Why Do Zombies Stop Grass Growing, And Other Odd Questions Raised By Zombie Movies

24 Jul

The zombie apocalypse: It’s the end of the world, right? The end of civilisation, the end of easy to cook ready meals which you can just zap in the microwave, of dry cleaners and hairdressers, and hot water on tap. Yet, in almost every zombie movie you’ll ever see, people wear the same clothes throughout, and while they might get a little grubby from time to time, it hardly qualifies as getting dirty (I can end up dirtier than some of them just by looking at my back garden!). How do they keep them so clean?

And is there something about the sudden appearance of zombies amongst us that makes clothes last forever, too? Because the don’t get worn through, or ripped or torn. The clothes the zombies wear often end up in tatters, but not those worn by the humans. Look at Rick in The Walking Dead: he seems to have been wearing the same shirt all day, every day for I don’t know how long and it’s still looking pretty good. I wish I could buy my shirts from where ever he go his, it would save me a fortune. What on earth is it made of?

Then there’s the perfectly consistent hair styles. They may get slightly disheveled from time to time, but they don’t change. Where do these people find the time to get their hair cut so often that it never seems to alter even slightly no matter how may zombies are besieging them? It’s the same with beards. Men may get a little designer stubble, but that’s about it. After that their hair just seems to stop growing. Is this another effect of the zombie apocalypse, just like it makes clothes last forever, does it also makes hair stop growing?

And what about skin care? These people are out in the elements all the time, yet their skin’s barely blemished – or even tanned. If that were me, I’d be as red as a lobster by the evening of day one and peeling so badly by the end of the week that I could quite reasonably be mistaken for one of the undead. Where do they get the time to slap on the factor 50 sunblock and keep up with their daily moisturising regime while all the time running for their lives?

Then there’s the fact that people neither gain or lose weight. You’d have thought with all that running around struggling to find even the most miniscule scrap of food, and the stress of having to fight of the flesh-munchers night and day, that the weight would be dropping off, yet they remain as they were just at the start, no matter how long the apocalypse goes on for. What’s their secret?

If that’s not bad enough, as one of my fellow blogger recently pointed out, no matter how bad the zombie infestation is getting, someone is still out there manically mowing every lawn in town because any grass you see is always perfectly manicured. Who on earth’s doing that? Or, just like hair, does the mere presence of zombies mean that grass stops growing?

And how come everyone always has a can opener? Every food tin you see has been carefully and neatly opened, usually with the lid flipped back. Not one has been mutilated by someone trying to open it by bashing it with a rock until it splits in two. I’ve been on camping trips where the tin opener got lost and had to resort to this. It’s not easy, and it’s not neat, but it gets you the food inside (eventually!) and when you’re hungry, you don’t have a choice. Yet, in the zombie movies, it seems that the first thing everyone did when the dead started coming back to life was rifle through the nearest cutlery draw and grab their can opener, just in case they ever needed it. Who would do that?

Why are zombie movies like this? It’s simple. Yes, this isn’t how things would actually happen, but they’re not meant to be. We, as viewers, expect the characters to remain looking basically the same throughout the whole story. We need lawns to be kept short so we can recognise the urban landscapes as being just like the one we live in. We don’t want to watch the scene where a character spends half an hour using a hammer to open a can of spam because he’s lost the only tin opener the group had with them. After all, zombie movies aren’t meant to be real. Instead, they’re meant to be allegories for the world we actually live in, and everything that’s wrong with it. In that respect, we can forgive the film-makers for ignoring these elements of our daily realities and focussing on the dramatic instead.

However, it would be nice if they did pay a little more heed to how things would change over time. The well-trimmed lawns are a good example. It would be nice to see them getting progressively out of hand as the story unfolds. It’s the same with the clothes. It would be an interesting change if we saw them start to become ragged and fall apart (just like the zombies clothes do!) and it would add an extra element to the story when someone gets excited about finding a replacement jumper that’s a perfect fit just as their own is on its last legs (or should that be arms?). Come the zombie apocalypse, I suspect finding new, clean clothes would be a joyous event, and that after a while, they’d be worth more than their weight in stale bread crumbs.

These are all little things, but when you spot them, it jars and takes you out of the story. It breaks the fourth wall in a way that can be very distracting. On the other hand, maybe it’s just me.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

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