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View Full Version : How can zombies survive without an input of energy?



potoole
2013-May-18, 07:29 PM
After watching parts of "The Walking Dead", I realized and deduced:
1) Most of humanity was/is converted to zombies.
2) zombies 'eat' only 'living', viable humans, but the supply of humans is quickly dwindling.
3) However, zombies seem to survive whether they 'eat' human flesh, or not.

Given the preceding points I wonder ("in my mind"): Why do zombies eat only live human flesh? Why can't they eat other zombies? Since it seems that the walking dead can survive without any energy input at all, why do they need to eat anything?

I was a little confused by the incongruities; they don't make a lick of sense to me.:D

PO'T

Noclevername
2013-May-18, 07:37 PM
Maybe they hibernate when starving, and the scent of human flesh wakes them up? Alternately, they are smarter than they act and secretly have a "human farm" hidden somewhere.

Addressing an issue from another thread, they may have some flicker of memory or thought that leads them to dress in the clothes of their victims, ensuring no naked zombies on TV. ;)

As for why they don't eat each other, even zombies are disgusted by zombies!

Noclevername
2013-May-18, 07:43 PM
Also I just thought of another reason why they might still be clothed and have not rotted away to bare bones-- zombies exude a preservative fluid.

Buttercup
2013-May-18, 07:51 PM
Because they are vicious, simply enjoy killing; and also seek to "reproduce"?

potoole
2013-May-18, 08:17 PM
Addressing an issue from another thread, they may have some flicker of memory or thought that leads them to dress in the clothes of their victims, ensuring no naked zombies on TV. ;)

As for why they don't eat each other, even zombies are disgusted by zombies!

That's right, in one of the episodes, the main characters discovered that by smearing zombie gunk on themselves the zombies paid no attention to them.

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-18, 08:40 PM
In The Walking Dead they have been seen to eat horses, deer and chickens.

In the film that started 'em all, Night of the Living Dead, the dead are seen to eat bugs. At that stage, the dead were somewhat diffident, and did not attack straight away. By the time of the first sequel, Dawn of the Dead, the dead were motivated by eating the living, without hesitation.

In the remake of Dawn, it was a plot point that only those bitten by a zombie would resurrect, which was very different from Romero's original scenario, in which all recently dead had to be dispatched quickly.

28 Days Later was technically not a zombie film, but was interesting in that the Infected slowly died out when deprived of food. By the end of the film, they were simply no longer a threat. The film works best when you accept that it was completely standalone - there was never a sequel, certainly not 28 Weeks Later.

But at the end of the day, the zombie genre plays on our (frankly perfectly natural) fears of a corpse coming back to life. If your grandfather was a major figure in your life, and you get to see him lying in an open coffin, how can you not imagine him suddenly getting up again? Logic is not required here.

In short, zombie films (and books, comics etc) are not rational, they simply speak to a natural anxiety common to many. Some may argue that the story already existed in Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, but the similarities are not that important.

In literature, there is a glut of zombie fiction. In my experience, the single most imaginative and rewarding instance of zombie fiction is Handling the Undead, by John Ajvide Lindqvist, best known for the heartrending vampire novel Let The Right One In (filmed in Swedish under the same Smiths*-inspired title, and remade in the US under the relatively feeble title Let Me In, although the quality of the remake is really quite high). Handling The Undead is supposed to be being filmed at some point, but it's not going to be better than the book, so I recommend just reading it.

ETA: Well that was a rambling post worthy of Grandpa Simpson. Anyway, Handling The Undead features recently dead in Stockholm coming back to life but with no intention of eating people. Most of the characters are aware of the Romero zombies, but instead of going out shooting the dead in the head, they find themselves having to care for their recently departed, which proves to be more of a challenge.

*The Smiths - a major band who emerged in the 1980s, known for their remarkable mixture of the truly ridiculous (Morrissey with daffodils sticking out of his back pocket) and the emotionally devastating ("Suffer Little Children", an account of the Moors Murders of the early-to-mid 1960s).

