just random stuff

On zombies, vampires and lore

marz

If you’ve talked to me in the past weeks, hell, if you’ve been around me in the past few years, you have probably been hearing me rant about vampires and films  and other similar topics. I like reading (and writing) about supernatural stuff, and hey, I’m the first one who loves a good twist, but… to the whole “vampires don’t (and have never, mind you) burst into flames with the sun, they just shine bright like diamonds…” I can simply reply you gotta be kidding me.

I watch (and read) pretty much anything about vampires that falls on my lap, and you see many things, but for example, in The Vampire Diaries (please, don’t judge me) they can walk in the sunlight by means of some magical rings that a witch has charged with a spell. I think that’s OK. After all, if they lose their ring, they’ll roast like a chicken.

In True Blood, they try to drink fairy blood in order to stand a few minutes in the sunlight.

In the movie Blade, Stephen Dorff tries putting on some sunscreen and cover himself in thick dark clothes to be able to walk during the day. Mind you, not that I’m entirely in favour of this method, but hey, at least it keeps in line with the traditional lore.

You can talk about silver/garlic allergies, and justify them. You can bring science to try to fix these issues, or magic. You can give explanations, but you just don’t change years of myth and folklore like nothing.  There are some things that are a no-no. Vampires and sun don’t mix. Period.

For some reason, when we think about were-wolves, vampires, etc., we know they’re either human most of the time in the first case, or they reason to some extent in the latter. It gives them motive, a background; they might be tortured, they might be predators, I don’t know, we can of sort of live with the idea, even if it would frighten us.

We see lions, panthers, and other predators in nature, and yes, they’re scary, but we also see them as powerful, majestic, I don’t know, even beautiful. However, we all sort of dislike hyenas. The fact that they laugh, that they would eat carrion, their body shapes, their weird trot… It makes us shiver.

Zombies are the hyenas of the supernatural world. We see zombies, and damn, they’re repulsive, and they’re mindless beasts. It triggers something deep inside of us. They keep coming at us, no matter what. In theory, a zombie would keep coming at you, trying to get a bite, even if it meant its own death, like for example trying to squeeze its head through barb wire just to get at you. However, they’re slow, they’re walkers.

The key factor that might keep you alive against a zombie outbreak would be to

KeepCalmAndKeepRunning

Now, the moment I saw zombies running like athletes I have to admit that two things happened: one, the blood in my veins froze with fear, and two, I thought: what the heck? I’m not going to start an argument about whether zombies should run or not, I’m of the opinion they shouldn’t, but I’m sure many people would argue with me about it (if you’re pro running zombies, please leave a comment, I would love to pick your brain on this). Whether zombies run, or not, well, I’m not that bothered, although I will keep watching the movie with a disapproving look in my eyes, and I will be quite keen to pick on any other mistakes, but fine, and I’m happy knowing I’m not the only one out there: you can read what Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, 2004) has to say about it in this article for The Guardian in 2008.

The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I’ll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It’s hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.

However, there is one line you don’t cross: zombies are dead, ergo they can’t think, they can’t feel, they’re just sort of… twitching along. They don’t wake up in the morning and think: hey, what am I going to do today? Shall I go to the store and get me some brain? They just go along in a sort of slumber.

I know it might sound silly to be debating details about whether a zombie thinks or not, after all, one could argue they don’t exist at all, I guess, but that’s not the point. If we’re going to portray zombies, or any other supernatural being, at least let’s make it coherent.

I still remember when I heard about it. I was at a book store with two friends. I was looking to buy The Hunger Games, and one of my friends was looking for a book. He said: I’ve heard about this book and I want to read it, it’s called Warm Bodies, and it’s about a zombie who falls in love. You can imagine my face. A zombie who falls in love… A zombie. In love. The only word that made sense to me in that sentence was “falls” and it had a different meaning in my mind. A zombie falling in love???? Many responses went through my mind, and I probably ended up lecturing more than I intended, but I forgot about it after a few days.

