293: Zombies Rule, Vampires Drool

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Zombies Rule, Vampires Drool

When it comes to the great monster showdown, vampires may be popular, but zombies have the edge when it comes to scaring the pants off of us.

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An interesting article, well done.
Now I really want to see a movie about a vampire apocalypse. Supernatural disaster movie. Come on, that'd be awesome!
It's true vampires aren't so much "monsters" any more. But I do still like them. Possibly because of the humanisation and everything you spoke of. Hell, in True Blood you can like vampires. Because they're made of pure awesome. They kick ass, they're suave and slick and not at all stupid and mindless. It's good, in a way.

30 Days of Night was a shot in the arm for the vampire genre, because the vampires were a force of nature. It is an excellent counter-example to this thesis.

Wasen't Daybreak a vampire apocalypse?

Very interesting article!

more zombies please.

Bring them on indeed!!!

Daybreak was more like a we are dealing with the problem now, post apocalypse where they were moving on and everyone was a vamp already. 30 Days of night was a great horror vampire movie that I hope gets a sequel, but I think In the comic books the vampires lead a more hidden life, trying to get victims, I think the movie was about the kind of feasting they do when they have free reign for a month.

I can't wait for more zombies the walking dead's first season was such a number of episodes flop. They waited to long and couldnt put out a real 12+ episode season which sucked because it was so awesome.

Problem is zombies in games really have no hardcore representation it is always by some over powered player who has no fear of the zombies.

While vampires can go surfing in the Californian sun for all I care, I'm now getting sick to death of my once beloved zombie. You can't throw a rock without hitting a designer who thinks "I have a great idea for a new mode: Zombies!"

It does play into our egos. We got the tools, we got the talent, let me mow them down and I'll survive it all. Hell, most games are about that now, but from a different stand point. Most games: You're out gunned and you're out classed, but you'll find a way to make it some how! Most zombie games: They are over there, you have guns, show them good old fashion Human ass kicking.

It's so EASY to put zombies in nowadays that it's just played out. Like any song you heard on the radio, it keeps playing and playing and playing until you are forced to try to remember when you found it to be innovating and cool.

The less scary vampires seem, the scarier they are.

When a zombie aproaches you, you know you should either shoot or run.
When a vampire aproaches you, you won't see (or smell) a whole lot of rotting flesh, so you'll probably think he/she's (still) human. So you'll let down your guard.

Zombies seem to keep nothing if their former selves, so you'll probably want to prevent becoming one.

Due to vampires seemingly staying who they were when they were human, you might not even mind becoming one.

But once the vampire/human ratio becomes too big, humans will go extinct and soon after the vampires will follow because of a lack of prey.

Interesting article, but I do have to roll my eyes at two parts. One from Mythology is Hard.

"Your author confesses to having been part of the problem here vis-à-vis many years spent contributing to White Wolf's World of Darkness."

If you're talking about Masquerade, maybe, but I play Requiem from the NWoD line. It doesn't have as much mythos to memorize, and the powers between these different clans make them forces to reckon with. I would easily recommend this to any vampire fan, casual or otherwise.

Then, this quote.

"So bring on the zombies. As monsters go, they're much less demanding."

I'm not sure what you mean by this. If you're saying it in terms of cannon fodder for people to kill, maybe, but a villain is a lot more interesting when they have a history and motive.

Frankly, on the zombie phenomenon as a whole, here's my opinion on the subject: "Stop putting zombies in everything. Please." If the popularity of zombies are going to die out like Guitar Hero just has, this is the way I see that happening: Putting them in nearly every game under the sun.

See, most of the eastern european vampire myths, the really old ones that pre-date Vlad the Impaler are, in essence, zombies. Zombies with a few more rules, but definitely not in control of their actions. Actually, they fit the modern image of zombies far better than zombies themselves, being people or corpses controlled by voodoo magic, and hence by a person.

Fast zombies, in particular, have more in common with the vampires of old (revenants, in Anne Rice terms) than they do with the magically brainwashed slaves of some old loa.
So yeah, vampires are still scary. We've just started calling them zombies, is all.

