Guest Post: A Case for Vampires and Zombies

This week’s guest post comes from the lovely Barbara McDowell.

I’ve got a thing for vampires and zombies. Anything vampire and zombie-related and I’m there…movies, books and TV shows. The first glimpses of the blood-suckers came from the 1970’s Saturday afternoon B Movies that played when a Godzilla knock-off wasn’t on.

The theme of these flicks was romantic, older male vampire wanders into city/village area and starts seducing and making a horde of female vampire brides. As a twist, the brides would then sometimes start a feeding frenzy until the movie’s hero hunted down the head vampire to save everyone’s souls. Insert cheesy music, darkly lit scenes and even dubbing for English-speaking voices. Yet I would watch because the idea of someone being able to have that much psychic pull on another was fascinating.

I next remember reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot circa fourth grade and being enraptured. Even though his take on the famous lore was quite violent and not romanticized in the least, I wanted to see the town first hand and understand what made the creatures tick. Vampires in King’s hands were conniving and vicious predators.

For most of us, the first introduction to modern zombies was in the George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead.

One moment, it is just a sunny, happy day. The next there are instinct driven, hungry humans lurching about with chomping teeth. How awful (and also exciting) to be chased through a cemetery by such slow-moving terror! Of higher interest is Romero’s treatment in the movie—as well as some of his subsequent films—of how the characters react both to the terror and working with each other to survive. The lack of concrete information or explanations from the government, the mistrust and backbiting in the hideout home and even frozen fear all play out as a testament to the human condition.

Now for dealing with zombies, I’m talking pure zombies and not the rage or virus filled models of the new millennium. Those virus versions are just nasty little critters. Yes, I’m still a little disgruntled on the switch up of skills they were allowed in the Dawn of the Dead remake, though it was freaky to see how fast the buggers could go from a doorway to hopping onto the hood of a car. I’d be doomed. So if I ran up on a zombie in the alley I’d pretty much need a Romero stagger one to know what I was dealing with. I see the lurching zombie fellah coming and I know to turn and dart the other way.

And that, I think, is where a core of my interest lies. Maybe my affection is for the known expectations. Bottom line is that with vampires and zombies, you know what you are working with. Both want to bite your bits. Even the so-called Twilight-era romance vamps, who profess odes of love and affection, still want to bite you. Listen to the loving coos, but don’t get it twisted. The thirst is all-encompassing and will get you bit.

I once heard a presenter say that as he gets older, he finds he can’t stand people. I’m not yet into that boat, but do see that my tolerance for drama has lessened. “Monsters” to me are those traipsing around putting their emotional gook onto everyone else. There was even the coinage of the phrase “emotional vampire” for those hapless souls who will suck your last will to live down into their spiral to hell. These are the ones I’d trip as we ran from the zombies.

Other people are wired so quick triggered that you don’t know what you are going to get. A simple hello can turn into a rant about all their perceived evils in the world. Ask about a status of a project and risk witnessing the face of someone considering pouncing on you for having the gall to follow-up. Flick to change lanes and watch five cars purposefully speed up with rage and glee. And don’t get me started on the drama criers. You cry because of being in a truly emotional place, I get it. You cry every day seeking some level of sympathy or credit from me, good luck with that.

Not so with the creatures of my dreams. While the zombies will eventually wander off and starve, I guess the vampires, if lucky, have centuries to get their emotions together.

What spurs your love for the horror genre’s creatures? Do you have a love for other monsters or supernatural beings? What are your thoughts on our levels of tolerance and patience as we get older?

By day, Barbara McDowell works in training and development, managing the
educational needs and course development for the staff of a regional accounting firm.
In the depths of the night, she is a crafter of stories birthed with dark, human themes.
Suspense at each corner turned. Horror sometimes waiting at the end. Primarily a short
story writer, Barbara has recently started her first novel. A lover of coffee, cats, crime
dramas, crochet, conspiracy theories and chocolate, Barbara can be found blogging at
http://writenowlife.wordpress.com/ or tweeting at @BMcDowellOH.

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12 Responses to Guest Post: A Case for Vampires and Zombies

  1. Barbara McDowell January 31, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks a mil for having me stop by and share, Samantha!

  2. Natalie Hartford January 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I am such a chicken shit – and it’s getting worse the older I get – that I can barely sit through a horror flick even though hubby loves them. LOL!! Just reading your post had me trembling….
    Eeeekeee…
    Wonderful job Barbara – thanks for the fab guest post Samantha….

