Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies vs. Vampires

It’s been a while since I last wrote about Horror’s two battling genres in one post. If I were to add werewolves, then it would be a regular party. For today’s Monday Mayhem though, I’m going to concentrate on zombies vs. vampires. What makes one dominant during a season while another takes a vacation?

Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

It wasn’t too long ago that vampires stole the scene. Remember? They were everywhere. They were in movies, books, TV, magazines, songs, etc., and teens romanticized the genre, writers couldn’t meet demand. Twilight became a rage. Thirteen year-old girls wanted Edward to be their husband. Vampires were hot.

Then, as quickly as it’d started, it all changed.

Vampire
Vampire

Nowadays, zombies are the hottest ticket in town. Unlike previous generations of zombie lovers, we’ve become more sophisticated. We love our Zombie Runs where once, twice or as many times as we can handle, we go after competitors in an all-you-can-eat buffet of sprinting through a course for charity. In some respect, we join the troops to simply have fun while playing the part of zombie or victim.

It doesn’t end there. The most popular show on TV is The Walking Dead, about a group of survivors who try to elude walkers (zombies) as a way to find peace in a world consumed by a virus. So far, peace has escaped them. Perhaps one day they will find what they’re looking for. The show has spawned whole websites dedicated to the plot, cast and walkers.

The popularity contest between vampires and zombies is a long one. But, I have a theory. It has to do with the economy and it has to do with people’s perception of the world. This is what I think.

When times are good and folks feel secure with the economy, their neighborhood and their life, vampires rule the airwaves. When things don’t look so good, the economy is in crash and burn mode, and people are generally evil toward one another, zombies rule. Don’t take this as science, although there may have been a scientific study done here and there to prove it. I’m thinking out loud leaning with heavy generalizations.

Good times = vampires.
Bad times = zombies.

This is why I think zombies are currently popular. Vampires are gentlemen. They have a certain sophistication people equate to as being rich. I mean Dracula, the most famous vampire of them all, lives in a castle. How rich is that? While on the opposite end of the spectrum is the lowly zombie, working hard with a horde trying to make a meal out of anyone it comes across.

Silly theory, isn’t it? But it makes sense, right? Twilight and a number of other vampire franchises were at their peak in popularity when the economy was doing well or on a rebound. Now that things aren’t so great, zombies have taken over the top spot.

Maybe I’m too far off base with this one. What do you think?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What do you think makes a genre popular? Do you think the economy has anything to do with it?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies, Aliens & Vampires

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, the second book in the Ranger Martin series, will publish on October 21.

Men in Black is one of my most favorite Friday night fall movies. The other film I love, which has a similar theme is Mars Attacks. Yes, both are alien movies, and yes, both have a not-so-serious plot devoted to conspiracy. When these movies came out back in the late 90’s, The X-Files had a huge following. Talk about conspiracy theory. The X-Files took all that we knew back then about alien invasion and turned it on its head. Who can forget the tag line The truth is out there?

Alien
Alien

For today’s edition of Monday Mayhem, I would like to examine interesting fads that have taken over the media. In particular, I would like to look at the alien, vampire, and zombie fads of yesteryear and today. In the past, I’ve detailed how vampires and zombies throughout time have played a game of one-upmanship. Sometimes vampires are on top, and sometimes zombies. Today, zombies rule.

Where do aliens fit in all this?

The X-Files
The X-Files

As I’d mentioned, in its heyday The X-Files had garnered a massive following. Everyone wanted to know how the aliens fit in the whole humanity vs. alien universe. The show’s creator Chris Carter had a perfect formula where he’d trickle just enough information to the audience to keep them coming back for more. The X-Files had also some of the most interesting episodes on television for the time. I can never forget the episode where a cockroach appears to crawl on the screen. I screamed thinking the roach had somehow invaded my home. Through the wizardry of modern television effects, I became a sucker for the producers’ quaint, but hilarious practical joke.

