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Even Ninjas (of Love) have irrational fears

6-0 King of the Cage Featherweight champion and Sengoku tournament competitor Nick Denis divulges his mindset to Jordan Breen:

“Yeah, I really believe they could be true,” Denis tells me. “You know, the zombie populace, I can see that being real. I think about what would happen if zombies attacked all the time.”

When I ask him to name his favorite zombie film, he affirms that George A. Romero’s original “Dawn of the Dead” is his personal superlative. Naturally, he has already absorbed Max Brooks’ “The Zombie Survival Guide,” standard course reading for any budding zombiologist and has recently started on Brooks’ follow-up, “World War Z.” Without any more coaxing, I’m suddenly knee-deep in Zombies 101.

“I can believe that a virus could cause people to turn into zombies but not like in the movies,” he says. “Zombies don’t break down nutrients, so they couldn’t get faster, stronger and deadly like in the movies. They don’t really breathe even; they aren’t using oxygen. Blood doesn’t run in their veins; their brains don’t really work. But everything other than that is 100 percent believable.”

“For me, I think it’s about the facts of survival. I love seeing how people plan to survive in zombie movies,” he says. “It’s the ultimate situation. No location is ideal for fighting zombies: short range, long range, it doesn’t matter. Everything depends on your surroundings.”

I decide to indulge Denis, asking him what exactly one should do in the event of an undead apocalypse. I’m met instantaneously with a battery of survival bullet points.

“First thing, you have to know your location; you have to be familiar,” Denis says. “Second, you need to fill up everything with water where you are: sinks, tubs, whatever. You don’t know when the water is going to get shut off.”

He continues with tactics: women should tie up their hair to avoid being grabbed; avoid driving, but if you must, ride a dirt bike or something that can go off road; choose weapons that are light, sustainable and powerful, like an aluminum bat. He implores that lab goggles be worn if possible when fighting zombies, quickly pointing out that contact with the eyes is the surest way to spread a virus.

Finally, I can relate to a fighter for something other than just the sculpted physique. Denis isn’t a Hollywood Video zombie fan, he’s hardcore. There’s no turning back once you pick up The Zombie Survival Guide or World War Z. Denis mentioned a virus though; mistake. Nobody would have taken the guy seriously had he said 28 Days Later was his favorite zombie movie but it’s the only one with a virus in it (unless you’re counting the slip cover for the Dawn of the Dead remake – which would be strike two). None of Romero’s films give any explanation for the sudden rise in dead people acting all bitey. The original Night of the Living Dead mentions a radiated satellite in passing during one scene but never elaborates. The remake of it has people on the radio, according to Ben, saying there was a chemical spill “up in Hennessey”. That doesn’t fly when you’re talking about a global phenomenon.

I take umbrage with some of Nick’s comments. As a person who lives day to day with the crippling fear of reanimated corpses, I’ve done semi-scientific research and talked to various medical practitioners about the physiology and plausibility of zombies.

First off, a zombie bite isn’t magic. The copious amount of unreal bacteria in the mouth of something dead getting into your bloodstream is what kills you. Zombies are like Komodo Dragons in that sense. You can come back if you die in any way that doesn’t affect your basic cognitive brain function, as the body of a living corpse is completely useless. There isn’t any marionette action going on. Their bodies are childishly weak because their respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems are ka-plunk. “Living dead” is obviously an oxymoron. Bodies themselves aren’t reanimated, only the brain is. Only the most basic functions are present from that point on. No speech (no matter how great the “send more cops” line is), no critical thinking, nothing like that. Dead cavemen. All they know is that they need to eat and fire is bad.

Their bodies are a whole different animal than what you see in the movies. Corpses will only be dangerous for a few days unless you’re in extremely cold weather (someone check on Ryan and Jake). Rigor mortis sets in immediately after death because the body doesn’t make ATP on account of the whole not-getting-oxygen thing. That only wears off once the muscles themselves start decomposing. Simultaneously, blood starts pooling in areas because of gravity once it stops being pumped through the body. Return of the Living Dead got it perfect when Freddy started turning purple before he “died”. That’ll pop pretty soon since skin isn’t strong enough to hold that kind of collective pressure. Likely that puts the decomposition to skip immediately to the black purification stage where noxious gasses cause the guts to blow out of the stomach and the skin starts falling off. The whole process is accelerated with higher temperatures.

So basically, Denis is logical because zombies can be real but they won’t be that dangerous. Grab a gas mask though; all those rotting bodies lying around will get gamey.

Personally my favorite zombie movie is the remake of Night of the Living Dead from 1990. For all the uninitiated, Google video provides us with the full version of the original thanks to some billion dollar copyright mistakes made in 1968:

What’s your guys favorite?