How to

Ok, you’re a survivor, one of the lucky ones. But right outside your door, blocking your path, or creeping around the next corner are loads of undead nasties just waiting to gobble you up. So what do you do? You fight for your life of course! So on this page I’ll be posting some grizzly, gory, nasty images of how some survivors have chosen to take out their zombie foes along with some pros and cons about each.

(Please DON’T try these things in the real world! This is a blog about zombies after all.)

axes
This is one of my favorite methods for taking out a zombie. The ax is such an amazing tool. If you have a good one, a light one with an ergonomic handle it’s even better. Most axes can be used as cutting or smashing weapons which makes them ideal for going up against the undead. Just swing that thing at the zombie and virtually any place it comes in contact with them is going to receive some serious damage. Of course you have to take out the brain anyway so go for the that. But let’s say for example that the brain or the head isn’t accessible. What if you’re dealing with arms reaching in through boarded up windows? The ax is great for that too. In fact in some cases if you can take out the zombies arms when they are reaching in through a window, it might make them a little easier to deal with once you go outside.

Of course nothing is perfect though and the ax does have its downsides. First of all it takes a lot of physical strength in order to swing that thing. If you’ve ever tried to remove a tree stump, cut down a tree, or just cut up some tree limbs you know that swinging an ax can really take it out of you. Added to that you have the psychological and physiological stress of trying to defend yourself against things that are trying to rip you to shreds and it’s understandable that your energy levels can plummet pretty quickly. It would also be pretty terrible if you ended up losing the ax by getting it stuck in your attacker’s head. There is also the question of room. You might be better off trying to use the ax in a space with some room to pull back and really swing. Otherwise you’re likely to get it hung up in the things around you, or even hit, hurt, or maim the other survivors around you. Use caution and remember to do that upper body exercise so you have a good swing and follow through.

Oh! And keep the ax sharp too. Otherwise you just have a big pointy hammer, but that’s not so bad either.

poking

Poking is probably one of my least favorite technological dinosaurs still left over from the golden age of social networking. However it’s one of my favorite ways of dispatching zombies. Due to the fence in the drawing above I haven’t labeled this image the way I normally do and there’s lots to consider.

First of all, fences like the one pictures aren’t strong enough to hold back a horde so they can’t be the only form of defense (bad pun) you are using. This is just an example of a barrier that will keep the zombies at arms length while you use a reusable tool, a rod or a spear of some sort to finish them off. This might mean poking them through the boards of a boarded up window or even through the open window of a car if you have to. The point is, keep them vulnerable, keep yourself save and cary a big stick.

The big overwhelming advantage here is being able to take out a large number of zombies on your own with a reduced risk to yourself and the survivors you’re with while not expending ammunition or other limited supplies.

There are some distinct disadvantages. Though a sharp stick is one of the most basic weapons available to humans since the dawn of our tool making days, they can also be harder to use than they appear. You run the risk of losing the tool if zombies get hold of it and start pulling it out of your hands. Plus there is always the possibility that the stick will get stuck on or in something and you’ll be unable to get it back.

In this illustration I’ve placed the survivor above the zombie to give her the best vantage point looking down on the zombie and also the best way to put her weight into the thrust. This also carries risks as it’s possible to overdo one’s balance and end up falling over hurt. For best effect the object should be smooth so that it can be easily retracted, sharp, so it pierces the head quickly, and light so that you don’t get tired as quickly when you use it.

shooting-shotgun
I’m not much of a gun fan but when the zombies come around it’s time to use whatever weapons are at hand and a shotgun is a whole lot more than just a board with a nail in it. It’s a powerful way  to take out a walker fast. Depending on range and your own skills with the weapon you might end up just slowing the zombie down or immobilizing it which also has it’s advantages. The down side is that you have to actually have a good weapon, keep it in good condition, and have a supply of ammo. Those aren’t always the easiest things to come by when supplies are short.

decapitation

If you’ve been following the Walking Dead you’ve seen some pretty impressive sword-wielding maneuvers where zombie’s heads and limbs are separated from their torsos in some brutal scenes. There are some inherent dangers in this type of zombie attack. First of all you need to be really, really good with a samurai sword. Have you ever held a real one before? Do you have any idea how heavy they are or how many years of training it would take to be any good with one? Unless you’re Butch in Pulp Fiction, chances are you’re going to cut yourself long before you do any damage to your enemies.

