The traditional zombie is a mindless creature that knows nothing except an insatiable craving for human flesh. Perhaps a virus or chemical destroyed key brain cells, the ones that control reason and decision-making abilities. Perhaps a robotic implant causes a dead body to get up and attack. Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series features a killer virus that turns the victim’s skin gray. He wakes up from the dead and goes after humans. I read all the books in the series and loved them. Now I’m contemplating books from other authors.
Stephen King knows how to turn the most ordinary things into monsters. If not a monster, it becomes a tool. The beloved balloons I can’t resist turn into a monster’s tool under the influence of King in his story It. Pennywise the clown uses balloons to entice children to the graveyard.
When I was younger, I thrived on the Hammer films, but now, vampires are portrayed as another race of people with good and bad in them. This is good because the old-time vampire meets human-vampire drinks his blood tales have gotten ancient. Woe betide the person who crosses a villain vampire. He’s got fangs, strength, and brains to go with his blood lust. Books featuring great vampire tales include Passion in the Blood and Bloodstorm.
Some people return from the dead to terrorize the living, as in City of Brotherly Death and Blue Plate Special. They might look like shambling zombies, but they know full well what they’re doing and why. They’ve got scores to settle with people who didn’t treat them right. These zombies—a better term would be revenants—are particularly dangerous because they crave flesh and blood, and they’re able to plot and scheme to get it.
The human monsters (Reapers) in Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series frightened me a lot more than the zombies did. Like the traditional beasts, they delight in the thrill of the kill. What’s more, they can scheme, use sophisticated weapons, and employ muscle power to wax people they consider liabilities. A love triangle might incite a psychotic human killer, as in JoAnna Senger’s Betrothal, Betrayal, and Blood. The Mob breeds and trains assassins who thrive on the kill, especially in Tom Johnson’s The Spider’s Web and Tales of Masks & Mayhem V4.
The vampire, revenant, and zombie are monsters to be reckoned with, but humans can be the most dangerous killers of all.
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I write about a lot of monsters, some I have even created. But you are so correct, there is nothing more evil than man. Spend time with a true sociopath and you will understand; look at the headlines and you will know.
So true. Especially when you read about the terrorists and serial killers ~ Barbara
Monsters reflect social trends and society’s fears. From the sexual undercurrent of Victorian era Dracula (reborn in modern Goth culture) to today’s zombies (survival in an age of apocalyptic uncertainty) and the human demons of such films as Saw and Hostel (the age of cruelty we live in, where financial predators and terrorists inflict cold-hearted punishment on the innocent and downtrodden.)
Good point. This explains in a way why zombie tales are so popular. ~ Barbara
Great observations I like it when writers reinvent monsters as well.
Thank you. I always look for a unique take on the monsters for the NTD magazine. 🙂
World War Z (the book, of course) is AMAZING. I totally recommend it. And WARM BODIES is also en excellent and very original take on zombies.
Thanks for the tip. I’d like to check out Warm Bodies. 🙂
I too grew up on the Hammer films. Out of them also came Disco Evil and Ghost Dance. NTD books of vampirism, ghosts and lycanthropy.
And those tales enjoyed great reviews, too. 🙂
I got a lot of zombie submissions for NTD, and I notice that each author brings something different to the table. 🙂
Ah, you’re so right: Man is really the most dangerous monster of all… I still prefer Vampire, though (non-sparkly, hungry and feral, of course).
I used to prefer vampire, but my favorite lately has been the mummies and zombies. 🙂
I’ve been reading about zombies for six weeks now. I would have thought it would be old by this point, but each author brings to the prose something of his individual personality.