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Behind the Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco



Before the year 2000, zombies weren’t a sprinkle in the genre fiction fodder. Although, in 1986 there were two: Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead in the West and Brian Lumley’s Ship of Dreams that were quite successful, but most horror genres novels and movies were about vampires.

The first decade of this millennium has been called the “Golden Age” for the zombie fiction genre. Presently, in books and movies zombies are top banana when it comes to the supernatural entities in genre fiction. During this time there were virtually hundreds of extraordinary zombie books and movies released.

Some think that all genre fiction are very similar. Well, that isn’t so. Zombies are a phenomenal sensation of today’s younger generation. The Walking Dead Internet series proves that beyond a doubt and that these flesh eating grotesque looking psyches just might be around for a long time.

This craze follows the Vampire Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, the House of Night collection by P. C. Cost, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward to name the most popular ones.

Some psychologist have set forth opinions proclaiming that the vampire and zombie manias relate to the overwhelming sense of frustration amongst today’s younger society. Why? Because this generation blames their parents and grandparents for not giving them a Utopian world instead of a war torn world.

Their opinions could also tell of an underlying fear of lawlessness and a growing sense of powerlessness in regards to a certain elite section of our society that is anarchic and is ruled by terrorist groups and gangs. Is it possible these future parents see or possible feel a decline and the demise of the world around them? Are zombie novels and films the vehicle to an unconscious, outward manifestation of the hidden mass psychology of the late 20th Century?

Maybe the zombie apocalypse-style fiction has pushed aside the fright of the vampires, werewolves and mummies. And then again it might be the foretelling of a Ragnarok (end of an era). Ragnarok is a word used in a 13th Century Norse mythology Prose Edda poem by Snorri Sturluson.

Human’s love of horror dates back to the beginning of man, but the real question is why?

Answer: The hormonal reaction a person gets when exposed to a threat or crisis can motivate an adrenaline rush and it seems that humans are hard-wired to be drawn to this type of feeling. On a psychological level there is an appeal to experience our hearts to beat a bit faster, breathe deeper, perspire and even get a few butterflies in the pit of our stomachs.

Are horror films a reflection of the minds Societal Fears? A step back into Hollywood’s cycle of horror films reveals vampires of the 1920s silent films, Frankenstein, Wolf man, and Dracula of the 30s and 40s, Mutant Monsters of the 50s, Psycho and the Birds in the 60s, Chain Saw Massacre in the 70s, Freddie and Jason in the 80s into the 90s, and then the Golden Age of the Walking Dead (Zombies) beginning in the 21st Century.

One thing is for certain the Zombie Genre is unique to the culture of present times and will play no small part in the future studies of film historians.

Finally, in the words of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle. “Where there is no imagination—there is no horror.” So, create and write something terrifying!


Now, go softly into the night. mgf

Comments always welcome

2015 Past Columns