Moose
2013-May-19, 02:54 AM
After watching parts of "The Walking Dead", I realized and deduced:
2) zombies 'eat' only 'living', viable humans, but the supply of humans is quickly dwindling.
3) However, zombies seem to survive whether they 'eat' human flesh, or not.

Everything else in the thread notwithstanding, 'seem' would be the key word. There's no reason to assume that zombies survive indefinitely where their food sources are exhausted, and remember that live people can survive a month or longer without food (although not without consequences).

beskeptical
2013-May-19, 04:19 AM
Is this a serious question? Zombies don't exist, they are pure fiction. Fictional creatures do not need anything but words on a page or images in a video/movie.

Noclevername
2013-May-19, 05:48 AM
Is this a serious question? Zombies don't exist, they are pure fiction. Fictional creatures do not need anything but words on a page or images in a video/movie.

Now that's comedy! ;)

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-19, 06:00 AM
Is this a serious question? Zombies don't exist, they are pure fiction. Fictional creatures do not need anything but words on a page or images in a video/movie.

I'm hoping the OP realises this. Thing is, fantasy stories need to make sense on some level.

Noclevername
2013-May-19, 06:10 AM
After watching parts of "The Walking Dead", I realized and deduced:


So yeah, I'm sure he realized it was fiction.

At least it's not like those poor people stuck on that island... :D

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-19, 06:17 AM
Yeah, keep rubbing it in that we never got Gilligan's Island over here in the UK. ;)

Noclevername
2013-May-19, 06:53 AM
The web comic I have in my sig, Schlock Mercenary (http://www.schlockmercenary.com/), has done couple of stories based around nano-swarm zombies. They hijack a body and operate it like a puppet using swarm intelligence.

Perhaps the zombies on TWD were the result of an over-ambitious medical replicating nanobot project that got out of hand. The malfunctioning bots kill their host but are still able to keep it semi-operative. The bots are powered by temperature differential (giving them an energy source) or by chemical digestion, and without their external control network, only vaguely "recognize" living humans (and other life) as a source of protein and energy. They have two operational modes-- low energy for when little food is available, and a "resource acquisition" mode when in the presence of a large supply of compatible biomass.

SphinxCore
2013-May-19, 02:46 PM
Actually in one episode of Walking Dead a character was remarking about two Walkers that had been modified by the removal of their arms and mandible. The remark made was that the two Walkers were starving to death, just more slowly than a normal human would.

It's almost as if the writers had pulled in a bit of monotreme biology allowing the Walkers to switch their metabolism to a lower setting to conserve energy.

Nick Theodorakis
2013-May-19, 04:32 PM
I'm kind of curious as to when zombies switched from being voodoo slaves to flesh-eating undead. Popularly I think most people attribute that to Romero and Night of the Living Dead, but they were not actually called "zombies" in that movie, IIRC.

Nick

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-19, 04:52 PM
I'm fairly sure they were referred to as zombies once in the sequel, Dawn of the Dead, and so people extrapolated backwards. There have been zombie films of the voodoo slave ilk since then - The Serpent and the Rainbow - but clearly the zombie-as-flesh-eater meme has taken over.

Noclevername
2013-May-19, 06:27 PM
I'm kind of curious as to when zombies switched from being voodoo slaves to flesh-eating undead. Popularly I think most people attribute that to Romero and Night of the Living Dead, but they were not actually called "zombies" in that movie, IIRC.

Nick

The name zombie originated as voodoo slaves, but the flesh-eating or otherwise violent undead are as old as myth. Vampires started that way before they became romantic sparkly superheroes, and Chinese "hopping corpses" and other cultural equivalents have existed throughout recorded history.

Nick Theodorakis
2013-May-19, 06:30 PM
Actually, I was thinking about the name specifically. How did that switch occur?

Nick

Noclevername
2013-May-19, 06:35 PM
Actually, I was thinking about the name specifically. How did that switch occur?

