I’m no fan of Fast Zombies
From a recent article reprint in SLATE by Josh Levin:
How did Movie Zombies Get So Fast?
sections copyright, 21 MAY 07, Slate Magazine and Josh Levin
It’s not for nothing that zombies are called the walking dead. In George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), a group of shut-ins sits in terror, watching television for the latest updates on the creeping undead menace. “Are they slow-moving, chief?” asks a reporter. “Yeah,” the cop says wearily, “they’re dead.”
Romero’s canonical trilogy, which also includes Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), emphasizes the zombie’s drag-ass nature. Corpses shuffle so slowly that a potential victim can fall, brush herself off, remove her pumps, and set off again without being touched by a necrotic finger. Max Brooks’ book The Zombie Survival Guide, a tongue-in-cheek tutorial for surviving the living dead, notes, “Zombies appear to be incapable of running. The fastest have been observed to move at a rate of barely one step per 1.5 seconds.”
But in Zack Snyder’s new Dawn of the Dead remake, the zombie has a newfound vigor. In the film’s opening scene, a vacant-eyed zombie girl charges through a wooden door and into a couple’s bedroom. After the zombie savagely bites her husband in the neck, Ana (Sarah Polley) escapes and drives away, only to have her recently deceased-and-undeceased husband keep chase with a full-out sprint that calls to mind Terminator 2’s superhuman killing machine.
The rest of Mr. Levin’s article is HERE.
Even though the article is somewhat tongue in cheek, and how could it not be, given the subject matter, I found myself pondering this one. Why fast zombies, indeed? Oh, one can make the point that the fast runners in 28 DAYS were actually infected humans, but they were clearly LOOKING like the undead. And the new DAWN OF THE DEAD, despite the fact that I found it tremendously entertaining, certainly was a shock with zombies that could beat a human in the short sprint.
What has changed with the horror movie going public that fast zombies became popular? Diminished expectations, increasing cynicism, or the willingness to approve of such horrendous tinkering with the Zombie Coda? Maybe a mix of all of these. The great thing about Romero-esque movies was that you could always outrun zombies, and they were dangerous only in mass attack situations, and when you run out of ammo. With FAST RUNNING zombies, it’s a wonder that the human race isn’t wiped out in no time flat. Zombies are a metaphor for plague– slow, inexorable, patient.. They aren’t an assault weapon. Zombie movies of the Romero era had hope– sure the situation sucked. Undead rising and all that.. but as long as you had a shotgun, some guts, and the ability to keep moving, you would win out in the end. With these new zombie movies, there’s no hope at all. I guess I’m old fashioned at heart.