Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!
Dear Dr. Eldritch,
I write to you from a farmhouse attic, hiding from the walking dead. I don't know what happened, exactly. The day started out normally. I was just about to go into Don's barber shop for a haircut, when there's a commotion up the street at Earl's gas and bait shop. Turns out Earl's being attacked by Sven, who died two months ago from eating some bad fish. A bunch of us were trying to pull Sven off Earl, when Duane comes running up, saying that zombies are heading this way.
Well, none of us would have believed him if we weren't seeing Sven right there, trying to bite Earl's head. Turns out Duane was right. The graveyard in our little village is spewing forth multiple generations of the Departed, and they're roaming the earth, killing - and probably eating - the living. Duane, me and a few others have taken refuge in the Gunderson's farmhouse. We boarded up the doors and windows, and are waiting for dawn. All is quiet right now, but I reckon we could be found at any moment.
I didn't think of this during the earlier melee, but one question has been bothering me. These zombies are the ancestors of my friends and family, and it feels wrong to hack them to pieces or shoot them in the head. I know they're trying to eat me, but is it right to kill them (again)? Does self-defense justify mayhem against the animated corpses of our ancestors?
-- Simon in Villebergtown
You show tremendous sensitivity toward the anguished dead who are trying to dismember and consume you. The Good News is that their human essence has not returned from the Great Beyond, and these creatures are merely the physical shells of your ancestors, being used by malevolent forces. So it really isn't Great-Aunt Bertha trying to gnaw your arm, for example.
As long as we're being sympathetic, consider it from their perspective. After years of being peacefully dead, they're inexplicably animate. Self-exhumation and reentering the living world must be terribly upsetting. Having lost the cognitive skills to process this overwhelming blur of light and sound, or to express their anxious confusion, they lash out with violence against the living. Returning them to the dark and quiet realm of death is actually doing them a favor. Zombies don't possess long-term goals or career ambitions, after all.
I'm sure this is a terrifying experience for you, but zombies are only a medium-level threat, as supernatural beings go. They're not terribly smart, but are incredibly persistent; chewing through a car door to reach an intended victim is no big deal to them. You either knew or figured out that the best way to terminate a zombie is by disrupting the neural system, e.g. a shot to the head. Decapitation's good; you can be sure they won't get up again. Some people prefer using fire, but zombies don't feel pain, so they tend to wander around while burning. They don't care what they ignite, which makes the situation much worse for the living. Explosives, including claymore-type mines, are effective for slowing them down so you can do them in and get away. Be mindful of the collateral damage, however.
This applies only to zombies raised from actual corpses, not merely living people so heavily drugged as to appear dead, but then revived to a sedated but malleable state and exploited as slaves. This happens a lot more than most people realize, particularly in the film industry. These unfortunates are not best served by a bullet in the cranium, but can be rescued, kept safe while the drugs leave their system, and returned to their lives and families. Those reunions are about the most heartwarming thing to watch (doesn't everyone deserve a Hollywood ending?).
So go ahead and end the suffering of your undead aggressors with carefree abandon. They would thank you for it, if they understood what was happening to them. Maybe when your terminal transition approaches (years down the road, I hope), you'll opt for cremation so your descendents won't feel awkward about shooting your animate remains in a gory, smelly fight to the death (or undeath, as the case may be).
Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!