Vampires are having a moment. True Blood is a much-needed hit for HBO, with its latest episodes passing the 5-million viewers mark; Twilight is already churning out the third movie of its franchise, Eclipse, with newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard upping the star power of the cast. Kevin Williamson’s Vampire Diaries looks like Dawson’s Creek with coffins; there’s even a tongue-in-cheek how-to book, How To Catch & Keep A Vampire, coming out. Even erstwhile media mess Lindsay Lohan is joining in the fun, baring fangs (and desperation) on Twitpic. Will the fascination ever cease?
It’s not hard to figure out the motivation behind the vampire zeitgeist — with Barack Obama in office and a times-are-a-changin’ vibe as the aughts draw to a close, bloodsuckers represent the Other in a swiftly changing planet. True Blood‘s vamps are Alan Ball’s thinly-veiled metaphor for gay rights. (A “God Hates Fangs” church sign drives the point in with a stake in the opener.) Twilight‘s Edward Cullen is a hero to abstinent teens (and their moms), making scary-sexy palatable for the Rick Warren set. The soon-to-be-developed Anita Blake series casts vampires as misunderstood outcasts fighting for “Preternatural Rights” – a continuation of Laurell K. Hamilton’s bestselling novels (IFC will premiere the show this fall.) To sum it up, vamps are outsiders – and America has a lot of outsiders these days.
But with Halloween around the corner and tween’s fake fangs starting to look a little forced, what spooky creature will next inhabit the popular imagination?
I’ve got a theory, summed up in one word: BRAAAAAIIIINNNS!
Zombies have returned to the popular imagination for a while now, with Simon Pegg’s breakout Shaun of the Dead reuniting the brain-eating genre. Next up is Woody Harrelson’ s Zombieland, which has “cult sleeper/teenage boy-fest” written all over it.
But that’s not all: days after the Zombieland premiere, Random House is backing The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, a graphic novel/zombie primer by Max Brooks (itself a sequel to his original 2003 guide) that will prepare us all from the brain fetishists.
Zombies are also infiltrating YA lit, a sure sign of future teen movie supremacy. There’s Generation Dead: Kiss of Life, about a high school girl named Phoebe dating a zombie version of Edward Cullen, and You Are So Undead to Me about a cheerleader who finds out she’s a beacon for the “living-impaired.” There’s even an early 2009 offering, Zombie Queen of Newbury High, about about a high school prom queen who mind controls her student body into voting for her. And there’s a potential werewolf contender in Bitches, which is hilariously pitched as “Werewolf ‘Sex & The City” and in development by FOX.
Meanwhile, the blockbuster to watch is Quirk Books’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies it’s already the subject of a multi-studio bidding war. Or will ABC’s lizard-people remake, V, be the supernatural dark horse, putting aliens back in the popular psyche?
I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure: in a recession-addled media culture, the escapism of the fantastic isn’t going away any time soon. Shooting zombies is way more fun than covering the latest foreclosure story.
SLIDESHOW: VAMPIRES & ZOMBIES!: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Megan Fox, Evan Rachel Wood, and more!
Jessica Gold Haralson is a writer and a gamer who writes about various topics, including entertainment, pop culture, and new media. She probably spends more time than is necessary playing World of Warcraft.
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