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Berserker's avatar

Do you think zombies are aware of other zombies?

Asked by Berserker (33524points) September 5th, 2011

I’m using the classic, slow moving Romero zombies for this question.
I’m of the mind that a zombie is not aware of any other zombies around him, at least, not anymore than he might be aware of an inanimate obstacle, like a door or a car.
I base this on something I frequently see in older movies. Say a zombie is munching out on a human hand, and another zombie without anything to eat walks by, he’ll go for the hand that the first zombie is eating. He’ll grab it, yank on it and try to obtain it for himself. It’s like he only registers the food, and not the being holding it. A zombie will never seem to attack another zombie and then get the food. Hostility only occurs when the other zombie wants to protect his food, and even then, THAT zombie doesn’t seem to register the undead thief, he just yanks and tries to protect his food.
A funny exception is that weird zombie in Night of the Living Dead who’s slowly banging a foot on the floor over and over, until another zombie walks by and grabs it. The first zombie doesn’t even do anything, he just keeps banging his hand on the ground. However, zombies have cycles, and are much less aggressive when they’ve just fed, so I assume that this one zombie had its share for the moment.

They also sway around, bump into each other and act like nobody’s there, although this is easily credited to their physical disposition. But still.

Now, I realize that the exceptions are plenty. All the zombies in the end of Dawn of the Dead following zombified Flyboy as he leads them to Fran and Peter. (although to me, that is complete anomaly)
But movies have to include stuff like that, if they wanna be a good movie. Zombies are a simple concept and you can do a lot of stuff with them, but it does have its limits that cannot be ignored when it comes to usual movie plot twists and surprises.

Or the fact that zombies can learn to primitively interact with their surroundings, like opening doors or trying to drive a car. But to me, this remains a completely scientific remnant of their former selves, which has nothing to do with how sentient they are, or are not. And aye, I’m quite aware of Bub from Day of the Dead.

So which do you think it is? Are zombies aware of other zombies, or anything else for that matter, other than what their instinct interprets as food?

Perhaps they’re unaware, but may be conditioned to learn, or conditioned to be aware, like a lot of movies show?

I’m highly convinced that a zombie is not aware of another zombie. However, I love to learn about zombies, and would love to hear what the collective has to say. Humor, as always, is welcome.

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41 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I just gave you a GC and will watch this for days.

I vote unaware.

filmfann's avatar

There are others?

Blackberry's avatar

Of course. In movies they always fight over eating people.

Berserker's avatar

@Blackberry But do they register the zombies as zombies, or just an obstacle getting in the way of their food? If it was a mountain lion and not a zombie, would it know the difference?

ddude1116's avatar

I think they’re unaware. Much like sharks only detect the smell of blood, zombies only detect the smell of flesh, the fresh kind. My theory which I’ve pretty much stolen from The Walking Dead is that zombies rely on smell and are attracted to the pheromones of completely living things. Large things. I can hardly imagine a zombie going rabid to catch a mouse.

DeanV's avatar

I think they’re aware. Hence the congregating in a certain area and attacking in groups.

mazingerz88's avatar

Though I haven’t seen this in any zombie movie, it would be hilarious if one zombie flinches after one of them farts. Also, it could be out there and I just haven’t noticed it but I would enjoy seeing a zombie burp loud in a scene.

But what I would really go crazy about doing is shooting an independent zombie film with the likes of @Symbeline and have great fun doing it! I would experiment on getting the actors almost dead drunk before letting them act their zombie parts and see what happens. Hee heeee….

marinelife's avatar

Well, they seem to take concerted action to kill and eat humans.

Rarebear's avatar

Believe it or not, I know the answer to this. I’m writing a d20 modern D&D-type role playing game and have just finished my second book on zombie role playing. The Romero-type zombies are aware of other zombies, but only dimly so. It’s the type of awareness a non-intelligent animal would have for others of its kind.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Until I’ve had my coffee in the morning,I’m not aware of anybody.

Berserker's avatar

@ddude1116 In Night of the Living Dead one zombie finds a mouse and eats it. Prolly cuz it’s warm blooded, but it certainly did not relieve him, or he had already fed and this was curiosity. Maybe it’s like the Anne Rice mythos, where vampires can sustain from animal blood, but only for a very short while. That zombie was obviously curious though, because his actions after that weren’t much.

