With the release of World War Z, the new Brad Pitt zombie film, and the plethora of similarly themed movies in recent years, it got me to thinking about our fascination with the different types of undead and supernatural. Just look at the numbers. The Twilight series was immensely popular in print and in the cinema, as is the True Blood series on HBO and the books on which it was based; then you have the whole set of Underworld films all of which have both vampires and werewolves. There are some purist movies and series out there that are just vampires – take the Blade saga – or just werewolves – like An American Werewolf in London; usually the zombie genre sort of stands on its own. I’m guilty, too. If you have been following my postings you know that I also write vampire novels. I even inject some humor into my stories by having the vampires deny the existence of other supernatural beings; how very elitist of them! So why the abundance of these types of books and movies?
First of all, these types of stories have been around long before the invention of the movies and probably before the written word (although I can’t say for certain on that statement). Folktales about such creatures were told to young children to make them behave and stay indoors at night, safe from all the things that prowl about. Think about it. Most of the paranormal creatures come out at night – vampires not being able to go out in sunlight, werewolves turning on the full moon. So we can see that the undead served their purpose early on in our history.
Secondly, human beings have a fascination with the unknown and the afterlife. Whether it exists and in what form is up to the individual. Most of us fear the end – death. By buying into the whole living dead idea we are able to transcend death, to cheat death so-to-speak. For some people the idea of living forever, or at least to have a chance at eternal life, is appealing. Even with the restrictions that come with being undead, to some it all seems worth it. Our fear of growing old plays into this whole idea, as well. Just think about all the commercial for anti-wrinkle this and plastic surgery that which we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
And, let’s not forget the whole romantic idea. If millions of teenage girls have shown us – there’s something quixotic about the undead. Even zombies are not immune to this phenomenon as some recent movies like Zombie Love Story and Warm Bodies have shown. From early Dracula movies to the current vampire series there is no doubt that there are distinct elements of romance; some are blatantly sexual. And don’t forget the werewolves (I’d hate to get blasted by those who ascribe to Team Jacob). The lure of illicit love is a powerful thing. And we are led to believe that the sexual encounter with one of these creatures is surely the best, most exciting sex known to man!
So whether you enjoy the stories of the undead and the supernatural because you’re hoping for a bit of romance in your life, or if you’re worried about the afterlife, or simply because you appreciate the genre for its intricacies and varying tales of the macabre, just keep reading and watching and discovering things that are beyond our reality and outside of our imaginations.