Fear the Walking Dead premiered on AMC last night, and a record 10 million of us tuned in to see what the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse look like. With five episodes of the first season still to air, there are some big questions being asked about what we'll see, but also what we might hear.
By now all fans of The Walking Dead know that the show never refers to the undead as "zombies," instead called them walkers, roamers, lurkers, geeks, or biters. But according to Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson, the companion series (which is set on the other side of the country from The Walking Dead) will not call the undead "walkers."
Walkers to be called...?
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Erickson confirms that at least for Season 1, the undead will be called "the infected," an homage to the 2002 film 28 Days Later. Erickson explained the reasoning for the name, saying:
"Right now, playing off of the idea that they think this is viral and something you can catch that's transmitted, they start to call them 'the infected,' which is a nod to 28 Days Later. We don't get into a place in the story where they're going to start throwing names. Whether it's biters, roamers or walkers, our characters in season one still think these people are human and sick for a big chunk of time. 'Infected' made story sense for us, and as things evolve, we'll come up with new names."
Quite a cool reference, right? Not to mention that the reasoning behind the Season 1 moniker is spot on.
Why aren't they just called zombies?
The reason that the undead are never referred to as 'zombies' in The Walking Dead universe is due to the fact that the show exists in a universe without zombie pop culture. Robert Kirkman told The Talking Dead back in 2011 that movies such as George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (which basically created the zombie apocalypse sub-genre) never existed in The Walking Dead universe, so the characters have no experience with this type of situation.
Zombie references everywhere
Meanwhile, the reference to 28 Days Later is not the only horror film to get a nod in the new series, there was also a nice reference to the Brad Pitt zombie flick World War Z. The scene when Madison and Travis are stuck in traffic on the highway is much like one in the film when Pitt's character, Gerry, and his family are stuck in traffic, shortly before being swarmed by zombies. The scene gets even closer to World War Z when a police motorbike speeds past Travis's pick-up truck, and is almost hit when Travis opened his truck door:
Which might remind you of when this happens to Gerry's car in World War Z:
Moviepilot commenter Vamroc M Sylar also thinks that one of the settings in Fear the Walking Dead may be an homage, with the choice of the high school being purposely chosen as a nod to Japanese manga and anime series Highschool of the Dead. Time will tell if there are any more references made to the series in future episodes.
At this stage, fans of The Walking Dead will be used to the writers referencing other zombie horror flicks - executive producer Greg Nicotero frequently does it, and I'm glad to see that the new series will also include its fair share.
Episode 2 of Fear the Walking Dead will air on August 30th on AMC.