As part of Tor.com’s Zombie Week, we’ve compiled a week’s worth of un-deadly survey questions and unleashed them on some of our favorite authors, artists and other aficionados of the afterlife. To kick things off, we posed the following question to our panel of experts:
Zombies come in so many horrifying and repulsive flavors: the classic, shambling Romero-style ghoul; the old school, Voodoo trance zombies; the Matheson-inspired zom-vamp hybrid; 28 Days Later-style speed demons; the ever popular “Thriller” breed of well-choreographed undead, etc....so: what’s your favorite type of zombie, and why?
As one might expect, responses varied wildly, from meditations on the nature of zombiehood to burning questions about Bollywood to touching calls for zombie equality…click below the fold to check out the collected wit and wisdom of everyone who was nice enough to let us pick their…ahem…braaaaains, and then please chime in with your own opinions in the comments!
Steven Gould: Dancing zombies win.
Carrie Ryan: While I do love a good zombie dance troop, I still have to go with the old school shambling brainless zombies. They’re just so horrific because they’re easy to laugh at and escape until the numbers pile up and then it becomes hopeless.
Bob Fingerman: I like the archetypal Romero shambler. It’s all about volume. Thousands of them. Millions. Billions. They don’t need to run and that’s way scarier. It’s the inexorable nature of slowness. The molasses death. Brrr.
R.J. Sevin: This October marks the 20th anniversary of Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead, a film that for whatever reason never really found its audience. It’s one of my favorites, and the zombies in that film have become my personal standard for how the walking dead should look and act. Optic Nerve’s make-up FX were subtle and disturbing, and the walking dead (in interviews, Savini stressed that these were “dead things,” not “zombies”) were utterly ineffectual, in and of themselves. The roaring, sprinting, leaping zombies of recent popularity ARE scary, but my heart belongs to the broken and lumbering dead. They’re the spark that sets off the powder keg of humanity. We take care of the rest.
Sarah Langan: I like the shambling kind, because it implies soullessness, which to me, is scary.
Walter Greatshell: This issue came up during the zombie panel at Comic-Con, when Max Brooks started the proceedings by declaring, “Fast zombies suck!” Since my Xombies probably qualify as “fast zombies,” I was put in the position of defending them, but I don’t actually care whether zombies are slow, fast, dead, alive, viral or voodoo, as long as the story grabs me.
Matt London: My favorite type of zombie is one that isn’t trying to eat me.
Paula R. Stiles: Either mummies or bodysnatchers. I know that technically, bodysnatchers aren’t zombies, but they have a lot of the same traits and they scare the hell out of me. As for mummies, I find them both creepy and romantic in a dusty, historical way.
Jamie Lackey: I’m a fan of the classic shambling zombie, and it’s important to me that they eat brains, not just generic flesh. Though the awesomeness of choreographed dancing can’t be overstated. I’d love to see a Bollywood zombie movie. Are there any of those? Excuse me, I have to go ask the internet an important question.
Kim Paffenroth: I go for the slow, Romero-style horde. Their sheer numbers give them a sense of inevitability and doom, like there’s no escape, and it doesn’t matter if you can outrun them, because they’re everywhere.
Christopher Golden: The remake of Dawn of the Dead falls short of greatness, but the zombies, especially at the beginning of the film, are terrifying. I’d have to go with those as my favorite—the updated classic.
Sean Bieri: I prefer drawing the “dry” zombie—lots of desiccated flesh and exposed bone—mainly because it reads better as “dead guy” in my cartoony style, and lends itself to falling-apart-body jokes. And I like a well-dressed zed—I like to know what they were doing before they croaked, either for a living or just their situation (hospital gown, pajamas, etc.)
Catherine MacLeod: Romero-style. Slow is good. I’m not a fast runner.
Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant): I’m a big fun of parasitic and viral zombies. Why? Because nature already makes them. Think about that, and see if you ever sleep again.
Dave Palumbo: I’ve always thought of the Romero zombie as the pure zombie. They’re slow and easy to avoid in small numbers, but sooner or later… They’re also mute, have about the intelligence of a farm animal, and eat flesh, not just brains. I think the human brains thing started with Return of the Living Dead and became kind of ubiquitous, but I prefer zombies that just want meat of any kind. Also, I like a slow turn from a bite. It takes days before you become one of them, turning the victim into a time bomb and raising lots of moral conflicts in their fellow survivors.
Julia Sevin: The best zombies are slow, blank-faced and smelly.
Amelia Beamer: I like the speed demons because they’re smarter than me. Or they move faster, which is almost the same thing.
David Moody: Definitely the Romero shuffler, but with a large dash of the “I am Legend,” Matheson zombies thrown in. It’s bad enough being hounded by an unstoppable and tireless undead army, but imagine if they knew who you were, and you knew them? Your dead work colleagues, recently deceased family members, your lover’s reanimated corpse... There’s something inherently terrifying about the undead Ben Courtman banging on his old friend Neville’s door and calling out for him night after night after night in Matheson’s classic story.
S.G. Browne: Let’s not think in terms of favorite or best. Instead, let’s think of zombies as unique creatures, each of whom brings their own special talents to the table. They should all be appreciated as individuals, be they shamblers, sprinters, or vegetarians. In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Bridget McGovern has an affinity for the 60s era Zombies, known more for their love of the organ, electric piano, and psychedelic pop than for eating brains (although who knows what Rod Argent was up to back then? It was a confusing time).