In case you don’t know, The Walking Dead is a zombie apocalypse show on AMC, the same network that brought us Mad Men and Breaking Bad. So it’s a pretty serious take on the genre – well-written, high production value, great acting – although it does leave a couple of zombie movie clichés fully intact.
Like gore for instance. I always forget how easy it is to rip a human being apart into a gooey, lumpy red soup until I get to watch a bunch of moaning zombies do it. Everybody’s body seems to act like it’s been in the Crock Pot all day – just falls right off the bone.
And then there’s the Standard Horror Movie Dumbass Tendency, in which the characters behave with jaw-dropping stupidity, even as the rest of the plot seems tightly woven and well thought out.
So here’s a list of things I learned watching the marathon last night. Spoilers ahead to some degree or another, so beware.
1. Being A Zombie Is Not Very Contagious. Apparently, the way to turn into a zombie is you get bitten by one, but damn – that’s about the only thing that seems to worry the survivors. At one point they cover themselves in zombie guts so they can lurch down the street to get a truck, and sure, they put on some extra layers of clothing first, but I don’t think I’d be doing that without a Hazmat suit on.
“Make sure you don’t get any of it in your eyes,” one of them says, and yes. I would agree you should be careful about that. I sure hope breathing the zombified corpse fumes doesn’t do anything to you, either, but I guess there’s only one way to find out.
I don’t know about you, but when my kid has the flu and she’s been sleeping in my bed, I change the sheets before I get in that bed again. I don’t drink out of the same water glass, either. If you’re telling me, here’s the plan, to avoid getting turned into zombies we’re going to smear zombie guts all over ourselves, then I’m telling you, no we’re not. Perhaps you have a mouse in your pocket?
2. Think Twice About Horsy Rides. I know that gasoline is hard to come by in the zombie apocalypse, but you have to understand, if you’ve decided to ride into a zombie-infested city on horseback, then what you’re essentially doing is trotting around on top of a giant, walking cheeseburger.
2a – Dead Horsy Alert – As a corollary, be certain you do not watch The Walking Dead unless you are prepared to watch a hundred zombies rip a horse apart like water balloon full of Johnny Marzetti.
3. Boy Needs A Daddy – I know that it’s hard raising a son all by yourself at the End of Days, and I know that maybe your husband was in a coma right before the zombie attack, and also I know that in such a situation, it’s probably not necessary to mourn for a full, standard year before hooking yourself up with a big, strong man to watch over you.
But probably a little longer than a week or so. And maybe question the motive, sincerity, and reliability of the dude who tells you that your husband is Extra Super Definitely Dead, before you sneak off into the woods to fornicate in the bushes with him.
You know, as a rule, dudes will say just about anything to get you to sleep with us, and yes, that includes “I’m 100% positive your husband is dead.”
He’s not positive. Practically all of us have used that old gag before, and we’d cut it out if it didn’t work so well. I know you’re lonely and frightened, sister, but you’ve got to keep your wits about you. That guy had about as hard a time getting your clothes off as he would on Spring Break circa 1985.
4. It’s Okay To Hang Out On Rooftops. If you chain a racist biker to a pipe on a rooftop, and then lose the key and have to leave him there, but first you chain the door closed so no zombies can get to the roof, and then later you say, “Well he’s got to be still alive up there, because we chained the door shut!”
Then I have to wonder – why did you flee the city?
The cool thing about rooftops is that there are only stairs and ladders leading to them, and zombies are not very agile. You could chain the door shut and then not chain yourself to the pipe, and it seems to me that you’d have a considerable advantage over the racist biker, who you are pretty certain survived the night.
A considerably less effective strategy would be to find a place in the middle of the woods, where you can be approached unseen from all directions, and then place the tents around the edges of it, the way you would on a regular camping trip if you were hoping for a little privacy. And then don’t bother posting any guards or lookouts of any kind, just all of you sit around the fire yucking it up loud enough that you can’t hear thirty zombies lurching up on you through the brush, until they’re already biting people.
6. People Who Are Turning Into Zombies But Aren’t Finished Have Rights. See, I would have gone the other direction on that one. Oh, you got bit by a zombie? BLAM!
You gotta do it like you’re ripping a Band-Aid off, don’t talk about it. Nobody wants to sit there turning into a zombie, and if they’re telling you any different, it’s because they’re turning into a zombie.
Jeebers H. Mice. How many zombie attacks before you guys start taking this shit seriously? You’re up to like eight now.
7. Don’t Be A Dick Or Anyone’s Hot Sister – A good way to get eaten by a zombie is to be a real dick, like throw around racial slurs or make leering, unwanted sexual advances on hot girls or simply beat up your wife.
See, in a zombie movie, the audience would get psychologically exhausted if all of our favorite people kept getting ripped apart, so if you’re going to act unpleasant, then that’s all we’re thinking – have fun getting eaten by a zombie, jerk.
Similarly, there is really no point in having two hot sisters in your show. If you have a hot sister, then one of you is going to have to get eaten by a zombie to add depth and motivation to your otherwise not-very-interesting sister. So if you have a hot sister then it’s either her or you.
Hard choices, sweetheart, that’s why they call it the Zombie Apocalypse.
8. That’s A Pretty Funny Name. A Walking Dead Marathon sounds like all the zombies have little numbers on their backs and are listening to iPods, doesn’t it? Heh. That’s not really what it is, though.
9. An Upper Torso Zombie Can Crawl Across The Park – Make sure you bend down and talk to it before you put it out of its unholy misery, though. No hurry, it’s just an abomination suffering through Hell on Earth – take a moment to say a few words it won’t understand. That makes tons of sense, and we learn that early on.
10. Even In A Zombie Apocalypse, Baby Boomer Dudes Have Irritating Stories And Demeanors. – I think I’d probably just shoot that white-haired guy the first time I got him alone, and then just pull the old He Was Turning Into A Zombie trick. What are they going to do, call the cops?
Nobody cares, professor, just put your eyebrows down.