Vampires didn’t become fashionable until the movie Twilight came out. I should rephrase that. Vampires didn’t become part of pop culture until the advent of Stephenie Meyer’s literary anvil hit the scene. Anne Rice, of course, influenced the genre years earlier with her book Interview with the Vampire, but teenage girls with Edward on their mind had more than blood coursing through their veins.

As with all fads, once Breaking Dawn’s star came and went zombies took over the reign as the pop culture phenomenon. With The Walking Dead in full swing and World War Z about to become a movie, is it a wonder zombies turned hot. Campuses across America played host to zombie runs while Halloween transformed from vampires only clubs to zombie apocalypse nightmares.

As for the aliens? They’re there. Listening and waiting until their time comes again. Only time will tell what pop culture has in mind once the reign of the zombies ends.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What other movies have an alien theme associated with the zombie genre? What do you think of The Night of the Living Dead?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies, Vampires and the Economy

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, the first book in the Ranger Martin series, will publish on October 22.

An economic theory of sorts caught my attention the other day I thought I’d share. The theory goes something like this: when the economy does well, zombies rule. When the economy flounders, vampires seize the reigns. What better way to add to my Monday Mayhem series than to introduce a discussion of money, zombies and vampires?

Pontypool
Pontypool

It started with an article I came across on one of these financial sites, on my way to explore for another post I was working on. Funny how these things work. Whenever I’m looking for something to supplement a current post, something else hits me square between the eyes to prevent me from completing my research. Nonetheless, I can see how the theory came to be.

I’m writing this as is, without much commentary. I’ll provide the examples (including movie posters) more as a guide, but you can draw your own conclusions. Suffice it to say, some daring economists have already written about this before, plotting the rise and fall of zombies and vampires against fluctuations in the Dow Jones Industrial average.

Here’s my take on the theory…

Zombies, by nature, consume anything and everything. They have no sense of self-restraint. If they see something consumable, they will eat it. Nothing in their path is safe. Every so often, they lay dormant, waiting for their next big feast. As sharks frenzy, so do zombies when they spot a sure thing. Whatever obstacle may block their path, they quickly dismantle. In large groups, zombies are unstoppable.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies

So is the zombie economic model. During a recovery, consumers freely purchase having no self-restraint. A new bike? Buy it. A new car. Buy it. A new house? Yep—buy it! Everything catches their eye as fair game. There may be lulls where they seem to have satisfied their cravings, but they’re waiting for the euphoria to catch again. And if it’s Black Friday or Bargain Tuesdays at the local electronics shop, look out. Nothing will stand in their way to get to that big screen TV. In groups, consumers can ravage a store in seconds.

Vampires, on the other hand, are subtle hunters, choosing deception as their ally. They crave blood. When they satisfy their craving, they recede into the shadows. The strong and weak is no match for their cunning. Patience is part of their nature. Once they spot a target, they will stalk it until the time is right for the kill. They appear as human but their innards make them soulless creatures.

Twilight
Twilight

And so is the vampire economy. When times are tough, consumers are a guilt-ridden, crafty lot, choosing to talk their way into a deal. They take a tally of how well they’re doing by how well they’re saving. Sticker price means nothing to them. If it says $10, they’ll negotiate for $9 hoping to get it for $9.50. Large companies, small shops, makes no difference. They’ll wait. A deal is bound to come their way. When they see it, they’ll move in for the kill. If someone else spots it, they’ll push their way to get there first. Even if it means spilling blood.

Supplemental Reading Material

Have you ever heard of this theory? What is it that makes it unique among other zombie theories?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies: The New Vampires

It wasn’t long ago when audiences packed theaters for vampire-themed movies. Much of that popularity came from young readers devouring books like Twilight. How quickly trends change. With the new release of the film World War Z this summer, zombies will all but secure the top spot as the new vampires.

Don't Open, Dead Inside
Don’t Open, Dead Inside

How did this happen? For this edition of Monday Mayhem, my series devoted to all things crazy and insane, I’d like to explore the rise of the zombie from a knuckle-dragging goon to a sophisticated eating machine.

