Which Bite Wins?

For humans and animals, the best way to make more humans or animals is through sex, or, if you’re really kinky, through cloning. For the undead creatures of horror movies and fiction, the best way to reproduce is through biting. If a zombie bites someone, it makes a another zombie. If a vampire bites someone, you get another a vampire. If a werewolf bites someone, you’ve got a brand new werewolf.

A question that’s been on my mind recently (if recently means the past 16 years) is what happens if a human is bitten by a vampire, a werewolf, and a zombie all at the same time. I tried asking this on Metafilter, and a rousing discussion began but the topic was closed by a moderator before it could really get underway (you can see the deleted thread here.) Since that thread was closed, I’d like to see if I can renew the discussion here, because (I thought) it was fun and interesting.

I know there’s lots of variables to consider, because depending on which movie you watch or which book you read, the undead can follow different rules. There’s also the question of how this could possibly happen in the first place.

Here’s my set-up for the experiment. Scientists, in an effort to understand and cure vampirism, zombification, and lycanthropy — or, more likely, in an effort to create a supermonster for a shadowy government weapons program — have captured a vampire, a zombie, and a werewolf. They are held in three separate chambers, and left to sit for a while so they get nice and bitey. Since the werewolf needs a full moon to become all werewolfy, let’s wait until there’s a full moon as well.

Now, our unfortunate test subject (Subject A) is brought in. One of his arms is put through a hole into the werewolf chamber, one arm is stuck into the zombie chamber, and his neck is shoved up to a hatch through which the vampire can bite it. (Since this is completely scientific, we’ll have a control group as well: another test subject (Subject B) is bitten by two completely uninfected people and one completely uninfected wolf (placebos) at the same time.

Let’s presume Subject A is bitten at the same time by all three monsters. I know, generally, a vampire bite doesn’t make you a vampire, because you also need to drink some of the vampire’s blood too, so let’s imagine some sort of blood draw is done on the vampire, and that blood is then squirted into the mouth of Subject A by some sort of robotic blood drawing/injecting contraption that the scientists invented. The zombie, meanwhile, is of the slow, shambling, classic zombie variety.

So, we’ve got Subject A with the zombie virus coursing through his veins, having been slurped on by, and consumed blood from, the vampire, and with the werewolf’s supernatural saliva also in his system. What happens to Subject A? Clearly, he’s going to die, and clearly he’s going to rise, eventually, as something. But will one of the infections win out over the others, or will he rise as some sort of supermonster? Is it dependent on which infection actually kills him? Could he be a zombie vampire who gets really hairy against his will once a month?

Bonus question: what if Subject A is a Frankenstein monster, who was assembled from cursed mummy parts (the kind of mummy who walks around killing people, not the kind who lie quietly in museums). What if the mummies, before they were mummies, were ninjas? Is it possible Subject A would eventually have all the combined characteristics of a mummy, a Frankenstein monster, a ninja, a zombie, a vampire, and a werewolf? If so, how would you ever kill him? With an incendiary silver throwing-stake through the brain?

Super bonus question: What if Subject A bites someone else (which he would invariably do: most likely, the stupid scientists who subjected him to this)?


  1. Well, vis-a-vis the vampire/zombie interaction, I think vampirism will simply win out. Consider this: bar the effects of blood deprivation or the presence of crosses or garlic (which I think we’d consider allergens anyway), vampires don’t get sick. In part because, being dead, they have hit maximum illness, yes, but also because they have a fantastic capacity to regenerate themselves, something which zombies inherently lack. Now, perhaps the vampirism will fight the zombie virus on an immune-system level, more likely it will just counteract the ongoing effects (perhaps leaving a vampire which is extra-hungry and thus extra-vicious do the the increased demand on his system.

    Regarding how the werewolf fits into this I’m unsure. I tend to envision werewolfism as a curse, something external to the individual… they are not a werewolf on their core the way a vampire or zombie is, so much as they are a human in a werewolf-shaped suit, and I justify this with the fact there there are cures for werewolfism in most canons but not for being a vampire or zombie. Thus, the same way Superman has no natural resistance to magic, Subject A will not get a vampire’s resilience against being a werewolf… yes, he will turn hairy once a month against his will, though given that vampires have a natural rapport with beast of all stripes and especially wolves, I suspect his wolf form will be unusually easy to control, as compared to a human’s wolf form.

  2. Vampirism and lycanthropy both usually take time to take effect, and in that time I think the person would begin the process of becoming a zombie. As a zombie, I don’t think the other two viruses could infect him, because he does not have living flesh. Zombie wins.

  3. Why hasn’t Sam Raimi made this into a movie yet?

  4. Miss Hap says:

    I think vampirism beats zombieism. A vampire is, when you think about it, simply a really powerful, thinking zombie. I mean, it’s still an animated dead body that feeds on the living. Vampires just have brains and better dress-sense. So looking at it that way, the superior zombie form will win. As for the were-wolf, I’ve had a few arguments with people over whether a were-wolf even counts as undead (I think they do. Depending on the story, obv.) As ED noted, lycantropy is almost seen as a different category of thing. But assuming it is a virus that works in a similar way to the other two. . .vampires can shapeshift, rights? Usually into bats? So there’s really no reason to think that a shapeshifting virus would cause them any problems. I say the vampire wins.

  5. This is a tricky one.

    I’m leaning towards primarily zombie-ish traits at the moment. Vampires are a demonic infestation, destroying the soul, but leaving the mind intact. Still, it takes time.

