While zombies may be united in their collective thirst for living flesh, their depictions in films and TV vary across the globe. From the trudging walkers characterized in American depictions such as The Walking Dead to the rage-fueled sprinters from 28 Days Later, zombie depictions differ from country to country. Using movies from different countries, let's take a look at how zombies are characterized around the world and what makes them unique.
Italian Zombies Are Rotten
As Seen In: Zombie (a.k.a. Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters)
Typically heavily decaying as if having emerged straight from the grave, Italian zombies are often so rotten that their skin and limbs fall off without much effort. They can exhibit impressive displays of strength, often easily overpowering their human counterparts. However, their fragile composition makes them easy to dispatch of, if you are able to fight back.
French Zombies Are Tanks
As Seen In: The Horde
French zombies are insanely strong, able to sustain massive amounts of damage before being incapacitated. The most effective way to destroy these zombies is by damaging their brain or removing their head entirely. They are extremely aggressive and will attack without the need to feed. Steady aim or a melee weapon will prove to be useful in taking out these zombos — they can easily take an entire clip of ammo without slowing down. They share many of the same characteristics as the "living infected" — more on that below.
UK Zombies Are Fast And Furious
As Seen In: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later
While films like Shaun of the Dead feature the slow-moving, lethargic zombies that George A. Romero popularized in 1968, the British zombies in 28 Days Later truly redefined the characteristics of the undead. These creatures are more technically known as the "living infected," having been created by a fast-acting virus. Side-effects of this contamination grant them the ability to sprint at high speeds without exhaustion but leaves them vulnerable to weaker attacks, dehydration, and blood loss.
They are easy to identify by their twitchy and erratic movements (presumably another side-effect of their infection). Their most effective weapon is their own body — a single drop of their blood can lead to total infection, meaning they will often spit and spew on humans in close proximity.
Spanish Zombies Are Relentless
As Seen In: The [REC] Series
Much like the rage-fueled living infected in 28 Days Later, these Spanish killers are driven to attack humans. They are strong, capable of breaking down doors, can run short distances, and will attack the living without the need to feed, largely due to their religious-influenced creation. Their violent tendencies and tireless persistence make them particularly dangerous in close quarters, as seen in the video above.
American Zombies Are Single-Minded
As Seen In: Night Of The Living Dead, The Walking Dead, Zombieland
These zombies are the classic slow walkers, lurching forward with heavy steps. They aren't particularly smart nor organized, but they make up for that in sheer numbers. They often travel in large hordes and are capable of overwhelming most barricades and blockades if given enough time. These zombies lack all higher cognitive functions, driven solely by the need to feast on living tissue. Luckily, their slow movements makes them easier to outmaneuver — so long as you don't get cornered without an escape route.
Scandinavian Zombies Are Hateful
As Seen In: Dead Snow, Dead Snow 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops
These zombies hold on to their prejudices even after their deaths, as these Norwegian zombies kill with the same reckless abandon as their former Nazi selves. They appear to kill solely out of hatred and are not motivated by the need to consume human flesh. They are organized, capable of operating vehicles and weapons, and chock full of evil.
While horror fans will recognize that most of these zombies fall into at least one of six major categories, it's great to see how depictions of zombies vary slightly across the globe. At least they all seem to confirm that the best way to stop any of the undead is with an enthusiastic skull crushing.