Anybody can test a myth, but it takes real pros to test fictional myths.
In the second crossover of the season (they tested "Breaking Bad" several episodes back), "The Walking Dead's" Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon) and Greg Nicotero (special effects guy and director of some of "Dead's" most terrifying episodes) offered their expertise regarding zombies.
The myths being tested:
1: Which is a more effective weapon: the axe or the gun?
2: Can you outrun a zombie horde?
3: Can a horde be held back by a reinforced door?
To test the first myth, Adam and Jamie created a human/zombie zone with 100 zombies (personally coached by Rooker — "You're not cookie cutter zombies; develop your own deal," says the Stanislavski of the undead acting world) advance and the humans aren't allowed to attack until they cross the orange line.
And although Adam, with his huge foam axe (these aren't actual zombies, after all), only takes out 14 zombies before he's eaten that easily outstrips Jamie's measly seven. Even when he's entire body is strapped with guns: "Two on the legs, two on the waist, two on the shoulders, one on the hand."
The myth of axe vs. gun is confirmed!
For the second myth, the build team populates a football field with zombies in increasing densities (90,000 zombies per square mile, or the density of Manhattan; 135,000 z/mi; and 190,00 z/mi).
Following the rules established by "Night of the Living Dead" (the zombie rules Nicotero says they follow in "The Walking Dead"), the zombie horde acts in the following ways:
1. Slow shuffle 2 miles per hour
2. Attracted to noise and food
3. No cognitive function
With those restrictions, Kari easily blows by the 90k zombies, so they shrink the playing field for Tory, who manages to make it through 135k. Grant, however, slips and quickly falls prey to the 190k density of zombie. So they move on to testing different methods of zombie diversions.
Kari's method is to duct tape Tory to a wheelchair and fling him into the crowd which occupies enough of them that she quickly makes it to the other side ("You do run faster when zombies are chasing you!" she says in a contender for the Most Obvious Statement of the Year Award). Grant, naturally, opts for a Grantbot complete with flashing lights and a blaring recording of him saying, "My brain is juicy and delicious. Come and get it!"
Tory goes for the old "Shaun of the Dead" ploy of masquerading as a zombie.
He gets done up and hides on the field before the other zombies disperse onto the field. But around the halfway point, he gets discovered and is quickly overwhelmed. Even still, the team did manage to get at least one person through the horde, so the myth that you can't make it through the horde is busted!
For the third myth, Adam and Jamie head out to a barn with 150 zombies in tow to see if the combined force of a horde would be held back by a barred door.
Eh, not so much. The first two times they try it, the zombies (clad in polyethelene corrugated sewer pipes to prevent a squished Savage) easily blow through the door, barely breaking stride. But the third time, Jamie reinforces the hell out of the door, screwing in multiple boards and making sure the hinges don't go. And this time they hold. Though there's a lot of creaking and cracking, the door does not break and they're confident that, even if the zombies kept at it, they would never overwhelm the fully prepped barn door which prompts a very characteristic taunt from Jamie.
- Michael Rooker
- Greg Nicotero