Episode 578: The Noise…

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Moans

One of the things I love about zombies is the constant noise they make. Not only is it unsettling, I imagine it would have a pronounced psychological effect on survivors. Imagine, for a moment, that you are stuck in a tiny house surrounded completely on all sides by a ravenous horde of zombies. You’re safe for the time being, but have no way to escape. You simply sit and ponder your fate; all the while hearing the zombies outside, moaning and banging at the doors and windows. I think that’s just about enough to drive anyone to madness. This comes up occasionally in zombie fiction, but I think it should be a much bigger factor. People seem to adapt to a world filled with zombies much too easily, and the constant moaning and banging would – in my mind – be a major challenge.

As a bonus cliche, parenting in the zombie apocalypse would be an unenviable task. In most zombie fiction, kids are usually thrown in to up the stakes or make some sort of emotional statement, but I think there’s a lot of other ways they could deepen the story. As a parent, you represent stability to your child. You’re the one that makes the monsters go away in the middle of the night, makes sure they feel better when they scrape their knee, and keep them safe when they feel afraid. When the zombies show up, you’ll be completely robbed of that ability, which is going to do some crazy things to parents.

I went through something kind of like this myself recently. My wife’s grandmother just died, and it was the first death in the family my son was old enough to understand and process, and he was close to his great-grandmother. He just couldn’t fathom why she couldn’t come back, and how his parents were powerless to do anything about this cosmic injustice he was feeling. As a parent, it made me feel extremely vulnerable to not be able to do anything for my son but console him and answer his questions as best as I could.

About this Episode:

I was originally planning to check in with Sam first, but I’m still thinking out where I want to go with his story. I had things mapped out, but now I’m rethinking things a bit. So we’re going to see how things are going at Ted’s house and see characters we haven’t seen in quite a while.

Discussion Question: Should Zombies Moan?

If zombies moan, that suggests they’re breathing, or at least taking in air in order to make noise. There’s really no reason for them to do this, unless it’s a signalling device (I’m not a fan of that, since it implies a bit too much intelligence). Of course, it might simply be a leftover instinct from their days as a living person. But what do you think: should zombies be moaning? Would a silent, shuffling horde of undead cannibals be more realistic?

21 thoughts on “Episode 578: The Noise…”

  1. Typo alert in the Discussion Question: hoard–>horde 😀 Other than that one, it all seems to be good! 😉

    • I make that hoard/horde mistake entirely too often.

  2. Well, zombies taking in air and letting it out as moans would imply that they have a rudimentary need of air for some reason. Or perhaps it’s a side-effect of the virus that turned them into walking undead. Possibly the air keeps their lungs inflated, if a living person’s lungs collapse, really bad things happen, maybe to a zombie it matters less or in a different way. 😀

    • Further to my comment, perhaps they moan simply because there’s a buildup of gases caused by bacteria that live in a dead zombie, and this air therefore has to be expelled somehow, or the zombie might explode in a really big way! 😀

      • Some pretty solid hypotheses here, BrickVoid! I really like the idea of a build-up of gas.

  3. I like the idea of the silent shuffling zombie better. It’s not like they’re going to make no noise…there’s the shuffling, the bumping into things, moving of the brush/undergrowth as they walk along and let’s not forget the creaking of floorboards and doors, clattering of puts as they get knocked over and other creepy house sounds. All these make for a creepiness that groans and moans mask. For a comic however, groaning indicates they are there whereas the creaking and the likes may be too subtle to do. I guess it depends on the context of the take.

    • And sorry, should be clattering of *pots, and also context of the *tale

      • No worries on the typos Brian; I make a ton of them myself.

        Excellent points here. I completely agree that the more subtle noise might not work in a comic like this. It would be pretty damn cool on film though.