I'm glad to see we haven't touched anywhere near all of the vampire lore out there in the article. Yes, there's much more out there, go find it.

Zombies aren't really monsters, they're victims, humans are the real monsters in almost every zombie flick.

Nice article though.

I agree with all of this except for one thing; on an article about shitty vampires, Vampire the Masquerade doesn't belong. It isn't supposed to be scary. It's supposed to be a bleak representation of life as a vampire. Also, they have a clan for almost every vampire myth, not just the stupid Victorian era ones, which people don't seem to realize aren't the only ones, or even the first.

Yeah, I'm a fangirl, whatever.

Ooh, I liked this. Interesting topics abound on the Escapist, but not all articles are this funny.

I just loved the part about the awkward silences.

Even George A Romero zombies were more ghoulish than you give them credit for. Day of the dead (original) had Bud who learned. In Land of the Dead the zombies started arming themselves. And Suvival of the Dead was based on them being ghouls more than zombies.

To be frank, I can't see SyFy's adaptation of "Being Human" being anything other than terrible. Especially compared to the BBC's version, my advice to any Americans reading would be to watch the Beeb's series, it'd surprise me if there wasn't a channel showing it over there. (They've tried to reinvent BBC shows for Americans before, and it hasn't worked, don't see why anyone thinks it'll work this time)

Anyhoos...

Thinking Romero's zombies being more like Ghouls... well, there's actually a pretty good reason for this...

In the truest sense of the word, zombies are the bodies of the dead, brought back as servants. The idea originates from Voodoo, where a priest would poison someone with "Zombie Powder", then, after their funeral, are able to revive the dead body to use as a servant. (They also appear in a lot of fantasy, with the priest being replaced with a necromancer, and zombie powder being replaced by magic, other than that, it's pretty much the same thing). These zombies have appeared in movies, I'd recommend you watch "White Zombie", if you want to see this, it's available for free (legally) on a lot of video sites, so there's really no excuse not to (it's got Béla Lugosi in it. That should be enough to warrant watching it regardless)

(By the way, these zombies actually exist. They aren't really dead, rather, they're put into a coma by the zombie powder, which contain tetroditoxin, aka puffer fish poison, which is easily mistaken for death by a lot of doctors. They get buried, still alive, then wake up in a coffin, oxygen deprivation does the rest when it comes to the zombie-like state)

Modern Movie zombies are basically sort of a cross between Ghouls and Revenants. Hell, if you watch the first modern zombie movie (Night of the Living Dead), you'll see the zombies are always referred to as ghouls. Ghouls are creatures (either Demons or Undead, depending on who you ask), that feed off the bodies of the recently deceased, which allows them to take the form of this person. Revenants on the other hand, are dead bodies that return to life to accomplish a single purpose (usually vengeance of some kind).

So now you know, and knowing, is half the battle.
It doesn't really help you when it comes to killing them mind... stopping a walking corpse is one thing, but shape-shifting Djinn with an insatiable lust for human flesh? That's just... yikes...

Very nicely written! I enjoyed reading this article.
Thank you

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To honest I haven't found zombies scary since the Dawn of the Dead remake. Something about having Ving motherfucking Rhames on our side kinda takes the edge off. Then of course there was the deliciously dark Zombieland.
But yeah Vampires just don't have the same street cred anymore. I kinda think it started with Buffy to be honest. She was dusting vamps left and right on that show and the only two she couldn't kill ended up becoming her boyfriends (and they didn't even turn her!). Now we have Stephenie Meyer's abomination to deal with. It's hard being a prince of the damned these days.

AgentBJ09:
Interesting article, but I do have to roll my eyes at two parts.
"Your author confesses to having been part of the problem here vis-à-vis many years spent contributing to White Wolf's World of Darkness."

If you're talking about Masquerade, maybe, but I play Requiem from the NWoD line. It doesn't have as much mythos to memorize, and the powers between these different clans make them forces to reckon with. I would easily recommend this to any vampire fan, casual or otherwise.

