Our fascination with horror films reflects the anxiety of the middle classes—caught between proletariat zombies and vampire toffsby Sam Leith / November 18, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
Zombieland: the prole undead have strength in numbers
Which would you rather be bitten by: a vampire or a zombie? I only ask because we are up to our necks in the undead these days and both fates seem preferable to reading a column on—or, worse, watching—Strictly Come Dancing or the The X-Factor.
Zombieland is triumphing (deservedly) at the box office. Not far into the past lurk the films I Am Legend, 28 Weeks Later and Dawn of the Dead. With Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the undead are colonising literary history. Charlie Higson’s new book The Enemy is about zombies. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series has filled bookshops with vampires; HBO’s True Blood has done the same to television schedules. You can’t move for the undead blighters. But why now?
Being a Marxist for a minute, you notice that both vampires and zombies embody profound bourgeois anxieties—as you’d expect given their origins in the novel and orientalist travelogues, and their blossoming in mid 20th-century cinema.