I’ve brought up several times my hatred of fast moving zombies in cinema on this site. Hell, I’ve mentioned it on a few other sites as well. There’s also the many times I’ve spent bitching and moaning to my friends, my enemies, and the occasional homeless person who promptly ends up as lunch after the speech is made. To be honest though, I’ll bitch about nearly anything to anyone near earshot. While many times I’ll chalk this up to simple jealousy at wishing it were possible for the undead to move at anything other than a snail’s pace, there is a good reason I don’t care for them in cinema, to me, I think it kills the zombie character. Don’t get me wrong, most zombies hate to see the quick undead due in large part to wishing they could actually move that quickly in reality. They know it’s not going to happen, we aren’t even that quick when we first turn, but there is still a deep seated desire that leaves you a little bitter at your own slow speed. It’s a terrible feeling to look on screen and see a representation of us that can bolt across a parking lot like a marathon sprinter. I could go on and on about why we aren’t that fast, in fact, I’m thinking I might need to do a Zombie Zoo about it, but that’s not the purpose of this article. No, my purpose here is to explain why I dislike the fast cinematic zombie and believe the slow, shambling undead are not only scarier but have much more meaning.
I’m going to wax a bit philosophical here for a minute, so bear with me. My main issue with the cinematic zombie when shown as a fast moving beast is that it kills the slow moving vision of sadness that is the so called Romero style zombie. The Romero zombie is a sad creature if you think about it, a reminder of humanity lost. In its slow, lumbering walk is a creature that that still seems human, a creature searching for something, not just the food its remaining brain tells it that it needs, but something that connects it to a life it once had. It can’t remember that life, may not even realize it’s actually searching for that life as all memory has been wiped, but it somehow knows that it’s missing something, something buried under its instinctual, all consuming, and all powerful need to feast on human flesh. There is such sadness to that thought, a sadness conveyed by that meandering gate that says much about the creature’s remaining mental state. You can still just barely see the humanity begging to peak out from its far buried location deep inside what remains of a once living human. Even the moan they make as the wander the Earth is a sad sound, signaling how lost they are, a sound that seems to be their only ability to vocalize what they are and the little bit they may still feel.
This awful sadness makes the transformation from slow moving reminder of humanity lost to vicious, man shaped animal all the more shocking. That sad creature that seemed worthy of pity only a few moments ago is suddenly a vicious monster ready to devour a living human whole. Even the moan changes as it goes from a low, depressing sound to something more reminiscent of a starved animal, something to be feared. A vicious sound indicating a hunger that can never be satisfied. It makes the creature’s transformation not just more shocking but more satisfying as well. Where once there was sadness, now there is only hunger, and while that hunger may have always been there, it seemed so hidden from view before their prey came within range. Yes, we as the zombie fan know that the zombie is going to go nuts and eat someone because that’s mainly why we watch zombie flicks, but in the suspension of disbelief it seems like such a shocking change.
Now let’s take a look at the fast moving counterpart that is the speedster zombie. He’s just standard movie monster fare and could easily be replaced by just about any creature you can think of, werewolf, reptile monster, escaped scientific experiment, hell, replace them with a pack of wild dogs and minus the reanimation of the body, it’s still pretty much the same movie. They run, they growl, they even have greater strength somehow in many films, they’re nothing special in the slightest, becoming normal movie monsters. Having them as fast, animalistic creatures also ruins the former humanity that the slower ones possess, in fact, the humanity seems to be no longer there at all. There’s nothing sad about them, no sense of loss, and not a trace of the humanity that they used to have. And do I really need to get into how ridiculous it would be for a dead creature facing rigor mortis to still be running around? True enough, we are supposed to be suspending disbelief a bit, after all, it’s not like anyone is watching zombie films for the realism, but there’s only so much disbelief can be suspended. Need I remind anyone of Kung Fu Kong in Peter Jackson’s King Kong? There are a few movies that try and explain it with a virus, or parasite, or magical clown spell keeping their blood pumping but fucking with their minds, but usually the zombies are fast simply because someone thought they’d be scarier that way.
In this humble zombie’s opinion, that’s not usually the case and they are in fact much less scarier than the slow moving zombies. The sad reminder of humanity lost is much scarier since it represents an us devoid of most emotion, devoid of all reason, and left with only basic instinct with small traces of what we were. That image frightens me more than some basic movie monster that just wants to eat me. Seeing a human stripped of most of their humanity forces me to think of all the awful and inhumane things humans do with their humanity still intact. Watching the fast zombie, minus any hint of humanity, running around and growling while he or she munches on main characters is not only boring but for the most part has lost everything that made the zombie frightening to me.
That’s my two sense on the subject anyway. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, some like the quicker zombies, some like the slower zombies, but I wanted to explain why I felt the slow moving zombies were better creatures. To be perfectly honest, I’m quite glad not everyone is going to agree with me, it’d get kind of boring if we all liked the same things, I’m a full believer in diversity being a good thing. Well, until next time, this is your unfriendly neighborhood zombie signing out.