I knew I was feeling White Wolfish hints from this article, and then I saw it was from the writer of Clan Novel: Lasombra. Which is sitting on my bookshelf, waiting until I can assemble the entire series from used bookstores so I can read them all.

Vampire: the Masquerade did vampires in a totally different style than anything discussed here, really. It was more along the lines of Vampires as Illuminati: whatever you thought was a secret conspiracy, probably was, and they probably had something to do with it. VtM was huge in my college circle, and we used to brainstorm complicated theories late into the night. While fun, vampires as political intrigue definitely isn't for everyone.

I haven't been able to extricate myself from nostalgia long enough to embrace VtR over VtM. That's probably my own personal prejudices mostly, but I know what side of the Broken Fanbase I fall on. (I've never taken very well to massive continuity reboots, and I really miss the dry deadpan humour of the old WoD books.) Besides, to me the complicated mythos was part of the fun. But to each one's own, and it certainly wouldn't hurt the world to have more people roleplaying VtR vampires instead of Meyerverse abominations.

I don't get what's scary about zombies. They resemble mob violence, but as a direct threat they're not even close to the danger presented by a flood, or even a large bear. I always find it ludicrous that "you could become one" is treated as horrifying. The only fear that comes from zombies is that their presence implies an empty world in which a survival story is about to take place, for which their purpose could have been served by a natural disaster excepting the boyish fantasy gore.

Not that vampires are any scarier. Part of it is like the article says; developing the backstory for the thing makes it less scary, because when you know the rules you can try to beat them.

The Slender Man is an example of a monster that epitomizes fear of the unknown. The fandom that has formed around him was originally based entirely on analyzing the blogs and videos and figuring out what rules he worked under. By now, a whole blog culture has developed, with continuity and cross-over events. None even approach the scariness of Marble Hornets, in which his abilities and motives are unexplained and sometimes apparently inconsistent.

brunothepig:
An interesting article, well done.
Now I really want to see a movie about a vampire apocalypse. Supernatural disaster movie. Come on, that'd be awesome!
It's true vampires aren't so much "monsters" any more. But I do still like them. Possibly because of the humanisation and everything you spoke of. Hell, in True Blood you can like vampires. Because they're made of pure awesome. They kick ass, they're suave and slick and not at all stupid and mindless. It's good, in a way.

In that case you need a twilight, zombie version. Ok bad joke. Now to read the full article and I will be back in a minute.

OT: Interesting article. I would emphasize the absence of a mind on any zombie vs presence of a sophisticated inteligent mind on a Vampire. And the fact that its not just modernly that vampires have such a vast range of depictions, they always did.
While zombie myths worldwide are related to people in transe/hypnotic status (usually drugs) or critically/terminally ill, people who are like not living anymore but yet are not dead (undead), that doesnt give u much room to much diversity in the discription of the myth.
As for vampires, the word or its counterpart in other languages had been applied to ppl who somehow are predactors of other people, who in a way would drain the essence of other people, not just the blood. These myths could include witches, sexual predators, canibals, demons, dark cultists, just to name a few. I guess the reason why the modern construct of vampires is so diverse and arbitrary is because they got elements from the various diferent myths.

As for if I would prefer a zombie apocalypse, its not so obvious as that, if they were not carriers of a highly infectious pestilence, I probably would agree with the idea. But the prospect of becoming a mindless creature vs. becoming a vampire with possibility of carrying my identity and self awareness although in a diferent existence, I rather play my odds with the second.

Richard Dansky:
Zombies Rule, Vampires Drool

When it comes to the great monster showdown, vampires may be popular, but zombies have the edge when it comes to scaring the pants off of us.

Read Full Article

I agree that zombies are more compelling than vampires... and I largely agree that it's because of their simplicity. Zombies are, in a sense, just far more elegant a "monster solution" than vampires.

