Why Committed Movie Scientists may recommend the occasional staggering zombie horde.

As all horror fans will know, zombies have generally cut back on the pace in recent years. This is arguably a good thing. Zombie apocalypses are easier to digest when the undead are slow and steady, as the last remnants of humankind have a chance to consider their options and think about what it all means.

George A. Romero’s ghouls may have been staggering threats when he first unleashed Night of the Living Dead in the 60s, but, to the consternation of many purists Danny Boyle injected some pace in 28 Days Later. Boyle’s ‘infected’ humans vomited blood, looked pretty freaky in grainy digital footage and had found their running shoes.

Zombies have been firmly back in vogue since then, although comedy outings like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland seem to have the most mileage at the moment. Choose the all-out horror route and you’re looking tired on the big screen. Nowadays TV is where the real action is, as The Walking Dead destroys the competition on cable. As the title suggests, the zombies here take a more relaxed, Romero-inspired approach to global domination, taking their time in their daily pursuit of living flesh. They’re in it for the long haul.

As history has shown, the zombie virus rears its ugly, decomposing head every few years, and threatens to develop a serious long-term and often poorly-written following in mainstream cinema. It’ll be left to the brave souls in murky Movie Science Labs to stamp out any future threats before too many people notice. Of course, there’ll have to be an announcement to reassure the world.

TV news reports will cut to the scene of a Committed Movie Scientist sitting on a desk. He’s middle-aged, has straggly grey hair, Harry Potter glasses and a kindly look on his face. He’s played by someone you probably recognise from a supporting role in an episode of CSI: Miami. He addresses the World:

“Hello there. This is just a quick announcement to let you know I saved the world today. While sitting alone in a murky science lab late last night, I discovered that a virus under my microscope had mutated and was making everything that touched it shrivel and die. There was even dramatic music… although that might have been my iPod.

“Either way, I realised we were looking at another zombie outbreak. Further analysis revealed that this was a Running Zombie, rather than a Staggering Zombie. This was very bad news. Staggering Zombies are often better and easier to deal with because while they’re really freaky to look at, they’re slower and so finding a hiding place full of guns is less important. They hold a mirror to humanity and satirise our approach to modern life. They’re memorable like that.

“Running Zombies are less complex and a lot more singleminded in their quest for living flesh. They’re almost always apathetic towards the concept of social satire but they still look really freaky and they’re obviously very fast. With these ones it’s usually more important to find a hiding place full of guns than it is to question why you like the shopping mall so much.

“In short, we decided that any future outbreaks should be restricted to Staggering Zombies. Otherwise we’ll all just be holed up in remote farm houses and shopping centres while we wait for someone to slip up, make a silly mistake and attract the zombie hordes. And everyone will die without any subtle social commentary to underline everything! We’ve had a bit too much of that recently.

“So! We killed the virus that was destroying everything under the microscope, which we’re sure you’re all very relieved to hear. In the future, any bad news will be preceded by a brief montage of news footage showing viruses writhing manically under a microscope, people praying, reporters looking very scared and anarchists rioting. Perhaps with a Johnny Cash soundtrack. That way you’ll all know Something Very Bad has happened and we screwed up somewhere along the line. But hey! Good news for now!”

The broadcast shuts down and Committed Movie Scientist sighs deeply. He accepts his place in Movie Land as the misunderstood and little-known hero who regularly saves the world from otherwise certain apocalyptic zombie doom. He knows that if things should go bad, he’ll either be the first to die or he’ll be a beacon of false hope hidden in his lab bunker when the first group of disparate armed civilians comes banging on the door looking for a cure.

In the meantime he’ll do what everyone does when they’re depressed at their lot in life; go to the mall.