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Plague Town - Zombie Rule #3 – Fast or Slow?

Published on 28 February, 2012

Authored by Titan Books

I originally was going to write more about the attraction zombies have for some of us, but then I read this wonderful post by horror author Jonathan Maberry on his Shambling Zombie Blog tour. He and a slew of the big guns in the world of zombies give their opinions on why the flesh-eating undead are so damn popular these days.  Given I think they’ve covered just about every reason I can think of for zombies’ current appeal, I decided to address another hot topic in the Zombieverse:  Slow zombies versus fast zombies.

I’m sure you’ve heard the discussions. The man who started it all, George Romero, gave an interview on why he thinks fast zombies couldn’t exist.  Many a bar fight has been started over whether zombies should be the original slow moving yet inexorable ghouls from Night of the Living Dead or Speedy Gonzalez sprinters like the zombies in Zack Snyder’s high octane remake of Dawn of the Dead.  Words grow heated, fists fly, drinks are tossed in faces… oh yeah, it gets ugly.  Or so I’ve heard.  Not that I’ve ever participated in any of these brawls, of course…. I mean, maybe I threw one drink … er … but the other guy started it.

Actually my barroom brawls over zombie speed limits are over as I’ve come to realize there are times when fast-moving zombies work for the story at hand.  For instance, I totally accept the scary speed of the infected in 28 Days/Weeks Later. Then again, they’re infected living humans, not walking corpses.  And I admit the “oh, crap!” factor of coming up against a mob of undead marathon runners heading your way is effective and ups the ante as far as any real possibility of surviving a zombocalypse.  Plus we are now seeing so many movies, literature and games featuring zombies, expanding the rules is inevitable and will hopefully stop the genre from growing stale (or, more appropriately, rotting). 

That being said, while not the bar-brawling purist of a few years back (“You like fast zombies? Taste the back of me hand, boyo!”), I still prefer slow, shambling zombies in terms of sheer, inexorable horror.  They might not be fast, but they won’t stop.  There are vast numbers of them and they won’t stop. They’re going to keep lurching, staggering and shambling after you until they catch you and eat you … unless you can shoot them in the head first. 

And personally I’d rather practice my marksmanship and get inventive with weapons than take up jogging.

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