When Zombees Lurch through the Air

There was a cool little article from i09 that I posted on Twitter the evening of January 4th, 2012, on parasitic flies that convert honeybees into their mindless zombie slaves, then kill them.

Needless to say, this was quickly noted by Twitterers @lukebunyip  and @Greybeard3, and a hilarious discussion, with much groan-inducing punnistry involving zombie insects moaning (presumably by modulating the buzzing of their tiny decomposing wings) as they lurch in swarms through the air (making them scarier than simply shambling along the ground on their tiny legs) in a mindless search for… “honeyed brains… honeyed brains…”

Well, the subject came up about the fact that, despite the huge popularity of zombie flicks, why hasn’t anyone made a zombie insect movie? Think about it, like the giant ant movie “Them,” or even the a zombie version of the “Bugs” from Starship Troopers…

I think a really good movie, if done cleverly, could be made about giant zombie scarabs, and it’s too bad is hasn’t been done yet.

On the other hand, I can think of a few possible reasons, good or not so good, why it hasn’t been done:

The things that make zombies, at least of humans and other land vertebrates, like zombie dogs, so scary is their uncharacteristic (for otherwise sentient or sapient species) mindless behavior (like humans in modern consumer culture, which I think was part of the message of “Night of the Living Dead”), shambling about, or worse, tirelessly running after their prey, and the horrific decay that easily shows on a mammalian body when it’s been dead for a while, making zombies gross to look at and smelly as well as a decomposing, infectious menace.

This is not so easy to do with insects or other arthropods, since their chitinous carapaces, if rigid and relatively undamaged, can easily cover their inner remains for some time after death, visually hiding much of the decomposition which often would only show itself through it’s stench or upon closer examination by anyone inspecting it.

I think it would take more than an unpleasant smell to frighten me about bugs. Many species have a bad odor anyway, even when alive as a way of warding off predators.

Also, individually mindless behavior, in the sense of that relative to creatures with more complex brains, is typical of our multi-legged cousins on the web of life. So I suppose much of the horror of mindlessly shambling about would be vitiated by the fact that insects do it anyway, despite the otherwise very adaptive group behavior of social insects.

Insects that behave like automatons? Too normal. They do that already. Not that scary… Sorry.

On the other hand, if normal-sized insects were zombified, and served as a devastating vector to transmit the condition to humans or other mammals in a movie, THAT would be cool, kind of like an undead version of the killer bees from The Swarm, and zombees (@Greybeard3 coined that, I think.) would be difficult to swat or keep out of places with small openings.

But I suspect, unless a clever enough writer comes up with a creative way to do it, possible I suppose, one will have to come up with a zombie flick starring undead insects that makes the bugs scary as monsters, despite acting and looking like they would anyway, even as giants.

(Republished. Last Update: 2019/03/30)

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