The rage and runners

So I’m watching 28 Weeks Later and thinking about zombies. Strange as that is.

There are fights all over the net as to whether the rage is a zombie virus because despite how the rage affects people, they aren’t really undead. Not all zombies have been undead. It was theorised in the early 20th century that the Haitian zombi was just like a sleep walker, having had a drug that gives the appearance of death (much like Romeo and Juliet) and gives the bokor control over them (there’s quite a few articles from the early 20’s and 30’s about this, but the most well-known on the subject is an 1985 book by anthropologist and ethnobotonist Wade Davis titled The Serpent and the Rainbow – of which there is a movie adapted from it).

This is a rage face…

So, as the rage victims aren’t undead and decomposing, then maybe it’s a little bit more likely they can run. Some purists say if they can run, they aren’t zombies.

Point of interest: Romero didn’t give the first modern zombie actors on his movies any direction on how to walk. He let them make it up as they went along (and some of the shambles those actors pulled off without hurting themselves or without real broken limbs are fantastic!).

To me, modern fast zombies are scarier than early slow zombies, but for the great advances in makeup and CGI rather than the speed. Everyone overestimates their own skills against shamblers and that ends up with half of them getting dead, say the original Day of the Dead (let’s pretend the “remake” never happened *shudders*). With fast zombs, you still have your overconfident bastards – usually army people or people formerly in positions of power or money.

Would it be more likely for the zoms to be runners if they were zombies through alien parasite or supernatural means rather than a virus or chemical? It would definetely work better on those who were bitten and infected rather than zom-conversion by those long undead. Those people who zombies fall upon and eat all their flesh wouldn’t have much capability for running (and you get some nice gruesome scenes in Romero movies of zoms eating people whole and chewing on bones).

Or it could be based upon what the zombie is representing. In Dawn of the Dead, a blantant call upon consumerism, the zombie is but an aimless window shopper. There are some interpretations of modern fast zombies representing food (such as Jim’s sugar crash in 28 Days Later, the zombie’s obsession with eating reflecting society’s rapid rates of obesity and love of fast food – make what jokes you will about that!)

Torso Zombie: Come back here, I’ll bite your legs off!

Are zombies a state of mind? Can we qualify a zombie movie by the madness it brings rather than focusing on the live-dead-live status of being or if they can run or shamble? There’s another great movie called The Signal which my friend told me I had to buy to live (and I did, and lived. True story). In The Signal there are no zombies, but what my friend was pointing me to was the infection of pure madness.

Zombie as the loss of self?

Recommended Reading

For more fun on running zombies, go check out Simon Pegg’s view at The Guardian.

Fast Zombie/Slow Zombie: Food Writing, Horror Movies, and Agribusiness Apocalypse
by Michael Newbury, published in American Literary History

Where are all the fat zombies? – Publishers Weekly

Do zombies represent our fear of obesity? – the Examiner


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