  4. Once again I will answer a question with a question.
    Im not a doc, though a mortician might serve better in this case. I know that a human lung will collapse if punctured, but Im fairly certain that is a person does with their lungs intact then the lungs don’t automatically collapse.
    Many years ago I harvested a nice black bear in northern Ontario. Because of the angle of the shot (I was in a tree) one I was able to hit the animals heart and have the bullet pass though only one lung leaving the other lung intact. The animal expired very quickly, but not before falling down a steep creek bank. Being young, strong, and miles form help I decided that I could wrestle the 300+ pound animal up the creek bank and back onto my ATV by myself. I got him about halfway up before I slipped and we both fell back down the bank, with me landing on top of the bear. when I landed on him the bear emitted a loud grunt muck like a living bear would make. I executed a perfect cartoon “feet don’t fail me now” moment. You know what I mean. Vertical leap with legs pinwheeling in a perfect spiral blur until you hit the ground, get traction, and run several hundred yards in a split second leaving only a trail of dust. After a minute or two I came to my senses and realized that my body weight has forced air out of the bears lungs and past its vocal cords causing it to grunt.
    So heres my point. If a zed turns with his lungs intact will they still hold air? Will the zeds body movements force air in and out of the zeds lungs as it shambles? Will that mean a zed would moan and grunt purely as a consequence of its movements and without the “deliberate” intake of air??

    • Awesome story, Damage.

      I think their lungs would still hold air (depending on how they were damaged, of course), however, why would they fill them with air? They don’t need it. It might be an instinctual thing. I dunno.

  5. Please note this is more biological sided than zombie sided and uses the signs and symptoms of Diaphramatic distress.

    1) Some zeds have all their muscle masses active, so if something not bitten in the stomach/diaphragm area and owns intact end vocal cords I t would be more like they hyperactive hiccups.
    2) However if the diaphragm is torn;but active; then the noises maybe more like a person on oxygen or if ruptured sound like coughing. This is seen in blunt force traumas.
    3) If all the parts of vocalizing are removed, then defiantly they silent.
    4) if the zombie was like from the 90’s/2k movie “Virus” ‘s Ship Captain then the machine/controller is the one doing the vocals.

    On a side note I can’t decide which is worse now, being chased by people with hiccups, thinking you have to save an old person only to find out it was a zed, the dead end silent zed joke from walking dead season 1, or meeting the fore mentioned ship captain. http://cinemademerde.com/sites/default/files/styles/full_movie_image/public/movie_image/Virus_JLC-sutherland_0.gif this is the first part of the transformation he underwent.

    • Wow, very thorough stuff, Jon!

  6. I think that the TV Walking Dead’s zombies are really the standard when it comes to the noises that they would make and other things. Apart from that one episode in the first season where they suddenly all became professional sprinters and could climb over a fence.

    • I have a love-hate relationship with their zombies. I like them, but I think they all sound the same. I wish there was more variety.

  7. By far my favorite treatment of the noise driving living humans crazy is in the deeply underappreciated movie “The Battery”. The two main characters are stranded in a station wagon surrounded by zombies and tortured by the noise.

    The whole movie is wonerful but the despair of that situation and the way they manage the stress is just perfect. I highly recommend the film and the other film by the same people, “Stake Land”. Both are great.

    • That sounds pretty awesome; I’m going to have to check that out. It’s not on Netflix by any chance, is it?

      • I’m afraid not. I watched it on amazon.

        It was worth the small charge.

  8. Hello Dave, good to know that we’re back at following Ted’s story. By the way, is it just me or has the Forum section disappeared? And how can I log back in? I had to comment with no account.

    • I retired the forum; it wasn’t being used and was slowing down the site.

      I can put a login button on the site if you’re interested though. That’s totally not a problem.

      • I’d appreciate if you could someday put a login button. Thanks!

  9. I think that the teeth-clicking zombies from Ex Heroes makes the most sense. The constant, relentless clicking also implies they have even less intelligence than the moaning, selectively biting zombies. They just walk and click.

    Sorry I have not been saying anything for the last couple months. When you work in the TRU unit, you don’t get much down-time. I hope to be more active on this website, now that bust-season is over.