@dverhey It’s said that zombies are attracted to, and return to places that were familiar in life. You might have a good point. Although I tend to dismiss this as instinct, mostly. People were there before, they might be there again, whether they are or not. They slightly remember, or at least, some subconscious side of their brain does. Do zombies have a subconscious…?

@mazingerz88 Haha, farting zombies. They probably do fart and burp, but that’s just gasses and stuff exiting them, as it does a dead person. It might happen when they eat too, but because of displacement, rather than digestion, as the latter is the case with the living.

@marinelife Yeah, but to them it’s food, not humans. A zombie is kinda like a human, yet they barely seem to register this.

@Rarebear So, does this mean that their capacity for awareness might be enhanced, or unlocked? Awesome though, ’‘dimly aware’’. I guess it does seem that way, but I always attributed this to the whole movie spunk business. A table top RPG is prolly a hell of a lot more accurate though.
Played D?D for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t get to learn much about their zombies, beyond the different types of undead and all.

@lucillelucillelucille You and me both lol.

Some_Ghost's avatar

Zombies? Seriously?

You people will believe in anything. XD

Rarebear's avatar

@Symbeline It depends on the type of zombie as there are different types. For example, the zombies in Romero’s movies are very different than the zombies in Zombieland, which are different than Resident Evil. The Romero zombies are quite stupid and relatively harmless (assuming you have a chainsaw) one on one, but extremely dangerous in a bunch.

Berserker's avatar

@Rarebear Yeah, that’s true. One lone Romero zombie, or even two, is nothing if you can deal with it, and most people could. But I wouldn’t even try dealing with half of a 28 Days Later zombie lol.

D&D had a lot of different types of zombies too…you got the normal Romero one, you have a ghoul, which eats dead flesh, but is stronger and more intelligent than a zombie, (will gladly stand corrected if I fucked up on the ghoul) so don’t piss it off. Then there’s a ghast, but I think that’s more of a ghost or something. I forget, this was years ago lol.

Blackberry's avatar

@Some_Ghost They don’t believe in zombies, it’s just some thing they have goin’ on for fun.

@Symbeline Yeah, I figured, but I think they know they’re in a group, even though they wonder around aimlessly as if they are individuals.

Berserker's avatar

@Blackberry Yeah, that’s something I can’t argue. They really do seem to know they’re in a pack, or if they’re not, they know when they meet another. But again, it seems all movie like to me. Otherwise, they don’t seem aware of anything much at all.

Still, I always feel all giddy when zombies work together lol. Doesn’t seem right to me no, but it’s still awesome lol.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Ok- They are unaware completely.

The moan they make is an involuntarily response in the presence of food.

The hearing of that moan triggers an involuntary response that makes them head to the source of the moan.

Once they see food, they start moaning, and have no idea of anything but the closest possible food source.

It is all part of the parasitic organism’s reproductive engine that drives them.

Berserker's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Fuckin A my friend, you sure know how to explain things well. :) I love it.

And wtv that personal attack was, fuck it. :)

digitalimpression's avatar

I think zombies are entirely misunderstood. By eating people they are only attempting to express love in their own way. They are tormented by the fact that us humans don’t understand that. They are entirely self aware and aware of others.

Berserker's avatar

@digitalimpression That would be so cute, to see a zombie wearing a football helmet and oven mitts on his hands, rushing towards someone with a sign around his neck that said ’‘hug me’’. :D

Jeruba's avatar

Don’t they collaborate on things like assaulting a car, trying to halt it and rocking it to tip it over, etc.? or throwing a ladder up and climbing it? bashing in a barred window? I think they know the difference between “us” and “them” (from their point of view). Otherwise why wouldn’t they attack each other?

Berserker's avatar

Because they ain’t food, and we are. Instinct is a big part of the zombie, which can make them do surprising things, even when not considering movie antics.
Never seen a zombie climb a ladder though, but if you got a movie where that happens, I gotta see it, man. :D

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m going to go with them being aware of other zombies, in that they identify them as other humanoids, but can discern between the living and undead ones. In The Walking Dead, two of the characters are able to make it through the zombies by covering themselves with zombie guts, thus masking their living scent. The zombies look at them, curious, then leave them alone. Seems like awareness and having a means to discern.

