “Last Chance to Rant”) into separate parts as well. Thus, bonus media goodies in each segment! Enjoy!
J:If I became a zombie, I don’t think I’d be too bummed. There’s worse things to be in life than a zombie.
But beware. I’d be a freaking awesome zombie.
Hip Albatross by Gorrilaz features samples from Day of the Dead (Romero) interlaced with music and beats.
– If you decide to enroll at Columbia College, you can take a course called: Zombies in Popular Media. Seriously.
– Here’s a zombie infection class 3 simulator game based on Google Maps data. Worth a look.
– And just because we like you, here’s the whole damn Night of the Living Dead film for your viewing pleasure, and it’s subtitled in French too, just for the Francophones:
and of course, the man named whatever designed our kick ass banner ad that starts this article off, and his original website, the also original, Project Wonderboy.