"It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when."
The zombie apocalypse in "The Walking Dead" makes it one of the most intense and gripping shows on television, but it might surprise you to learn a real zombie plague could be closer than you think.
HuffPost Entertainment interviewed renowned Zombie Expert Matt Mogk who believes a zombie takeover can "absolutely happen." It's just a matter of time.
"I mean I don’t know if it’s going to happen in our lifetime, but it could happen tomorrow or it could happen in 100 years. I kind of see it in the same way you would look at an earthquake in Los Angeles. You never know when it’s going to happen, but any expert will tell you that we’re overdue for it. It could happen at any moment. So that’s kind of the way I see the zombie plague," said Mogk.
Mogk is an author, college lecturer, "Talking Dead" cast member and founder of Zombie Research Society, a club comprised of more than 350,000 zombie experts and enthusiasts across 6 continents. The ZRS board includes a variety of leading scholars in different fields, including a Harvard professor, an active member of the U.S. Navy and even "Night of the Living Dead" creator George A. Romero.
Romero with fans.
"What we do is we ask the question from a scientific side," Mogk explained, "If a zombie actually showed up at your front door, what would it look like? What would it smell like? How would it hunt you? How would its brain work? And then we extrapolate from that what diseases out there are mutating in strange ways that we don’t understand, or, now that we sort of have a working theory of what a real life zombie outbreak might be like, we look at what are real world survival strategies."
Without further ado, here's your five-step guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse:
Some zombie movies may give clues as to what a real zombie apocalypse would be like. Mogk explains that while popular zombie stories like "Walking Dead" have corpses reanimating, it's much more likely that a real world scenario would deal with what he calls a living zombie. This is a relentlessly aggressive human driven by a biological infection. (Zombie purists may disagree.)
Mogk said, "If you look at like '28 Days Later' from 2002, these creatures are technically still human. They don’t die and come back to life. 'Zombieland' incidentally was a living zombie movie, which a lot of people don’t even bring up. I would say from a practical point of view, if a raving maniac is trying to claw down my front door to get inside to attack me or eat me or turn me into one of them, I’m not really interested in having a philosophical conversation about: 'Is that really a zombie?'"
Image: "28 Days Later"
While researching his book, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies," Mogk learned that, theoretically, scientists could make a disease to create living zombies in a lab today. In addition, though he says there are clear obstacles before this comes to fruition, Mogk points to rabies and vCJD, sometimes called Human Mad Cow Disease, as potential candidates for bringing on a zombie plague.
In the case of Human Mad Cow, he says this disease is 100 percent fatal and a variant can potentially cause a person to go violently insane and spread to others through blood, which, as it turns out, is basically the premise for "Zombieland."
Even if there were a disease creating living zombies today, the ZRS president says that a zombie outbreak isn't going to happen over night.
"You see this in every zombie movie pretty much the notion that one person gets bitten and then you cut to the end of the world. And that just really doesn’t hold true. It would be so many months of gray area and questions of what do we do," said Mogk.
Mogk says the disease would be on the news and in social media. Also, our cultural awareness to infectious disease, and even zombies in general, is a big advantage.
Mogk continued, "You ever notice people in zombie movies don’t watch zombie movies? They have no idea what a zombie is. They’re like, 'Oh, a homeless guy tried to bite me. Oh, that’s weird … let’s all go to sleep.' They have no idea. Meanwhile, when I see a drunk guy like stumbling out of a bar at 1:00 a.m., I’m like, 'That’s a fucking zombie. I’m going a different way home,' [Laughs] you know, for sure."
The Rule of Threes for survival says you’re dead in three minutes without air, three hours without shelter (Mogk includes anything that protects your body from the outside world the elements threats that sort of thing), three days without water and three weeks without food.
"I would start right there," said Mogk, "and I really think a lot about water because Los Angeles has very little. Human beings need a ton of water on a constant basis to keep from dying of dehydration. Access to clean drinking water would be a really high priority for me."
The ZRS presidents says the 2010 Haiti earthquake serves as an example of the importance of the Rule of Threes. Four years later, and the country is still dealing with a serious cholera problem from tainted water.
"Finding water can be difficult, but drinking tainted water is even worse. You die of dehydration from crapping yourself and throwing up until you're so dehydrated you drop dead," said Mogk.
The ZRS president explained, "Your survival plan in any disaster should be centered around surviving where you are. The grass is not greener on the other side in a zombie plague. If you think it’s really bad where you are, it’s worse somewhere else. Because you don’t even know that place so you have a whole another survival disadvantage."
Though Mogk says he's a huge fan of "The Walking Dead," and shies away from criticizing the show over minor details, one thing he points out that would definitely be different in a real zombie apocalypse is that cars would be ancient history. He points to examples of trucker strikes in Italy and Argentina that left some cities running out of fuel and food in days.
Mogk emphasized, "In like the first two weeks of any society imploding event, cars will be a legend you tell your kids about, and they won't believe you."
Mogk said, "One thing we can all agree on is that people make zombies. People need water, food and supplies, and if they don’t have that they may be forced to take yours. It’s not necessarily gonna be an '80s apocalyptic action movie where you’re gonna have gangs of dudes with pink mohawks and futuristic motorcycles riding around saying, 'Yay! We're breaking the law,' as soon as the zombies come, but there could be a lot of bad choices."
The ZRS founder recommends staying away from Walmart, other big box stores, gun stores and all the other places people are likely to go.
He continued, "When you're building your zombie plan, and you love it ... you think it’s great ... you're all good. First you have to ask yourself, 'Will other people be doing the same thing? Will other people be going to the same place?' And if the answer is yes, do not do that thing. That’s it."
There you have it! Stick to these rules and you just might make it after all.