Better Living Through Loving The Undead

We just can’t get enough of vampires and zombies these days.  The trend of vampire love can be attributed to Stephanie Meyer, who helped to sterilize the lusty creatures of the night by allowing them to sparkle in sunlight and be inexplicably abstinent.  Thus, vampires have become symbols of forbidden love as opposed to sex and terror.  Hey, even I like Tom Cruise’s turn as Lestat in the Interview with the Vampire film where all they want to do is suck on some neck and get busy.  Hopefully, after November, when the chaste vampire chronicles come to a cinematic end (for now), all this will be forgotten and we can get back to making vampires scary again.

For me, the more surprising mainstream phenomenon has come with the recent popularity of zombies.  I can’t trace a line back to when reanimated corpses became so cool, but that popularity is definitely at its peak right now.  Even with Halloween coming up, you’d be hard pressed to not find packets of zombie blood or clever zombie T-shirts during every other month of the year.  I’m sure The Walking Dead has played quite a role in keeping zombie interest peaked on a weekly basis for a quarter of the year, but nearly every Tuesday sees some horrid direct-to-video Noun of the Dead movie get its DVD release.  Somehow, in some way, zombies have caught on.

Personally, my favorite zombie film is Shaun of the Dead, which proved how a blood-and-guts horror movie can have an intriguing story and a heavy dose of humor.  Number Two with a bullet has to be Return of the Living Dead, which is just goofy, gory fun.  Why not Zombieland, you ask?  Well, as much as I do love the movie, I’ve always found it odd that reanimated corpses can somehow develop super speed and catch up to most humans.  Being dead can somehow make you faster?  That part of it doesn’t sit right with me, but the movie is a blast anyway.

Zombies have even taken hold of video games!  The popularity of games like Left 4 Dead and Plant Vs. Zombies literally refuses to die.  It’s stunning.  Even games like Red Dead Redemption, a Western-themed action adventure game, has an alternate version where you can kill – you guessed it – zombie cowboys.  One can even minimize the Resident Evil games (and subsequent films) to basic zombie shooters.  Boy, things have come a long way since I first pumped quarters into House of the Dead at the mall arcade.

Whether we like it or not, zombies are here to stay.  Zombie band-aids and actions figures will remain huge sellers long after Halloween passes, but the hunger we have for all things undead will remain just that: undead.