“World War Z” crashes into theaters amid the zombie fascination gripping millions across the globe. Since the sauntering swarms of George A. Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” we’ve had fast-running zombies, manic, red-eyed zombies and — who could forget — Nazi zombies. And after all these memorable riffs on the flesh-eating walking dead, the director of this apocalyptic picture starring Brad Pitt (“Killing Them Softly”), Marc Forster (“Quantum Solace”), thinks there remain new and exciting ways to tell a good zombie story.

Forster believes he has a new cinematic vision, details of which he was willing to share through a conference call The Michigan Daily participated in.

“I looked at all the zombie movies — especially ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘28 Days Later,’ ” Forster said. “I knew I needed to create something that differentiates itself from those movies. I saw what was created before and then sort of created my own language visually and emotionally of where I wanted this film to go to.”

In effect, Forster had to decide what his zombies could and couldn’t do, what their defining features are and what makes them compelling enough to warrant a big-budget film — a zombie rulebook of sorts.

“I knew that I wanted to set it all as very real. I didn’t want them to be superhuman and just grounded all biology,” Forster said. “I was involved in every step of the way because it was important to the foundation of my vision.”

But these zombies don’t move as we’ve seen them before. They aren’t the jerking fiends of “28 Days Later” or the gnawing, hungover corpses of the Romero-breed. There’s a particularly memorable sequence in “World War Z” ’s trailer that Forster shed some light on:

“The human pyramid is a very frightening image. I haven’t seen it in any zombie movie, and as a filmmaker you’re always trying to create something new — which in this case is a tsunami of zombies coming towards you with no way to escape them.”

Forster further elaborated on the inspiration of what he believes to be a zombie innovation.

“As a child, I once witnessed masses of people at a soccer stadium in Europe as they were trying to leave after the game, trampling on top of each other,” he said. “I sat there watching it — frightened from a child’s point of view, realizing how scary this could be.”

Committing himself to this verisimilitude, in creating a new cinematic experience of this oft-seen apocalyptic favorite, Forster also understood another level of depth should be added to his version of zombiedom.

“I have often been fascinated by zombies because they’re, as you just mentioned, a great metaphor, going back to Romero in the ’70s, where they were a take on consumerism,” Forster said. “We’re living in a time of change and I think every time the world’s been through such a transformation, zombies have been very, very popular.”

As many filmmakers and writers before him have done, Forster opened his film up to the possibility of the zombies carrying allegorical weight.

“At some point our planet won’t be able to sustain the amount of people there are on it,” he said. “So overpopulation becomes more and more of a concern with fewer and fewer resources, and if you’re looking all around in regards to politics and economics, it seems like we are all going after the last resources. There is almost a mindlessness to it and I thought that would be a great metaphor.”

Still, the pure spectacle of the terror and the rush of action of such an event wasn’t lost on Forster: “World War Z” is still a summer blockbuster.

“The ultimate thing is that the film is a ride from beginning to end, but it also has another level to it, which is what I really enjoy about this film because movies that accomplish both these things are sometimes hard to come by — stories or scripts for summer blockbusters which can provide you with those fun-ride experiences.”

For many directors, that combination of crowd-pleasing and intelligent storytelling proves difficult to balance. Even Forster admits he had to face the possibility of compromise.

“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by these massive scenes and you’re involved in this incredible time pressure and money pressure and so on, it can be a challenge to stick to your vision.”

Still, the director appears to be satisfied with the result.

“I’ve been lucky enough to say I’ve walked away at the end of the films I’ve made with the thought, ‘Yes my vision was there.’ I think that’s the most important thing.”

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