The past and afterlife of the gentleman “vampire” and the beast “zombie”

In 2009, “Time” published an article written by Lev Grossman (Lev Grossman), which explored the difference between zombies and vampires in literary works: one “very ugly, stupid and blind”, one ” The appearance is dignified and sophisticated.” However, when the two meet, they burst out with a peculiar spark. Grossman believes that “Although zombies have obvious disadvantages in the appearance of the screen, it is difficult to guarantee that vampires will always be in a high position.” In contemporary works, vampires are no longer as scary as before, but become compassionate. , And even pleasing to the eye, its status will be reversed. As Natalie Wilson said: “Nowadays vampires are lonely and immortal, longing for love, family and human identity.” In contemporary film and television works, many vampires have been portrayed as-with a conscience, Trying to avoid consuming human blood, the original image of abomination and terror disappeared; at this time, another kind of “monster” was needed to fill the vacancy of its original image of terror. Therefore, zombies came into being. Of course, if you talk about which kind of monster, it can arouse the viewer’s sense of fear and disgust. Obviously, zombies are better.

In traditional literary works, vampires are equivalent to images of horror and horror. Ramsey Campbell’s definition of horror fiction is “horror fiction presents things that the viewer hates.” Obviously, modern vampire-themed novels no longer meet this definition. Ken Gelder believes that the new type of vampire is “sometimes annoying and sometimes consoling.” This interpretation is an accurate definition of the “new type of vampire.” The improved version of the new type of vampire has become more humane, creating a unique vampire-like romantic feeling. However, most novels and movies based on zombies are consistent with the traditional horror defined by Campbell.

So, what is the evolution of vampires and zombies in their past and present lives? The following interpretation of the author will discuss the evolution of the images of vampires and zombies in Western art works, combined with their traditions and innovations. Combing the development of vampire and zombie novels and film and television works, exploring how the two horror monsters, which were originally born from the same root, have drifted away on two completely different roads.

The origin of the immortal
The two monsters, vampires and zombies, were originally resurrected dead bodies and had the immortality that humans yearn for, but the audience held different attitudes towards the two. The interpretation of the difference between them has only recently appeared, zombies are chilling, and vampires make viewers yearn for. In the early vampire literature, although vampires are also full of charm, they are ultimately dangerous saboteurs to mankind. In the Victorian period, the birth of Dracula was seen as a potential threat to the values ​​and society of the time. Waller believes that the theme of the novel “Dracula” embodies “the struggle between the unified values ​​of collectivism and the self-centered personal values.” Dracula and his vampires are not only threats It has also shaken the view of human beings on themselves and the world. Investigating the essence of the early vampire image, their existence symbolizes people’s fear of human vulnerability.

The modern version of the new “new vampires” is the opposite. They not only obey the laws set by human beings, but also agree with the values ​​of Western society. In Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, the Cullens and their likes are the successors of traditional vampires after the revolution. This new type of vampire does not like group living and commotion, and only seeks to live alone and protect itself. Although the ability is far superior to humans, they try to avoid harassment. In the TV series “Forever Knight” (Forever Knight), Nick Knight (Nick Knight) not only respects humans, drinks only animal blood, but also looks for panacea, trying to restore human flesh and blood. In modern times, humanized vampires have become more and more popular, so that the traditional evil bloodthirsty vampire image has almost disappeared. The evolution of the image of vampires just confirms Nina Auerbach’s view that vampires are the product of culture and the derivative and embodiment of their era.

Because vampires are more humane; therefore, instead, zombies begin to enter people’s field of vision. A vampire is a half-life and half-dead human state. Julia Kristeva believes: “A corpse means the death of an individual life, and no one can escape the arrival of death.” Therefore, the meaning of the existence of the zombie image is Warn the world that humans will eventually turn into rotting corpses, lonely and helpless. This kind of concept is chilling, but it also has a quirky attraction. The inexplicable attraction makes humans want to stop the aversion that they originally resisted. In fact, this kind of spiritual self-masturbation is also a way of catharsis. Therefore, the mentality of “desire to welcome” has promoted the popularity and consumption of zombie-themed novels.

The image of zombies originated in the folklore of Haiti, Africa. Zombies are mainly resurrected slaves. They are neither very threatening nor interested in human flesh and blood. The creation of the theme of zombies can be traced back to the works of George Romero (George Romero), who learned from Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” (1954) After getting inspiration, the vampire in the movie was transformed into a “ghoul (ie the prototype of a zombie)” and then used in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968). When “Night of the Living Dead” came out, it gradually established the tone of the zombie work. Since then, the image of zombies has further developed, or it may be very different from Romero’s “ghoul”, but all benefited from this classic work. With the broadcast of zombie works such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Walking Dead” of the American AMC TV station, the image gap between zombies and vampires has been further expanded and split, and the two monsters have gradually parted ways.

