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A Bloody Good Time: The 10 Dumbest Decisions In Zombie Movies

November 23, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Dawn of the Dead Zombie

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

So as with every Thanksgiving, I like to tone things down for this column and focus on something fun. I mean, last year I talked about Power Ranger monsters. This year, I decided to focus on zombies. Well, not really. It’s about the people in zombie movies.

In a way, I get why people might resort to stupid tactics during the zombie apocalypse. After all, the dead are rising from their graves and everyone you know or love has probably been eaten. I think after seeing a family member eaten alive, it might remove the capacity for rational thought. But as I’ve watched zombie movies over the years, I’ve seen more and more people get killed for making the dumbest decisions you can think of.

Now granted, that’s kind of horror movies in general. Half of the genre wouldn’t exist if people just did the smart and logical thing right away. But it seems there’s a special breed of stupid in these movies, like people just lose all of their IQ points after they see a walking corpse. So I thought I’d look at some of the dumber decisions made in zombie movies.

#10: Jud Crandall is a stupid old man in Pet Sematary

He’s somewhat excused in the book, where it’s heavily implied that the Micmac burial ground itself is influencing everyone’s actions to bring more people back from the dead. In the movie this is glossed over, so it’s gives Jud more agency and less intelligence. Why in the world would Jud, knowing exactly what the Micmac grounds are and knowing what happens if a person is buried there, tell Louis about it at all?

Again, in the book it’s implied that the power within the Micmac grounds makes things happen so that more people are buried there. In other words, it put the idea in Jud’s head after Louis saves his wife’s life. That’s not the case in the film. He just sees that Church is dead and out of the blue decides to tell Louis where he can bring it back to life. As far as why goes, he just says “I have my reasons.” Everything that happens in this movie is your fault, Herman Munster. You can’t even blame Louis here. He’s out of his mind with grief both times he buries a person. What’s Jud’s excuse?

#9: Continuing to film and make the movie – Diary of the Dead

I should state before I go on that I genuinely like Diary of the Dead. I think it’s underrated and while I do have some problems with it, it’s one of the better found footage horror films. That said, the main character is an idiot. Jason only seems to care about making his movie, to the point of constantly filming in spite of the fact that there are dead people trying to eat him. At one point he even films a person dying without even lifting a finger to help. Naturally, this results in his death but it’s far later than it should have been.

That’s a problem with a lot of found footage movies but some of the better ones try to work their way around it. At least in Diary all the other characters often call Jason out on his crap and know he has no reason to be doing what he’s doing. Except his girlfriend, who ends up taking the footage and editing it together (with scary music for dramatic effect, as if the walking dead isn’t dramatic enough) at the end. You know what, she’s just as dumb as he is.

#8: Pretty much everyone in Deadgirl

Deadgirl is another movie that I enjoy that’s full of idiots. In this case there’s only really one zombie and it’s chained down in an abandoned building somewhere. Since it’s female, the horny teenager who finds it thinks it would be a good idea to have sex with it. In addition to that being incredibly disgusting, it’s also stupid. What if you catch whatever it has? Then he decides to tell his friend about it, which begins our plot. If I were that person that was into that, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone I was banging a corpse. Not just because I wouldn’t want anyone to find out, but because I wouldn’t want anyone to know I was doing that to a dead body.

So the plot continues from there and, you know, eventually, more people get in on the action. One of them, Johnny, decides that a zombie is the perfect thing to get oral sex from. If you can’t guess what happens next, you haven’t seen enough horror films. It’s a dumb decision in a series of them, as the movie ends with everyone dying and the main character’s love interest becoming the new “Deadgirl.”

#7: Dakota kills her own kid in Planet Terror

While this moment is played for laughs, it’s nevertheless a stupid decision on the part of Dr. Dakota Block. She’s a fairly strong character in film full of them, managing to do well for herself in spite of both her hands being numb. But she’s either too rattled from what’s going on or just doesn’t care because at one point she hands a loaded gun to her son. I will give her points for telling him to be careful with it but come on, he’s a kid. Kids can be dumb and kids can completely ignore what their parents tell them.

Naturally, not a full minute later and the kid blows his head off with the gun. It’s incredibly dark and you have to have a sick sense of humor to laugh at it, but it is what it is. She’s not a dumb character but that was a really stupid decision and she lost her kid over it. I know there’s a zombie apocalypse happening but she’s going to have to live with that the rest of her life now.

