Mythbusters returned Thursday night from their summer hiatus with a special episode centered around "myths" around zombies. It was episode themed after the popular culture phenomenon, mixed with Halloween season and a good dash of cross-promotional tie-in with the hit AMC TV series "The Walking Dead." The episode even featured a guest appearance from a series actor Michael Rooker (Merle.)
A tough episode to judge and nitpick testing methodology and results on given the purely fictional nature of the subject matter but still a fun episode.
Ax vs. Gun
Jamie and Adam with guest Michael Rooker tested the "myth" on which is the more effective weapon with which to fend off a horde of zombies, an ax or a gun. The idea being axes are faster to work with and don't requite reloading/aiming. However guns are quicker to use and can be used at a distance.
To test the myth Adam was armed with a foam ax with a water-based paint bladder in it with which he used to strike a "zombie" with (wearing a plastic head shield.) The zombies (a bevy of fans in make-up) walked towards Adam standing in the center of a circular area Adam had to stay with in to make his "kills." Adam between two tests was able to average over a dozen zombie "kills" before being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
Jamie was armed with a paint-ball gun between the two tests he was able to kill far fewer zombies than Adam. But there was a catch, the paint-ball gun was single-action, requiring Jamie to re-cock it between each shot.
The conclusion was that the ax was the better weapon as it didn't depend on ammo, needing to be cocked or even aimed. I'd argue that Adam was simply "tapping" the zombies with the ax and didn't have to worry about the ax getting jammed in the skull, the heft of swinging it or anything of the sort. And, of course, Jamie's gun not being dual-action was a huge handicap for him. However, I agree the ax is the better weapon as it doesn't require reloading or any real aiming not to mention not making any noise (which in common zombie lore just attracts more of them.)
Running Away from the Herd
The Junior Mythbusters team tested the idea of whether or not running is a useful tactic in evading a zombie herd or if sheer numbers made it not worth the effort. A section of parking lot (or the Alameda Runway) was sectioned off and filed with the fan-zombies simulating a population density of New York City, the distance being inside 100 yards. Kari and Tori were both easily able to traverse the distance unscaved. Grant's two left feet tripped him up and he was overwhelmed (the population density was doubled (area halved) between each test between Kari to Tori to Grant.) In a second test the team used diversionary tactics. Kari tied Tori to a chair and offered him as a "scapegoat"/sacrificial lamb to make her escape, Grant built a noisy robot and Tori had him self made-up as a zombie and blended in with the herd to try and make an escape (pretending to be one of the extras... until he was recognized.)
There's a host of problems with the tests they performed but this was mostly in it for fun. A big problem is the distance traveled, it was a reasonable, easy, distance. In a "real" situation you'd literally make it as far as you can run. Then you tire, need to catch your breath and then you're toast. Zombies don't tire. Tori's diversion tactic, while cleaver (and was used in the Walking Dead a few times) only failed because one of the extras recognized Tori as a person. Not because of any failure in the disguise. (In TWD the "disguise" technique has worked by characters hiding under bodies or covering themselves with the offal of dispatched zombies.)
Breaking the Door
Jamie, Adam and Michael tested the idea of the zombie herd being able to push through a barn door through mass of numbers. Adam and the zombie extras were outfitted with protective "barrels" around their torsos to push on one another with as they tried to break down a series of doors entering into a barn. The first test involved a simple, crude, barn door that offered no resistance to the herd. A second test involved a better built door that offered some more resistance, but not much as it still failed. A third test had Jamie and Michael doing the "nail every spare piece of wood to this thing!" trope. This proved vastly more effective as the herd was un able to use their mass to push through the door.
Again this is all a... "maybe" but goes back to the idea of "zombies don't quit" several hundred zombies pushing against a reinforced wooden door I'm sure would result in a failure before too long.
An episode I enjoyed, with a great guest host, but not much to debate on here as everything debate is very, very speculative. A pure "for fun" episode. Which it was.