I heard something a while back about why zombies don't generally run. The thought behind it is sound, if a zombie who's been decaying was to take off in a sprint his leg would probably break or fall off. I mean, he or she is not exactly in the best shape. Now, if it was a fresh corpse then maybe it would work out okay? That's the why, but in the reality of zombie invasions, it's a lot more fun to have them take off in a full sprint. Now what does all of this have to do with anything? It made me wonder who in the hell made them run in the first place? I think most film goers credit this to Danny Boyle in his film '28 Days Later'. Now, for zombie purists, the creatures in his film aren't zombies.... they're just infected humans, infected with a disease. I, however, would probably credit it to the 1985 Dan O'Bannon film 'Return of the Living Dead'. In that film, the zombies move very quickly and don't really shamble at all. Granted, the zombies also talk and don't follow the old school rules. It's still a classic in my book.What I came to finally realize, after some more thought, is that both of those lines of thinking are wrong. The first time I can think of seeing them was actually in the godfather of modern zombie films, George A. Romero's 1968 film 'Night of the Living Dead'. In that film, in the opening sequence, we see a pretty pissed off zombie taking off after Barbara and then running after her car. I never really put two and two togther until tonight. After all these years, it was right there in front of my face. It obviously didn't stick after that film, it took quite a long time for people to be willing to expect the high speed undead. '28 Days Later' introduced the idea, but 2004's remake of 'Dawn of the Dead' by Zack Snyder, made it mainstream. Now it's become an ongoing arguement with zombie fanatics as far as which is better or more pure, running or shambling? As far as I'm concerned, zombies are zombies. If they run, that's scary as hell. Thinking about something that wants to kill you that has no remorse, no slowing down and will kill anything that gets in its way, is pretty damn frightening. It's like swimming in the ocean and coming across a school of sharks with blood in the water. But the shambling zombies can be just as scary. Thinking about being surrounded by hordes of the undead who all want your flesh, is frightening. Just the overwhelming numbers will always overcome any amount of weapons someone has. So both options pretty much suck, if you were in them.
Watch from the 7 min 25 sec mark forward and you'll see one pretty fast and pissed off zombie. He's going to get Barbara and have a Barb-a-ra-Q, damn it.
In the end, my point of writing this was to set the record straight on the whole running/shambling arguement. I don't think one is right and one is wrong, they both have their place in horror cinema. I'll love them no matter what. For me, zombies are the bread and butter of my horror world. I guess I've made my point.... if there ever was one.
(Follow up: I went back and researched who said that the ankles would break on running zombies and low and behold, it was George A. Romero himself that said that! I guess he forgot that he started the whole trend long before zombies were in vogue. Silly boy.)