Simon Pegg is the writer and star of 2003’s hit British zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead and a vocal advocate for the slow, shambling zombie over its faster counterpart seen in many recent movies. In a 2008 opinion piece published in the UK national newspaper The Guardian, Pegg strongly argues against sprinting zombies:

“A biological agent, I’ll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It’s hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.”

Ironically, Pegg himself may have played a pivotal role in the rise of the fast zombie in cinema by poking fun at how easy their slower cousins are to avoid and annihilate in Shaun of the Dead. Director Zack Snyder said that he chose to make his ghouls run in the Dawn of the Dead remake, released one year after Shaun, not because of the infected in 28 Days Late,r but because it’s not so easy to make fun of a faster ghoul.

Furthermore, the film adaptation of Max Brooks’ epic zombie novel World War Z set to be released in June of 2013 will reportedly break from the source material and feature fast zombies.

No doubt slow zombies will always have their place in literature, and even on television as AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead continues to prove with each record breaking episode. But will they ever be seen on the big screen again outside of the comedy realm?

With a public that is more zombie aware than ever before, are slow, shambling zombies scary enough to get the job done in the condense, ninety minute film format? Only time will tell.


  1. Rigor Mortis takes 24 hours to set in. At the 48 hr mark, it is completely gone from a corpse. So depending on how long it takes the body to reanimate, they may (and probably will) comeback before the 48 hours is up. At that point, they have to finish the Rigor Mortis process, then they will be as limber as ever. They will be able to run as fast as they could before, but without getting winded (no need for oxygen) or aches (no lactic acid). Then it comes down to the speed of decay of the muscles. That will be affected by the weather, humidity, flesh-eating insects, and whether or not the virus slows that process down. There are of course other factors (broken bones, torn muscles, etc) but that means that there will be a very nice mix of runners and shamblers.

  2. I have to agree with Dummey that it might largely depend on the physical and mental attributes of the infected person prior to infection. Then again, maybe not. Either way, slow zombies (in my opinion) are still as scary as
    the fast ones. If I see zombies sprinting towards me like a pack of rabid rottweilers, that fight-or-flight instinct would kick in pretty quick, making my reaction to the situation swift. Slow zombies, on the other hand, allow you
    time to think. And time for emotions to kick in rather than adrenaline. Basically, you’ve got too much time to over think what’s going on, increasing the chance of you making a critical mistake or simply acting too slow, and when fear sets in it can paralyze you. Once you’re beaten mentally, you’ve lost half the battle.

  3. just another quick thought, which applies in all zombie senarios, whether outbreak or back from the dead. i think people forget that not all zombies will be the same, not matter what causes the epidemic. the physical state (brain function, fast vs. slow, behaviour) of each zombie will be different based on the attributes of the living human that it “inhabits.” (ex) if a person had a lame leg while living you can bet your ass they wont be sprinting at you as a zombie. in the same way a person with major brain damage. they may come back as a zombie, but they may not have certain mental abilities of motor function present in other zombies. remember we have no idea what would cause a zombie outbreak, so the possibilties of what they could do is endless. even in a 28 days later senario, the infected might not run. the virus could shut down enough of motor function to keep the infected shambling. also every persons body reacts differently to diseases and infection. some one could die from a minor flu and the person next to them barely get the sniffles. this is my way of saying they would most likely be both fast and slow. sorry for rambling! (fingers crossed for zombie immunity!)

  4. It all depends on how the ‘zombie’ was created. Supernatural? They can run, you bet on it.
    Virus? Parasite? Fungi? Infection? Probably can’t run if they really are dead.
    Mutation(radiation), they may or may not be able to run.
    But if they aren’t dead…like with the Rage virus…you better have a vehicle because an infected grandma can probably outrun you anyday.

  5. I think that it should be a mix of fast and slow zombies.

    Deterioration in the musculature should cause them to slow down as they age/rot. But the newly turned, should have all or most of the musculature of the body prior to death.

  6. I like the idea in the MTV series Death Valley, where the “freshies” are fast and as they decay further they get slower.

    • This is the best train of thought on the whole thing. if they feel no pain then in away they would be able to run for a very long time until the muscles broke down and started to rot causing them to shamble and eventually craw into death and decay.