Disclaimer: If anything my regular readers know about me is, I’m a zombie purist. I’m a huge fan of George A. Romero, the father of modern zombie behavioral science. Have that in mind when reading this post, since I’ll probably offer my opinion on more than one occasion—or not.

At one time, vampires ruled the earth. Bookstore shelves couldn’t keep up with the insatiable demand to carry the latest and greatest vampire series. Every Halloween the most popular costumes had to have fangs and pale white makeup kits. Theaters featured vampires making dinner meat out of humans, vampires killing werewolves, and vampires falling in love. Topics on radio shows included: Whenever you hear thunder, do you wonder if vampires are playing baseball?

What happened to the vampire?

by Baby Doll
Zombie at the Door

Zombies are what happened to vampires. Just like their genetic makeup, zombies crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

How did this all happen?

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place.

Have we seen the last of vampires? Do you think someone will write about a family of zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Are Zombies Popular?

One of the most interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse is the beginning. How does it start? Can anyone prevent it? Is the zombie apocalypse really that scary to want to run away from it? With yesterday’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, today’s Monday Mayhem post would be a good place to have a look at the draw people have toward zombies and why these wretched disasters just won’t go away.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

On October 31, 2010, Halloween no less, The Walking Dead premiered. From there a series began that would eclipse all other television series. Its premise is simple: a zombie apocalypse has taken over the planet and no one knows how to defeat it. As the series progresses, the audience discovers human nature, with all its entrapments, becomes a central theme in the show. Sometimes, what people do to each other is more stomach-churning than the deeds of the walkers. Should Fear the Walking Dead follow in the footsteps of its parent The Walking Dead, then one would assume the show will depict the darkest aspects of human nature.

Although zombies have always had a sordid history in low-budget spectacles, even having transformed into cartoons (eg. Scooby-Doo), recent activities in the genre have placed the undead in the forefront of creative bedlam. One thing is certain, the media does not like a vacuum. With the departure of Twilight from the Horror scene a number of years ago, vampires took a backseat to walkers. To that end, the popularity of zombies has never been better.

Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead

Just like their genetic makeup, zombies have crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place and everyone will fear the walking dead.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you like zombies? Why? What draws you to the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Crossing a Zombie with a Vampire

I’ve always wondered if a zombie were to ever crossbreed with a vampire, what exactly would you have? It wouldn’t be a zombie, that I know. That would mean the resulting monster, for lack of a better term, would have not only an appetite for human, but also the appetite to drain it of its blood. By the same argument, it wouldn’t be a vampire as that would mean it wouldn’t hunt in packs, much like zombies do in popular movies today.

Zombie Rising
Zombie Rising

I thought for my Monday Mayhem series of articles dedicated to zombies, today I would explore this awful but lethal combination of crossing a zombie with a vampire. If birds can do it, why not the undead?

Looking at it logically, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that such a breed could exist. After all, zombies and vampires have a lot in common. They both are undead. They enjoy human as their choice of nourishment. And if they had their way, they’d have a run at taking over the whole world with their species. What’s to say they wouldn’t succeed?

How about the differences? These are easy. Although they don’t plan coordinated attacks, zombies hunt in groups. Even more so, when a zombie attacks, it lets loose grunts, shrieks or shrills that alert other zombies of a potential feeding frenzy. This is not on purpose, yet they have that capability to unleash devastating damage to an unsuspecting populace simply by their overt cries of hunger. Additionally, zombies do not give up easily. That’s not to say vampires do, but it is to say zombies will keep coming after a victim until its dead. Vampires can’t do that since as soon as the sun makes an appearance vampires have to flee. I’m not talking about the sparkling ones either.

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

What about vampires? Vampires have an innate sense of communication zombies lack. In fact, vampires talk. Zombies do not. Other than R in the movie Warm Bodies, who I would classify as an exception to the rule, zombies typically have a one-syllable vocabulary bordering on animal. A series of groans could mean they’re hungry. In a vampire’s case, however, there’s no denying they possess articulate speech, enunciated words and eloquent vocal patterns. Vampires can talk their way out of anything.

