Dear Ask: Which type of post-zombie apocalypse shelter is best?
November 10, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

The Zombie Safe House Competition: 2011 entries, 2010 entries)

(Inspired by the discussion in the current Walking Dead FanFare thread.
posted by Room 641-A (53 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
A pineapple under the sea.
posted by ...possums at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


It depends on how many people you want to live in the shelter and for how long. You can have a one designed for four people, but what happens when two of them get together and then there's 5 or 6 people in that shelter designed for four?

You figure it out while I hole up on this super mega yacht with guns and strippers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


The correct answer for any post-apocalyptic dwelling is the one that nobody else can find.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:55 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


But what if zombies are of partly supernatural origin as opposed to purely medical/scientific? This is my great concern. While I am also preparing for the upcoming zombie apocalypse and am taking careful notes, should we not also consider the possibility of an invasion more akin to the type predicted by the golden age of pulps? Especially if the zombies appear to be fully human (and possibly rather sexy humans at that) who mainly long to return to their graves as opposed to eating others?

On one hand, I am quite inspired by these majestic fortresses. On the other, I feel there should be supplemental defenses drawn from Hoodoo, Vodun (Africa), Vodou (Haiti) and Catholic faiths to protect us.

That said, I am glad it is a holiday tomorrow so I can peruse this awesome link at leisure. Thank you for the post!
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2014


Did somebody just surround their house with treadmills? Because it's the obvious answer. You have weeks to shoot a zombie on a treadmill.
posted by eriko at 6:10 PM on November 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


So, this really depends upon the zombies.

The three primary barrier options are sea, land, or air.

Land: Underground bunkers are good, but long term sustainability is a problem ( can't easily grow crops without external power source ).

Sea: Islands are good, but you have to worry about Walkers wandering out of the sea.

Air: Height is good, but you're at risk from Climbers (Zeppelins can't support sufficient weight to grow crops)
posted by leotrotsky at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2014


You figure it out while I hole up on this super mega yacht with guns and strippers.

It will take strippers about 20 minutes to get the guns and toss you overboard.
posted by srboisvert at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Did somebody just surround their house with treadmills? Because it's the obvious answer. You have weeks to shoot a zombie on a treadmill.

Are you sure they wouldn't be able to lift off?
posted by srboisvert at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


The best option pairs all three. You reside in an underground bunker on a barbed-wire ringed island with cameras, motion sensors, and auto turrets. Crops and livestock reside in a central valley ringed by steep mountains.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shangri-La. The only way to get in is by air. Any walking dead would freeze solid long before they made it to you. Hell walking living would freeze solid long before they made it to you.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:39 PM on November 10, 2014


It will take strippers about 20 minutes to get the guns and toss you overboard.

Please, I only date smart strippers. There's no way they'd throw away a decent source of protein.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder when people will get tired of thinly-veiled metaphors for demographic change zombies.
posted by truex at 7:14 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wonder when people will get tired of thinly-veiled metaphors for demographic change zombies.

You might as well ask when will people get tired of vampire stories.

When the genre fails to innovate or push its limits on a mass, people will grow bored and it'll disappear for a bit. But not really.

Then someone will come up with a different take or 10 years will pass and a new generation will be interested in the genre. In short, you're doomed and for the rest of your life you'll be shuffling along with zombie stories.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then someone will come up with a different take

I've got it. You know how they had the slow zombies, and then running zombies got everyone all excited again? Next thing is jumping zombies. Not sure yet if we're talking like Gummy Bears bouncy zombies, or like track and field long jump pole-vault zombies that will shot put a zombie head at you. But the key here is new skills.
posted by Hoopo at 7:30 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Which type of post-zombie apocalypse shelter is best?

I parsed that as an apocalypse shelter for post-zombies. Like, I don't know, post-modernists. Which I guess is still sort of accurate.
posted by axiom at 7:38 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The quality level of the entries to this contest is amazing. That's a lot of talent, and effort.
posted by Flashman at 7:38 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This isn't even an interesting question. Zombies can't swim.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:40 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yet, Slarty Bartfast. YET.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:27 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Zombies can't swim.

You're right, they just trudge along the seafloor until they surface at your "We made it!" beach party.
posted by Chutzler at 8:58 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


But the key here is new skills.

What about neurotypical, non infected, non living dead zombies who just poor or root for the wrong sports team or something?
posted by wotsac at 9:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


You're right, they just trudge along the seafloor until they surface at your "We made it!" beach party.

Which is on a boat docked in a bay. So they still can't get on it. The only real danger you'd face is the usual danger of being on a sailboat--storms, shipwreck, running out of water. Zombies just can't get on a fleet of ships. Why am I talking about this? What is actually wrong with me?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:57 PM on November 10, 2014


North Korea.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:41 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Next thing is jumping zombies.

