The Could You Survive This Zombie Apocalypse? Matrix – The Ringer

It is with love that I say this, but most zombie stories are essentially the same. A contagion emerges. The living die; the dead awaken and crave the living; warm-blooded buffets ensue. A ragtag group of increasingly grimy survivors attempt to evade the undeads clutches. Civilization falls.

In Army of the Dead, which hit Netflix last week, director Zack Snyder tweaks this cinematic formula: His latest entry is a heist movie within a zombie movie, featuring a cordoned-off containment zone; the only part of civilization to have fallen to zombies is that of the Las Vegas Strip. But this is not Snyders most significant alteration to the zombie canon. He also introduces ur-zombies called the alphas, a super-fast, super-smart group of the undead that rule over their slower, brain-dead brethren, with whom they share the strip. Say what you will for the film itself, but it has shuffled where no zombie flick has shuffled before, giving us a whole new kind of zombie.

This got us to thinking: How do Army of the Deads zombies compare to all of the undead whove gracedgrimaced?the screen before? And more importantly: If you were a grimy survivor in a zombie apocalypse, which zombies would you realistically stand a chance against? So, naturally, we created a pop culture zombie matrix.

Before getting to our results, a few ground rules:

Without further ado, here is the Could You Survive This Zombie Apocalypse? matrix:

Bill Murray in Zombieland (2009)

Speed score: 0Intelligence score: 0Total score: 0

OK, so Bill Murray isnt really a zombie in 2009s Zombieland. But when he first shows up with his hair unkempt and his face a ghastly gray, he seems like he might be. Instead, we learn that he is simply trying to blend in.

This is effective at duping the undead. It is a little too effective at also duping his fellow survivors, who mistake him, promptly and fatally, for the real thing.

Making Murray our true neutral may feel like a bit of a stretch, because hes not exactly your average human. Zombielands 2019 sequel, Double Tap, features another Murray cameo, this time revealing how he survived the initial zombie outbreak: with a low-key escape from a Garfield promotional junket in which he dispatches no fewer than eight zombies, using such varied tools as a folding chair, a pair of ceramic plates, and a Garfield: Flabby Tabby 3 poster:

But Murray also feels like the perfect true neutral because, well, hes Bill Murray. After surviving the Garfield attack, he apparently made it home to his Los Angeles mansion and continued to live the good life until Jesse Eisenberg and Co. turned up. While Murray may have been pushing 60 when Zombieland came out, he proved himself to be a whole lot better than most of society at outlasting his undead foes.

Optimal strategy: Follow his lead.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)Dawn of the Dead (1978)The human zombies in the Resident Evil film series (2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016)Shaun of the Dead (2004)The Walking Dead (2010-present)The shamblers in Army of the Dead (2021)

Speed score: -5Intelligence score: -5Total score: -10

If the zombie genre is the house that George A. Romero built, these goobers are the original occupants. They are slow. They are not much for problem-solving. They want braaaainssssss.

The Classic Zombie derives its strength from numbers, and those numbers seem awfully easy to increase. While all of the shows and movies listed above have slightly different depictions of how long it takes to go from the inaugural Jim got bit! scene to Jim turning on his fellow survivors, the zombies in these entries are virtually identical. Theyre generally easy to defeat in one-on-one combat, unless youre throwing records at them.

Optimal strategy: Avoid malls, bars, and casinos. While I have you, have I mentioned taking the stairs?

Day of the Dead (1985)Land of the Dead (2005)The Dead Dont Die (2019)

Speed score: -3Intelligence score: -3Total score: -6

Jane Goodalls 1960 discovery that chimpanzees shaped twigs and leaves to fish for termites was once controversial: Until that point, it was believed that only humanswith our big, delicious brainsunderstood the concept of using tools. In the animal kingdom, creatures capable of working with tools are considered to be in a class of their own, intelligence-wise. So lets just say that however slow the zombie, any version of the undead that has worked out what was long believed to be mankinds singular intellectual hallmark is a distinct threat.