Nick

Per Wikipedia:
A new version of the zombie, distinct from that described in Haitian religion, has also emerged in popular culture in recent decades. This "zombie" is taken largely from George A. Romero's seminal film The Night of the Living Dead,[16] which was in turn partly inspired by Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend.[2][17] The word zombie is not used in Night of the Living Dead, but was applied later by fans.[18] The monsters in the film and its sequels, such as Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, as well as its many inspired works, such as Return of the Living Dead and Zombi 2, are usually hungry for human flesh although Return of the Living Dead introduced the popular concept of zombies eating brains. Sometimes they are victims of a fictional pandemic illness causing the dead to reanimate or the living to behave this way, but often no cause is given in the story. Although this modern monster bears some superficial resemblance to the Haitian zombie tradition, its links to such folklore are unclear,[17] and many consider George A. Romero to be the progenitor of this creature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie


So, no one is really sure, the raised dead just seem to have become muddled together somewhere along the way by pop-culture memetic mutation.

Krel
2013-May-20, 02:25 AM
Romero has stated in interviews that his creations are not zombies, they are the LIVING DEAD. The voodoo zombies don't need to eat, they are also tied to another persons will. The last movie I have seen zombies in was "Cast A Deadly Spell", and they made mention in the movie that zombies had a limited time before they decayed enough to be unusable.

David.

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-20, 05:41 AM
Romero has stated in interviews that his creations are not zombies, they are the LIVING DEAD.

He does not control the meme he started.

novaderrik
2013-May-21, 11:28 AM
I'm hoping the OP realises this. Thing is, fantasy stories need to make sense on some level.

why?

Paul Beardsley
2013-May-21, 12:07 PM
why?

Because if they don't they quickly become as boring as rambling dream accounts. When anything is possible, nothing can be remarkable.

novaderrik
2013-May-21, 08:45 PM
but anything is possible- parents have been telling that to kids since at least the 60's....

Trebuchet
2013-May-21, 11:16 PM
Zombies are, by definition, supernatural. The don't NEED to obey physical laws.

potoole
2013-May-22, 12:41 AM
Is this a serious question? Zombies don't exist, they are pure fiction. Fictional creatures do not need anything but words on a page or images in a video/movie.

Well yeah, my non-serious question was intended to be just that, non-serious. Some real 'off topic babbling.' :whistle:

Noclevername
2013-May-22, 10:37 AM
Zombies are, by definition, supernatural. The don't NEED to obey physical laws.

Depends on the specifics of the story. And even if the writer makes them magic, that doesn't mean they can't have internally self-consistent rules.

publiusr
2013-May-24, 09:19 PM
Zombies are, by definition, supernatural. The don't NEED to obey physical laws.
That is what Romero intended. Hell was running out of room. I think on one documentary he called them ghouls, but I imagine those looking more like the vampires from 30 Days of Night, which introduced the zombie look to vampires in making them look less sexy.

My own theory on less supernatural types (is that the whatever virus causes a return to cold-bloodedness, which allows aligators long life, as long as they bask and remain in a torpor most of the time. This seems to be the case with the zombies in the Walking Dead, with decomposition taking a toll over longer than usual time.

KaiYeves
2013-May-24, 11:27 PM
Per Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie

So, no one is really sure, the raised dead just seem to have become muddled together somewhere along the way by pop-culture memetic mutation.
Personally, I think voodoo zombies are much cooler than the modern horror-film zombies.

Noclevername
2014-Jan-04, 02:57 PM
Personally, I think voodoo zombies are much cooler than the modern horror-film zombies.

Actually they're all room-temperature.

:rimshot:

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jan-04, 04:19 PM
Actually they're all room-temperature.

:rimshot:

Guards! Throw him away!

(Quote from The Nome King in L. Frank Baum's Oz books.)

Noclevername
2014-Jan-05, 12:17 AM
Guards! Throw him away!

I regret nothing!

publiusr
2014-Jan-11, 07:23 PM
Now for Attenborough to do a psuedodocumentary, with the cast of The Walking Dead being the subjects, always in the distance.