Movies make people dumb.
Not the people watching movies, unless that movie happens to be TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 5 or whatever, in which case yes, your LSAT scores will never be the same.
No, I’m talking about characters in movies.
Characters in books sometimes do stupid things, but not usually. Put that same character in a movie and they turn into absolute idiots.
This is true for romantic comedies (bumbling fools in love!), action movies (no henchman can shoot, and no heroine or sidekick can avoid getting kidnapped by the villain) and especially horror movies, which deserve a post all their own.
If a person with a functioning brain cell rattling around their skull wouldn’t go into the spooky abandoned house where people keep disappearing, you can bet the movie character will march right in. Does the hot young teenager know that a serial killer is chasing down and killing hot young teenagers? Well, she should definitely wear high heels and fall down six times while the psycho chases her.
There are websites dedicated to listing the stupid things that movie characters do.
However: I want to pick on THE WALKING DEAD, a zombie shebang that’s on the Glowing Tube.
As a fan of zombies, I am aware of this show, and though I haven’t watched every flipping episode, I kinda keep track of things by recaps and reviews and such. It’s a good show and not at all stupid.
So why did a smart show have their characters get so idiotic in the big series finale?
Here’s the setup: the non-zombie hero peoples are holed up at some farm, and the big finale is a battle that happens when the zombies show up, en masse.
What made me want to throw things at the YouTube clip is how the zombies happily marched across the fields and surrounded the farmhouse.
No, no, no.
If you or I are hanging around a farmhouse during the zombie apocalypse, the zombies won’t ever march up on us from every direction. Why? Because we’ll get busy, real quick, using all the tools and equipment that any decent farm has the second we arrive there and take inventory of the place.
First thing we do is fire up the tractor or backhoe and dig a long ditch around the farm.
Second thing we do shove the dirt we dug up into a berm, a rough wall. So they fall in the ditch, and if by some zombie magic one of the undead gets out of the ditch, he’s gotta climb a wall.
Third thing we do is put a barbed wire fence on top of that berm.
Fourth thing we do is find some fuel and make Molotov cocktails.
If there’s a working tractor, this sort of thing takes a day or two.
And it’s worth it, because now a single Farmer Joe type with a flipping .22 rifle can stand on top of that berm and pick off zombies all day while he sips moonshine. Because there’s no way a horde of zombies is magically getting past the ditch, the wall and the barbed wire. It’s not happening.
Zombies can’t climb.
Instead, the heroes of THE WALKING DEAD go on foot (to get nom-nom-nommed) and drive around in cars trying to blow away zombies. Which isn’t smart, either. Shooting from a moving vehicle may look cool, but you have a much better chance of hitting a moving target when you’re not bouncing around, too.
Bottom line: If you really want to survive a horror movie / zombie apocalypse, please use your noggin first and your trigger finger second.
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.