“Night of the Living Dead” movie poster
The social significance of vampires and zombies
In Western art works, vampires and zombies respectively represent different concepts of self-cognition. The former is based on desire and the latter is based on disgust. The two occupy opposite positions in Western society and arouse among the people. Received a different response. Ken Gelder noted that Karl Marx also likened the Western bourgeoisie to vampires. As the beneficiaries of this class, many modern vampires enjoy a luxurious life. This kind of life is precisely what Western capitalist society opposes. High praise of consumerism. On the contrary, the image of zombies exposes the greedy nature of the bourgeoisie. They are the proletariat deprived of rights.

The prosperous consumer relationship that vampires and capitalism rely on is not limited to vampire novels. In the real society, it is also vividly reflected in the publicity of vampire novels and works of art. Among these activities, the Karen family of “Twilight” is the most vivid expression of greedy consumerism. In order to promote its series of films, the official not only strengthened the promotion by selling T-shirts and other means, but also designed a special website to help fans imitate the dress of Edward and Alice Cullen. The most worth mentioning is that Edward Cullen also endorsed Volvo Cars to create momentum for the promotion of high-consumption life. Western society, which aims at the supremacy of consumption, has spawned many programs such as “American Idol”-the pursuit of fast money and famous entertainment mechanisms. From the gorgeous costumes and luxury cars of the Karen family to their magnificent palace residences, it is obvious that their rich and luxurious living standards are the ideal consumption standards advocated by Western society. Unlike Dracula, who lives in a ruined castle, this group of new vampires enjoy a rich and luxurious lifestyle. The new type of vampire has become a successful and exemplary representative of the top people in society.

Since the Karen family has successfully evolved into a model propaganda method in Western society, the claws of other vampire-themed novels have also begun to reach consumers in the real world. To promote the “True Blood” series, HBO sells synthetic blood called “True Blood” online. Like the Karen family, many of the vampires in “True Love Is Like Blood” are outstanding successful models, playing with the social system and rules of the supremacy of money in applause. For example, the sheriff Eric Norseman owns a popular bar called “Fantasia”. It has both economic strength and political influence. The glamorous lifestyle echoes its status. This is the ideal social way. Nowadays, the vampires on the screen are no longer simple parasites. They have rich assets and provide employment opportunities for others. Artificial blood is sold everywhere like drugs, becoming a shortcut to making money. These scenes are exactly what “True Love Is Like Blood” is for today The metaphorical irony of society.

The image and essence of the vampire, whether it is the naked and wanton publicity in “True Love as Blood” or the introverted and low-key convergence in “Twilight”, the new vampire image has become the “idol” of movie viewers. The audience is envious and longing for everything depicted in “Twilight”-vampires do not need to work, have no worries about food and clothing, but enjoy the high-end luxury life all day long.

Vampires preach for nothing, while zombies emphasize hard work. Both aim to expose the cruel truth of the existing social system. Unlike vampires, zombies have no value in themselves, have no purpose, and chase and prey on humans endlessly. They have neither a sense of satiety nor the concept of an ideal life. They hunt humans just to obtain shortage of food and satisfy their hunger. In a society where exploitation is prevalent, zombie riots have triggered a series of social riots, which in fact represent riots and disorder. In short, for humans, vampires are gorgeous and luxurious consumption fantasies, while zombies are horrible and disorderly nightmares.

Guardian and destroyer of the border
As far as the social environment is concerned, vampires generally live in a unique, isolated and prosperous world, and are associated with well-intentioned humanitarians; the emergence of zombies warns of crises caused by a single globalization.

In recent years, many zombie literature and film and television works have mostly expressed the anxiety of the plague spreading around the world. The T virus in “Resident Evil” and the deadly virus in “28 Days Later” (28 Days Later) were both developed by human scientists and caused the end of the world due to human evil. Zombie viruses are produced irresponsibly by humans, lack supervision, and are used for corporate or military needs. The theme that runs through this type of work has always been a dangerous boundary dispute between humans and monsters. Whether it is the border between nations, or the symbolic borders of flesh and blood, isolation and containment are of the utmost importance when the boundaries are faltering and precarious.

On the contrary, vampires like Nick Knight with a heroic complex will not violate and swear to guard the boundary between human life and death. Even if it possesses superpowers capable of destroying the earth, the audience will not be worried. At the same time, this boundary can be geographical. For example, the Karen family abides by the treaty with the Quilluts and never crosses its land half a step. At the same time, it can also be symbolic, such as the boundary between life and death, the boundary between monsters and humans, etc. Although the bite of a vampire can infect the bite, the blood of a vampire is a panacea for immortality. Both “True Love as Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries” portray the blood of a vampire as the elixir of immortality, which can be saved by drinking it. Human life.