Jeruba's avatar

Didn’t they climb a ladder in Zombieland? I don’t have your credentials, @Symbeline, so I might have that wrong. What did they climb, then?

Curiously, in older movies such as the classic I Walked with a Zombie, there’s no flesh eating. How do we explain this?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Fully aware.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t think they are consciously aware that they are zombies, but definitely aware that it is another creature that threatens their food supply. I think they see other zombies as competition, not just an obstacle.. like a car. But, as @incendiary_dan said, they seem to be able to differentiate between zombies and other living things. I’ve seen zombies eat cats, dogs, monkeys, people… but they aren’t usually attacking each other.

mazingerz88's avatar

Oh they’re more than aware. Remember Thriller?

ucme's avatar

I think they’re aware of each others existence, but they just don’t give a fuck. There’s no screaming & running away in terror, no in fighting or arguing over who get’s the shopping in. There’s just no reaction from a fellow undead thing, nothing for them to get excited about. So they pay each other about as much attention as a passing fart, you know… Belgians ;¬}

FutureMemory's avatar

@Jeruba They climbed a vertical amusement park ride.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, yeah…the amusement park.

Berserker's avatar

And oh yeah, they climb a ladder in Dawn of the Dead too, I forgot. You don’t see them do it, but we know they do. Still, to me that kind of interaction they do is their instinct driving them to the humans, I’m not really convinced they can make the difference. But then, zombies using clubs or breaking windows in manners that go beyond just busting through stuff does go against that theory.

Curiously, in older movies such as the classic I Walked with a Zombie, there’s no flesh eating. How do we explain this?

That movie seems to deal with the older zombie mythology and beliefs. (as many older ones do) However, I haven’t seen it. Would love to though. But from what I read up on it, it deals with the Voodoo zombie, which in actual belief is a dead person coming back from the dead through ritual or something. But these types of zombies aren’t said to eat the flesh of humans, or anything at all for that matter. (however, the Voodoo myth has made its way into traditional flesh eating zombies for a long time now)
What was that movie about? Does that sound right, maybe?

@incendiary_dan Interesting point, yes. Although the only discernment they might have made was that it no longer smelled like human because of the guts? I guess no matter how powerful an instinct, if you have one of those, you almost have to have some form of awareness somewhere.

A zombie might eat something that isn’t a human if it’s hot blooded, but I’m not entirely sure that their instinct is much of any kind of awareness. I’m still wondering if zombies have a subconscious, that isn’t a remnant of their human lives. (as some movies often show)

Discounting movie antics, it seems the only thing a zombie recognizes is food and everything else is the same to them, including themselves. But I was thinking today, since zombies hang out in packs, maybe they’re like ants. Ants are like one organism, and when one ant finds food, it emits some type of smell that all the other ants pick up, and they recognize that smell as hey, food! So they rush in that direction. Same for something to attack, or when they have to run away.
Maybe zombies kinda work like that, and maybe random moaning or agitation is actually indication…so when one zombie sees or smells a person, it gives off something that all the other zombies pick up, and then they know what to do.

I kind of doubt this though, since zombies usually do fine on their own, and observing them as they act in packs, they don’t display that behaviour. Still, random thought.

@ucme Lmao. XD Yeah, in that case, they most certainly are. :D

Brian1946's avatar

Apparently someone who wants to host your 20K party is on a lurve spree. ;-)

Berserker's avatar

Yeah I’m noticing it, someone be fucking round lol. :D

zensky's avatar

Are jellies aware of other jellies?

filmfann's avatar

Are jellies aware of other jellies?

digitalimpression's avatar

Are jellies aware of other jellies? Um.. I mean.. yeah.. zombies.

HungryGuy's avatar

I think they’re probably dimly aware of other zombies, but a zombie doesn’t really rate very high in the awareness category to begin with, so…

AshlynM's avatar

They are somewhat aware of other zombies. I’ve seen instances where the humans would disguise themselves as zombies, hoping to get out undetected. The zombie was no longer trying to kill the human because he was disguised as one of them.

Berserker's avatar

They did that in The Walking Dead. The zombies did seem slightly suspicious, as if they could slightly smell the human. That one episode alone is turning my theory inside out.

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