Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Zombie Menace

A new book on vampire films by Jeffrey Weinstock devotes its first chapter to the erotic dimension of vampire cinema. It’s headed by a quote from Lev Grossman commenting on the appeal of vampires in contrast to zombies. Vampires, says Grossman, are sexy, and zombies aren’t. Nobody wants to sleep with a zombie. I confess the current zombie craze leaves me cool. I get limited fun from watching mindless monsters whose essence is that they’re a threat to be fled from or destroyed. The Baltimore SUN several days ago ran an article about this trend:

Zombies in Pop Culture

I can see why zombies are scary, though—scarier than vampires, even the old-fashioned evil type. In fiction and film, vampires almost always have minds and personality. Depending on your theory of vampirism, a friend, rival, or lover returning to life (or unlife) in search of blood may retain the same personality he or she had before death. You can make a connection with him or her. Most vampires have interests other than blood. They accumulate the memories, wealth, and skills of centuries. And, yes, they’re sexy. They use their allure to seduce victims or, if they’re “good” vampires, for mutual gratification with donors. Zombies (the contemporary type based on the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD model) just shamble around and eat people.

You can talk with a vampire, no matter how evil. You can stop a zombie from ripping you to shreds only by running away or applying brute force. No conversation is possible. Also, unlike any natural destructive creature or force of which the same could be said (e.g., a shark or a tornado), a zombie is a repulsive parody of a living human being. Unnaturally rising from death, it’s an animated corpse without mind or soul. If the corpse is that of someone you knew in life, it’s still more horrifying. Definitely scarier than a vampire, who, even if you subscribe to the concept of a vampire as a demon possessing a dead body, can perform a convincing simulation of life and intelligence.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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