Monday, October 1, 2007

What Say You: The tortoise or the hare zombie?

The Projection Booth is hosting 31 Days Of Zombie and we are given free reign to explore all things zombie. And since I have been especially sensitive as it relates to remakes, I thought that there was an interesting zombie question that needed to be answered which is: fast or slow zombies?


In other words, if we were to pick sides where would you stand, with the creeping shuffling zombies of Romero, or with the 2.0 versions as seen by Zack Snyder in the Dawn Of The Dead remake or by Danny Boyle in 28 Days Later? It might be surprising to hear that I myself am divided. To me there is something terrifying about a slow moving monster that one moment seems somewhat harmless but that can tear you in half the next. But then there is the visceral excitement I get from a fast moving zombie that can chase you across a field or down a street. Some might argue that it comes down to realism (and yes I know that's a funny question as it relates to something that doesn't exist). If the person has been dead for some time, then rigor mortis would cause severe mobility problems. So in the Dawn Of The Dead remake, Snyder is putting aside any desire for authenticity in an effort to update and generate effect. And honestly, I'm a bit surprised that Romero himself has not explored this territory in one of his more recent films, but he created the zombie rules and he's going to stick to them. Of course this argument does not work with the Rage virus from 28 Days Later, but when all is said and done the basic question still remains: fast or slow zombies?


WHAT SAY YOU?

26 comments:

pacheco said...

Occasionally, a slow-moving zombie can be very effective when they finally reach their victim, but for the most part, I find them boring and frustrating. For a zombie that slow to actually catch a victim, most of the times it means the victim is an idiot.

Call me new-school, call me one of "those kids," but I dig the dashing zombies so much more. And I'll admit, part of the reason I enjoy it is because it's simply a departure from the norm.

Nevertheless, give me the Hare, baby.

Damian said...

There's a scene in the Dawn of the Dead remake where the characters try to get in through the back doors of the shopping mall, but it turns out it's locked. As they struggle to get it open suddenly some zombies appear around the corner causing them (and the audience) to freak out as the zombies start running towards them. They realize that they only have a few seconds before the flesh-eaters descend upon them.

As I watched that movie it was at that moment that the difference (from a filmmaking point of view) between walking zombies and running zombies really struck me. Both can be scary but the slow-moving zombies are more condusive to building suspense. Consider the same scene with walking zombies. The heroes struggle to get the door open, suddenly they hear moans from around the corner, they start pushing harder against the door, zombies start to appear from around the corner slowly shuffling toward them, they bang on the door and scream as the zombies inch closer and closer towards their prey. This scenario may not have the shock value and/or visceral impact of the 2-3 seconds of terror that an audience feels as the zombies race toward their victims but the fear is more drawn out and tends to build and build until the moment of "truth" arrives (they either get eaten or they escape). It is more suspenseful.

Like you, Piper, I am sort of torn between the two. I see the advantages (and disadvantges) of both, but for me it's not so much about whether the zombies walk or run in a movie but how effectively the director uses whatever speed the zombies tend to move at. If I might make a sexual analogy, the distinction between walking zombies and running zonbies is like the difference between an extended tryst and a "quickie." Both may have their place in one's life and neither may necessarily be "better" than the other in every respect, but it really depends on what you want to get out of the encounter at the time.

In real life, of course, I'd prefer walking zombies (for obvious reasons).

borehole said...

As a commenter of a certain age, may I just say that I regard fast-moving zombies the same way the WWII generation regards rap music.

Kids today with their sprinting undead.

Piper said...

Pacheco,

Good comments. You're right that sometimes it's sheer idiocy that gets the person bitten by the slow moving zombie. But what I like about that is that the slow moving zombie lulls people into a false arrogance. A "these guys aren't so bad" kind of attitude. That is until they rip you in half.

Damian,

It warms my heart to see you on my site again. I trust that you are rested up and ready to get back in the swing of things. Your comments are always welcome. You make a good point about how the attack is handled. In your explanation of the two, I am now leaning towards the slower moving zombies because they prolong the suspense which I think good horror is all about.

borehole,

thanks for the comments. Your point is valid and it reinforces why I think there's a debate here.

Sheamus the... said...

The 28 movies are actually not Zombies. They never die...they just turn. There is no aiming for the head...just shoot something.
I like slow...creepy and coming. There is no stopping them and slowly but surely they are closing in. It just feels better. Immenent(sp?)

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, what Damian said. Running zombies are all about adrenaline- it's akin to having 300 Jasons chasing you all at once.

I'm completely torn as to which I prefer, because the style of the zombie dictates the style of the film- sometimes I'm in the mood for kickass, sometimes I'm in the mood for the slow burn.

I strongly disagree when people argue that "slow zombies aren't scary" and "it would be so easy to get away"...play some Dead Rising and see how you feel! :D

Piper said...

Shea,

You're right about 28 Days. Technically they're not zombies. My bad.

melizer said...

An undertaker/family friend told me that rigor mortis is temporary. It sets in, and then it subsides.

I clicked on your "zombie rules" link, and then on "rigor mortis", and it says: "Assuming mild temperatures, rigor usually sets in about 3-4 hours after clinical death, with full rigor being in effect at about 12 hours, and eventually subsiding to relaxation at about 72 hours.

So I suppose slow zombies would have to have died at least 3 hours ago, and no more than 12 hours ago. Fast zombies might have died less than 3-4 hours ago, or more than 12 hours ago. So there could be both!

I imagine lots of other medical conditions and processes are being defied as well, but this seems to be the rationale given for zombies ability to walk & run.

It's my first time here, I found you from Final Girl :)

melizer said...

Oops, my reading comprehension was bad, wasn't it? I suppose I meant 72 hours where I said 12 hours when applying the rule to zombies. But you get the idea.

Neil Sarver said...

As it says in Culture Snob's excellent Strength in Numbers, fast moving zombies are missing the point entirely. I'm not saying they aren't scary, but they're all about the immediate shock scare. Slow moving zombies are what get under my skin and haunt my dreams, because they represent something much more frightening than swift corpse-like demons can ever hope to.

Piper said...

Neil,

Couldn't agree with you more. The slow moving zombies are about the suspense and all good horror is about that.

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Anonymous said...

The slow-moving zombies are perfect for the sort of movie Romero makes--- stories about people who have a decent chance of surviving, but often don't because they bicker and get distracted and otherwise screw up.

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