Thursday, December 4, 2014

Zombie Zigzag: Hating Brad Pitt

Don't worry, the "A World A Week" topic will be back, just haven't had access to a scanner lately. Paul 2.0 and I have since mid-October been formulating Zombie Zigzag for TACK. One of the by-products has been some great discussion on the zombie movie/entertainment sub-genre of horror. 

Why I Hate Brad Pitt , or why fast zombies are dumb
By Paul Cooper (AKA Paul 2.0)

Recent big screen films have features fast moving, running zombies, or what I like to call "ZOOMBIES". I hate ZOOMBIES and you, as a GM should too.
Here are some "facts" to consider:
The recent notion of "fast" zombies is a conceit to the ADHD, video game generation. It defies all suspension of disbelief. Never tiring and feeling no pain results in disaster for such creatures. The hip, knee, and ankle joints of the reanimated were not designed for the continual, sustained strain a "fast" zombie puts on it. The lack of pain, which discourages or stops a human from surpassing the design parameters of these joints, is not present in "fast" zombies. Thusly, these joints would fail quickly in a "fast" zombie, reducing them to either immobility or the slower movement of the more "traditional" shamblers.
This is further supported by the laws of thermodynamics, which govern all but the "supernatural" origin of zombies. The question must be asked of all other varieties, "Where do they get the energy to run at a sustained rate for such long periods?" If zombies do not consume humans for their caloric content, but due to some sort of primal urge in the active regions of the reptilian brain, the question remains. The energy must come from somewhere. The bodily reserves of energy would be quickly consumed in a "fast" zombie, rendering them immobile in a relatively short period of time.
Thus, the conclusion is that "fast" zombies are nothing more than a ridiculous way to startle and excite the jaded video game generation.
The main reason why you, as a GM, should hate ZOOMBIES. No suspense. Slow moving zombies allow you to build the tension of the story. First encounters of single zombies, that the players can kill off, starts the fun, but as the number of zombies increases, and their groups grow in size, your players will start to feel the clock running out. The tension will build in your stories as the players have to figure out how to survive the increasing numbers. It's the dramatic slow doom that allows you to build up your story to a dramatic, high intensity climax.
Your players wouldn't last more than 5 minutes in a world of ZOOMBIES. How the Hell is any group of survivors going to last against things that can out run an Olympic runner? That can quickly form ramps of bodies large enough to breach any wall, no matter how high? How on Earth are you, as a GM, going to build the tension in your story if all of your players are slaughtered in the first 5 minutes of the story? Good Luck with that.
So let idiots like Brad Pitt keep their ZOOMBIES. GMs of Crawlspace know how to tell a better story than that jerk.

My own reaction is similar, but, in the end, I still like Brad Pitt's World War Z.

The folks that are recognized Zombie-Media gurus have been struggling with the false problem of popular relevance. Where does the genre go once it's gone beyond the viewer's vicarious joy at seeing his daydream of shooting everyone who he doesn't like in the head played out on screen about a dozen times? Shows like The Walking Dead have totally proven that there is not much point in making a zombie movie beyond a group dynamics flik. Throw in an interesting weather or engineering phenomena every once in a while, like Z Nation, and you have a serious basis for gamer interest.

When it comes to zombies in Crawlspace, I tend to fall back to how I learned from the earliest zombie movie that I wasn't so scared of that I could listen to the pseudo-scientific reasoning going on. The movie that scared me, excuse the language, "shitless" was Night of the Living Dead and the first zombie I watched with youthful enthusiasm was Return of The Living Dead. When a coroner was dealing with a trapped sample of the zombie invasion going on around him, he told others, paraphrasing, "It can't be any stronger than it was in life."

I still like Pitt not because he is a superstar, but because he is a dork despite his success. This dude who is most likely a billionaire and acclaimed to have as much talent as he has looks, as well as the woman he's chosen for his wife, is as caught up in zombie mania as George Romero and Max Brooks. As a person that suffered a headache reading World War Z, I remember that I was so disappointed with various movies leading up to and including Romero's Day of the Dead, WWZ's army ant zombies weren't a surprise. I had already watched zombies hop along ceilings and Resident Evil already negated any sense of physical limitations long before. 

So when it comes to Crawlspace, I want the GM/Director to really feel free to work things through to make the 13-Hour Clock dynamic work for him, or her.

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