Have you ever wondered if your love for zombies could be turned into a career? That question has crossed my horror-obsessed mind on numerous occasions so, you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Zombie Research Society (ZRS), and realized that there are other people out there who are just as crazy about zombies as I am, only, they’ve done something productive with their fanaticism. I had the opportunity to interview the head of ZRS, Matt Mogk, who was more than excited to discuss his line of work.
Mogk, zombie enthusiast and published author, has always been obsessed with zombies and one day he decided to do something about it. While indulging in his favorite zombie films, like, “Night of the Living Dead,” Mogk’s mind began running wild with ideas, “I realized along the way that I would be more scared in real life…It [a zombie outbreak]would be a lot worse for real.” Mogk started to question simple ideas like how would a zombie look and act, and more importantly, how would it actually hunt you?
It was during his time as a grad student at NYU where Mogk really started to put his zombie ideas together and do some actual research on the topic. The founder, who convinced his professors to let him do his thesis on zombies, began contacting other individuals for his research when he learned something interesting, “I started to call real experts in different fields…Some people turned out to be interested in zombies as well.”
Naturally, Mogk decided to form a group filled with experts and zombie lovers alike; that group became known as : the Zombie Research Society. ZRS is filled with individuals of all different professions, from all over the country. The group includes neuroscientists, doctors, authors, professors, and the Godfather of Zombies himself–George A. Romero.
“I met him a year and a half ago. He’s really good friends with [ZRS Board Member] Steven [Schlozman, MD], who made the suggestion of asking him to become a member.”
The board is made up of 12 members, and is currently looking for female members. Although, not just anyone can apply to be a member of the advisory board; one must be invited and express a level of interest in the field as well. Mogk explains that most of their research is does online, due to the locations of ZRS’ board members. However, the group does try to meet once a year to discuss and present their findings.
When asked how ZRS goes about conducting their research, Mogk explains that a lot of what ZRS looks at is very specific and related to whatever stories are going on in the news, or they try to answer questions that ZRS members send in.
When I questioned if the evidence that ZRS presents is all completely plausible, the founder responded, “No definitely not. People come up with ideas…we try to poke holes in stuff. We try not to be preachers.”
Mogk went on to say, “Anybody who tells you how to survive will be the first to be eaten. It’s all theory.”
One of Mogk’s favorite theories is the idea of how zombies would hunt, if they were real, “We came up with this notion that zombies hunt by sense of touch…With The Walking Dead it’s sense of smell; in movies it’s sense of sight…”
He continued, “If we think that zombies don’t work together then why are they always walking around together? Maybe it’s because they are hunting by sense of touch.” Mogk threw in the thought of how zombies are always walking around with their arms out in front of them. Many people make the false assumption that this is due to rigor-mortis, however, in death, one does not have rigor-mortis. ZRS explains that zombies always have their arms out in front of them because they use their sense of touch to hunt their prey, differentiating between warm bodies and cold bodies.
Mogk and ZRS like to conduct their research as if a zombie outbreak can actually happen. ZRS believes that an outbreak is possible, however, it will be much different than what horror fans see in zombie films. Mogk explains, “You never know what it’s like until it happens. It’s not going to be what we’re used to.”
The research group likes to take a scientific approach to the idea and some of their findings are terrifying. In an interview with a virologist, Mogk questioned the new “living zombie”, or the zombies that arise due to infection, and the virologist insisted that it could be possible. The woman explained that with the resources we have today, a man-made virus can be created in a lab, like the ones that can cause an infection, without a problem. Talk about scary.
Although Mogk disagrees, I believe that our government already has a virus, similar to the zombie virus, already made up, ready to use on our enemies. If they have the resources, then, why not?
The founder went on to describe how “Night of the Living Dead” is his favorite zombie film due to the influences it had on several big names in the horror industry, such as Wes Craven and Sam Raimi. Mogk reasons his love for the cult classic by insisting that it was the first film of its kind and says that it remains an important film not only for the zombie genre, but to the horror genre as well.
The ZRS founder, whose weapon of choice during an outbreak would be a practical weapon such as a bat, will reappear on an episode of AMC’s, “The Talking Dead,” with Chris Hardwick in February. Mogk’s non-fiction guide, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies” is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle.
Mogk warns individuals to stay where they are when an outbreak happens and concludes, “Good luck trying to get out of a city when the dead rise.”
For more information on the Zombie Research Society and its founder, please go to www.zombieresearchsociety.com.