Which brings me to the what if scenario. What if zombies were to crossbreed with vampires? Would Horror fans call them vampbies or zombires? Would they melt in the sun or would they survive in any lighting condition? What about their hunger? Would they crave human meat or human blood?

The list goes on. How about their hunting patterns? Would they form packs and hunt in coordinated attack patterns or go off alone hoping what they come across would keep them alive for another day?

My opinion? I would like to see a crossbreed of pack-hunter able to change forms and go after humans not just for their blood. I would like to see a creature eloquent in speech but deadly in battle that neither a wooden stake or a bullet to the head could stop. I would like to see the ultimate Horror creature give humans a run for their lives in a city setting where strength and cunning would rule the genre.

But then I would have a problem. What would I call such a creature?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think about crossing a zombie and a vampire?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Who Would Win?

I’ve written a huge amount of material dedicated to zombies. Yeah, no kiddin’. I’ve also written several articles featuring vampires. Each monster has its advantages and disadvantages of being who they are. But picking a fight, who would win? I thought for today’s Monday Mayhem I’d write about zombies vs. vampires and have some fun speculating who would come out victorious in a full-tilt battle between these two creatures of Horror.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene in The Walking Dead
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene in The Walking Dead

What do we know?

Depending on who you talk to, zombies can either drag their limbs to their victim or dash in a fit of rage. Either way, you’re dead. No matter if you have a slow or fast zombie on your tail, you’ll soon have to stop for a breath. Or you can climb a tree and stay there until you fall to your ultimate demise. Zombies also come in packs. Therefore, even if you encounter slow zombies lurching about, more than likely you’ll have a horde after you. The awful thought about the whole genre is that they act as one unit. When one of them hears a noise the rest follow. They have have no sense of stopping once they’ve placed a marker on a victim.

Vampires function on another level. They’re cunning, choosing to lure and trap their victims with their wily use of stealth. If they mark a victim, they’ll follow until they’re sure no one could interfere with their nefarious plan. Once alone with their victim, they’ll hypnotize and lull them to do their bidding. Eventually, the victim will surrender their neck to the demon of darkness in a life-draining session.

Underworld
Underworld

Knowing what we know about zombies and vampires, who do you think would win a war between them?

I’ll play both sides of the battle for now.

Zombies are a powerful foe when fighting as part of a crowd. As individual creatures, not so much. A quick knife to the head; they’re gone. They’re not very smart either. When attacking their victims, they huddle around them in a frenzy in an attempt to get as much as they can from the meal, even kneeling with their backs turned while pillaging their spoil. Any opposing foe can quickly put these monsters out of their misery. But if the undead are united and see their goal, they’re unstoppable. Other than bullets and vehicles, zombies can rip through an army fairly quickly without much trouble.

Vampire strength, on the other hand, relies on the individual. The smarter a vampire, the more likelihood it would win against single zombies. The problem I see though, is vampires win by the spilling of their victim’s blood, an element zombies don’t need to stay alive. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Vampires are also very good with steering humans to do their will, something a braindead zombie would have a hard time doing, considering they don’t even know they’re dead.

So there you have it, a few points to keep in mind in this speculative argument. Verdict?

Don’t be mad at me, but I think zombies would win an all-out war against vampires. Two reasons: First, sheer numbers. If the whole of the human race turns zombie then vampires would have a tough time recruiting new candidates into their armies. Zombie viruses spread quicker than vampire replication. Second, zombies tear apart their victims. If vampires fall prey to zombies, there wouldn’t be anything left of them. Zombies can still survive without a body. World War Z attests to that. And if I were to add a third reason, I also would say if a war broke out during the day, vampires would burn up in the sun while the zombies sit and stare at their charred remains.

Of course, the age-old question is this: If a vampire bites a zombie will the zombie become a vampire? Or if the zombie bites the vampire will the vampire become a zombie?

These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Who do you think would win in a battle of zombie vs. vampire?