As I stand here, before ye horror bloggers, I ask you this profound, universal question: should zombies, in all forms of media, be able to run fast, or lumber around slowly? It’s one of the greatest debates in the history of nerdom, ranked high up there with other great debates like who shot first, Han or Greedo? Did Jason really beat Freddy at the end of Freddy vs Jason? What’s in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction? Will a girl ever date me? I would like to present my point of view from both sides.
Night of the Living Dead was the first movie to introduce the prototypical “zombie”: a person who died and becomes re-animated, who craves human flesh. This zombie walks very slow and has very basic motor skills. This version of the zombie, let’s just call him the “Romero Zombie,” stayed constant for well over 40 years, from Dawn of the Dead to the Night of the Living Dead remake.
The Romero Zombie should be slow because when someone dies, their brain cells die as well. Once a cell dies, it is gone forever. If a person were to come back to life, it would make sense for them to be very slow because they do not have a functioning brain which allows them to do something as simple as running or jumping.
The Romero Zombie’s lack of speed also makes them dangerous to humanity. When a zombie moves slowly you do not hear them coming. You could be running from them, turn a corner and BAM!!!! one or two or twelve or more are there waiting for you, all because you couldn’t hear them from around that corner.
Not only that, but the victims take the zombie’s speed for granted. They look at them moving slowly, and they probably think to themselves “I could easily out maneuver these guys.” But over time those slow zombies become groups and once they surround their victim, it is game over for the victim. There’s nowhere for him to go because he is surrounded by a slow moving hoard of zombies.
On the other side of the coin, we have the recent trend of fast zombies, who emerged this past decade. 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake introduced these quick, savage creatures to the world of horror. Many old school horror fans HATED the fact that this new generation of zombie was just as quick, or sometimes even quicker, than the human beings they were trying to kill. They felt that the speed barrier was the only thing that separated us from them. Our ability to think and reason and run was the big advantage over the undead. Once you make the undead as fast as us, it takes a big advantage away from humans and it makes the zombie almost unstoppable.
There is no clear logical reason why these new zombies are fast either. Yes, we are talking about zombies here, but the Romero zombie moving slowly makes sense: their brain is dead so they have only basic motor skills. What is the reason behind these fast zombies? If they truly are dead, with dead brain cells, how are they able to move so quick? Are they running on pure adrenaline and that’s what makes them quick? Nobody knows, and I don’t think we will ever now. Some studio exec was probably in a meeting with a writer/director, and said “Hey you know how zombies are slow and boring? What if we gave them the speed of a cheetah?”
Despite its flaws, the fast zombie truly is a frightening creature. A quick creature who’s only goal in life is to chase you down and eat you? HOLY SHIT that’s scary. For all the crap horror fans give fast zombies, I guarantee that you if you threw a fast zombie on them, they’ll crap their pants and wish they had a Romero Zombie behind them. I know I would. A fast zombie is similar to a large cat, like a cheetah or panther or lion. They are quick, they have no reason to attack you, and once they get a hold of you, you’re a dead man.
The success of the hit TV show The Walking Dead has shifted the zombie back to a slow moving character, similar to the Romero Zombie. The fast zombie will always be out there for this new generation of horror fans. I prefer the old school, Romero Zombie, but only because that’s what I grew up with, that’s what I know best. I’m sure if you were to ask a horror fan who was born past 1990 or 1995, they would want the faster zombie because we all know kids these days have ADD because of video games and cell phones and computers. Since they grew up in a time where everything is quick and fast, maybe they would want their undead to be fast as well. I don’t know. Either of these two undead types is dangerous and should an actual zombie outbreak happen, I would rather deal with the slow Romero Zombie. At least I can out run and out think these guys.
So I leave this decision up to you guys out there in the blogging world. I’ve presented my case for both sides, so I ask you: what’s your preference, slow or fast? Leave comments below and we will debate this.