If you happen to have a machete however you’re more likely to be able to do some damage though it probably won’t be as smooth and clean as it looks with a big bad sword. It’s also not likely to take a head off in one go. Plus you have the added danger of hitting one of the survivors around you, spreading biological material around which could spread infection. You also need enough space to swing that machete or sword and you had better be strong enough to do that over and over again. And don’t forget that the head might still try to keep biting even after it’s been freed from the body.

For these reasons I’d have to say that decapitation, though pretty badass on the TV screen, wouldn’t be the best choice in most situations.

stomping
Stopping a zombie can be a messy business. Where I’d love to be able to keep my distance and pick them off over time, the fact is, characters often get into close quarters and trapped with the living dead all around them. Depending on the situation there’s no telling if more ammo is ever going to come, so a few hand-to-hand tactics like stomping could really come in handy in those dire straights.

In this case the zombie has to be on the ground. I’ve illustrated this as a crawler but any old zombie will do as long as it’s on the ground. Be careful getting near it but do your best to stomp the head. Depending on the level of rot, it might be possible to just kick the thing in the head and be done but the skull can be a surprisingly tough nut to crack. Go for the part that seems most vulnerable on your zombie. I’d say as long as your boots are sturdy crushing the mouth or breaking the jaw is a good way to buy yourself a little time if you aren’t up to actually destroying the brain with your boot. (And who could blame you? That’s GROSS!)

The real disadvantage here is that you really do need to be in close to the zombie in order to make this work and safety really calls for keeping ones distance. So again, I wouldn’t recommend this as my first choice. Then again, if you’re trying to conserve energy and ammo, a good old fashioned stomping might just do the trick! (Just remember to never do it on the living!)

stabbing
This is possibly my least favorite option but it also seems to come up all the time on the Walking Dead. It just freaks me out. Every time one of the survivors goes at a zombie, actually reaches out to grab one and stabs them in the eye it freaks me out. Stabbing a zombie in the eye may or may not work as it’s both hard to do and doesn’t guarantee the brain will be destroyed. It also means that in order to even try you have to get so close that you stand a very good chance of getting yourself bit. But don’t give up on it entirely, as a last ditch effort when that zombie is about to have his lunch, it’s go time! Just make sure you get the knife, screwdriver whatever you have in as far as you can get it.

dropping

If you’ve ever taken a fall you know it can be a pretty scary thing. In my case I fell out of a tree and broke an arm once but that was nothing compared to the gut-busting fall this buxom beauty has just taken.

Dropping or pushing zombies from high places isn’t a perfect solution in any way. You run the risk of the zombie grabbing you and taking you with it over the edge and it could require getting close to them. Also, there is no guarantee that the zombie is actually going to be stopped. As I mentioned I fell out of a tree simply breaking an arm. There is the chance that even from a high fall the zombie wouldn’t actually be destroyed and would simply end up as a cracker. How high do you have to go to cause zombie_stopping damage like that above? How do you get up there? How do the zombies?

This is still an option however. If you have a secure area like an apartment in a high building and you are able to divert the zombies towards an open space where they could be shoved out a window or opening then you might have a chance. If you’re in a helicopter racing away from a rooftop and one last zombie is clinging to your leg or the chopper and you just ran out of bullets, kicking it in the face and firing off some heroic one liner might be the choice for you.

But how likely are those scenarios? Not bloody likely mate.

running over
If you’re lucky enough to have a car during the zombie apocalypse, or if it’s still early days, smashing a few zombies with your car might be an option. It’s definitely not a perfect solution though.

