There are a lot of ways to create a zombie. So many, in fact, that many films don’t even show you how a zombie infestation started. They leave it to your imagination, which is usually a good thing, because it’s hard (and usually boring) to show how it all starts. A film like Zombieland, now in its third weekend at the box office, jumps right into the action. However, I’ve always found it interesting to know how it starts. Many films have it being done on purpose, such as Plan 9 From Outer Space (Aliens created them) or Quarantine (a Doomsday cult created them). Others just say it’s a virus/disease and leave it there (Dawn of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries). Many times, however, it’s an accident that creates zombies for the first time. Here are some of the more interesting ways people have accidentally started a zombie apocalypse.
Author’s Note: I am using the word “zombie” loosely, so don’t bark at me because they weren’t technically zombies in such-and-such movie. If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a zombie.
Cure a Disease
As Seen In: I Am Legend (2007)
The Bright Idea: By manipulating the measles virus, a scientist finds a cure for cancer that has a 100% success rate.
What Went Wrong: The virus mutates, killing most of humanity and leaving the rest (with a few exceptions) as zombie mutants.
Moral of the Story: Don’t cure cancer.
As Seen In: Resident Evil (2002) and Planet Terror (2007)
The Bright Idea: Biological warfare is a popular way to kill many of the enemy without having to get your hands dirty. Sometimes creating zombies is even part of the plan. Very devious, but effective.
What Went Wrong: “Handle With Care” is not just for fragile UPS packages. Accidental droppings and releases are possible, but just as worrisome is the stuff getting in the wrong hands. Terrorism is a bitch.
Moral of the Story: Stick with conventional weapons.
Orbit the Earth
As Seen In: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Bright Idea: Space exploration has always been popular, but there was a big space push in the 60s thanks to JFK. This time, it was a probe that had orbited Venus to get scientific readings of the atmosphere.
What Went Wrong: There’s a lot of radiation in space, and the probe brought back a “mysterious” radiation that the government at least thought might be the cause.
Moral of the Story: Stop going into space or build better spacecraft.
Experiment on Animals
As Seen In: 28 Days Later (2002)
The Bright Idea: Test potentially dangerous chemicals and products on animals so that humans don’t have to suffer. Sometimes it’s as simple as worrying about side effects of a potentially safe product, or like in this case, it’s experimenting with animals by giving them a virus.
What Went Wrong: As if the name of the virus, “Rage”, wasn’t ominous enough, the virus spreads thanks to some student activists setting the animals free. The animals promptly thank the liberators by attacking them. That’ll teach PETA.
Moral of the Story: Listen to scientists when they warn you that the animals you are about to release have a disease called “Rage”. Stupid kids.
Mix Nuclear Waste with Moonshine
As Seen In: Redneck Zombies (1986)
The Bright Idea: In this low budget Direct-to-Video film, rural Marylanders with a new moonshine still decide to mix nuclear waste into the brew. What could possibly go wrong?
What Went Wrong: I think you get the picture.
Moral of the Story: Don’t go to any place described as “rural”, and never drink the moonshine…even if doesn’t have nuclear waste.
So what do you think of my list? Disagree on my choices? Think I left something out? Leave a message in the comments below.