Recently, travelling in the tube, I saw a movie poster for the film…

warm-bodies-horizontal-poster

I have to admit that the first thing I thought was that the guy doesn’t look like a zombie, he just looks stoned and dirty, but well, that’s just me. My first impulse was to run through my mental images of zombies, to compare the appearance, something I have found out actually happens in the film, by the way: they hold up a DVD of a zombie movie next to his face, and well, you can try to spot the differences.

On second thought, the poster looks funny, as if it’s going to be some sort of comedy (please, let it be like Shaun Of The Dead, please – wishful thinking, I know).

Anyway, I have finally watched the trailer today, and I am now a bit on the fence. What we see in the trailer doesn’t give the idea of a serious film, it doesn’t seem to be a comedy either, but more of a wink to the audience, a cheeky smile. I’m not sure if the full film has been made in that light, or if it’s just an engaging trailer to an awful film. It seems it’s a romantic comedy, so maybe it is actually funny. The jury is still out on that one for me.

However, the trailer has achieved something: I now want to watch this film, I’m curious about it…

There is something that definitely might freak me out, which is what they call the “bonies”, and mainly because they remind me of the Silence in Doctor Who.

Anyway, here’s the trailer for you to have a look. Let me know what you think, is this a film you’re looking forward to watch?

PS. It goes without saying, but none of the photos or the video above are mine, or I claim any ownership, they’re just from the internet…

 

**Update: I corrected the name in Shaun of the Dead, after having spelt it wrong the first time around! Oops…

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5 Comments

  1. You, and Simon Pegg, make interesting points about slow vs fast zombies.

    On one hand, we could argue that since everything is always evolving we can’t say that zombies should be or are unable to run — since surely one interpretation is as valid as the next, if we aren’t using the traditional Haitian definition.

    On the other hand, it does seem to spoil the inevitable-creeping-death metaphor if zombies are able to run.

    On yet another hand, Simon Pegg lauds “Resident Evil” (though I was disappointed he didn’t make reference to the episode of Spaced where Tim takes too much speed, stays up all night playing Resident Evil, and starts hallucinating zombies — which inspired Shaun of the Dead) for bringing back zombies, but doesn’t mention how the virus that causes the zombies also causes some people to turn into enormous monsters. That’s not a very traditional interpretation of the genre.

    I read an article recently pondering whether zombies can get drunk. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds, since according to biology despite being dead they would still need to maintain a working circulatory system, otherwise all their blood would pool in their feet, and then their limbs would explode.

    This important fact of nature has also helped to explain to me how vampires have sex.

  2. First of all, thanks for your comment, it’s quite interesting!

    You are right in mentioning that one interpretation is as valid as the next, however, do “dead” species evolve? Bear in mind that we are talking about a being that is supposed to be already dead and in many cases decomposing. Of course, since zombies habit a fantasy realm, we can really make them be as we want them to. However, in order to perform an action such as running, certain elements might be needed: elastic muscles not suffering from rigor mortis, a fully working circulatory system to carry the oxygen to the cells, to avoid over burning the muscles (without the ability to recover, the damage and decay of the zombie motor skills would be faster after a jog).

    After doing some research, forgive me as other than the basics, I’m not that familiar with the Resident Evil franchise, I’ve found these monsters were created after a prolonged exposure to the T-virus, which is the cause for the zombies in the games. You’re right, though, in that it is not a traditional interpretation of the genre.

    I would be interested in reading that article you mention. I think in order for a zombie to get drunk, they would need a working circulatory system. You’re right in that their blood would just pool at their feet, but I’m wondering if that would be the case if their blood is already heavily clotted, more like a sludge than a liquid, as this seems to be the case whenever zombies are being killed in films (we don’t see a flood of blood, but more like jell-o).

    Regarding vampires, I think the key point here is the classification as “undead”, as a creature that is neither dead nor alive. However, zombies are believed to be entirely dead, and decomposing, so different theories should be applied for each.

    Once again, I am keen in reading the article you mention, as I think it can be interesting to see the reasoning behind a zombie being drunk.

    I’m planning on writing more about this topic, so I will be happy to incorporate some of the findings in future posts!

    Thanks again for participating with your comments!

    • Ah! Another film I haven’t watched yet… what-is-wrong-with-me?!?!

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