Zombie films have been a part of horror for decades, and within the modern era, their evolution onscreen has come in many forms.
One of the more notable differences from the original movies is a zombie’s ability to now run after their victims.
It seems like a small change, but to horror fans it has spurred many heated discussions.
Originally, the mindless monsters were only able to shuffle slowly, and the fear of creeping death was enough to satisfy audiences from a bygone era.
Faster moving infected zombies (as opposed to slower undead ones), were popularized in director Danny Boyle’s classic 28 Days Later.
28 Days Later (2002)
This movie is famous for giving a new generation nightmares of being chased down by relentless blood-spewing infected people, and it also is a crucial landmark that splits the fandom between modern and purist horror films.
It is also worth noting, that there have since been other British movies and television shows that have taken the fast diseased elements to varied success, including creator Charlie Brooker’s 2008 mini series Dead Set and director Colm McCarthy’s 2016 The Girl with All the Gifts.
There have been more, but these two are my personal favorites and deserved a shout out.
Today, there are plenty of films and television shows that feature running zombies, and their original slow moving counterparts are also being injected heavily into modern horror.
Zombies are still part of a global craze, which has brought us many great movies by a plethora of extremely talented filmmakers.
Even with the vast variety, there are still binary camps of fans who either believe “zombies are never supposed to run” or “shufflers are boring”, which spurs the common the debate in horror circles.
But, there are some in the genre that almost all of us can agree on…
Shaun of the Dead
Director Edgar Wright made us laugh, cry (Shaun’s mom scene), and then laugh some more, in this clear homage to George A. Romero zombie movies.
The creeping killers seemed necessary for this film and without them it would have lost a bit of its magic among the zombie comedies.
Great films in the sub genre that featured the feet dragging flesh eaters such as 2012’s Cockneys vs Zombies and 2019’s Little Monsters, seemed to back the debate that the chasing infected are a lot more of an obstacle when it comes to the survival of the protagonists.
However, AMC’s The Walking Dead (based on the award-winning comic) has stuck to the original horror roots, without the comedy, and given purists fans 10 seasons of flesh feasting hordes in a post-apocalyptic world.
The success of the show has lead to various spin-offs and a dedicated fan base who feels vindicated with the popular return to the 70’s style zombies.
As for the fast and furious infected disease carriers, there have been major hits, which include a few foreign films that give Hollywood studios some true competition.
Train to Busan
In 2016, director Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan was easily the most talked about film in the subgenre. I also truly believe it is not a hyperbolic statement to call this one of the greatest zombie films to ever be made.
For those who have not seen it, I will say this…
It took all the best elements that made films like 2007’s 28 Weeks Later or 2013’s World War Z frightening to watch, and doubled down by adding epic fight scenes that rivaled top tier action franchises.
The acting by the stunt performers who played the zombies was not only a highlight, but something that makes the film one you can watch repeatedly and still be satisfied by.
The beauty of this subgenre of movies is that they can work regardless of the speed of the zombies, it has never been a deal breaker due to the fact both schools of thought have give us excellent films.
There even some rule defying hybrid movies that have both running and walking zombies like 2006’s Slither, 2007’s Planet Terror, or (my personal favourite) 2004’s Dawn of the Dead which all made for thrilling rewatchable experiences.
As a horror enthusiast, when it comes to choosing the slow death dealing horde vs. the quick infectious mob I am (and forever will be) a big fan of both.
When done correctly both styles can make for elevated horror cinema that delivers a gruesome chaotic nightmare for the viewers.
Which, at the end of the day, is all we truly ever sign up for as fans of undead or infectious monsters.