  7. CadaverWithASicknote

    I like the idea that proper undead zombies- ones that are literally dead- are slow (because they are rotting and stiff) and zombies that are infected like in Left 4 Dead, 28 Days Later etc. are fast because they aren’t really dead and decomposing, just diseased… and rabid.

  8. The walking dead zombies dont “run” they shamble pretty quick when excited. They do not however move faster than the graveyard zombie in NOLTD that’s the benchmark that Darabont along with Nicotero & Kirkman, and they have stayed pretty true to that. I don’t mind fast zombies , but it’s a travesty that WWZ is going to be fast zombies.

  9. zombie is my bitch

    well i think it might be in between, with zombies moving in a fast limb to fast walk. i don’t trust in the total mindless part either. i belive that they do have the attitude of a rabid hobo (ironaclly , this just might be the case). there is even a reomte possibility in cave man like understanding of tools. the last thing however, i extremly doubt.

    the problom i have is how every on has to pick a side, I mean, even if they were/are shamblers, they won’t be any less dangerous than runners.

  10. Why is this an either/or issue? Why can’t they be both? A freshly risen zombie is fast.. Tissues still plump and as vigorous as they were a few hours earlier in life… Maybe even boosted some with the loss of the self preservation reflex. But as they age.. They slow down. Tissues break down, wounds mount, and the shambling hordes of hardened zombies begin to form… They’d move together, fast zombies attack first, wearing you out, using up resources to fend them off in a panic.. And just as you think you’ve got the attack handled, the slow tidal wave of shamblers, most likely drawn by the sounds of prior combat, flows in… Pinning you wherever you had to take quick refuge, with whatever resources you have left…

    • This makes a lot of sense to me. The physical condition of a zombie would definitely have an impact on how quickly it would be able to move. I really like the first-wave/second-wave idea, too, with faster zombies attacking and the sound of the attack drawing slower zombies to the area. This seems like the most likely scenario whether the zombies can run initially or not – even if the freshly risen zombies can’t move as quickly as a live human, the sheer number of wave after wave of zombies potentially cornering, trapping, and overwhelming survivors as they’re drawn by the sounds of attack is scary enough in itself.

  11. I don’t see how he is responsible for the rise of fast zombie movies at all. Slow zombies are still just as scary a thought. Zombies don’t have to be fast to be terrifying. What makes zombies so down right spine tingling is the knowledge that it spreads at an exponential rate… just like any other communicable disease. Imagine being surrounded by a horde or even an entire TOWN of zombies, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow they are, chances are slim you’re getting out alive. It only takes one bite, and with thousands of infected teeth surrounding you it’s only a matter of time.

  12. If Simon Pegg was responsible to do with anything about zombies, it’s 1) making a damn fine film, and 2) merely pointing out the obvious that 95% of people watching zombie movies have been saying for years. I mean, come on, guys – Simon Pegg’s a legend and all, but he’s not a visionary when if comes to zombie movies.

  13. (Face Palm) if they want the zombies to run, then there are a ton of monsters they can just replace the zombie with. This is why Hollywood annoys the hell out of me, their “outside the box” is just painting the box, not really doing anything new. The slow shambling Zombie may be easy to make fun of, but it’s in it’s simplicity that makes it so frightening, as well allows the story to focus one the living. The “Dawn of the Dead” remake did not have the same amount of heart in story as “Shaun of the Dead” though it was in a comedic fashion, there was still more emotion. That and I’m annoyed with all the “and everyone dies” zombie story’s.

    • (Face-Palm-Within-A-Face-Palm) Running zombies adds the exact horror that most zombie movies shoot for! Sure in the 60-70’s slow zombies could fit the bill, until you return to the present and realize oh what are these marvelous legs I have? Does this mean that I can RUN? Well then I suppose I could RUN away from all these zombies rather than getting holed up in a farmhouse or mall i.e. George Romero’s classics.

      Hollywood wants to keep the zombie-constant-fear action while replacing the shamblers with something that is wild, feral, and absolutely deadly. In 28 Days Later, an infected could kill you and infect you to full zombie status within a minute. That kind of fast-paced action spurs extreme fear of the creatures. When all it takes is one bite, it is a hell of a lot scarier when a zombie is sprinting rather than stumbling…

  14. But even in the walking dead, the dead can run, they just don’t run all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top