Already covered.
posted by malthusan at 12:31 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wonder when people will get tired of thinly-veiled metaphors for demographic change zombies.

No no, it's a consumer revolt.
posted by fleacircus at 2:25 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Radio. Cage. Gasoline.

Zombies follow radio into cage, burn. If required, substitute raw meat. If required and evil, substitute live bait. Repeat until no more zombies. Claim sweet ridiculous mansion of billionaire who didn't think of this.
posted by Drexen at 4:07 AM on November 11, 2014


I wonder when people will get tired of thinly-veiled metaphors for demographic change zombies.

No no, it's a consumer revolt.


Incorrect, it's about ethics in undead journalism #zombiegate
posted by Renoroc at 6:21 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Seriously though, people who fantasize about having to survive in a zombie apocalypse are super fucked-up.
posted by truex at 9:44 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd stick it out up here on the plains of North Dakota. Find a farm with shelter belts, reinforce with fencing, and keep a close eye on the livestock. Most farms have at least one 1000 gallon fuel tank. Get generators, set up a crow's nest of sorts atop the barn, augment that with security cameras. The winters up here would keep the zombies at bay for months. One nice winter days you could patrol for the frozen ones and finish 'em off. But I'd need books, plenty of books.
posted by Ber at 9:52 AM on November 11, 2014


Seriously though, people who fantasize about having to survive in a zombie apocalypse are super fucked-up.

It may be fucked-up as a starting point, at least if one takes it too seriously, but I feel like my occasional party game of "zombie apocalypse survival" has definitely helped me to clarify my thoughts on survival situations I might actually face. (Hurricanes, floods, massive power outages, riots...)

Is it fucked up to think through what you'd do if the power went out for three weeks? If the water supply suddenly became unusable (as recently happened in some part of the Midwestern US, I think)? Is it fucked up to think about how you'd want to handle it if your city suddenly became Ferguson, MO? The "zombie apocalypse" is just a narrative shorthand for any kind of massive collapse. Once you get through the initial chaos, the real problem is how to get by without the society you've relied upon in the past.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:41 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Treatise on Fortification, Auguste Frédéric Lendy, W. Mitchell, 1862
posted by ob1quixote at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a narrative shorthand that has, as a central feature, a need to shoot people in the head. There's no reason to use that narrative when encouraging disaster preparation when there's a perfectly good narrative (not dying in a natural disaster) that doesn't involve shooting people in the head.
posted by truex at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2014


(The idea that we all need to prepare for a massive societal collapse in our lifetimes is also pretty silly, but that's an argument for another time.)
posted by truex at 11:26 AM on November 11, 2014


Hey, a person on the intertubes thinks I'm fucked up. Whatever shall I do?!

It's a narrative shorthand that has, as a central feature, a need to shoot people in the head.

Which is still better than Sex in the City. Also, it's fucked up that you haven't mentioned the cannibalism aspects. So shooting imaginary shooting people in the head is bad, but imaginary cannabalism is ok?! WTF is wrong with you? And are you grass fed?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:28 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


As far as I am aware both The Returned and In the Flesh do not use shooting the undead as a central feature. Also plenty of action movies have the central premise of shooting other people, not monsters, as a common narrative. So I'm not sure what the objection is here.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:33 PM on November 11, 2014


It's a narrative shorthand that has, as a central feature, a need to shoot people in the head.

People? Or Zombies?
posted by Room 641-A at 1:21 PM on November 11, 2014


How is a genre about society collapsing and people becoming monsters that must be shot in their heads better than a show about women who sometimes have sex in a city?
posted by truex at 1:45 PM on November 11, 2014


Room 641-A, people. In terms of the narrative they may no longer be people as we know them, but a regular part of zombie stories is the discomfort and struggle that comes with having to shoot former friends, neighbors, and family in the head. That so many people seem so gleeful about the possibility is a significant part of what bothers me.

With regards to other genres that involve not-zombies being shot, well, please do enlighten me as to one which has reached the level of cultural penetration that we see with zombies. I regularly see cars with "zombie task force" bumper stickers. "Defense kits" are sold online. To think that this is just about monsters is to miss the forest for the trees.

To be clear, I do enjoy a good zombie story. They can be scary and interesting and thought-provoking. There's a level of saturation and cultural acceptance and outright enthusiasm, however, that quickly becomes troubling.

Hell, it's almost as if nobody wants to remember the ending to Night of the Living Dead.
posted by truex at 2:00 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I do enjoy a good zombie story. They can be scary and interesting and thought-provoking. There's a level of saturation and cultural acceptance and outright enthusiasm, however, that quickly becomes troubling.