So much of the vampire mythos is arbitrary. Why garlic? Why a wooden stake? I mean, there are explanations, depending on who you ask... but it's the fact that you need one. Zombies--killed by a shot to the brain. Makes complete sense. (Yes, both of them are reanimated dead, but that's one of those things that we already accept pretty readily as "just 'cause")

But really, I'd like to expand the idea of "monsters as disease allegory." You mention vampires as an AIDS-metaphor, and I can somewhat see that. Bit of a stretch, but one I could go with. Along those same lines, I think that zombies have a readily-available disease comparison: Cancer.

Cancer essentially amounts to a mutated cell, replicating uncontrollably, corrupting healthy tissue, and traveling through the body to spread elsewhere. Zombies? A mutated human, replicating (uncontrollably) by bites, corrupting healthy humans, traveling across the land and spreading the infection elsewhere. In both cases, time is against us. The problem only grows and spreads. Zombies are essentially cancer of the species. Pretty terrifying thought, really.

Meh, I've never found any of the big monsters to be scary. Except dead girls. Throw a ghost/dead girl in to a movie and it will be scary. But werewolves, unstoppable killers, vampires, zombies, guy ghosts. Never scary, even in movies where they try to make them scary, they're just not. But I think even without being scary vampires just add more than zombies. Add more story, depth, immersion, fantasy. Zombies are basic and boring, whereas the fact that vampire mythology is confused is what makes it interesting. You can take creative license, make the vampire in your story YOUR kind of vampire.

I think one big thing about zombies that is left out is that they kind of reflect the problems of our own advancement. Our giant cities? Just gigantic zombie traps. Our huge population? Just more zombies.

Sabrestar:
I knew I was feeling White Wolfish hints from this article, and then I saw it was from the writer of Clan Novel: Lasombra. Which is sitting on my bookshelf, waiting until I can assemble the entire series from used bookstores so I can read them all.

Vampire: the Masquerade did vampires in a totally different style than anything discussed here, really. It was more along the lines of Vampires as Illuminati: whatever you thought was a secret conspiracy, probably was, and they probably had something to do with it. VtM was huge in my college circle, and we used to brainstorm complicated theories late into the night. While fun, vampires as political intrigue definitely isn't for everyone.

I haven't been able to extricate myself from nostalgia long enough to embrace VtR over VtM. That's probably my own personal prejudices mostly, but I know what side of the Broken Fanbase I fall on. (I've never taken very well to massive continuity reboots, and I really miss the dry deadpan humour of the old WoD books.) Besides, to me the complicated mythos was part of the fun. But to each one's own, and it certainly wouldn't hurt the world to have more people roleplaying VtR vampires instead of Meyerverse abominations.

True. Meyer did screw vampires, and werewolves (Not so subtle gay undertones), over quite a bit, but I like to think of both of these as niche mythos', and nothing more.

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On a brighter note, I really enjoy the Requiem mythos of Vampire versus Masquerade since I've played Bloodlines to death with every clan. I get the humor, but the ones in Requiem seemed far more frightening to play as in their respective worlds, which is something that is badly missing from vampires these days.

I get where you're coming from on the loss of Masquerade because I felt the same way about Werewolf the Apocalypse and Mage the Accession, but in truth, White Wolf was nearly out of ideas for all their lines at that point. All that was left was use the self destruct switch and open the gates to the Apocalypse so they could start again.

These days, I play Mage the Awakening and Werewolf the Forsaken most for my offline RPGs, but in my opinion, White Wolf's two vampire games, Masquerade and Requiem, are the gold standards of vampires. That being said, I would be a Glass Walker instead of a Ventrue. Tech based magic/weapons > Natural Charisma/Domination.

brunothepig:
Hell, in True Blood you can like vampires. Because they're made of pure awesome. They kick ass, they're suave and slick and not at all stupid and mindless. It's good, in a way.

Er...like most "friendly" vampire depictions, being a vampire is taken as a get out of jail card. If humans acted the way True Blood vampires did, they'd be considered monsters. the books are worse, though, there's more casual murder and rape...the first book has a very fucked up bit where Sookie has sex will Bill in the hope it'll stop him murdering her.