    Meanwhile, zombiedom is a purely physical infection, and typically a little faster. It rots brain tissue, which would leave the host body less intelligent on revival. Probably demonic, but incapable of reason without a working host brain to act through. Simple.

    As for the werewolf, it’s a curse. Probably hits the body at full moon no matter the body’s state.

    So, we’ve got a nigh indestructable semi-demonic monster that gets even nastier come full moon, but isn’t much for planning. Would probably tear its victims to shreds, though, so getting more wouldn’t be an issue.

    As for killing, I suspect a blessed silver bullet to the skull would work. And running water, invitation, all those defenses still apply.

    On the other hand, if Subject A is the new Adam, he should be fine. Just a little banged up from chewing. Artificially mockeries of life tend to resist curses.

  6. Hmm.

    It all depends on precisely which variety of each monster is being used.

    Let’s start by saying each has a contrived biological explanation:
    -Zombies are an actual virus, spread via bodily fluids. One explanation I always liked, from a few incarnations of Resident Evil, was that it was a combination of a destructive ebola strain (which would kill people too fast to actually spread) and a failed viral vector which stimulated cell growth & activity (in hopes of creating supersoldiers, instead of bodybuilders with lots and lots of cancer).
    -Vampirism is a disease, bloodborne microorganisms (think malaria) that alter your bodily chemistry to make you sociopathic, alert, unnaturally strong, oversensitive to light, in need of blood, etc.
    -Werewolves. . .hmm. Let’s say that werewolves are a hereditary genetic thing- because genetic traits aren’t always just recessive or dominant. There are disorders that run in a family but have little clear pattern, because the potential is there in the genes but other factors are needed to push you over the brink. Like your diet, or high levels of stress. From being bitten by a werewolf. Uh, and it has to be a werewolf because there’s also a biochemical factor that’s induced by a werewolf’s saliva. (Werewolf french kisses will thus also induce a transformation, but they almost never do that to someone)

    If we assume each of these transformations’ initial effect happens over the effect of 5 minutes, what happens when they’re combined? Here’s where I really start throwing out bullcrap (instead of rigorously looking up concepts like “viral vectors” on wikipedia, for like 5 whole minutes, and *then* using them in my bullcrap).

    The zombie virus is spreading throughout your bloodstream, altering the behavior of your body’s cells so that they work 80-hour weeks with little oversight or direction. The effects would not be obvious right away- the subject would be feverish and delirious, with the viral vectors needing longer periods of time to reach the central nervous system.

    The werewolf stimuli simultaneously triggers a change in the subject’s. . .uh. . .he grows hair and stuff, ok? Look, this just getting ridicu

    Ahem. The werewolf stimuli simultaneously triggers its own change in the subject’s biological functions, activating the latent potential behaviors of his organs. His body starts to reconfigure itself, with the viral zombie interference hindering the development in some cases and amplifying it in others.

    The increase in pulse rate and vital activities would give the bloodborne vampire microorganisms a boost, letting them take effect quickly and with more potency. So while the subject begins having difficulty distinguishing reality from his imagination (the zombie virus’ initial delirium), and having all kinds of predatory carnivore impulses, he’s also becoming more alert, obsessive-compulsive, and sociopathically cunning.

    Soon the delirium will fade as the zombie virus reaches the brain, and the higher thought processes turn to empty static. But where a normal brain would thus be left in a constant state of dazed distraction and simple agitation, this brain has different kinds of things going on under the hood. Predatory impulses to hunt and prowl, to lurk and carefully monitor the surroundings, to lunge forward and attack your prey with terrible ferocity.

    Physically, the subject’s skin becomes pale and lifeless before it can grow much hair, and his terrified babbling quickly gives way to guttural groans and animal growls. The scientists high five one another as the subject flexes ineffectively against the restraints, concluding that they have basically produced a zombie with sharp teeth that snarls alot.

    They aren’t realizing not realizing the changes that have only just begun in the subject’s muscles. That they’ve started growing to fulfill their latent potential, AND have been told by viral vectors to work overtime, AND are being treated to a special biochemical cocktail courtesy of bloodborne symbiotic microorganisms. Meaning that in a few days the subject will become twice as strong. . .three times over. (That’s right- EXPONENTIALLY stronger)

    And because there’s nothing else left for a zombie to feel, because it fuels everything the wolf has evolved to accomplish, because it compels the vampire as a terrible addiction: the subject will be driven by an unimaginably strong hunger.


  7. If all three are considered as diseases, the werewolf infection is the only one that doesn’t kill the host upon infection. Therefore I think the werewolf infection requires the host to be alive. Since both vampirism and zombification kill the host and reanimate, those two will rule out the werewolf infection.

  8. Dityblue929 says:

    … I’m taking all these comments and writing a movie. This too damn good to pass up.

  9. I’d say the werewolf wins. After all, a werewolf is alive and the disease that turns him gives his body the ability to heal really quickly. This means any cells infected by the other two would be turned back. Now, if the other two manage to get to the brain first, then it becomes problematic since we really don’t know if either the vampire or the zombie viruses kill the brain. Most of the movies I’d seen tend to hint that they don’t. In the case of the vampire, the soul is kicked out of the house but the vampire has all its memories so the brain must be alive. And zombies can recognise things and people so their brains must also be alive, but their free will is shortcircuited by their extreme addiction to eating.

  10. lame lame lame says:

    when does the wizard/witch & ork/elf/fairy/pixie & centaur/griffin part come in?