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  1. #1
    Fishie's Avatar
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    In films: Slow zombies or fast zombies?

    I'm not talking about the zombies of We're Alive, my question is specifically about zombies in movies.

    Do you think that slow zombies (such as those in old-style George Romero films) or fast zombies (such as those in more modern zombie films like the Dawn of the Dead remake, Resident Evil etc) are scarier?

    I have been considering this since I read Simon Pegg's piece on why zombies ought to be slow, which was in reaction to a British TV series that was made a few years ago with fast zombies.

    This is the most relevant section of his article:
    I know it is absurd to debate the rules of a reality that does not exist, but this genuinely irks me. You cannot kill a vampire with an MDF stake; werewolves can't fly; zombies do not run. It's a misconception, a bastardisation that diminishes a classic movie monster. The best phantasmagoria uses reality to render the inconceivable conceivable. The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I'll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It's hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.

    More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

    However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you're careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them - much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares - the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.

    Another thing: speed simplifies the zombie, clarifying the threat and reducing any response to an emotional reflex. It's the difference between someone shouting "Boo!" and hearing the sound of the floorboards creaking in an upstairs room: a quick thrill at the expense of a more profound sense of dread. The absence of rage or aggression in slow zombies makes them oddly sympathetic, a detail that enabled Romero to project depth on to their blankness, to create tragic anti-heroes; his were figures to be pitied, empathised with, even rooted for. The moment they appear angry or petulant, the second they emit furious velociraptor screeches (as opposed to the correct mournful moans of longing), they cease to possess any ambiguity. They are simply mean.

  2. #2
    HardKor's Avatar
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    Gamertag: HarKor1283
    Well I think the question of slow vs. fast zombies gets wrapped up with another question: what is the definition of "zombie." pre-1968 a zombie was a corpse reanimated by a voodoo magician and used as a slave. Romero brought the idea of hordes of lumbering reanimated corpses that feed on human flesh. The "Return of the Living Dead" series brought us the more comical brain-eating variety. And now we have a faster moving variety.

    If you are going to define "zombie" as the "living dead" or a reanimated corpse, I gotta say the slow variety makes the most logical sense. To throw out a quote from Diary of the Dead: "Dead things move slow" they should be slow, lumbering, and uncoordinated.
    The thing about fast zombies though is that they're not always "dead" so much as "infected." Movies like 28 Days/Weeks later and Zombieland feature zombies that are still technically alive but driven mad by a virus or some other infecting agent. If they're still alive, I got no problem with zombies running fast.
    Running, drooling, growling "infected" end up being more frightening than the lumbering, moaning hordes of Romero, in my opinion. The older lumbering horde variety been around so long, they just don't come off as intimidating anymore.
    I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the definition of "zombie" is has changed before and is probably going to keep changing, otherwise the whole genre gets stale and starts to spoof itself. Zombies need to be scary to be effective as horror monsters. And people need to keep reinventing them and throwing out new, unexpected twists on the genre to keep them scary. Otherwise its just boring if you go into a movie knowing exactly what you're going to get because you've seen it a hundred times before.
    "There a many ways to kill a zombie, but I find the most satisfying way is to stab it in the brain with a wooden stick." Dwight K. Schrute

  3. #3
    fighter's Avatar
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    it depends if their smart or not

  4. #4
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    Ah, an argument for the ages. Slow moving zombies will always be the classic interpretation of the monster and for purist will remain the only form. It seems to me that the 'running zombie' trend is a result of a generation with an ever-shortening attention span. Both serve a purpose, both have a valid place in cinema. That said, I'm a 'classic zombie' fan until the bitter end.
    joint-point-counter-joint

  5. #5
    Chelsea C.'s Avatar
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    Slow zombies are so much scarier! The main reason is because of the anticipation. Slow zombies can't outrun their prey. They must gather and use their numbers to overwhelm their food. A fast zombie can jump out and kill you/eat you before you even know what happened; there's no time to be overly scared. Now, imagine being cornered by 30+ slow moving zombies...their hungry eyes fixed on you as they inch nearer while you attempt to dig through the concrete wall with your fingernails! Even if it takes them only 10 seconds to reach you...that's a looonnnnnng time when your adrenaline is pumping and you know your fate is sealed.
    Last edited by Chelsea C.; Jun 17th, 2011 at 05:01 PM.

  6. #6
    Osiris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chelsea C. View Post
    Slow zombies are so much scarier! The main reason is because of the anticipation. Slow zombies can't outrun their prey. They must gather and use their numbers to overwhelm their food. A fast zombie can jump out and kill you/eat you before you even know what happened; there's no time to be overly scared. Now, imagine being corners by 30+ slow moving zombies...their hungry eyes fixed on you as they inch nearer while you attempt to dig through the concrete wall with your fingernails! Even if it takes them only 10 seconds to reach you...that's a looonnnnnng time when your adrenaline is pumping and you know your fate is sealed.

    One of the few times I agree with you 100%.
    joint-point-counter-joint

  7. #7
    Chelsea C.'s Avatar
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    Strange. I remember when you agreed with me often.

  8. #8
    Osiris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chelsea C. View Post
    Strange. I remember when you agreed with me often.
    But that was before.
    joint-point-counter-joint

  9. #9
    Chelsea C.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osiris View Post
    But that was before.
    lol, obviously.

  10. #10
    HardKor's Avatar
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    Gamertag: HarKor1283
    Quote Originally Posted by Chelsea C. View Post
    Slow zombies are so much scarier! The main reason is because of the anticipation. Slow zombies can't outrun their prey. They must gather and use their numbers to overwhelm their food. A fast zombie can jump out and kill you/eat you before you even know what happened; there's no time to be overly scared. Now, imagine being cornered by 30+ slow moving zombies...their hungry eyes fixed on you as they inch nearer while you attempt to dig through the concrete wall with your fingernails! Even if it takes them only 10 seconds to reach you...that's a looonnnnnng time when your adrenaline is pumping and you know your fate is sealed.
    I get your point here. But I guess I have a hard time getting around the popular conception on zombies, especially the slow variety. I love Return of the Living Dead. The mix of zombies and black comedy was great, but I will forever curse the creators of that movie for introducing the idea of zombies that crave "braaaiiiins" into popular culture. For some reason that concept has always bothered me. It turns zombie genre into a spoof of itself. And lumbering horde zombies are the most susceptible to this characterization.

    Another thing is, lumbering zombies don't feel as "real" as runners in my mind. Slow zombies are reanimated corpses, while runners are usually, as I said above, "infected" people who are still technically alive but driven mad by some form of mutant agent. I can accept hordes of insane rabid cannibals more than hordes of reanimated corpses.

    I used to be in the purist camp, thinking that dead things shouldn't run. But I guess as I've gotten used to the concept I've started to accept the potential of runners and also the necessity of reinventing the concept of "zombie" over time to keep the genre fresh.
    "There a many ways to kill a zombie, but I find the most satisfying way is to stab it in the brain with a wooden stick." Dwight K. Schrute


 

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