In the spirit of Halloween, Death Match, or Undead Match, as I’d like to call it, is tackling the sacred collegiate canon of zombies. Inspiring the mass piracy of George A. Romero films and marshmallow-pelting RPGs, the undead unite so many of us in our affection for watching the human race quite literally eat itself alive.
One question, however, continues to pit fans and filmmakers alike against each other: fast zombies or slow zombies?
Fast zombies will fuck your shit up—your shit being, of course, your body, your mind, and your conceptions of Western capitalist consumer society—in a way that the lumbering, green masses of yore simply take too long to do effectively. Fast zombies, individually or in hordes, are all strength and adrenaline, with no regard for pain or exhaustion: they are driven by the need to destroy you. The moaning, passive, decomposing mobs that are their more laid-back brethren are a little less explicit about what they want. Flesh? A hug? It can’t be that big of a deal if they’re taking this long to get to it. And if it is your flesh they want, well, if you let a slow zombie catch you, you deserve it.
Now, purists may argue that fast zombies do not actually qualify, by definition and by biology, as actual zombies. They can be vomiting blood and lacking self-awareness and a drive for survival because of biological agents or super-viruses, but they are still not technically dead. That’s fair. But if we look at the classic definition of zombies as strictly “the living dead,” well, I’m not really sure how “dead” these dead folks are either if they’ve managed to rouse themselves from six feet under.
So let’s settle on zombies as simply “the undead,” robbed of all we know as good and human. And it’s precisely this idea that makes the fast ones all the more terrifying: rather than representing circumstantial fears, like our slow, impending and unavoidable death, or the dangerous but pitiful passivity of mindless consumerism, fast zombies pit us against the embodiment of the darkest parts of human nature that we often won’t bring ourselves to admit to—hate, self-destruction, violence, and hedonism.
These days, we need a faster zombie for a faster time. So while the subtleties and implications of an undead mob closing in on you are good and well, a single undead man, bleeding from his eyes and lit on fire, continuing to chase you like an Olympic finish line, is simply a lot more terrifying, a lot more likely to kill you, and a lot more likely to obliterate the society from which it was born.