Smashing a zombie is just like smashing a person and it could end up doing a lot of damage to your car and yourself. In fact the act of smashing the zombie might actually drive you right off the road and into a ditch or a building. So if you are driving around and you have no other choice, smash the zombie, but do it at your own risk.

I have to admit I’m a terrible driver and haven’t been behind the wheel for years so this isn’t much of an option for me. Any drivers out there have opinions on this one? Is it better to go fast or slow? Nick the thing with the bumper or just try to back over it?

melting
Melting might work on the Wicked Witch of the West but with zombies it rarely works out. There are a lot of reasons for this but the most obvious is that you just don’t have anything at hand to do it with. Sure you could probably get some chemicals and mix something up if you were good at chemistry but it’s hard to keep that stuff on hand, hard to apply it to the zombie, and hard to keep from getting injured yourself. All those chemicals could get splashed back on you if the zombie thrashes around at all and you’re going to have a hell of a mess on your hands if that thing was inside your bunker. Dumping acid on zombies is something similar to boiling oil being dropped on knights during the middle ages. It requires a structure through which the zombies would have to pass and then have the stuff dropped on them and you’re not likely to have any of that. What you’re going to have are little mason jars that need to be flung at the zombies, the success of which depends entirely on your aim.

burning
Setting a zombie on fire might not be as easy as it looks. It’s a lot like the idea of throwing acid on them. It means being able to hit a moving target with an unreliable weapon that could do more damage to you than it does to the zombie. There’s also no guarantee that the zombie will actually be stopped. It’ll certainly be damaged and slowed down but if it isn’t totally destroyed you’ll end up having to kill it just the same. The upside is that it will hopefully be a lot easier to do after it’s been roasted.

exploding

I’ll have to admit here that I’m not totally satisfied with this illustration and I might end up replacing it later. This is the second time I’ve illustrated a zombie blowing up and this is far better than my first go at it but there is still something sort of goblin-like about this zombie that I think I want to change. Nevertheless today’s “How to stop a zombie” option is exploding.

This is another badass idea that I don’t think would really work so well in real life. If you are capable of setting up mines or IEDs then you might have a good chance for some good perimeter defense. This depends a lot on your location and experience with such things. Have you ever done anything like that? No? Well me neither. Doing this RIGHT requires proper skills and military training or you’re just as likely to blow yourself up or blow off a hand as you are to stop a zombie. It also requires access to fairly specific materials that you might not have access to and which could be dangerous to handle.

So by all means, blow up the zombies but stay well clear of the area and don’t get yourself blown up in the process.

electrocution
This is a rarely used method but was the big shocker (get it?) at the end of the second Return of the Living Dead movie. A hoard of zombies got taken out by electrocuting them at the local power plant after they’d been lured in. This was a novel idea for a series that really broke the mold when it came to zombie flicks. Unfortunately the second Return of the Living Dead also marked the SHARP downturn in the quality of the movies. It’s basically a flat out crap fest. None the less, the ending gave us a unique way of killing zombies. This is probably one of the least practical ways of stopping them but it theoretically, a strong electrical shock should bring down just about anything living or dead. I wouldn’t count on it working in most cases though as it poses a real danger to you as well as being difficult to set up and implement.

mowing

Dead Alive is by far one of the bloodiest zombie movies anyone’s ever made. This early Peter Jackson horror comedy set in New Zealand is full of some of the best zombie action on film. It also gives us one of the hardest but most amazing ways to kill zombies, the humble lawnmower.

Not something I would recommend at home, the infamous “lawnmower scene” in Dead Alive has the main character using an upended lawnmower to hack through an entire room full of zombies in an absolute shower of blood. Interestingly the zombies in this movie don’t stop even when the head has been badly damaged. In fact intestines seem to have a life of their own as they slither about like snakes to attack the hero and his girlfriend.