In recent zombie literary works, its potential main purpose is to reveal the people’s suspicion and distrust of multinational companies. Certain powerful and powerful companies have turned a blind eye to the boundary between humans and monsters and acted recklessly. The zombies in early zombie-themed movies generally originated from magic or radiation. In recent years, the zombie works were all caused by the evil results of multinational companies’ scientific research across borders. From the animal experiments in “28 Days of Surprise” to the secret research and development of the umbrella company in “Resident Evil”, zombies are terror products of high-ranking people doing whatever they want, arbitrarily, and ignoring boundaries. In the globalized world of the future, multinational corporations are a road to common prosperity and prosperity, but their nature is vicious spread, and the consequences are unimaginable.

Blind and disorderly consumerism has long been involved in zombie-themed novels, but it has not been until modern times that it has gradually received attention due to the unstoppable globalization trend. Due to the popularization of the Internet and the globalization of global media, the “borders” of mankind have gradually disappeared. The unique cultural traditions that human ancestors were proud of have eclipsed and even gradually disappeared on the road to globalization. If the unique history and beliefs of mankind are lost in the borderless globalization and unified world, and the remaining void is filled by the consumerism that promotes economic globalization, then this borderless and race-free world, Will lose the uniqueness of each race and the ability to think independently. The globalization of consumerism has been vigorously promoted by vested interests. In order to succeed, companies have actually created a brainless creature with only two functions: consumption and stimulating consumption. At the same time, it also encourages people to abandon the values ​​of the past when they don’t know anything about the future. The literary works of zombie theme are actually a warning to people that in a world without history, human beings will eventually be assimilated into a blind, empty, meaningless population.

Unlike zombies, vampires are addicted to the past, refuse to accept the notion of advancing with the times, and stick to the traditional values ​​when they were still human. For example, Bill Compton in “True Love is Blood” returns to the town of Good Day and rebuilds its previous home; Eric Norseman fought in blood to save Godric who turned it into a vampire. Take back his father’s crown, avenge his father, and commit a murder. Today’s new image of vampire, incarnate as a guardian, defends a long history and culture.

Shoulder to shoulder with the immortal
In the many cultural changes at the end of the 20th century, the concept of seeking common ground while reserving differences has become more and more common. The evolution of vampires precisely reflects the evolution of this concept. The literary and artistic works created by humans, from fairy tales to psychological thrillers, actually record and embody this trend. From Dr. Seuss’s “What Was I Scared Of?” (What Was I Scared Of? 1961), the children saw how similar figures to themselves were in the terrifying “monsters” in What Was I Scared Of? In Thomas Harris’s “Red Dragon” (Red Dragon, 1981), an evil killer is portrayed as a victim who desperately needs the love, understanding, and recognition of others. In fact, these works all hold the view that the devil is not very different from human beings. In many moments, becoming a devil is actually a last resort, and even monsters can become friends with human beings. It was these views that promoted the transformation of the vampire image, and then the zombies gradually emerged and began to take the lead. The monster images of vampires and zombies, from the initial common devil identity, have gone their separate ways. Essentially, vampires guard the traditional system and values ​​of mankind; while zombies become disorderly saboteurs and rioters. The reason is that opposing monsters or demons are indispensable in human society.

Bishop Kyle once believed that “zombies will gradually have human feelings.” The zombie movies in recent years seem to have confirmed this prediction. For example, the protagonist of the movie “Colin” (2008) is an emotional zombie who often wanders the streets of London alone. The zombies in the movie Planet Terror (2007) also have a personal emotional world. In addition, many movies have also given zombies, such as language, and other abilities that humans have. The zombie type literature also shows this trend. In Isaac Marion’s “Warm Bodies”, the zombie hero is reborn because of love and eventually becomes a human being; SG The zombies in SG Browne’s “Breathers: A Zombies Lament” (Breathers: A Zombies Lament) are able to think and speak, they interact in a human way, and they have formed a mutual aid group to deal with the trouble of immortality. .

In recent years of film and television and literary works, with the revival and awakening of zombie emotions, the future development direction of monsters and demons is still unknown. However, just like the trend of zombies gradually replacing vampires, even if one day, zombies are on the way back to humans, there must be another kind of alien monsters that will suddenly emerge, inheriting the baton of a new round of “monsters”. The reason for this is simply because of human beings’ fearful imagination of “death” and thinking about human nature, and always need some kind of monster or devil to express and vent it arbitrarily.