Friday, 16 December 2011


Why to people keep quoting Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide) over and over again about How do Zombies function after death - according to Max the virus basically rewires whats left of the brain, and continues to send electrical impulses to the tissue after death. The bodies systems are preserved so well because the virus kills all other bacteria - meaning that decomposition does not proceed at a normal pace.

Max's spurious waffling's are based on a total lack of understanding how a nervous system works. He started his Zombie survival seminars as a gag originally anyway, so I just can't take his thoughts that seriously. Maybe if he had majored in medicine rather than History - I might lend his ramblings more credence.

When a nervous system actually dies, it is utterly incapable of generating or transmitting electrical impulses of any kind. Period - that's a fact of life (death) you can't change that - even the Zombie virus couldn't change this, especially considering a virus can only actually effect living tissue. A Virus can lie dormant in dead tissue for decades, but that's about it.

The only way it could work in that example would be if the subject wasn't actually dead - and then they aren't really Zombies anymore.

What if the Virus somehow changed the way living tissue actually worked BEFORE the Host finally died - like healthy tissue becoming cancerous tissue - cancer cells grow and divide at an unregulated, quickened pace. As the cancer-like (Z-Cells?) cells grow/reproduce/replace the healthy living tissue - the victim falls ill while the process takes place. That would also explain the difference in time it takes to effect a victim, some are fast others take a while - it would depend on the overall health and strength of immune system.

As the Z-Cells are really quite different from the healthy cells of the original host, it would also explain a number of things.

1 - This is why the rotting slows (and often stops) - only the remaining normal cells would decay, this would leave the emaciated walking corpses we know and love.

2 - This is why Zeds crave human flesh, as their bodies are somehow craving what they have lost on a genetic level, healthy Human tissue.

3 - As the brain of the victim has been replaced with Z-Cells, one can assume that the brain is now working on a much simpler level. It would appear mostly dead to examination, but still functions on a rudimentary level - which is why destroying the brain kills the Zed.

4 - As the bones and muscles are now Z-Cells, that don't require blood flow or oxygen to work - it would explain why Zombies are slow and shambling. Only really fresh Zombies (those still with original cells present) would be able to move at any great pace.


Trey said...

I'm skeptical all the traits of zombies as generally portrayed are do-able without resorting to "magic" or nanotechnology (i.e. magic). Something along the lines of 28 Days Later is more possibly, but as you point out, these sorts of zombies aren't really "dead."

A parasitic nervous system (essentially what your suggesting) might work, but the zombies muscles would still need sustenance which either must come from the host or from a still-working GI tract to keep them alive indefnitely, and I don't know that most zombies seem to eat enough. Also, I its hard to conceive of how the parasitic entity would prevent decay--or even why it would have evolved to do so (of course, it may have been engineered rather than evolved).

Doctor Warlock said...

I 110% agree, its MORE fun not to know!

Brummie said...

I always thought Voodoo zombies where alive though. Could it be a highly slowed down metabolism etc

Doctor Warlock said...

The Haitian Voodoo myths actually show exactly that, they drug an individual to emulate death. The Victim is buried, then miraculously "returned to life" by the High Priest - who controls him with suggestion and mind altering drugs. Its a difficult one really, thats probably why there are so many different opinions.

Arlequín said...

There's no real single zombie archetype as such, as each film appears to offer its own take, which of course makes it difficult to say what a zombie is and is not.

Voodoo zombies are 'fake' as essentially they are drugged people in a semi catatonic state. They might be ordered to kill, but they don't eat their victims.

28 Days later types are 'infected' humans that don't follow the rules at all. They don't feel pain, but can be put down by the same tissue damage as the rest of us, head shots are not always required.

You then have your re-animated dead, which smack more of necromancy than anything else. As you say, once tissue is dead, it's dead.

What I've never understood is that, in the same film, a bitten character takes hours or even days to turn, while in the inevitable zombie rush, it takes seconds for a human to turn?

My own take is that 'living infected' is the first stage, giving you 'fast zombies', which become 'shamblers' as tissue etc degenerates and they 'die'. Shamblers will be the majority type after the initial epidemic has passed, but have a degree of longevity that the 'infected' don't.

I've always assumed that the only (partially)functioning area of the brain in zombies, is the stem, which controls our basic impulses, ie. 'feed'.

Doctor Warlock said...

Yup, I'd buy that