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Forget pretty vampires, dirty zombies rock!
Unless you don’t consume any books, tv, movies, or video games (in which case, we have very little in common), you have probably noticed that zombies are steadily rising in popularity as of late. They aren’t a ‘new’ fictional phenomenon by any means, having been around for roughly 50 years. But compared to fictional vampires, they are the younger brother of horror monsters.
I’ll get to the vampire/zombie connection in a second. First, I must mention the movie ‘28 Days Later’. This was the movie that really modernized the zombie for me and made it a truly horrifying monster that I could identify with because honestly, the slow moving zombies of the Romero days seemed silly sometimes (except in The Walking Dead- but only because they have great makeup and can apparently walk softly). I had nightmares for three weeks after I saw 28DL and my family to this day loves to come at me fast with a rabid, shaking head and zombie growl just to freak me out. Yeah, I know, weird way to show love, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Though neither vampires nor zombies are new, the rise in popularity of zombie fiction is a pop culture answer to the uber popularity of vampires in the last decade. Vampires went from being scary monsters that need your blood to live (blood that you, in fact, need to live-hence the conflict) to sparkly, sexy, human-loving beings. The fictional vampire was wrested from the horror genre and put on a pedestal in the romance genre, instead.
Also, there is the science angle—it is way more believable in the age of SARS and H1N1 that a virus or neurotoxin or the like could get loose and wreak havoc on the human population. Some are surprised this hasn’t happened on a massive scale, yet, given our huge population growth in the last hundred years as well as the rise of globalization. Such an occurrence makes much more sense to most people than a population of vampires that descend hundreds of years back from a guy in Transylvania.
This cultural archetype of infection is so strong in fact that there are vampire stories that are basically vampire zombie hybrids. Their monster isn’t the debonair creature of the night (vampire) but also isn’t the tattered clothed, gray creature who may or may not have all of their limbs and can’t seem to form words other than ‘Arggghhh’ (zombie). They lie somewhere in between. You see variations of these hybrids in the books ‘The Passage’ and ‘The Strain’.
Personally, I’m writing zombie fiction right now because it is just plain fun. The breaking out of the traditional archetypes for our fictional monsters has made the possibilities very exciting and interesting for me as a reader and now as a writer. It’s wide open right now. Readers are enjoying all kinds of different zombie stories like the (instant classic) braided story of ‘World War Z’ as well as the numerous ‘zombie journal’ shorts popping up everywhere. I’m exploring a different angle as well that you will be able to read about in my upcoming novel ‘Empty: Zombie Evolution Book 1’.
Until then, don’t get bit.