In recent years, we've seen a deluge of undead on our screens: from the (more or less) biologically explained 28 Days Later, to the more supernatural True Blood. Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Let the Right One In, and many others have swarmed all over our screens.
Let The Right One In - The sweetest vampire film i've ever seen.
Why are they so popular?
First, think about zombie films. What traits do they share? They usually involve a few human protagonists discovering that everyone around them has turned into brain-thirsty creatures, devoid of humanity. The battle for survival begins; running; hiding; gathering food, weapons and medical supplies.
So, to put it one way, the zombie genre focuses on the downfall of humanity. Money, jobs, dentist visits, rent payments, dinner with the in-laws - none of it matters anymore. Instead, life becomes about finding a big enough stick with which to protect yourself. In a world where we're expected to hold ourselves in the form of civilized beings, i can see why the return to battling for survival has its allure. These films let us, for their duration at least, fantasize about testing our strength in the wild.
Dead Snow - Nazi Zombies.
No, what about vampire films? These seem to vary a bit more. Sometimes the vampire is a mysterious terror, which must be found and killed. Recently, the vampire has found him(or her)self in the role of protagonist. Works like Interview With the Vampire, True Blood, and Let the Right One In explore the vampire as a sympathetic character, rather than an undead terror. It was bound to happen, as our cinematic artform evolved, searching for new angles and new stories, but why do vampires make such popular protagonists?
At one time, when our individual worlds were smaller, we feared monsters: whether they were creatures of myth, or other nations who our leaders had taught us to fear. Today, when news of an event can spread across the world like ripples from a stone piercing the surface of a still pond, we're beginning to realize that the terror of the unknown can lurk within that which we think we know. Rather than fearing vampires, Germans or wrathful spirits, we fear our neighbors - because we have learned that they can easily be serial killers, pedophiles or rapists. We don't believe this because it's more likely than it once was, but because when we hear about a single such instance anywhere in the world, we can't help but apply it to our own lives.
Compared to the unpredictability of our fellow human, vampires don't sound so scary, do they? Plus, they always seem to be sexy for some reason.
True Blood - Turning the undead into a fetish.