There are a handful of these types of zombies in pop culture, including those in The Dead Dont Die, who drink coffee and smile at one another. One of the zombies in Day of the Dead, the third entry in Romeros Night of the Living Dead series, is named Bub; he listens to music and tries to shave, among other things.

2005s Land of the Dead, the next film in Romeros series, isnt quite so cheery: In one scene, a zombie uses a damn machine gun.

Optimal strategy: These zombies are still awfully slow, so the usual defenses should sufficejust dont leave any ammunition lying around.

28 Days Later (2002)Dawn of the Dead (2004)28 Weeks Later (2007)Zombieland (2009)World War Z (2013)The first-generation hungries in The Girl With All the Gifts (2016) Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Speed score: 1Intelligence score: -5 (-4 for the zombies in Zombieland: Double Tap)Total score: -4 (-3 for the zombies in Zombieland: Double Tap)

You might quibble that some fast zombiese.g., the ones in Danny Boyles 28 Days Later, widely hailed as an innovator in the zombie horsepower categoryare basically human speed, which is true: Theyre scary because they can run like non-zombie people.

Yet I give them an edge over their human brethren, because theyre not limited by things like endurance. They go for broke every single time. Check out their wheels in the sequel 28 Weeks Later.

In Zombieland: Double Tap, released a decade after its precursor Zombieland, we learn that a mutation has led to an even faster, stronger, and more resilient type of zombie: the T-800. These zombies also arent geniuses, but they probably still will feast on youafter all, a grizzly bear doesnt need to know differential geometry to win fights, uh, more often than Americans seem to think.

Optimal strategy: Cardio.

Thriller (1983)Re-Animator (1985)

Speed score: -3 (Thriller) and -2 (Re-Animator)Intelligence score: -1Total score: -4 (Thriller) and -3 (Re-Animator)

The music video accompaniment to Michael Jacksons smash hit was always intended as a short film: Jackson hired director John Landis after seeing his film An American Werewolf in London. Its zombies, therefore, are our zombies.

And while the zombies in the Thriller video might not be the speediest undead creatures around, they memorize a whole dance routine! As you might expect, we have several questions:

Re-Animator, meanwhile, is a particularly ghoulish part of the zombie canon. Its also one of the only entries in which the undead can speak.

Optimal strategy: Theres no zombie outbreakyet. You know what you have to do.

The Human Wights in Game of Thrones (2011-19)

Speed score: 1Intelligence score: -3Total score: -2

Wights are dangerously fast, but lets just say they dont offer much in the way of critical thinking: They follow White Walker orders, and thats that.

You can make an argument that the Night King himself is a zombie: After all, he was once human. Given the millennia and the mythology involved, however, I think of him more as the product of an enchantment (or curse). His zombie buddies got him right to the precipice of defeating mankind twicebut tragically for the Night King, they dont respond well to dragonglass.

Optimal strategy: Uh, Valyrian steel?

Billy in Hocus Pocus (1993)The second-generation hungries in The Girl With All the Gifts (2016)

Speed score: -2 (Hocus Pocus) and 2 (The Girl With All the Gifts)Intelligence score: 0 (Hocus Pocus) and 1 (The Girl With All the Gifts)Total score: -2 (Hocus Pocus) and 3 (The Girl With All the Gifts)

Billy in Hocus Pocus might be slow and stinky, but he certainly has a mind of his own:

The second generation of the hungries in The Girl With All the Gifts, meanwhile, have superhuman strength and superhuman intelligence, a combination that does not go great for the humans who arent on their side.

Optimal strategy: You probably dont want to fight these guys! In fact, you should befriend them.

Santa Clarita Diet (2017-2019)iZombie (2015-2019)

Speed score: 0Intelligence score: -1 (Santa Clarita Diet) and 1 (iZombie)Total score: -1 (Santa Clarita Diet) and 1 (iZombie)

Santa Clarita Diet and iZombie both feature main characters who turn into flesh eaters and then attempt to carry on their regular lives and careers: Drew Barrymore as a suburban real estate agent, and Rose McIver as a medical examiner. They can do this because little beyond their appetites (and their use of spooky eye makeup) changes once they become undead: Their speed and intelligence remains the same as it was before, only now they have a sudden thirst for blood.