  3. Barbara McDowell January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I’m inserting an evil laugh here, Natalie! Your hubby and I could have a grand old time cooking up some scares for you. I do a mean humming rendition of both The Twilight Zone and Halloween movie theme songs. Thanks for being brave and reading on!

  4. Prudence MacLeod January 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    All these critters creep me out, but they sure have invaded the culture. ewe.
    Samantha, I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger award. See details here: http://www.prudencemacleod.com/

  5. Marcy Kennedy January 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I love this post 🙂

    I was never able to see vampires as romantic. To me, they’ve always been terrifying because they suck blood, and I have a fear of everything needle and blood related.

  6. Angela Orlowski-Peart January 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Fabulous post, Barbara and Samantha!
    I like the creepy movies and books but I also like the sexy, young vamps, werewolves etc.
    Day of the Walking Dead is still one of my most favorite paranormal movies, right next to John Carpenter’s “Vampires” and “Dusk till Dawn”.

  7. Samantha Warren January 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Barbara! And thanks to everyone for all the wonderful comments. I’ve always loved vampires, both creepy and… ok, maybe not sparkly, but romantic. Dusk till Dawn was indeed an awesome movie.

    Thanks so much for the award, Pru! I need to go through and thank everyone who has given me one in the past. That shall be my job for Thursday.

  8. Barbara McDowell January 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Prudence, you are right that the vampire and zombie stories have invaded. I think it is both from the mysterious nature of the stories/lore and—with the zombies—people imagining a virus or other mutation making it possible.

    Glad the piece resonates with you, Marcy! I can get where your fear comes from. For me, I can buy into the romantic piece a bit, but there is always a realistic dread there. Like in Interview with a Vampire, I was always waiting for the politeness to pull away to show the real killer drive.

    Thanks, Angela! I’m with you on liking both now. At first, I poo-pooed the whole Twilight thing. Then I read the first book and got sucked into the romance of it all. And Dusk ‘Til Dawn freaked me out. I was like whoa! That was a brutal flick.

  9. emmiemears February 1, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    I love vampires and zombies. Most any kind. Even the shambling zombies are scary when they manage to form a horde, and the zombies in 28 Days Later? FAST ZOMBIES?!? The only way to make fast zombies scarier is to set them on fire. Flaming, infected death, coming your way to rip out your jugular.

    Speaking of jugulars, I love vampires who are cool with what they are and don’t feel the need to wah about it. Spike from Buffy, Darla from Buffy, Lestat, etc. Even if they wind up being a good guy, at least they keep their fangs. 🙂

    Great post! I don’t think the undead are disappearing any time soon.

  10. Stacy February 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I used to be a pretty big fan of the horror genre because I liked to be freaked out. But like you, Natalie, I’m getting worse as I get older – I couldn’t sleep for a couple days after seeing Dawn of the Dead.

    The horror “creatures” that really creep me out though are the ones from the Asian horror movies that made a big showing a few years ago – like the Ring and the Grudge. Now, whenever my husband goes out of town or doesn’t get home til late, I always have to sleep with the TV on to distract me from thinking something’s going to crawl out of the darkness and attack me (or at least make creepy-jerking movements and weird creaking noises at me).

  11. Tameri Etherton February 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I am so with Natalie! That picture up there scares the bejeepers out of me and I didn’t even know I had bejeepers!

    My vampire love is Bela Lugosi (who doesn’t love him, I mean really!) and Anne Rice’s Lestat and Louis. Some of her others, Claudia, have my affection, but Lestat with his tortured soul will always have my heart. And he’s not sparkly.

  12. Barbara McDowell February 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Oh I loved Spike from Buffy too, Emmie! He knew what he was, what he could do and didn’t feel sorry for himself. Plus he was way hot. Lestat is another one like that, but he is brutally cunning without a “good guy” edge. I get he has angst, but I still wouldn’t want him smiling at me making happy banter. And fast zombies that are on fire? I shivered when I read that. Horrific. Yes, the zombie packs are the scary part if one becomes surrounded.

    Stacy, The Ring messed with my mind. And when she crawled out of the TV screen and crab walked over the floor? Eeek! And the remake of Dawn of the Dead with the super-fast zombies did the same. I still think of the intro scenes with the little girl running down the hall. Chills.

    Tameri, hey don’t ding the sparkly ones. Heh, heh. Yes, Bela is classic vamp isn’t he? Just debonair and well mannered. A gentleman. Glad the pics could creep you out. That is what I love about horror. So many different layers and elements from slow dread to all out scary jumping.

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