Detective and crime-related stories are one of the most popular genres of fiction. In literary form, detective novels are so numerous that publishing companies devote entire labels to the genre and release hundreds of entries per year. Detective/crime-related narratives have become a major part of television programming, with networks basing their entire primetime schedule around crime-related series.
Many theories have been proposed to explain the current, wide-reaching popularity of zombies. Do zombies represent our post 9/11 fear of a lack of a security? Are they a projection of an archaic survivalist instinct? Are they the embodiment of the individual’s alienation from family and society in an increasingly technological world?
Whatever the reason, popular interest in zombie plagues on the screen and in the pages of books is on the rise. Read on for a history of this classic monster.
Although zombies have a long history of appearances in religion and folklore, interest in them as villains in horror films is largely confined to the second half of the 20th century. The explosion in zombie popularity is based on a characterization established by a single film and the fact that the original characterization of the zombi in African folklore and religion as well as in earlier films is dramatically different from that of the popular characterization from the 1960s onward. To understand zombies in both their original context and in the role they have come to take in popular culture requires an understanding of two divergent traditions.
Rather than being based on an ancient legend, religious concept, or historical figure, the Creature's origin is solely literary in nature, being confined to one book. Despite this, public perception of him has changed greatly since the publication of the original novel, leading to wildly divergent styles and plotlines in various film adaptations.
The image of a cursed soul doomed to become a werewolf at the rising of a full moon is one of the most iconic concepts in horror. Unlike Dracula or the Mummy, the notion of a “wolf man” or “werewolf” was not cemented by one single actor, author, book, or horror series. It is instead a truly ancient concept dating back to the pre-literate sagas and legends told by Europeans centuries ago.
There are many monsters associated with Halloween. Besides Dracula and his kind, mummies are among the most fascinating of these. The mummies appearing in horror films and literature have many differences, but some things remain constant: they are cursed to remain alive forever. They also have a doomed romantic attraction to at least one mortal woman and a burning hatred of all other mortals that has endured for centuries.
America’s tendency to associate Dracula, the Wolf Man, "Frankenstein," and zombies of all stripes with Halloween is so embedded in our culture that we frequently forget that most of these creatures--or at least the versions of them we best remember--are relatively recent creations that are often less than two centuries old. This series explores the origins and evolution of Halloween’s and Hollywood's best-loved ghouls and beasts.
Many people find one of the most enjoyable aspects of Halloween to be the myriad creatures associated with it. Legendary villains like Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and zombies of all stripes emerge on or about October 31st in the forms of costumes, films, and books. America’s tendency to associate such creatures with Halloween is so embedded in our culture that we frequently forget that most of these creatures--or at least the versions of them we best remember--are relatively recent creations that are often less than two centuries old.