General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

In TV and movies, why do zombies always walk so slowly?

Asked by elbanditoroso (24713points) April 14th, 2018

Ok, they’re manifestations of the reanimated human corpses. But why the slow walking? Does being undead do something to their muscle tone? And why do so many of them walk with their necks canted to the right? Why can’t they keep their necks straight?

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15 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

reduced motor control plus necrotic musculature.
besides, they are not always slow

Zaku's avatar

Each fictional setting has different situations, most of which aren’t explained at that level of detail.

Often, zombies (as befits the sense of the word) aren’t very smart or aware, and that seems to me to be the usual situation leading to the symptoms you describe. Controlling a body takes some learning, awareness, and balance (not to mention concern for posture), and zombies tend to have lost a lot of that as part of their condition.

In other settings, zombies are just as physically capable as living humans, or even more so.

Brian1946's avatar

I guess part of it is that in the 1930’s-whenever, most actors playing scary creatures were too encumbered by their burdensome costumes to move quickly.

Also, I think a lot of those directors thought slow, deliberately moving beings were scarier.

Not only were zombies beset by sluggish movement, but so were most other featured creatures, such as Godzilla, the mummy, Jack Torrance, and Frankenstein’s monster.

I’d say the zombies in World War Z, were actually quite fleet afoot.

Jeruba's avatar

To create suspense and to make the movie last two hours.

Yellowdog's avatar

Since Zombies are loosely based on African, Haitian, and U.S. southern folklore, the sci-fi / horror zombies are based on their real counterparts, which are quite slow.

The witch-doctor extracts a tetrodotoxin from a puffer-fish—which is mixed with a powder and mixed with dirt—the powder is called ‘goofer dust’ It is spread where the victim is likely to touch—in the dirt just outside his door, or on the door itself, etc.

The tetrodotoxin causes the one effected to become paralyzed appear to die—the breathing and pulse are extremely slow. Of course, the Zombie does not actually DIE but appears to—modern techniques could reveal that the person is not fully dead. This lack of oxygen (or lack of oxygen from being buried several days) does extensive brain damage.

The ‘zombie’ is able to follow simple instructions such as agricultural work or simple menial tasks—but basically lives in a slow stupor and is not very coherent. Occasionally, several years later someone recognizes them (as someone who supposedly died) even if the person is rescued there is extensive brain damage,

Sci-Fi zombies are based on this real counterpart but usually are affected by a virus, or alien entity inhabiting the body. It just seems like death and decay would slow the brain function.

Also, I do not know how much truth there is to ‘real’ zombie phenomenon—Voodoo is common in the region in which I live (I studied it as a project for a folklore class) and I know an African American church that deals with it—which is mostly the power of suggestion. Christian missionaries in the Caribbean and Central America encounter it occasionally.

flutherother's avatar

They have a very slow metabolism because they are dead. It is only by consuming living flesh that they are able to move at all. Many have broken necks and are incapable of holding their heads straight. Others may only pretend to have broken necks to appear less dangerous than they really are.

RocketGuy's avatar

@Yellowdog – you beat me to it!

imrainmaker's avatar

That’s how Hollywood perceived them!! They have been typecast you know..)

kritiper's avatar

Painful arthritis.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Does that mean Jesus is a zombie?

ragingloli's avatar

Jesus is closer to a Lich, and the thorn crown might be his phylactery.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Hollywood/Romero style zombies are not possible for more than a few hours after death. Slowness would be because of a lack of cellular resources to keep the body animated.
Sickness induced zombies of the 28 days later variety are very possible but they were not “zombies”

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III Good point! The answer must be yes, but whatever it might be, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing…

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