Optimal strategy: Hire them, maybe?

The dog zombies in Resident Evil (2002)

Speed score: 3Intelligence score: -1Total score: 2

I would, frankly, greatly prefer acquiring Resident Evils T-virus to encountering one of the terrifying undead Dobermans known within this universe as Cerberus. While humans infected with T-virus have a Classic Zombie waddle, the zombie pooches run at normal dog speed and seem to have the usual (albeit unusually murderous) dog smarts. No thanks!

Optimal strategy: Stay away from any windows, perfect the art of zombie fetch, and maybe learn how to do 360-degree jump-kicks, just in case.

The zombie tiger in Army of the Dead (2021)

Speed score: 5Intelligence score: 0Total score: 5

Like Bill Murray, our zombie North Star, Army of the Deads zombie tiger seems to have a functional command of language (or zombie shriek, at any rate) as it marches into battle with the alphas. Also like Bill Murray, it knows how to enjoy the good life, lounging on a car hood at its first opportunity. Less like Bill Murray, its response to being woken up is to eat the offending partys face.

Optimal strategy: It is said that you do not see or hear a Bengal tiger in the wild before it attacks. I think we can assume that strategy is beside the point here.

Army of the Dead (2021)

Speed score: 5Intelligence score: 5Total score: 10

As in The Girl With All the Gifts, there are two kinds of zombies in this world: a traditionalwhich is to say, dumb and slowtype thats called shamblers, and the alphas, who are personally zombified by the zombie king (and patient zero), Zeus.

The alphas are much smarter, faster, and stronger than their shambler counterparts. While the heist crews interactions with the shamblers go the way of usual zombie capersmake noise and theyll try to eat you, but you can tiptoe right past the nincompoops if youre carefulthings are rather more complicated with the alphas. In fact, the situation presents an ethical dilemma. Do the alphas even want to kill anyone?

On the one hand, Zeus opens Army of the Dead by slaughtering a bunch of soldiers and then leading his new zombie lackeys into Las Vegas to begin the rampage. Las Vegas has north of 2 million residents; once you take into account the many tourists and commuting workers who would have been on the Strip when the bloodthirsty bois showed up, thats a whole lot of blood on the alphas hands. Zeus and his pals are killing machines.

But following that atrocity again, I must ask, do the alphas even want to kill anyone? The conventional zombie trope is that the creatures need to eat the living to survive; a lot of the, ahem, distinguished literature about the undead holds that zombies gradually starve absent the requisite brains. But while we see a lot of chomping in Army of the Dead, we dont see any hungerand this comes some unspecified-but-lengthy amount of time after the zombies overtook Vegas. For the most part, the group seems to attack only when protecting and avenging itself.

And, well, Zeus and Co. are so intelligent that they seem to be running a functioning society. They have a zombie government (or at least a zombie military dictatorship with willing acolytes; all hail Zeus, etc.) and a zombie language: The alphas seem to understand each others growls and howls. They participate in a form of commerce, as seen when a human smuggler knowingly offers alpha sentries a live human in exchange for allowing the rest of her group to pass through the outer regions of the containment zone unharmed. And they seem to have some kind of interior life that is, dare I say recognizably human. Setting aside the deep and uncomfortable weirdness of this part of Army of the Dead, how else can we explain Zeus mourning the death of his zombie queen and their unborn (and undead) baby, whose in utero kicks he had celebrated earlier in the movie? Zeus likely refers to the inciting incident as lovemaking.

What Im saying is you probably dont want to fight the alphas, but maybe you dont have to. This is a society! But really. It is.

Optimal strategy: Its the alphas world. Were just living in it.

The rest is here:
The Could You Survive This Zombie Apocalypse? Matrix - The Ringer

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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