#6: Frank hitting the drum in Return of the Living Dead

Frank in general is kind of an idiot in this movie, but he’s also directly responsible for all of the events that follow. He gets the idea to appear cool or impress Freddie (Thom Mathews) on his first day on the job so he tells him about the corpse in the drum in the basement. He explains the story of how the Trioxin container ended up there and decides to show him. As we later find out, it’s actually against Burt’s orders that he even messes with it.

Not only does he show Freddie the container, but the idiot decides to strike it to show how sturdy it is. Yes Frank, let’s hit the drum of toxic gas and a corpse! I’m sure nothing bad will happen! Naturally that send the trioxin into the air which results in the rest of the events of the film, culminating in Louisville, Kentucky getting nuked off the map.

#5: Shooting the gasoline in Night of the Living Dead 1990

This same sequence happens in the original film, but not the same way. In that, it’s an accidental spilling of gasoline and molotov cocktails that kills Tom and Judy. It’s a bit dumber in the remake, when Tom realizes he can’t get the lock open to the gas pump because the key isn’t there. So, even with gasoline spilling, he does the stupid thing and tries to shoot it open. That spills gas onto the torch in the car and blows everything up.

Nevermind the fact that it was the torch getting hit with gas that caused the explosion, it was done because he fired his gun. Why would you fire a gun anywhere near a gas pump? Yes, it could have opened the lock but it also could have done what it did. I know there are zombies everywhere but he doesn’t even try anything else. He could have struck it open with the butt of his gun, or searched for a tool in the trunk or waited for Ben to come help. But no, he fires the gun and kills himself and his girlfriend. Way to go, stupid.

#4: Nicole and her dog in Dawn of the Dead 2004

It was established in this movie that zombies don’t care about animals. In other films they have, but not the Dawn of the Dead remake. Nicole knows this when her allies come up with the plan to send her dog over to Andy’s gun shop with supplies. She freaks out over it and crashes a truck into the store, letting the zombies in. While they all try to get away, Tucker breaks his legs and has to be given a mercy kill. Nicole nearly gets everyone killed over her dog, which would have been fine.

The worst part about this is, Nicole lives. She gets away just fine and survives the rest of the movie. Normally people in these movies are killed by their stupid decisions, but this movie subverts that and lets her live. I guess that’s what happens when you surround yourself with people far more competent than you are.

#3: The guy getting his blood pressure checked in Dawn of the Dead

Once again, this was done as a gag so I can’t get too mad at it. But at the same time, who the hell does this? In the climax of the original Dawn, a gang of bikers invade the mall that our heroes have set up as a nice place to wait out the zombie apocalypse. When they get there…they seemingly have no real purpose. They steal jewelry and money, throw pies in the face of zombies and goof off until the zombies or our heroes kill them.

But there’s one guy that just out-dumbs them all. In the middle of zombies running around, a guy decides he just has to get his blood pressure taken. I mean I care about my health too but there’s a time and place for everything, man. Naturally, the zombies surround and eat him, tearing his body away from his arm while the machine continues to measure his BP. Sure, it’s funny, but what the hell was that guy thinking?

#2: Brenda’s death in Return of the Living Dead Part II

Okay, at least the other people on this list had an ounce of self-preservation before their untimely demises. Brenda, however, just outright gives up. And I don’t mean in a suicidal kind of way, I mean in a really dumb, not thinking at all kind of way. When her boyfriend Joey turns into one of the living dead, he chases her around because, of course, he wants her brains. Eventually, instead of running, she just kind of sits down and…let’s him eat her brains. Not because she wants to die, but because she apparently loves him too much.

There’s love and there’s lunacy. The fact that we never see those characters again leaves this as their last moment. A girl stupidly deciding to let some zombie eat her brains because…reasons. There is no one in the world that is gonna let someone kill them just because they love them. I’m still not even sure that’s why she does it. At first she’s just screaming and then she’s like, “dur, okay, eat them.” It makes no sense.

#1: People who don’t go for the head in too many zombie movies to count.

In zombie movies, this always happens. People waste their ammunition shooting zombies in their bodies when they know to shoot them in the head. It’s the kind of thing that can be forgiven at the start of the movie because the rules aren’t established yet. However, in many a zombie film, you’ll see guys with fully automatic weapons just emptying clips into the bodies of corpses that keep coming at them, when they know for a fact that a shot to the head will kill them.

There’s just no excuse for it, really. What do you hope to achieve by shooting them anywhere but the head. Maybe they’re just bad shots, but that can’t be the case for everyone. And yet you’ll see it happen at least once a movie. It’s never sat well with me. I’m not saying I would do well in the zombie apocalyse either, but at least I’ve seen enough of these movies to know what not to do.

Ending Notes:

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook.

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A Bloody Good Time, Joseph Lee