If you haven’t seen Dead Alive, do it and you won’t be sorry. It’ll also give you a different perspective on Peter Jackson. Try comparing the central park ice skating scene in King Kong with the lawnmower scene and remember they are the same directer. Fantastic.

punching
This is without a doubt one of the most dangerous and worst ideas for killing a zombie I’ve ever seen. But guess what? I’ve actually seen this in a zombie movie. Return of the Living Dead 2. The zombie in question was a real squishy, soft type. The bone had gotten all soft and it seems like it’s whole head just melted under this woman’s punch. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a fight, but punching people hurts. It hurts your hand it breaks the skin, it causes cuts, and it can break the bones in your fingers. That’s with a regular person. Now imagine that you’re trying to punch something that’s trying to eat you. I don’t think this is a really good idea for anything other than a last resort. With a regular zombie it would be just like trying to punch a person. You know how many times you would have to punch someone in the face to actually kill them or stop them the way we see in the zombie movies? By the time he destroyed the zombies bring your hands would be Paul and you’d probably be infected if it was a medical zombie.

Even though I don’t like this method I can at least understand. After all if you’re backed into a corner, you don’t have a weapon and the something is coming after you, of course you’re going to try to punch it or push it or kick or something, anything to get away from you. My feeling with these things is that I want to have as little physical contact with them as possible. The chances are that if you try to put them in a headlock or you try to strangle them or you go anywhere near their mouths they’re going to bite.

So if you want to get a little extra training or you want to be just a little bit more prepared for the zombie apocalypse you might want to try taking a self-defense class that lets you avoid contact with people who are trying to hurt you and helps you find ways to push them away or get them away without actually having to come into contact with them. Unless you’re properly trained in hand-to-hand combat like kung-fu or other martial arts you’re not likely to stand much of a chance against zombies using this.

punji sticks2

This is a pretty gruesome image and also a bit cartoonish. When we think of punji sticks we, at least I, think of a sort of cartoon pit or giant tiger trap that something will fall into and get spiked on. Actually, punji sticks can and have been used to great effect to slow down or stop an enemy. If you’re not too squeamish, do a Google image search and check out some of the shallow punji stick pits you find there.

One trouble with setting up punji sticks is making sure people in your own group don’t get snared in them. It’s more than likely that zombies wouldn’t think to avoid them but it’s certainly possible. There’s also the question of being attacked by other groups of survivors or wandering individual survivors. The  simplest form, MUCH less dramatic than the pikes I’ve illustrated here would be a simple board with nails in it. Dig a shallow pit, put a wide panel at the bottom with nails sticking up and cover it with leaves. Just remember where it is and it will at least slow down an advancing walker, hopefully tripping them up.

For simple defense, the punji sticks are a big plus. One other thing you might try though I haven’t illustrated it yet would be piles of rounded rocks. If you’ve ever walked in a stream or river bed you know it can be a bit tough scrambling over piles of loose rounded stones. Zombies would have the same problem. So throw a nice ring of loose stones around your place to help slow them up and you’re off to a good start.

waiting
This is going to sound redundant but the idea of surviving the zombie apocalypse is seeing it all the way to the end. I mean, we want to get through it and go on to live fulfilling lives when it’s done. Are we actually going to be able to destroy each and every zombie? Not on our own no. And the good thing is, we don’t have to. Time and the elements are going to take care of most of that for us. If you are able to get a steady supply of fresh water and food, plus a good place to stay where you are shielded from the elements and the walkers can’t get you, then the summer heat and the winter cold are going to do most of the work for you.

In theory at least.

In a lot of stories zombies come back and stalk the earth regardless of the physical laws of nature. Their eyes never rot, they turn to leathery things, they keep moving regardless of how well they’ve fed or how little water they’ve drunk. The beauty of story telling is that you can defy logic and reality I suppose. To me, a major factor that distinguished 28 Days Later was the fact that the infected eventually starved and died off. Brilliant.

6 thoughts on “How to”

      1. ax |aks| (also axe)
        noun
        1 a tool typically used for chopping wood, usually a steel blade attached at a right angle to a wooden handle.ax 1
        ax 1
        • a measure intended to reduce costs drastically, especially one that involves elimination of staff: thirty workers are facing the ax in the assembly department.
        2 informal a musical instrument, especially one played by a jazz or rock musician.

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