Over the decades, the zombie film has become a cherished American institution. We love the moaning bastards so much that their rotting insides may as well be apple pie filling.
(Warning: Do not eat zombie insides, no matter how delicious. You will become a zombie.)
Like any institution, though, details may change but the core experience remains the same. When the zombie apocalypse comes, they might be fast or slow, the world could be post-apocalyptic or day-after-tomorrow, and the social commentary could be heavy-handed or non-existent, but the people you'll encounter will probably seem pretty familiar. Because if we've learned anything, it's that humans are only capable of six psychological reactions to a scourge of the undead. And here they are.
Every ragtag team of zombie survivalists will at some point have to deal with betrayal. No, I'm not talking about infidelity, although that too will likely occur (the zombie apocalypse is basically a free-for-all kinky sex-fest). I'm referring to the person who gets bitten by a zombie and neglects to report for immediate deheadification. Torn between fear of becoming a zombie and fear of getting shot in the face by their loved ones, they invariably hide their misfortune until they finally turn into a zombie and get shot in the face by their loved ones. Wouldn't it have been easier just to tell the truth?
Maybe she's a little quirky, but zombie? I just don't see it.
*Becomes pale, develops a corpse-like stink and/or requests to have "whichever rations taste most like brains."
*Turtlenecks, scarves or comically oversized watches are usually a bad sign.
*Claims to "really understand how zombies think. Like, really."
*Offers you admittance to the "Blood Brothers For Life No Shooting Each Other" club they just formed.
*You just saw them have sex with a zombie.
Chances of Survival:
Assuming you don't consider the shambling undead "survivors," nil. Unless the antidote/serum/Z-ray is discovered in the next 24 hours, they've basically bought it. The real question in the betrayer's case is how long they can last. If they're a beloved family member, they'll probably make it right up to the point where shooting them in the face will be most fraught with poignancy. If they're a mysterious drifter who just joined the team, they'll be biting bullet before the end of this reel.
Recommended Course of Action:
Argue heatedly with your companions about whether you really have it in you to kill a fellow human being, all while the human being in debate quietly passes out in the corner. Continue discussions until the infected person leaps at you with mindless hate in their eyes, then reflexively blow their head off. Never speak of them again.
Odds are you're going to run into the Dictator just when you need them most. You'll be cornered, out of ammo and fending off a horde of particularly deadly zombies. Suddenly, and without warning, armed men in riot gear will zipline in, kill every undead thing in a 10-block radius, and invite you back to their base, which they call "the bunker," "the fortress" or "La Fortaleza" if you're in Mexico. Once inside the compound, the Dictator shouldn't be too hard to spot; he'll be the guy with the crazy gleam in his eye who seems more preoccupied with forming a martial junta than the fact that the dead roam the earth.
No, that's just a crazy old guy who broke into a costume store.
*If you're in a "social commentary"-type zombie movie, he's the character that prompts us to ask, "Who's the real monster?"
*He's got a Marine Corps tattoo on his upper arm, a shaved head and/or sleeps wrapped in an American flag.
Still no, that's an Abercrombie & Fitch model. They're usually among the first to go.
*All of La Fortaleza's exit signs have been removed, and the only emigration program to speak of is an incinerator chute marked "enemies of the state."
*He swears the chair he presides from isn't a throne, and the only reason it's made out of zombie skulls is because they happen to be more plentiful than wood.
*Movie night is invariably The Road Warrior, and no one cheers for Max.
That's more like it.
Chances of Survival:
Not great. The law of movie irony dictates that this character will be gruesomely ripped apart by zombies so the heroes can make good their escape. Which just goes to show: You can have all the guns, men and fortified super-bunkers in the world, but in the end you just can't beat the moviegoer's desire to see a jock douche get his kidneys eaten from behind.
Recommended Course of Action:
Question the Dictator's authority by trying to leave the bunker. When he (quite sensibly, actually) threatens to kill you to keep you from exposing the bunker's location to the zombies above, tell him he doesn't have the right to keep you against your will.
Hey, it's a free zombie overrun country, man.
He'll say something about the needs of the many. Continue trading pithy barbs about the nature of government and inalienable rights until the zombies arrive. See if you can swipe the Mad Max DVD and book it.