Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves...

The Border's Books at Keystone and the Crossing is closing so they're selling everything in the store dirt cheap.  I went this last weekend to see what I could round up.  I got an excellent book on cowboy culture that will hopefully be helpful as I craft some westerns over the summer months.  I bought an old edition of The Best American Short Stories and a magazine focused on cult movies.  I have to say I was disappointed, however.  Border's, unlike Barnes and Noble, is thoughtful enough to have a separate section for horror books.  I was hoping to find some cheap paperbacks by new writers to get a sense of where the genre is headed.  The entire section was dominated (save for the shelves of Stephen King and Dean Koontz,) by zombie and vampire books.  The monotony was broken up by the occasional werewolf book.  Is this really the scope of horror today?  I've been noticing the rise of zombies and vampires in popularity over the last decade.  I can't figure it out.  I guess vampires have appealed to women for some time now, thanks in large part to Ann Rice turning them into pouty, bisexual fashion models.  Werewolves are a natural extension of vampires, maybe the masculine version of whatever fantasy these stories satisfy for women.  But where in the world does the fascination for zombies come from?  Could it be a metaphor for the realization that the American Empire is in decline?  Is this the signal that American "culture" (I'm not even going to start the argument on what exactly American culture actually is) is dead?  The zombie mythology comes from old voodoo ideas about controlling souls.  Is any of that present in modern zombie stories?  Finally, what will take the place of these trends?  My goal is always to try something that, ultimately, will be original.  I know people say "there are no new ideas" but I think that's bullshit.  Where are the pioneers in horror who will direct this cruise ship of blood-suckers and brain-eaters towards the rocks so that new nightmares may be unleashed? Hmm...

8 comments:

  1. Once TWILIGHT sold through the roof...

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  2. And I'm sure there are a thousand writers trying to push a vampire novel that erases the trend.

    A woman I know from school said something interesting about the Twilight books. She called it "female pornography" and said that all fairy tales qualify.

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  3. I myself think it's a few things: one, the internet has made once-cult entertainment genres into mainstream fare; two, parents who grew up in the '80s or around about then passed on their love of zombies and vampires; and three, the movie Nightmare Before Christmas is a major touchstone movie for kids born in the mid-late '80s and early '90s and its celebration of the kooky/macabre has infiltrated everywhere.

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  4. Interesting. I didn't realize Nightmare Before Christmas was that influential. I saw it about seven times in the theater when it was released but a.) I worked for General Cinema at the time so I got in for free, and b.) it was condusive to certain extra-curricular activities I participated in during the wild 80s and early 90s. I suppose I shouldn't complain. When I was a kid I was called weird and a nerd for digging horror movies, books and comics.

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  5. There is so much to comment here I don't even know where to begin! There is no such thing as real new idea, just an individual yarning it the way they see it and fufufilling a need or desire in a culture or relating with a desire or need in a culture. Do you know what always floored me AC? At the end of Robinson Crusoe he has that bit where they ride through the forest with the wolves at their heels. I can't remember exactly how that plays out. Don't the wolves eat the guide? And almost eat everyone, but there's a gunshot or something. But that had a werewolf otherwordly feel to it and that was written how long ago? Scared me. Almost more than living twenty something years by myself on a deserted island with yewling kitycats trying to eat my flesh when I was sleeping. And that was Robinson Crueso trying to decide if there was a God or not. The horror!

    Zombies. Story wise, def a voodoo thing just look at Howard's pulp story Pigeon's from Hell (Yikes!) from early 1900's. But real life wise, I suspect its been in cultures for centuries (Mummies!). My little sister used to have reoccuring nightmares of zombies of friends and family members. They were cold hearted, lifeless, tearing her limb from limb. If you think what they represent to the subconscience mind. They look like us but they have no conscience, no soul, no compassion or emotion. They are hungry for torture. They eat from the inside out and destroy every last thing. It is their purpose. I think there are people or businesses that are very much like this in our own world-- translated into a dreamlike horror image. It is a fear we all have and our culture cultivates this with our tossing out respect for humankind and compassion for HUMAN life (while we work so hard to preserve trees and our lawns which obviously need attention, but we need to get it right in the human heart and minds first in my opinion anyway). Okay. here's the ps. bs. Zombies Apocolypsies are entertaining. They've got guns. Exploding body parts. Guys get the girls.Its Survival of the fittess baby! Its an overused cliche fun easy plot that's easy to entertain and for some reason addicting. I like zombies. I like to read, watch, and write. So there's the indepth and BS views.

    Vampires~ I love Stoker's Dracula, one of my favorite books Eva. I like King's vampires. I like EF Benson's vampires. And Carrie Clevenger's Vampires. And Lost Boys vamps. That's about it.
    I read the first book of Twilight and couldn't stand it. BUT I will say this, Stephanie Meyers hooked and latched on to a topic teens and women are CRAVING right now which (I will respectively disagree with above commenter) is NOT PORN anyone can have sex, but romance? Twilight is about romance, passion and tension (its that human thing I was talking about earlier). Today's "romance" books are cookie cutter formulas that are "porn". Books today advertised as "Erotica" is soft/hard porn for women and should just say Zombie PORN (heartless beings doing the in and out thing) across the label in my opinion. Where true erotica is romance with a dark/passionate intensity between two people. There's a huge difference and I wish writers would take the time to educate themselves. Jane Austen is a writing Goddess because she delivered clever, witty and completely delightful Romance with at times erotica. She delved into the human soul and brought up our vulernabilities and splayed it across the page. Oscar Wilde did this too.

    Sorry for the long comment. Didn't mean to write an essay. ;-)

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  6. Jodi, you are always welcome to write as much as you want here. I have to disagree on the "no new/original ideas" thing. If I truly believed there were no new ideas, I would kill myself. I would have no reason to live. In fact, I think that "no original ideas" is dangerously contrary to the process of evolution. I know it's difficult to get there, but original ideas can be found. It takes work, it might not happen in our lifetimes, but it will happen. A culture that believes it has nothing new to contribute is a dead culture. Maybe it's time to put the zombies and vampires up on the shelf and see what's been lurking in the dust while we've been rehashing the same old ideas for the last twenty-years.

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  7. Alec! Your commitment to originality plaudible, BUT before you tie that hang knoose knot let me explain what I meant. I was trying to be brief in that statement since I was blahhogging so much anyway. I believe all humanity at the core is just about the same. We all have hearts, livers, spleens, brains (though I’ve had some question whether I have one-hahahaha. Okay NOT so haha.) But in our thoughts we are alone. We each see the world differently. Have our own perspectives. I think stories tie us in together so we feel more connected. So a clichéd idea told over and over might be something that taps into a root most are sensitive too. However, yes, a bunch of us get bored with the same formula. I think we each are connected to universes of possiblities and ideas connected at the same source or net if you will. Each idea, creature, life, world is waiting for us to pluck it up and give it breath. The problem is that we as writers need to have the belief and the complete surrender to open up and be vulnerable to these, (and also be commited to the ancient art of storytelling and diligently working on the skill to write it elegantly) and when we are, that is when these original and unique ideas take place that can literally shake the world. I am learning about the illness of psychosis disorder. And from a storytellers pov (and I feel guilty for doing this) I think of how beautiful that these people accept the reality their minds are showing them. It’s like a real time story you or I might read playing out in real life. If you or I can accept it like a child or a person who has an illness simply accepts and write it out the way it is (nothing more or less), it will ring with that inner mind of another and connect.

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