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The History of “Night of the Living Dead” and the Fast Zombie Debate

The History of “Night of the Living Dead” and the Fast Zombie Debate (photo)

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Entertainment Weekly has a lengthy history of the making of the zombie classic “Night of the Living Dead” written by Clark Collis. Would you believe that major decisions, like who would play the very first zombie in the most iconic zombie film of all time, were made totally haphazardly?

“The role of the film’s first revived corpse — the so-called ‘Cemetery Zombie,’ whose stiff-legged jog would dictate the ambulatory speed of the ghouls in Darabont’s Walking Dead — was played by a photographer and acquaintance of the Image Ten team named Bill Hinzman. ‘Whenever a zombie was needed, I did the part because I had an old suit, and I was tall and skinny,’ Hinzman once said. ‘That opening scene was the last thing that we shot. George said, ‘You look so great as a zombie, why don’t you do the graveyard zombie?’ So I did.'”

Of course, no article on zombie movies would be complete without tedious arguments over whether the undead should move fast or slow. Frank Darabont, executive producer of the new AMC series “The Walking Dead,” weighted on the perpetual debate:

“Well, it depends on the zombie’s mood. If they’ve recently fed, they’re a little less interested, a little more shutdown. Other times, they’re riled to a predatory state and can get a little faster…This all goes back, by the way, to the original ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ The Internet adherence to zombies never running clearly ignores the first 10 minutes of that movie. Because the first zombie you see is pretty spry. He’s obviously rather hungry and worked up.”

First of all, big style points for Darabont for using the Internet’s twisted logic against it: zombies shouldn’t run because they didn’t run in Romero’s zombie movies — BUT WAIT!! they totally did in that one scene. But really, seriously, honestly: who cares?!? To say there should only be one kind of zombie first of all precludes the possibility of bringing any new ideas to the property. So filmmakers should just make the same movie, with the same kind of monsters, until the end of time? Lord help us if we ever force people to make movies that way.

There’s also a really ridiculous implication on both sides of this argument that there is a “real” way for zombies to act. Folks, zombies are made up. They act however they’re written. And anyway, there are all kinds of vampires — some that have fangs and capes, some that glitter and have really awesome wardrobes — so why can’t there be all kinds of zombies? So long as they have a remorseless craving for flesh, why be picky? Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

Nerds rejecting zombies because they walk a little too briskly is just another strain of the idiotic, close-minded logic that forced thousands of people to work themselves into a frenzy about Spider-Man having organic web-shooters in Sam Raimi’s Spidey movie. Unless he’s swinging around on his own prehensile armpit hairs, what’s the difference? “Night of the Living Dead” is a masterpiece, and “28 Days Later” is pretty damn close to one even though their zombies are very different monsters. Isn’t that a good thing? I thought diversity and original thinking were good things in movies, not bad. In this regard, we should behave as zombies: we should crave the brains.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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