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Why do the zombies move so fast? An explanation of the undead from Brad Pitt's World War Z

11.09.2012

So, the first trailer for WORLD WAR Z premiered yesterday and as we all soaked in the footage from the epic adaptation of Max Brooks novel, one question seemed to keep popping up: Why are the zombies so fast? 

Certainly, we've become accustomed to the sluggish, slow-moving undead who are relatively easy to evade, but is there room for these "marathon" zombies in the genre's canon?  You'll recall that director Zack Snyder first showed us some undead sprinters in his DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, which didn't hurt that film's prospects.  But, the WORLD WAR Z zombies seem to be on some performance enhancing drugs...

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Visual effects supervisor John Nelson said that the zombies in WORLD WAR Z lean more toward a science fiction transformation, rather than a supernatural one.  The producer's dove heavily into research on animal behavior for the film

“They are like predatory animals that can’t control themselves,” Nelson said. “I worked with tigers [while shooting GLADIATOR], and if you watch them when a horse goes by they go batty, even if they know they can’t reach it. When Zs see humans they do same thing, they activate. They launch themselves.”

Nelson mentioned additional references: “There are a lot of things in nature we’re mining as references. They move like birds or school of fish, too, in reactive formations, and it’s not because they have a higher level of [shared] thinking or communication – it’s about their nature and the fact that their instinct to infect is so basic, efficient, and overpowering. They will go through anything. If they lose both legs, they will walk on their hands. They lock in and they’re like salmon going upstream or sperm swimming to be the first to egg.”

Ultimately, I think Nelson hits the bigger reason for the fast moving zombies in WORLD WAR Z, saying, “Everyone has seen everything in this genre,” Nelson said. “So of course we looked to try to find something new. And we have some.”

So, there's your explanation, folks.  I've had a strange number of texts and Facebook messages asking me what the deal was with the fast-moving zombies from the film, so hopefully this will provide the answer to everyone else looking for the reason.

The Marc Forster directed WORLD WAR Z, starring Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, David Morse, James Badge Dale, and Mireille Enos kicks off the undead marathon on June 21, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: Do fast-moving zombies bother you? Besides the fact that they can catch you faster and eat your brains?

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