The CDC recently released an actual guide for zombie preparedness, with tips and tools for surviving disastrous situations illustrated in a graphic novel. CDC officials might be suffering from a bout of pandemic cabin fever, but I, for one, will take heed of their advice, which can apply to almost any emergency situation.
It’s one thing to read a brochure to prepare, though, and another to see those survival tactics in action. Fortunately, in the last 20 years we’ve seen many retellings of zombie survival stories, so here are 13 shows and movies that, when paired with the CDC’s advice, might help you survive the zombie apocalypse.
The Walking Dead
In The Walking Dead, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes up from a coma in the middle of a worldwide epidemic and searches for his family to survive the zombie apocalypse together. Grimes is the natural-leader type, the kind willing to do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones, but he learns that zombies are often the least of his worries. The Walking Dead does well at highlighting how badly humans suck when they’re desperate, and you can put yourself in Grimes’ shoes as he tries to survive the people who intend harm on him and the rest of his tribe of ruthless survivors. Watching Grimes and his team might teach you how to evade murderous humans while cracking zombie skulls.
Fear the Walking Dead
In The Walking Dead’s spinoff, Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) wakes up from a drug-induced high to find his friend mindlessly eating another human. As he runs barefoot into the street, he’s struck by a car and taken to the hospital, but, of course, it’s too early in the epidemic for anyone to believe him. Clark and his family then learn the tough lessons on how to survive the dawning of the zombie apocalypse, like having to kill a dog or a neighbour when their eyes go vacant. Pay attention to how to stay alive when the government fails you at the onset of the outbreak.
In Daybreak, it’s a regular school day when new student Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) breaks the fourth wall and explains humanity’s descent. As his tale begins, we’re transported to a post-apocalyptic suburb after the nuclear holocaust melted a large number of humans over the age of 18 into a puddle, and the rest of the adults turned into what the kids are calling “ghoulies,” blood-eating airheads who can only repeat the last thing they were thinking before the blast.
Wheeler, originally a loner for the first six months, lays out clear-cut rules for the end of the world, like avoiding contact with the jocks. Since the world is overrun by kids and teenagers, the town of Glendale turns into Mad Max High, and Wheeler and his friends teach you how important community is for your survival.
In Kingdom, Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-Hoon) leads his people while his father is stricken with a mysterious illness. Of course, bodies around the land begin reanimating and eating human flesh, so the prince and his people work to protect the kingdom in this historical fiction version of the zombie apocalypse that takes place just after the Japanese invasions of Korea. Lee Chang can teach you how to strategically defend your home as he uses his armed forces to fight the epidemic.
In Black Summer, Rose (Jaime King) is separated from her daughter and finds her way to the emergency holding zone with a ragtag group of survivors. She enlists the help of a soldier (Justin Chu Cary) and a group of strangers to find her daughter, and given how much she learns through her mistakes, you might also learn how to be less naive and more ruthless when push comes to shove.
Zombieland & Zombieland: Double Tap
In Zombieland, the zombie apocalypse is well underway when we meet an ill-equipped young man who only goes by the name of his hometown, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). Columbus uses his wits to survive, and with the help of a gun-slinging buckaroo by the chosen name Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), the duo takes down Homers, Hawkings, Ninjas, and T-800s…which are variants of zombies Columbus has classified as dumb, smart, agile, and unstoppable machines. Zombieland gives a step-by-step numbered guide for surviving in the new world, including the need to stretch before heading into dangerous territory and always double-tap to hit them twice.
In Little Monsters, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o) tries to keep her class safe on a school trip after a zombie outbreak ruins the fun. She uses every tool in her teacher arsenal to keep her kids calm and alive, like distracting them with games and songs, and playing tag where the zombies are “it.” Little Monsters might teach you ways to keep calm, and that the zombies are lava.
Train to Busan
In Train to Busan, a chemical leak causes an epidemic of ravenous undead to eat people, and it spreads like wildfire across South Korea. Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) and his estranged daughter Soo-an (Su-an Kim) are stuck on a train travelling from Seoul to Busan when the outbreak makes it their way, and Seok-woo is down to fistfight zombies to survive and protect his daughter, making Train to Busan a fun lesson for how to survive a relentless attack in enclosed spaces.
World War Z
When an unknown disease sweeps the world, former UN field agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his wife Karin Lane (Mireille Enos) are extracted with their family to a New Jersey naval base. They’re told that in order to stop the spread, they must find ground zero where it all began, and it’s a race against time with plenty of sprinting zombies. World War Z teaches you how to survive fast-moving hordes of zombies, instead of the mindless, slow-moving ones most common to the genre.
Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead is a modern retelling of the 1978 George A. Romero film by the same name. In it, Ana (Sarah Polley) awakens to her neighbour acting strangely in her home. Obviously sick in some way, the young girl attacks and kills her husband, and Ana manages to escape to join a group of people who take refuge in an abandoned mall until they can use radio transmissions and sporadic television access to learn about what they’re dealing with (surprise, it’s a zombie apocalypse). Dawn of the Dead teaches you how to work with what you’ve got, and keep moving through trauma.
Shaun of the Dead
In Crouch End, London, dysfunctional best friends Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) are stuck in dead-end jobs (or not working at all), spending most of their nights at The Winchester pub. Shaun’s girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), just wants him to sort his life out. When the town is taken over by slow-moving man eating corpses, Shaun must wrangle his loved ones to secure their survival. The members take bats and golf clubs and embark on a first person video game-style journey to The Winchester, convinced the pub is the safest place to wait out the danger. Shaun of the Dead shows us how to stay alive as long as possible to be rescued and stick with what you know.
28 Days Later
After a laboratory chimp harbouring an infectious and violent disease is released by animal rights activists, it attacks and spreads a deadly virus eventually world-wide. Jim, a bike messenger (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma to find himself alone in a hospital filled with the undead. He must survive in a deserted and unknown world in nothing but his hospital gown. He is later joined by two others who explain what has happened and give him vital information on taking the undead down (hit them in the head, as usual).
It’s been a year since the monster epidemic, and the San Fernando Valley has erected the Undead Task Force (UTF) as a division of the Los Angeles Police Department. The UTF was formed to handle the monster situation, apprehending loose werewolves, vampires, and zombies to keep the peace. A documentary camera crew captures the officer’s comical adventures: Think Reno-911 with zombies. This clever mockumentary will teach you how to live with zombies (and other creatures) as the new normal.