'Poon of the Living Dead
Considering the approach of Halloween and the rash of zombie sightings recently in Minnesota (unaware there have been zombie sightings in Minnesota-check it out: http://www.startribune.com/456/story/662026.html), we thought it would be prudent to get some advice from Zombie Expert Melissa Ebbe.
In case you aren't familiar with her, she authors a blog detailing her quest to build herself into a ruthless zombie killing machine, in order to be able to survive the inevitable zombie uprising. While this interview may help to prepare you, you can always read more about the zombie menace at her website http://zombiedefense.blogspot.com/ Not only is the blog helpful but it will continue to be more up-to-date and cutting edge than the poor old Grand 'Poon as far as zombie defense is concerned.
In addition, we also recommend, as does MGES, reading the essential zombie survival guide written by Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead. Regular readers may remember this as the Grand 'Poon's item of the month from October 2005.
Regular readers may realize that this actually our first real interview. Oh, sorry, did we ruin it for you? Well, I guess we can now admit that our previous "interviews" with Tom Cruise, George Lucas, Jessica Simpson etc., those were all fake. This however is completely real.
Without further ado, here is the interview.
Grand 'Poon: When we read your blog we thought that if we had to pitch it as a movie in Hollywood, it would be a cross between Rocky IV (where he fights the Russian) and Night of the Living Dead. It's like Rocky with your training to fight a basically unbeatable opponent and all, and like Night of the Living Dead for the zombies. Do you think this is an accurate description?
Melissa Ebbe: That sounds fairly accurate. I'd like to request a few montage sequences to explain my training. I'd have to add a little of the Karate Kid too (as in "also", not the second movie). I started off fairly ignorant and just wanting to fight the zombie menace, but not really knowing how. Through my Karate training and zombie research, I have gained confidence and conceived of a plan of attack, getting a small smattering of inner peace along the way.
For cinematic purposes, I also would suggest some sort of revenge aspect. Since most likely, when the zombie threat rises, a lot of loved ones will perish, this part will probably be accurate. Something like, "They killed her family... now it's personal". Though maybe that could be the sequel.
GP: People often say that Hollywood gets it wrong in the movies. Do you feel zombies have been fairly represented?
ME: No. Zombies are usually inaccurately represented creating a false sense of knowledge in the general public. This is something I address regularly on my blog because of the sheer amount of questions regarding what zombies can and cannot do. George Romero is mostly responsible for the contemporary vision of what a zombie is, yet even he has taken the sentimental (and dangerous) route by causing the viewer to feel sympathy for the undead legions in Land of the Dead.
GP: Is the "zombie baby" like we saw in Dawn of the Dead (remake) and Dead Alive scientifically possible?
ME: There are two different types of zombie babies in these movies. In Dead Alive, a movie that takes zombies to absurdist conclusions, the baby is produced by two zombies after they have become zombiified. Such a union (though entertaining and disgusting in the film) is impossible. Not only are the reproductive organs rendered useless and infertile upon zombification, the mechanics of sexual intercourse would be impossible for a zombie to manage.
The second type of zombie baby, presented in Dawn of the Dead (2004) is created from a living fetus that has been infected by the zombie virus. This type of zombie would be possible, if the fetus were close to coming to term. Since the zombie virus stops all form of growth, the baby would have to be fully developed to become a zombie baby. In the case of Dawn of the Dead (2004), a pregnant woman is infected. Her digestive system would carry the virus to the unborn infant thus infecting it. The baby's ability to escape from the uterus is the only limiter in this case of the zombie baby.
GP: If you found yourself in a "Raccoon City" situation and could only have access to one weapon what would it be?
ME: I'd have to go with my trustworthy machete. Of course a gun would be useful, for picking off zombies at a distance, but bullets run out quickly and are not as easy to find as video games suggest. A machete does not need reloading,
GP: Any movies in particular you'd recommend to better help us prepare for zombie attacks?
ME: While movies provide a necessary entertainment function, the factual information they give is substandard at best. This goes for any movie, not just zombie films. If you want to get information on survival, in an easily digestible movie format, I would recommend getting your hands on some marine training footage.
GP: As you may or may not know, the Grand 'Poon is based in Grand Rapids the heart of Minnesota, and of course Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Now we have fans all over the world, but for those of us living and working around so much water, naturally that is a concern of ours as we think about the inevitable approach of the zombie menace.
Max Brooks' book is required reading for all new staff members here, so we are aware of the fact that zombies can survive just fine under water as Brooks devotes time to discussing this often over-looked danger. In addition, the Mockumentary, Land of the Dead, also showed zombies walking across a river underwater. In all of your research have you come across anything in particular that we should be aware of in light of our proximity to so many bodies of water?
ME: First, I would like to compliment your efforts in education and consequent resistance of the impending zombie threat. The Zombie Survival Guide should be required reading for everyone.
To answer your question; the major problem with being surrounded by bodies of water lies in the false sense of security that they provide. The moat, always presented as a reliable form of protection, backfires in the case of zombies. As you are aware, zombies can easily traverse lakes, rivers, and possibly oceans. So, if part of your defensive strategy lies in monitoring bodies of water as possible points of entry, you should be just as secure as you are in a land-based defensive operation.
