I guess it was inevitable that zombies would one day move quickly. So many kids grow up on video games where everything zips by at a million miles an hour, and I guess this passes for innovation in filmmaking today.
But going back to the zombie flicks that started them all, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, the undead were always plodders, not Olympians.
Yes, in Romero films, it’s usually people under-estimating zombies for being slow and stupid that does the living in. Like the story of the tortoise and the hare, they think they can get around slow moving zombies easily, yet are ultimately swarmed and devoured.
At the recent Hero Complex genre film festival in L.A., Shaun of the Dead was one of the movies screened, and director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg gave major praise to Romero, who invented the modern zombie genre back in the ’60s.
“We like slow zombies because they’re like lava,” Wright told the L.A. Times, and Pegg said, “That’s what’s made them so beloved, is this weird, eerie ineptness that they have. It makes them sad. It makes them tragic. In Romero’s films, you root for them sometimes.”
Pegg added, “George [Romero] needs to be canonized for what he did,” and Wright also said, “Romero should always be given proper respect for starting that whole thing, which I don’t think he always has.”
As gore make-up master Tom Savini once told me, “You’ll never see a fast moving zombie in a Romero film because as far as he’s concerned, they’re dead and would continue to die. They would continue to rot and get weak, they wouldn’t gain super powers. But to keep it more interesting, that’s what they did in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, they made them faster, stronger, and more of a threat.”
As Romero himself told Aint-It-Cool-News said of running zombies, “I don’t get it, and I don’t like it. I prefer these plodding, lumbering guys from whom you can easily escape unless you f*ck yourself up somehow and are too stupid to do the right thing. That’s just more fun for me.”
(Kane Hodder told Fangoria that when he took over the role of Jason in the Friday the 13th movies, he also insisted that Jason never runs). It’s like the line in GoodFellas: Zombies don’t move slow because zombies don’t have to.