For three seasons, Spike TV's "Deadliest Warrior" pitted both contemporary and historical fighting figures against each other in simulated, head-to-head combat to see which would emerge victorious. It is a formula that has proven to be quite popular, offering lessons in medicine, engineering and weapons-making.
On September 14, however, the "Deadliest Warrior" crew ups the ante by pitting two legendary creatures together, namely vampires and zombies. Because they headed into uncharted territory, the cast and crew brought in experts such as Steve Niles, author of the "30 Days of Night" graphic novel.
Niles' story takes place in an Alaskan town that is overrun by vampires during its one month of darkness. Niles' human heroes face off against the vampires, but throwing zombies into the mix is a real game-changer.
"We've all just been talking about these things our whole lives, so it seems like a natural show," Niles said during a red carpet interview at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. "Since I was a kid, I was always arguing with a friend about what superhero was stronger, what monster was stronger and who would win in a fight. It really is just that simple childhood thing coming to life."
Standing next to Niles was Max Brooks, author of "The Zombie Survival Guide." This year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) even posted a safety protocol for a "Zombie Apocalypse." Zombies, as the "Deadliest Warrior" episode points out, exist to perpetuate themselves through a viral infection.
Brooks said that because "Deadliest Warrior" is breaking outside of its normal parameters and into the sci-fi world, he thinks that added a huge level of anxiety. "Which I think increased the quality of the show. The fact that they knew it would be a whole new audience, they really had to step up their game," Brooks said.
"And they also stepped up the science, which is why there were so many tests, so much redundancy, leaving no stone unturned. They knew this was a new crowd they had to woo," he said.
On a normal show, biomedical engineer Geoff Desmoulin plugs scientific data into his simulators to help predict the outcome. For creatures like vampires and zombies, though, getting the data proved to be challenging. Dogs, alligators and even professional strongmen were brought in to generate baselines.
"We had to talk a lot and come to agreement in certain cases like the bite," Niles said. "We picked the animal we thought would best represent the bite of our particular creature. So we would use the bite measurements from that animal."
Brooks said they also had to be very hard on the theoreticals, especially speed.
"For example, we couldn't simulate a vampire's super-speed. We had to think how slow our zombies would have to be in relation to a normal human speed to give the vampires their speed advantage. So there was a lot of wracking brains. It definitely got a feeling of what it must have been like to plan the moon landing," Brooks said.
The "Vampires vs. Zombies" episode of "Deadliest Warrior" debuts September 14 at 10 p.m. ET on Spike TV.
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