I'm usually the first person to leap in and Be Bothered about stuff, but in this case, I don't think the zombie thing is as problematic as you do. I think it hits a sweet spot, a confluence of factors that make it deeply appealing to a lot of people:

* Zombie stories are mostly set in the modern world. There's less buy-in than, say, Lord of the Rings. It's easy to picture my home town all broken down and overrun. Hell, when I was living in St. Louis, I don't think I would've needed to change a thing. Just add zombies. Less imagination is required overall to partake in the fantasy. (I think this is also why urban fantasy - which I mostly hate - is so popular.)

* Zombie stories allow a person to imagine a familiar world, minus all the rules and norms. Escapist fantasy is, at its core, often about being unfettered: living in a world where we can indulge every childish whim, no matter how violent or inappropriate, because we know we can't do that for real.

* Zombies are, on an individual level, often not that threatening. TWD Walkers? I could beat up one or two. I'm sure of it. This makes it easier to daydream about being a hero than if you're thinking about superhuman foes like vampires or werewolves. Honestly, I really think this is the thing that has so many people so hyped: you can remain *you* and still be an action star type, to some degree, in the fictional context. The only way to compete in Twilight is to become a vampire, but I could still be myself and possibly survive a zombie apocalypse via cunning and ingenuity. This, as with the modern setting, makes it a more accessible fantasy to people who don't really fantasize about being nonhuman themselves.

So... yeah. I guess what I'm saying is that it may be annoying to listen to folks talk about what gun store they'd raid first, but I wouldn't worry too much about the implications of it beyond that.
posted by mordax at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2014


To think that this is just about monsters is to miss the forest for the trees.

To assume a whole forest was planted with only one kind of racist tree is a ridiculous way to think about things.

You seriously have to make several leaps of logic to assume that there is some kind of implicit racist machination at work in the zombie genre.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:00 PM on November 11, 2014


Once again, did nobody bother to watch Night of the Living Dead through to the end? Racial politics have been and continue to be tied up with the genre. This is not a new idea, nor is it a leap of faith; the literature is replete with analysis of this very idea. Note also that I'm not making the claim that it's about nothing but race. Hence, forests and trees.

(Oh, and before somebody assumes and gets super-defensive let me be clear that saying there are race issues involved is not equivalent to calling anybody racist.)
posted by truex at 6:54 PM on November 11, 2014


Now that I've been thinking about it, a turn-based tactical strategy game from the point of view of the zombies wold be pretty great.
posted by truex at 7:05 PM on November 11, 2014


You know, having been in some fucked up situations that required extreme survival skills at a young age, I see zombie porn as an opportunity to see if my own, personal strategies would work equally well in Dystopian ZombieWorld.

I know that is anecdotal, and agree that Night's ending is hella racist. But I related to zombies (and feared them viscerally) because I experienced something close.

People with PTSD and domestic abuse scenarios probably feel a certain relief watching people fuck about this slow-moving disaster and think, yeah dude, easy peasy, I got this. I got something for all y'all raping and cannibalizing-ass motherfuckers, too. Come get some!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2014


Now that I've been thinking about it, a turn-based tactical strategy game from the point of view of the zombies wold be pretty great.

The easiest turn-based tactical strategy game ever?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:20 PM on November 11, 2014


This is not a new idea, nor is it a leap of faith

With some vague assertions and one example, it certainly appears to be the case.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:42 PM on November 11, 2014


Tbh, I'm not so sure what you're trying to get at with NotLD as an example. Racism is a really explicit theme in the film, and notably doesn't show up in any other of Romero's films. Unless you count the classism in LotD, but Romero really does manage to tie a lot of other previous ideas he had together in Land, and it is a much better film than is given credit.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:09 PM on November 11, 2014


I feel truex is closer to the mark about the recent (10-15 years) Western cultural obsession with zombies than those who explain zombie narrative fascination as merely good clean zombie fun.

In a previous academic research project (unfinished and increasingly moribund [undead]; I'm no longer an academic), I analyze the way in which zombie films (and other apocalyptic narratives) stage the emergence of zombies and how that emergence provides an initial psychoanalytic clarity by identifying zombies as abject others whose mere existence demanded radical action (immolation, dismemberment, beheading, etc.).

In other words, many zombie films (after 1968) cinematically stage a condition where a population of humans become Abject and this transformation produces the justification for extermination, the emergence of zombies the cinematic staging of conditions which legitimate genocide.

There are a couple of steps that need to be taken between the cinematic representation of the emergence of zombies and the psychoanalytic desire to alleviate our collective postmodern fatigue through the "clarity" of genocidal imperative, but those steps are not too difficult to infer if one considers, for example, the Rwandan Civil War or, say, the representation of swarms of black humanoids in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.

