Although this is a blog about zombies, I thought it would be good to take a week and look at some of the other undead monsters out there. Some of which can be hard to distinguish from your regular hungry walker.
I used to be a huge fan of vampire books and movies. In fact I’ve probably seen and read a lot more vampire fiction simply because as I was growing up there was a hell of a lot more of it. The compelling thing about vampires is that you can focus on them as characters in your story, whereas zombies tend to lead fairly boring one-track afterlives.
Vampires have appeared in one form or another in every culture I know of throughout the world and as a result there’s a lot of variety in their stories and it’s easy to get lost in the trappings we associate with them. They’ve been portrayed as the beautiful eternal creatures that have lived in the shadows of our world connecting our romanticized past with our decadent present via Count Dracula and the Anne Rice novels. They’ve been modernized again and again through TV shows and action movies and they’re around virtually every corner you turn at Halloween time.
Strip back all the trappings and window dressing and what you have is a human-like creature that survives on blood, typically human blood, and which typically kills it’s victims without feasting on their flesh. They are portrayed as being alive, or the recently deceased brought back to life through the power of some demon or spirit. They are however alive in some way, needing to feed and possessed of some wit. The further back in their mythology you go the more animalistic they seem to become. The further forward the more refined and more personified they become.
They differ from zombies in that except for in rare cases, they do not feed on flesh or brains and they tend to be strictly nocturnal whereas zombies are unaffected by the sun. Vampires are nearly always granted some sort of supernatural powers by their creators, (the authors who write their stories,) whereas zombies rarely appear that way.
A friend of mine recently posted that I Am Legend is one of his favorite zombie movies which I had to disagree with since it’s a movie about vampires. It’s actually a remake of a much older film “Last Man On Earth,” which sticks more closely to the pop culture portrayal of vampires whereas the new movie is played out as a medical outbreak movie similar to how zombie movies are these days. In fact this is one of the things I really liked about the I Am Legend remake. It’s rare that we see a Vampire movie go with the same story telling style as a zombie film. (Although 2010’s Stake Land did a pretty good job as well.)