Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires! Friend Or Foe?

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From the illustrious beginnings of the horror genre to the latest movies, the above entities have gradually morphed from being nasty bad guys, to pitied souls, to friends and finally, in most cases, to great candidates for prom dates. To keep this blog from being the length of a short story, I’ll only refer to a few movies to support my point. (You gotta love Plan 9 from Outer Space though!)

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Zombies staggered into our midst with a movie dating back to 1932, White Zombie. Their popularity spread like an ebola virus with movies like The Night of the Living Dead and World WarZ. But during this feeding frenzy for ghoulish zombie films, other less hard-core examples came on to the screens. Fido, and Warmbodies portrayed zombies as almost normal people. Okay, so they had rotting skin and questionable dietary needs, but their decomposing heart was in the right place.

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The same shift from horror to hunk can be seen in werewolf movies. They all basically started with the very popular Werewolf of London in 1935 progressing to movies like The Howling, Wolf and eventually to the ever popular Twilight. Jacob Black, the heartthrob werewolf in Twilight caused bicepless boys to hit the gyms and girls to flock to the woods on full moons.

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Now, with vampire movies, the public has had a long-standing craving for horror flicks starring the bloodthirsty baddies. The first popular vampire movie Dracula came out in 1931 (interesting trend starting to show with the 1930’s – another blog post maybe) Vampires have often been portrayed as seductive characters in movies like Underworld, Interview With a Vampire and finally once again, with Twilight. The mysterious Edward Cullen became every girl’s ideal bragging-rights boyfriend.

 So, why the shift? Or is it a shift at all? IMHO, we humans have always been intrigued by the ‘untameable’ sort. Think of Tarzan, The Hulk, and Hellboy. But often the ‘untameable’ sorts don’t make the best choices for long-term relationships. My quirky mind conjures images of the above mentioned as parents in PTA meetings, on the sidelines of soccer games, or coaching little league hockey teams. Hmmm… great seeds for future stories? But I digress…

Many feel this craze goes against our beliefs as Christians. I feel that if our morals and faith are firmly in place and we remember that the stories are just that, stories, we can grab our popcorn and join the masses in the theatres.

So what’s your opinion? Is this whole fascination with bizarre and dangerous characters healthy? Why do you think we enjoy monsters?

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14 thoughts on “Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires! Friend Or Foe?

  1. Okay, Please forgive the OF FOE, the correction didn’t show up here. 😦 Karen where were you when I needed you?? L.

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  2. I think we enjoy monsters partially because (depending on the portrayal) we relate to them. We’re all sinners who need redemption, we all sometimes feel like outsiders, strangers, weirdos, etc. So the move to humanize monsters is understandable in that respect. Now, the recent trend to make monsters the bees-knees that humans aspire to be is a little more problematic but again, I think it’s an attempt society is making to feel better about themselves, to justify that they are still good people, etc. – Because they don’t know the key to true salvation. As Christian’s we can utilize this fad to speak their language and point them to the truth.

    All that being said, I don’t get the zombie craze. Werewolves and vampires, sure – as long as I don’t have to see/read anything too bloody, I’m fine. But zombies are too gross. The closest I ever came was almost watching Warm Bodies – the trailers made it look pretty interesting and I liked that the zombie-ness seemed to be a disease that could be healed. But I read the reviews and learned it would be too icky for me, too. 😉

    (This post reminds me of a paper I wrote back in college on the transition Alien movies had made from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to “ET” to “Independence Day” and the like)

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    • I’m totally with you on your comment. I barely tolerate zombie movies at the best of times. It’s pretty interesting that many of the movies portray the ‘monsters’ having human characteristics. Frankenstein was very similar in this respect. Perhaps we should view the characters as reflections of ourselves. (Like you said) Thanks for the comment!

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  3. I like my monsters cuddly from sparkling vampires to a high school full of cool ghouls. That said, there’s great literary merit in the works of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. Dracula and Frankenstein are classics for a reason.

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    • I agree. I appreciate the need for gross monsters with slime dripping off fangs etc. but wouldn’t want to hang out with them. Too messy 🙂 Give me a relatively clean untameable troubled monster anyday. (for short periods though)

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  4. G.K. Chesterton said, “Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear,…The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” I think that as long as a story is hopeful, and does not overwhelm a childe, let him or her see victory in the darkest of situations.

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    • I love that quote, Tim. It says it all. I’ve also heard that kid’s and teen’s movies and stories are getting darker, but I can tell you that there are many old fairy tales that I would not submit young kids to. Brothers Grimm comes to mind, and a few of Aesop’s fables. Having said that, though, I still think on the whole, kids are more desensitized to violent themes. What do you think?

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      • One thing I have learned is that kids are very good at self-editing. A kid will quit reading or watching (as long as they are free from peer pressure to do so) if something is too scary or disturbing. I am not a fan of forcing someone to read or watch as show that they cannot deal with. Believe it or not there are middle school English teachers that will make a kid read a book like WALKS TWO MOONS, or THEY CAGE ANIMALS AT NIGHT in the name of good literature. These books have been known to depress kids (they are depressing hopeless stories). Having said that, just because a show (book, whatever) has monsters and blood and gore doesn’t mean the story is worth following. As a genre, Horror can have compelling human stories or they can have gratuitously violent stories, but I’ve never seen one that like have both.

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  5. Horror movies of any kind are not my thing. They stay with me for days after watching them. I even find myself looking over my shoulder walking through the park! But I did wonder if the vampire series influenced the bizarre trend of teens cutting themselves as a way to bond or show loyalty. I really don’t know too much about it or what came first, the trend or the movies, but I was shocked when a friend told me the problems he was having with his daughter–she and her boyfriend were into cutting. Why??? Anyway, you pose a great question here.

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    • @ Sara. I don’t believe people should be made to watch things that bother them, so I’m glad you don’t watch horror movies. Horror really serves as a metaphor and a safe way of examining the darker things of life from the safety of an armchair. You only need close the book and walk away.

      There are real horror’s in life, things humanity should never walk away from without dealing with it. In some ways, there really isn’t a lot of difference between the Jewish holocaust and a zombie movie except the holocaust really happened and zombies don’t exist. The fact that the 3.5 million people could be extinguished another without anyone raising outrage is horrifying and sad. I hope we never have another holocaust, but zombie movies can remind us that when a majority of people rise up to consume another (be it slavery, holocaust, dystopian realities) we need to find the courage to do something about it.

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    • Hi Sara
      Cutting has been here for a long time. Long before Twilight came along. Or if it wasn’t cutting, it was another type of self-injury, be it emotional (getting into dangerous relationships, accepting emotional abuse because you don’t think you deserve any better etc.) or physical. While I’m sometimes uncomfortable watching it in movies or reading about it, I don’t think it’s healthy to deny the existence of it either. I’m happy when I see movies like The Black Swan resolve it for the character. It gives hope where perhaps there wasn’t before. Twilight also deals with the subject of depression which is incredibly common. What I would like to happen out of all this is for troubled young people to seek help, or to try and help others who are engaged in this activity. Thanks Sara for your comment. It was a thought provoking one, and to get people talking about things like this is never bad.
      Loraine

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  6. Loraine and Tim,

    Yes, I agree, there is certainly value in any work of art, be it Munch’s The Scream or horror flicks or Van Gogh’s self-portrait, if it evokes emotion (and release) and opens discussion. Excellent point. And Tim, I like your point that we can walk away from a horror film, but we can’t close our eyes to the horrors in real life!

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