Occasionally, she will make a half-hearted effort at reminding him that he doesn't own her, but his behaviour is otherwise totally ignored.

Twilight...Edward never rapes or murders anyone in the books (he considers murder, though), but nobody calls him out on his fucked up stalking, cause he's a vampire.

...

Mind you, like with zombies, the main problem is that they are fucking everywhere, and generally much the same (people get angry and confused if you don't follow the rules set in stone a few decades back), for no adaquately explained reason.

thaluikhain:

brunothepig:
Hell, in True Blood you can like vampires. Because they're made of pure awesome. They kick ass, they're suave and slick and not at all stupid and mindless. It's good, in a way.

Er...like most "friendly" vampire depictions, being a vampire is taken as a get out of jail card. If humans acted the way True Blood vampires did, they'd be considered monsters. the books are worse, though, there's more casual murder and rape...the first book has a very fucked up bit where Sookie has sex will Bill in the hope it'll stop him murdering her.

Occasionally, she will make a half-hearted effort at reminding him that he doesn't own her, but his behaviour is otherwise totally ignored.

Twilight...Edward never rapes or murders anyone in the books (he considers murder, though), but nobody calls him out on his fucked up stalking, cause he's a vampire.

...

Mind you, like with zombies, the main problem is that they are fucking everywhere, and generally much the same (people get angry and confused if you don't follow the rules set in stone a few decades back), for no adaquately explained reason.

I didn't say the vampires in True Blood were good or nice or anything. Hell, my favourite is Eric, and he's a total dick. But he's awesome. I do agree though, but I'm one of those people who does root for a serial killer or something if he's well characterised/cool enough.
Need to borrow those books off my girlfriend...

AgentBJ09:

Sabrestar:
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snip

Are you guys talking about good vampire games? How easily can I acquire said games, and would you mind elaborating?

brunothepig:
I didn't say the vampires in True Blood were good or nice or anything. Hell, my favourite is Eric, and he's a total dick. But he's awesome. I do agree though, but I'm one of those people who does root for a serial killer or something if he's well characterised/cool enough.

Ah, ok, fair enough, misunderstood that.

Mind you, they only seem to get away with it because the police don't seem to do much of anything.

I mean, in the Anita Blake books, before they gave up on the actually pretty interesting themes and characterisation in favour of endless, pointless sex, policing the supernatural was a big deal, like you'd expect if everyone knew it existed.

brunothepig:

AgentBJ09:

Sabrestar:
snip

snip

Are you guys talking about good vampire games? How easily can I acquire said games, and would you mind elaborating?

Absolutely. Here's the one I was talking about before.

-Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines-

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This game I can easily recommend to any vampire fan. You can buy it on Steam for about 19.99, which is far cheaper than a typical online price of about 25$ or more, disks only.

This game allows you to play as one of seven different vampire clans from the Vampire the Masquerade tabletop RPG, each with different skills and powers that can be used with a reservoir of blood, your Vitae, that you fill by feeding on people. By expending blood, you can use powers that do everything from making your opponent daze off for a bit, to making everyone near you go incurably insane to the point that they kill each other.

The story, while linear, offers a lot of sidequests to give you chances to earn XP. Like in the original RPG, you gain XP for completing quests, which you can then spend to improve Attributes, Blood/Clan Powers, and Skills. Most quests are also non-linear, so you can tackle them in a number of ways.

Beware, however. As a Kindred/Vampire, you are under a set of rules called the Masquerade, a code of ethics and secrecy that all Kindred must follow, lest they be hunted by humans, or killed by their own kind. That means no feeding in public, nor displaying obvious supernatural powers openly. Subtle ones, like Trance, no one cares about since the source cannot be traced.

As for the pen and paper version(s) of the game...

Vampire: The Masquerade

This game is all pen and paper, like Dungeons and Dragons, so you'll need a number of rulebooks and ideas for a vampire-based story to craft a scenario for your players. The line was discontinued in 2004, but this, along with the Werewolf the Apocalypse and Mage the Ascension games, are good RPGs to try.

