It’s the classic argument when it comes to zombies, fast or slow? Runners or walkers? Shuffling, shambling horrors are wild mad-eyed creatures bent on destruction.
The impression you get looking around the interwebs is that the reason most people who don’t like zombies or zombie movies find them silly because they move so damned slow. They’re so easy to get away from you don’t really have to run at all. Just a light stroll will do.
These same people will more than likely be at least a bit more inclined to like zombie flicks where the zombies are fast-paced runners like the ones we see in 28 Days Later.
I have to admit to finding both types particularly gruesome but for very different reasons as they represent two varieties of fear.
The slow zombies, walkers or shufflers or shamblers, whatever you choose to call them, are going to get you. No matter what you do, how fast you run or how well you board up your farm house they will eventually overtake you. Like time, they are inevitable. Throughout our lives at some points we become horribly aware of our own mortality. A teenager realizes he is not immortal, a child realizes mom and dad won’t be around forever. And as we slowly age we become all too aware of our mortality as time grinds us down.
Slow zombies are like that slow terror that grips us, that inevitableness. They are like the dream where you fell like you’re running through mud or water and just can’t get away no matter how hard you try.
Oddly enough though many people’s idea of the slow zombie is a bit misguided. I frequently hear people reference the Romero movies like Night of the Living Dead because those zombies are so slow and stupid. Yet on recent viewings of those movies I found the zombies weren’t the dimwitted slow moving things you’d expect. Some were, there were crowds of them after all. But many of the primary zombies were pretty fast moving, used tools and were more like deranged drunks than lurching automatons.
Still, to be fair, they are not the all out sprinting maniacs we see in a lot of other zombie films. The sorts of fast runners we first encounter in Return of the Living Dead and later in 28 Days Later seem to be the norm today and for good reason.
These sorts of things go to the heart of the panicked fear we all experience. The sudden jump, the instinct to flight or flight. There was a story in the news earlier this month about a stampede of people at a temple in India killing over a hundred people. That’s nothing to take lightly. It’s a deep rooted fear that drives people to trample over each other. That horror, the panic in the crowd, the chaotic sort of drowning in people is a horrible thing to experience.
This points to another sort of fear, that of losing control. We like to think that if we can just explain ourselves, or talk to our enemies or opponents, that we can convince them of what we feel or think. We think we can show them that we are right and they will agree. But it’s unnerving to face something that we cannot reason with. Understandable at least when it’s not a living thing like a storm or an earthquake. But when it’s a person, or in this case something that looks like a person it’s terrifying. When confronted with real madness or blind hate or rage we have a hard time coping.
For my part, I like a combination of both fast and slow zombies. I think the blend we see in some movies and on the TV show the Walking Dead is quite good. Fresh zombies are fast and they get slower the more they rot.
So either way, this Halloween, if you’re into the slow, fast or the simply bizarre, have a great time with your zombies and don’t be afraid to let the fear in. After all that’s half the fun.