October 09, 2009

And Now the Kvetching Starts

It's high time we retired zombie movies and vampire TV shows.

I'm just not much of a fan. There's only so much you can do with mindless monsters and bottled blood.

And there's only so much you can do with using these entities to make comments on society.

Look, we've had a rash of that type of thing in recent years, and it has begun to get tired. When Don Siegel and George Romero were doing it in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Night of the Living Dead, respectively, it was interesting. Novel.

At about the 2,468th time, however, it stops being funny.

Now don't get me wrong. I (somewhat) enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, though I didn't think it was a laugh riot. But I'm getting the feeling that these types of films are a bit too "easy" for their makers. They don't take many risks. They cover similar ground: attacks on consumerism, mindless mob mentalities, and blase, jaded or bemused reactions to supernatural activity in urban or suburban environments. Or they try to present otherworldly creatures as character-driven folks who just wanna blend in with everyone else (a la True Blood).

I don't hate to admit it, but I'm just not into this kinda thing.

The other big problem, in my opinion, with these types of monster-hugging media is that zombies and vampires are severely limited in terms of character--owing to their very natures. There's only so much you can do with a personality who can't go out in the light, drinks blood (or brains) and smiles sharper than a saber-toothed cat. Because they're in part defined by their "monster-ness," they exhibit a similarity that relegates them to a kind of flatness. They have few prospects for change, unlike the great characters in film or literature. (I'm thinking, for example, of J.J. Gittes in Chinatown or Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities.)

They have, in my opinion, become cookie-cutter.

And that's why I'm not itching to see the aggressively tongue-in-cheek Zombieland. Or why I don't quiver at the mention of Twilight, True Blood or The Vampire Diaries.

I like my horror with a touch of the eerie, a la Kwaidan or Night of the Demon. It's all about character-infused atmosphere, methinks. Not zombies or vampires.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


  1. I have to admit I was among the True Blood naysayers when it first hopped onto TVs... I caught one episode by accident and have been hooked since. I don't like everything it does, as it oftens substitutes over the top sex scenes for substance, but it doesn't bother me.

    I always love Zombie films, not always Vampire ones. Especially not these days. I don't like my Vampires to be overly sentimental and emotional, nor do I like them to glitter in the daylight. I prefer them to be a combination of violent and social outcasts.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Univarn! It definitely seems to be a matter of taste and opinion when it comes to zombies and vampires. For example: My sister is a big fan of True Blood, though I'm not.

    BTW: I did neglect to mention the dopey Underworld trilogy as an example of the genre gone awry. That probably should be up there toward the top, as it's a franchise that, like a vampire, always seems to come back from the dead. :-)