Look on eBay, Half-Price, and in some general used book stores for copies of the rulebooks, although I would recommend the Second Edition of the game over the first.

Vampire: The Requiem

This is the New World of Darkness version of Vampire. It started in 2004 after the Masquerade continuity was nuked to hell, and while it only has five clans at the outset, the setting is darker than Masquerade and the vampire feel is more sinister.

If you can, download the Quick-Start games for Masquerade and Requiem. They will give you an idea of if you want to play those games.

AgentBJ09:
Snip

Excellent. I've wishlisted Vampire: The Masquerade. Now I just need money...

thaluikhain:

brunothepig:
I didn't say the vampires in True Blood were good or nice or anything. Hell, my favourite is Eric, and he's a total dick. But he's awesome. I do agree though, but I'm one of those people who does root for a serial killer or something if he's well characterised/cool enough.

Ah, ok, fair enough, misunderstood that.

Mind you, they only seem to get away with it because the police don't seem to do much of anything.

I mean, in the Anita Blake books, before they gave up on the actually pretty interesting themes and characterisation in favour of endless, pointless sex, policing the supernatural was a big deal, like you'd expect if everyone knew it existed.

Yeah... The police always seem to sooner or later realise that the villain is a big one, so he's gonna be around for a while or something... Of course, if I was a cop I would not try arresting a vampire.
Anita Blake books? Policing the supernatural? Sounds fun. I'll keep an eye out for them.

brunothepig:
Anita Blake books? Policing the supernatural? Sounds fun. I'll keep an eye out for them.

Well, she's a necromancer, she raises the dead so they can do stuff like answer questions about their wills, determine if an area is sacred ground so it can't be built on, that sort of thing.

She's also a vampire executioner, once a vampire breaks certain rules, it gets removed from play. Later on, she got into dealing with politics between different groups of were-creatures, putting up with prejudice for having "close" were-creature "friends", as well as being a woman not-police officer dealing with macho male police. And being of mixed ethnicity.

Was actually pretty good, until the magic sex stuff took over completely and it went downhill hard.

Fabulous article! Thank you.

Vampires have had an "evolution" similar to Native Americans in Western movies, and it's due to social change. Back when Nosferatu was released, there wasn't this pressure of equality, and the church had far more control. Therefore an unholy outcast was far scarier than today.

Zombies lack that kind of development. They aren't characters, they are props, and so they are always spoken about in "apocalypse" situations, as there is no way you'd have any guilt about killing them. If Dead Rising had any form of sentient life, it wouldn't have been as much stupid fun.

Zombies aren't scary-zombies are a challenge. Vampires, if done right, are still worrisome. You may not have control over your immediate actions, they are faster and stronger than you, they psychologically represent our patronising forefathers (unless it's tripe like Twilight), and above all, they want to kill you. With a Zombie attack, you just need to be faster than the rest.

Finally, I have to add this. Normally, I try not to get involved in the "American remake" whining that occurs, when American xenophobia, and general lack of originality or insight hits, and they rob a decent series from the UK, but this time I must protest. Being Human, the real one, is a great series, and has recently featured a "type 4"- or a zombie to you and me. It treats the subject different;y to most zombie stories, but more importantly, it, and every other episode in the 3 series so far, is good, universal, and unnecessary for a remake. Watch the British version, and leave the American intellectually bankrupt companies picking up the pennies after an expensive loss. Seriously, it'll be Dr Who next

Excellent points all around. I had never really thought about how vampires have seriously changed over the years in their perception.

All the vampire authors should really get together and come up with some unified code of vampirism. All those complex differences between every continuum are obnoxious. Although I don't know why I care, seeing as how I don't keep up with any vampire-related things.

Vampires are the Walking Undead, whereas Zombies are the Walking Dead. weird

Taliesin Hoyle:
30 Days of Night was a shot in the arm for the vampire genre, because the vampires were a force of nature. It is an excellent counter-example to this thesis.

Indeed. I was just asking myself, why wasn't 30 Days of Night referenced in the article? The vamps in there are as scary as vampires can get.

Apart from that, great article.

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