Why Zombies and Vampires are Dull

February 24, 2013 12:30 pm

zombies and vampiresWhen my friend visited my friend and I at university they said that they wanted to go and watch Warm Bodies at the cinema, I had no objections – a chilled night out with two of my closest friends was better than staying in and being bored. Yes, I didn’t particularly want to watch Warm Bodies as I knew that it wasn’t the sort of film that I was going to enjoy but that didn’t matter, did it? But when I started watching it, munching on some free sweets (highlight of the night), I was gobsmacked by just how dull zombies really are. I was bored for the majority of the film, and when I think about it, it’s not really that surprising.

Over the past five years or so, there has been an explosion in zombie and vampire mania – they appear in almost every fantasy drama or film series, either sexed up and glorified or as even more animalistic and gory than they were originally. I’ve lost count of the number of TV programmes or film that rely on zombies or vampires – Being Human, Vampire Diaries, Twilight, True Blood, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Walking Dead, not forgetting Warm Bodies, and no doubt several others. Even a trip into the teenage section of Waterstones will mean being faced with books saturated by vampires and zombies.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this – if the public want sexed up vampires and romantic zombies (yes, that is what Warm Bodies is about), then writers will continue to deliver them. But surely all originality will be lost. At first, the new trend of vampires and zombies was stunning, but it has barely taken a few years for it to become cliché. Now, it’s the same old story, churned out by writers who clearly favour mass popularity over originality. What’s ironic, though is that vampires in particular don’t have all the success that we think they have – when you compare the Twilight series with Harry Potter, the two biggest fantasy series over recent years, which one came out on top? The one without the vampires. J. K. Rowling could fairly easily theoretically have included vampires and zombies in the vast array of mythological creatures in the series. But thank God she didn’t; it would have devalued the whole franchise immensely.

One of the key problems with the whole vampire/zombie thing, though, is the simple fact that they aren’t scary anymore. The whole idea of inventing two fantastical creatures is to create something frightening for horror stories. What the mania has achieved instead is to make them banal and dull. It’s easy to find tongue-in-cheek “How To” guides about the coming zombie apocalypse, or to switch on Being Human and watch a vampire trying to lead a normal life, when the fact that they shouldn’t be living a normal life in the first place is what made them frightening.

Bram Stoker must be turning in his grave. For anyone familiar with the current vampire trend, to go back and read Dracula is hardly worth it; you won’t be scared by a mere vampire anymore. But when the novel was first released, it must have been chilling to read. Stoker, although not actually inventing vampires, did manage to create something new and original in Victorian culture, and something that, for me, can never be outdone by current attempts at redefining the creature that is a vampire. Zombies and vampires are now among the dullest creatures imaginable. It’s time to find something new, so that we can finally watch TV without having zombies and vampires shoved down our throats.

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