If you are on the run in the land of 10,000 lakes (or any other area with many or large bodies of water) it is best to avoid traversing the water yourself. The possibility of drowning is a threat; when combined with the submerged zombie threat, it is all too dangerous of a route. Planning your path (with back-up routes, may insure your survival). As always, if you are on the run, a map and compass may prove to be invaluable.
GP: We thought of just living on a houseboat to be safe, but then there is the issue of floaters (floating zombies) and winter. All our beloved lakes freeze over in the winter allowing the zombies to slip and slide their way to our houseboat. Our research has concluded that the ice may trap some zombies beneath the surface for the winter though but it wouldn't be all of them. Naturally, with this in mind we thought of bodies of water that do not freeze over, such as the Great Lakes (since we live in Minnesota the Ocean wasn't an option).
Which leads us to our next question. Do you think that it would be feasible to lead a pirate-like existence after the undead take over? Nothing like the haphazard approach the few temporary survivors took in the Dawn of the Dead remake, but a well planned out and completely stocked ship of some sort. Live on the water, ideally self-sufficient, but if need be raiding land for necessaries?
ME: I have to say that, unfortunately, I have little experience in piracy, or boating, for that matter. However, a well-thought out plan will usually lead to favorable circumstances. If there is at least one experienced ocean (or Great Lake) voyager, this may give you the edge in a water-based existence. Ample preparation would have to be made, not only terms of a well-stocked ship, but also landing areas when supplies become dwindled (as they inevitably will).
In some ways, a ship might be an ideal fortress against a zombie attack. Floaters, while disgusting, will not be able to scale the side of a boat. If you have a large supply of ammunition there is no reason not to re-kill the ghouls from the safety of your ship rather than using Brooks' harpoon method. For the non-floaters, a zombie's complete lack of motor control combined with the drag of water will cause them to lose the small amount of speed they would possess on land.
In other ways, your fortress may become your tomb, as the things that make water dangerous to living humans are inconsequential to zombies. If for any reason, the ship sinks, it is likely that any onboard members of the zombie resistance will go down with it. As with any defensive stronghold, the negatives must be weighed against the positives.
GP: People often say that fear stems from lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. Do you fear zombies less now that you've learned more about their ways?
ME: I would say that I fear the zombie uprising less because I have mentally prepared myself and I know the proper way to react. However, fear is a healthy reaction that serves a survival function, it is imperative to maintain a respectful fear. Overconfidence will quickly lead to your downfall.
GP: Are female zombies weaker than male zombies as is the case with living men and women?
ME: Given the current state of obesity and sloth in America, this is largely dependent on the individual. The state of strength in the living person may pass on to the zombiified person, but there are many other factors that may change the balance of strength. Zombies (male or female) are not limited by pain so they are capable of exertions that living humans are not able to access. However, zombies also cannot heal so if they lose an arm, their strength is seriously limited. Ultimately, the sex of the zombie should not effect the reaction of the zombie hunter.
GP: How accurate is the AD&D Monstrous Compendium when in comes to describing the relative strengths and weaknesses of zombies?
ME: My knowledge of the Dungeons and Dragons universe is somewhat limited, but from what I've been able to gather (from the internet) the strengths and weaknesses seem moderately accurate. Of course, the quantification of abilities is impractical because of the natural variations that occur in reality. More importantly, in D&D, the zombie serves as a tool to some sort of wizard. In reality, zombies have no loyalties. They are just as likely to attack their creator, as they are their creator's enemies.
GP: We've heard that zombies created in the last 50 years (primarily owing to the huge advances in zombie research made by the Nazis) are more powerful than older zombies. Is this true?
ME: Zombies, themselves, are not more powerful. The virus that causes the zombie transformation has remained essentially the same over the past few centuries. The desire to harness the zombie virus for various weapon technologies is what has changed. The prevalence of companies and governments working with the zombie virus makes these much more dangerous times.
GP: What/who is the most fearsome zombie ever created? (We're guessing it would be a zombie Ditka.)
ME: The threat of the zombie does not lie in the individual. A zombie Hitler would be no more harmful than a zombie Oprah. In life their capabilities are what made them threatening. Yet these capabilities are made ineffectual upon zombiification. A reanimated corpse is essentially the same as any other reanimated corpse. The real zombie threat lies in the quantity of animated corpses and the threat of the contagion. Because of the virus' nature and its ability to spread the threat lies in the extinction of the human races through conversion, not through the actions of any singular zombie.
Most fearsome zombie ever?
GP: I think we could all agree that we must live in constant fear of zombies, but should we observe a heightened standard of vigilance during Halloween?
ME: Vigilance is the primary tool of the zombie hunter. In these pre-apocalyptic times, heightened awareness is a necessity. This is especially important during Halloween. The best indicator of a zombie is aberrant behavior (not smell, or oozing wounds, or lack of limbs). During Halloween this deviance in standards of behavior is common. Observation of any potential zombies is important before any defensive action. As long as a system of law is in place, it is crucial to establish that the individual is a zombie before eliminating it. Trust me, "I thought he/she was a zombie" doesn't go over well in court.
GP: What is the first step that the average person can take to become a zombie hunter instead of a helpless meat-bag?
ME: Everyone has the power to change and prepare. By making the decision not to be zombie fodder, you have taken the first step towards surviving. A more significant first step would be getting into shape. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, the state of the American physique makes this country ripe for a zombie take over. The ability to outrun zombies cannot be understated.