ByMatt Carter, writer at
If the zombie apocalypse kicks off you'll find me in the Winchester. @moremattcarter
Matt Carter

's zompocalypse blockbuster World War Z is about to hit theaters and while the movie shares its name with Max Brooks's seminal zombie novel, the similarities between book and film are few and far between. Gone is the globe-trotting agent of the 'United Nations Postwar Commission' collecting testimonies a decade after the zombie war, replaced instead by a globe-trotting United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) on the hunt for a way to stop the zombie pandemic.

That's not to say that the movie doesn't contain a few nods to the source material. I managed to catch World War Z recently, so here are a few of the book references that I found in the movie. There're not many of them and there're almost certainly some that I've missed, so please feel free to add your own in the comment section at the bottom of this article.

Obviously there are more spoilers in this article than there are zombies at a zombie convention for hungry zombies, so proceed at your own peril.


I want to ride my bicycle...

In order to find a possible cure for the zombie virus, Gerry Lane has to jet around the globe, collecting more frequent flier miles than Amelia Earhart before she decided that the Bermuda Triangle would make a good holiday destination. The first stop for Lane on his whistle stop tour of undead hot-spots is a US military base in South Korea, where the Marines stationed there are sitting in the rain taking pot-shots at zekes. In order to get back to their airplane undetected, Lane and his faceless security detail jump on bicycles and attempt to slip out the back undetected.

For those uninitiated in Max Brooks's zombie mythology it could seem like a strange mode of transport in a zombie apocalypse, but for those familiar with the book, and especially his Zombie Survival Guide, the bicycle is great way of avoiding the undead hordes because it's quiet, maneuverable and doesn't need fuel.

It also improves your lung capacity, which is a nice little bonus.

Surviving in North Korea is like pulling teeth

This is not so much a callback to the book, more a flirtatious glance over the shoulder. While Lane is in South Korea he comes into contact with an ex-CIA agent (), who's been imprisoned after being caught selling weapons to the North Koreans (naughty boy). It's here that Lane learns that the country to the north of the 38th parallel is free of the undead, not because they got their hands on a few black-market Kalashnikov's, but because the entire population has had their teeth pulled out in the biggest dental hygiene program in history. While the state-owned dental floss manufacturer is probably really annoyed, you have to admit it's an ingenious way of stopping the spread of biting zombies.

Although this national teeth pull does't happen in the book, it does at least allude to the geo-political and government-sanctioned responses that made Brooks's novel such as success.

Off the Wall

One aspect of the book that is included in the movie is the Israeli response to the zombie outbreak, which consists of building a big motherf$&king wall and hiding behind it. Lane also meets the architect of the Israeli response, Jurgen Warmbrunn, a spy-turned-pessimist, who read the rumors of the undead walking the earth and decided to do something about it. Warmbrunn also appeared in the book and created the "Warmbrunn-Knight" report, which was a guideline to stop the zombie outbreak. Sadly, no one read it.

Nuclear Armageddon

In Brooks's novel, zombies are not the only threat to humanity. Governments with itchy trigger fingers are just as likely to wipe out populations than hordes of the undead. This is exactly what happened to Pakistan and Iran who nuke each other into oblivion over a border dispute. In the movie, as Lane is airborne on his way from South Korea to Israel, a huge mushroom cloud appears on the horizon. Big bada boom!

OK guys, these are the only (tenuous) nods that I was able to find between movie and book. Please feel free to add any I might have missed in the comment section below.



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