The Undead Camps (Part 1) – [originally posted at The Ephemeral Online, May 17 2008]

[So – this is from an unfinished blog post I did while we were in rehearsals for FIST IN THE POCKET’s “WASHING MACHINE” last summer – a show that features a very distraught, pubescent boy who has a strangely intense affinity for gory zombie flicks. (Although – come to think of it – what pubescent boy doesn’t have a strangely intense affinity for gory zombie flicks? Hell – affinity for gory anything.) I was trying to blog about a subject from the perspective of the characters from the play on one page – and then blog from the perspective of me on another page. AND THEN THE DEMANDS OF THE ACTUAL SHOW ITSELF GOT IN THE WAY! Continuing to clarify what the characters were saying on stage ultimately trumped what they might say or do in a blog. So, it didn’t really go anywhere all that effective.

But I was rather proud of some of the ideas that were coming out of this little ‘poetic wax’ – and was reminded of it after watching “ZOMBIELAND” the other night. Also – Time Magazine has got a great little review of the film that explores some interesting ideas – and I’ll explore some of those in the next post – Part 2]

“The Undead Camps (Part 1)
I was informed two nights ago that there is a war of attrition quietly raging between two camps in this country. It’s a war being raged far and away that is practically imperceptible to beings as mortal as you and I. But, if you quiet your mind and listen to the fluttering whispers of internet correspondence, you may find yourself intercepting this relentless conflagration.

This war of attrition is being fought between Zombie fans and Vampire fans.

vampireszombies

Perhaps some context is in order.

Two nights ago, I finally, finally sat down to watch George Romero’s “Land Of The Dead” with Kirsten. How could I – such a notorious horror movie fan (certainly a fan of Romero’s early Zombie flicks) have waited three years to finally sit down and catch this cinematic continuation of such a landmark saga?

land_of_the_dead_cover

One factor was that 2005 was the year I moved to New York City. Late May to June was spent relocating 1500 miles. Consequently, every fanboy flick following “Revenge Of The Sith” (which I managed to catch days before my train left Dallas’ Union Station) was put on the fanboy back burner.

But, the main factor – to be honest – was that I found the previous installment to be rather lackluster.

Actually, I recant that.

It sucked.

However, like any long-running series, there are ups and downs in quality and temperament. So, giving Romero the benefit of the geek doubt, I settled in to watch Simon Baker and John Leguizamo blast poetic at walking, decaying corpses.

In terms of the film – it’s a marked improvement over “Day Of The Dead”. It’s an interesting shift in tone from “Dawn Of The Dead” (still the best of the later films). Less focused on satire and more focused on straight-up horror allegory.

But, that’s not why we’re here. There’s a war of attrition that needs to be addressed.

Zombie fans and Vampire fans have fallen into a ferocious diatribe of late. These two Undead Camps seem to be vying for supremacy.

And what else would I think to call a struggle between two separate ideologies of the Undead – mythologies that told of beings that feasted on the blood and flesh of the living; grotesquely immortal creatures that wore down and tore away the souls of fragile, mortal beings – what else would I think to call it but a war of attrition?

It’s not a new war. It’s a symptom of living in a representative democracy that operates with a two party system. How many arguments have we all been in that pitted us against someone with radically opposing viewpoints? Elvis vs. The Beatles. DC Comics vs. Marvel. Wine vs. Beer. Hilary vs. Obama. The Simpsons vs. Family Guy. It’s inevitable. We feel the need to fall into one specific party – one specific school of thought – and defend it aggressively against the other.

Zombies vs. Vampires.

They’re essentially both examinations of the Undead motif found throughout mythology.

The primary difference between the two approaches seems to be that of class.

I have only a vague idea of what the dialectic between the two Undead Camps looks like. I must admit that I haven’t had time to research the two sides’ manifestos. However, looking at where the myths come from and how they’ve been approached throughout the last number of years – there does seem to be an marked difference in what demographic they seem to be targeting – and the demographic they have been influenced by.

vampires-lugosi

Vampires are much more attractive.

Vampires developed from legends and folklore throughout the Slavic world. There’s a very pronounced European nobility about the suave elegance of vampires. Even a creature like Nosferatu, ugly with a capital UGLY, had a certain elegance in the way he was dressed and the way he performed. He moved with feline stealth. He crept with a dignity. Vampires are ladies and gentlemen of the night. They devour their victims with a sexualized energy that is unsettling and compelling all at once.

Zombies

Zombies are more primal.

The zombie mythos came to America through the legends of Voodoo. It’s Afro-Cuban and Creole in nature. It’s a grittier, harder-edged coloring. It’s a world of beasts with no complex reasoning. They can’t be suave because they only know base instincts. They move rhythmically – as if they might be accompanied by the wild, angular percussion of tribal drums. They feed on the flesh of the living. The feed on the flesh of other zombies. They’re virtually indestructible.
And they’re poor, enslaved by their crippled instincts. They can’t be regal – Vladimir the Impaler or Count Dracula – they can only be decrepit monstrosities.

zombi_4

I had a college teacher that would always say that everything is political. A love poem may, on the surface, appear to simply be a meditation on something as seemingly harmless as courtly amour or unrequited adoration. However, if you dig a little deeper, you inevitably find – consciously or subconsciously – a political agenda. At the very least, you find a political position.

In a world as seemingly escapist as the zombie or vampire movie – is there some kind of class war being fought.

Are vampire fans somehow elitist? Are zombie fans somehow more blue-collar?

To be continued…

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~ by saturdaysinthedark on November 11, 2009.

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