I Vanna Suck Your..... Blood?

Undying Popularity Through Sex and Death

I'm pretty sure that vampires are probably the most popular genre, with zombies coming a close second.

I've read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles quite a few times already, along with quite a few of the novels on the alternate reading list. I'm sad to say that I have read all of the Twilight books... and am very ashamed of it. So I decided to read The Hunger by Whitley Strieber because my vampire-obsessed friend recommended it. I found it an interesting read compared to some of the other vampire novels that I've read where the vampire is either a mindless killing machine or an awkward 17-year-old boy (puke).

The story centers around a vampire called Miriam Blaylock, who is constantly craving humany companionship. The difference in this book, as compared to some others, is that she often refers to humans as "pets" instead of idk... being livestock? They aren't just beings to feed from and kill. She of course has some of the classic "powers" associated with vampires, like the ability to manipulate the mind. I found this book has a similar premise with Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice; Louis and Miriam are both lonely (vampire-as-alien theme), which the reader tends to sympathize for.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of vampires (like I've said werewolves float my boat). The vampire novels that I enjoy more are often the ones where the vampires are not ravenous demons without a personality because then I never get that deep gothic, struggling, sympathetic, compelling connection. That may be because I'm a girl, we tend to like that. With films on the other hand, I really do like the violent monsters on a murder rampage.

Monsters are manifestations of our fears, the most prevalent being death. So why are vampires so popular? I believe the most obvious is humankind's love of immortality, the ability to live on forever free from illness and disease. There still is no cure for all of the cancers there are today, and vampirism is a solution since once you become a vampire you're instantly cured. Of course, vampires are always described as being gorgeous figures, especially in America when we idolize beauty. Through history the vampires being written about are slowly being domesticated; the most recent development being that vampires don't drink from humans anymore, they either drink from animals or use a blood bank. Anne Rice's novel really started a chance in vampire literature, turning the vampire from horror to hero. In the 1970s you can also see the appearance of the Count on Seasame Street and Count Chocula the cereal.

Oh! Before I forget, you MUST see the movie Let the Right One In, it's a Swedish vampire film that I think is fantastic.

Love Between Zombie Killers

I am proud to say that I have always been a fan of zombies, not just in the last decade while these gruesome cannibals have become popularized. I remember being home sick from school in 5th grade and my dad would get me pop, soup, and a wide collection of horror VHS tapes (mostly zombie classics like Dawn of the Dead, 1978). Of course my mom never approved, but my dad would get them anyways. George A. Romero is the genius that turned zombies into flesh-eating ghouls.

I've become a huge fan of books by Max Brooks. Here is his website. He has written The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z (which I believe is being written for film now), and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. His books don't just deal with how to kill a zombie in a certain situation or "The Oral History of the Zombie War," but also help to explain why zombies are so popular during this time. One of the topics he brings up is how zombies are a manifestation of mankind's desire for immortality gone horribly awry.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a hilarious read, probably because it's such an odd pairing of zombies and Jane Austin. Buy hey, it works! It's a love story between two zombie killers :D Since I’ve already read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, I finally got a chance to finish reading World War Z. I absolutely love the story, and to top it off, it’s well written. I cannot even imagine all the research Max Brooks did in order to write the novel because I believe it’s almost all based in reality. It’s the world we live in right now, just… with a few million slow-moving, flesh-eating zombies thrown into the mix. I believe one of the major themes in the novel is the ability to survive (which is probably a given since his first book was the Zombie Survival Guide). The main characters need to learn what it takes to survive a disaster, and in this case it’s a zombie outbreak. This appeals to Americans because we believe that we can survive anything.

So… Just what is the metaphor being presented by the figure of the zombie in this novel P&P&Z? The simple answer is that, well, they’re us. Zombies are representational of us at our worst. I personally LOVE the scene in Shaun of the Dead when Shaun is walking down the block to get some ice cream, and is completely oblivious to the fact that zombies have appeared in Great Britain. It was kind of a wake up call about how so many people just go through their everyday lives blindly, just going by routine and not really experiencing life.

On a side note Steve Hockensmith writing a prequel to P&P&Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which I believe is supposed to come out this March. There's also going to be a P&P&Z graphic novel sometime this year.

Here is a list of must-see zombie flicks:

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004, remake)
Black Sheep - total spoof about zombie sheep, hilarious and stupid :)
28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
Evil Dead Trilogy
Shaun of the Dead

Artwork by Rachel Geiger


The first time that I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was during my senior year of high school as part of the AP English course. Before that I only knew the Hollywood story of Frankenstein that James Whale popularized in the 1930s. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read it and found out it was hardly like the film at all. I definitely enjoy the novel more, although the Frankenstein movie with Robert De Niro as the monster is a good one that follows along with the novel pretty well.

So it's been a few years since I've read it, so I re-read it for class. When I finished, all I could think was, "Man, that's just as messed up as I remember." There are many morbid twists in the plot of the story, and I'm constantly feeling sorry for the monster, especially during those chapters that are entirely narrated by the monster when he's on his own. I always get irritated when people incorrectly call the monster “Frankenstein,” since the real monster of the novel is Frankenstein, Victor to be exact, not his creation. Victor is the father figure in the book, and the creature more of a newborn child. When the monster approaches Victor in the book, which is much like the first steps of a child to its parent, he flees the apartment, completely abandoning the creature. I felt this was very irresponsible of him, and portrayed his selfish character. What I don’t understand is how what he has done just suddenly dawns on him. He called the creature ugly, yet what did he expect when he used pieces of different corpses to assemble him?

Well, although I enjoy the novel more than the film, I’ve never been much of a Frankenstein fan. The Wolfman is more of what floats my boat, personally :)

Artwork by PReilly