I'd say more (and there is much more to be said) but I have to get to my next thing.

And finally, come on guys, any fool knows the best post-zombie apocalypse shelter is the basement, right?

RIGHT?!
posted by mistersquid at 10:27 PM on November 11, 2014


Considering the fact that zombie films require little more than some makeup to produce, what is described as "fascination" can also be summarily reduced to a cheap and expedient process of force feeding. The populace is just as "fascinated" with the vampire genre and yet somehow that's not something we should be worrying about?
Inferring that a thematic narrative that exists in some examples is, without a doubt, a basis for not only a whole genre but also of the collective unconscious, is conflationary leap-frogging.
This is the same reasoning people apply to FPS' by way of calling them "murder simulators". I would love to know how to do mind reading but the fact of the matter is that this is simply stringing a few ideas together and asserting that therefore we really can pull out the one true objective idea in the landscape of the mind's subjectivity.
Rwanda? Ponderous and bombastic. Should we consider the invasion of Ukraine? Ah, maybe the ethnic conflict in Sudan because that checks all the boxes. No need to look at all the political and social powers that actually come into play because: zombies.
I'm kind of surprised that good old etymological fallacy argument about 'zombie' hasn't been used yet.

On another note, from what I've read Lacan did not at all agree with asserting things about the viewer by way of analyzing media.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:14 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vampires have nowhere near the cultural penetration that zombies enjoy and you know it.
posted by truex at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2014


It's really the evolutionary psychology of cultural analysis. You could just as easily whip up a theory that casts it in a positive light - an emblem of individuality struggling against alienation, a viscera-clothed dream of a situation in which people matter again, where interactions and relations are important, where we can really mean something to our friends and neighbours and family and them to us.

Zombie shelter: I am a lazy man and would prolly just demolish the stairs in my house and throw a rope out the window for access.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:30 AM on November 12, 2014


It's amazing how defensive people get when somebody else mentions issues they have with a thing that those people like.
posted by truex at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2014


For the record, cultural analysis and cultural critique is not (for me and for many researchers) about debunking or dismissing the cultural artifacts being analyzed.

I personally love zombie films.

It's simply about understanding/creating a framework to talk about how these artifacts create meaning and/or speak to/of the cultures which produce them.

Such analyses find rich source material from vampire narratives (which is actually considered to be the aristocratic version of what zombies represent: Count Dracula, a royal descendant, is a foreign other; the British protagonists are trying to figure if vampirism is akin to disease and/or Transylvanian language; the British protagonists primary engagement is deciphering codes. Once the Master vampire (head royalty) is slain the sub-vampires (vassals) are also destroyed. Zombies on the other hand are uncontrolled proletarian after Romero's 1968 _Night of the Living Dead_. Prior to that there was a non-zombie zombie master.)

The origins of zombie film come from 1930s treatments of colonial labor (Tourneur's _I Walked With a Zombie_, which is modeled after _Jane Eyre_).

In any case, limning the genocidal imperative which follows the emergence of zombies in film is not to say those films are "bad' and liking them is the same as wanting to commit genocide.
posted by mistersquid at 12:03 PM on November 12, 2014


Hats off to you, mistersquid. I'm perfectly fine with cultural critique, I love reading it in my spare time. But actual critique, and not dressed up half formed opinions around an idea that popularly parades itself as actual critique on MeFi. A critique should clearly show the connections and at least try to interrogate the idea. I'm fine accepting ideas I don't agree with, but I do think it's pretty ridiculous to connect two dots and think people are honestly supposed to jump on board.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how defensive people get when somebody else mentions issues they have with a thing that those people like.

And it's pretty tiresome when people don't like something other people like, and try and come up with reasons why that thing is actually racist/sexist/horribly fucked up so therefor the people who like it are either those things, or supporting those things if they don't instantly agree.


With that said, i find the zombie apocalypse fetishism gross, and not even for the plenty legit reasons it's easy to pick on most popular examples of the genre. Nah, what gets me is that it's total nerd power fantasy neckbeard machismo bullshit. Similar to how some nerds have eugenics fantasies, they're convinced that they would be the ones to survive and all those dumb plebs who don't have their badass knowledge gleaned from reddit and messageboards are going to get totally rekt. There's a strong undercurrent of "the nerdy white men will inherit the earth and get to do whatever they want and have like, totally unlimited sex in their sweet fortress because anyone they want around will be dependent on them". And that just like, grosses me out.

I don't take it to some weird place of the people who like it being horrible bigots though, unless they demonstrate that otherwise. Just, in many cases, a sad variety of nerd with a revenge fantasy.

I could never get in to this zombie forts thing for that reason. I know some, or even a lot of people are just spherical cowsing here, but i can't shake that association personally.
posted by emptythought at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


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