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Thanks to all our fans for an awesome season!!!!!!!! without you, there is no us! unfortunately, A Very Scary Xmas has been postponed. It will return in 2017! plans are already underway and Trilogy of Fear, Kill the LIght, Family Days, Final Night, The artist hanger project, Dead by Dawn & a very scary xmas will be back, bigger and better than ever! start counting the days! we dare you!

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Vampires: Immortal Pop Culture Icons

 

Mesopotamian Vampires, also called Ekimmu

No matter what Twilight says, vampires are some of the scariest creatures to grace pop culture and color our imaginations. Vampirism as an idea has existed for hundreds of years and dates back to the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans. However, the vampires we know today come from a far more recent source: 18th-century Europe. In fiction, poetry and short stories such as John William Polidori’s The Vampyre shared stories of vampires created from the souls of evil beings or being bitten by an existing vampire. To their credit, these legends became so pervasive that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and public executions of people accused of being vampires.

As time went on, vampires became more fearsome with the addition of fangs, vulnerability to sunlight, and transforming into bats. No depiction of vampires in fiction has been as influential as Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. Its portrayal of vampirism as a contagious disease struck a chord in Victorian Europe where tuberculosis and syphilis ran rampant. Eventually, the vampire described in Stoker’s work dominated folklore and created the modern vampire we now know.

In 1927, Dracula was first brought to life on Broadway by Bela Lugosi’s performance and it became an instant success. With those three simple drawn-out words, “I am…Dracula”, coupled with Lugosi’s transformation from vampire to bat and back, a legend was born. This legend was soon immortalized on the big screen as Lugosi reprised his role in the 1931 film by the same name and now, almost every vampire legend owes some of it’s life to Dracula.

Alongside of these, an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula called Nosferatu was released. Various names and other details were changed: “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”, but the story remained largely the same. As a silent film, the physical performances were incredible. With his a gaunt face and impossibly long, taloned fingers, slinking around like something out your worst nightmare, this vampire was a monster without equal.

From there, vampires exploded into popular culture. Dracula was remade and followed by seven film sequels, and hundreds of vampire films followed. With each film, the vampire became scarier in new ways. These diverse characters include an African Count in Blacula, immortal biker boys who “never grew up” in The Lost Boys, and a half-man, half-vampire who protects the human race from the undead who roam the night in Blade and Blade II. In 30 Days of Night, vampires overrun an Alaskan town where they can escape the sun and prey on the townspeople and in From Dusk Till Dawn, two bank robbers seeking shelter stumble into a bar where everyone from the bartenders to the house band become blood-hungry vampires at a moment’s notice.

Literature has also extensively explored the world of vampires. In Anne Rice’s break-out novel Interview With a Vampire, a reporter sat down with a 200 year-old vampire to get his story. This book and her others have gone on to sell nearly 100 million copies. One of the modern masters of horror, Stephen King, also had a place for vampires throughout his fictional multiverse in the novels Salem’s Lot, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Property of The WB Network, United Paramount Network (UPN), Mutant Enemy Inc., and 20th Century Fox.

Vampires have also had an impact on the small screen. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was more a lifestyle than just a TV series. A young cheerleader, thrown into being a vampire slayer, has to fight against soulless, undead demons that had possessed human corpses and fed on human blood. In the long-running HBO’s True Blood, a small town waitress falls in love with a vampire after the invention of a synthetic blood allows vampires to “come out of the coffin” and mingle with humans.

Throughout the decades, vampires have interacted with humans in hundreds of ways, from feeding on them to falling in love with them. However, what hasn’t changed is that they fascinate us by horrifying us. Just as the people living in 18th century England feared, vampires could be walking among the living, waiting to feed on an unsuspecting victim without us ever noticing their presence and perhaps that is the most terrifying thought of all.

Zombies: From Night of the Living Dead to The Walking Dead

The first recorded use of the word “zombie” was in 1819 in a history of Brazil by the poet Robert Southey. The word has African, Creole, and Haitian roots and was originally used to refer to being who had been reanimated through a voodoo ritual. Soon, the idea of a zombie was introduced into popular culture. They began to appear in books and stories as mindless thralls resurrected to serve evil masters. However, at the end of the twentieth century, a new version of the zombie began to emerge. This zombie was different from its predecessors as it didn’t root itself in Haitian folklore. And where did this zombie come from? From George A. Romero’s cult-classic film Night of the Living Dead. Even though the word zombie is not used within the film, fans quickly came to see the shuffling, reanimated, flesh-eating cannibals as the zombies we know and love today.

Night of the Living Dead – 1968 by George Romero

Gradually, zombies stopped being reanimated through magic and voodoo and started to become the result of scientific anomalies and unknown viruses. A very early example of this is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This classic piece of literature became a jumping-off point for the idea of science creating a zombie instead of magic. Night of the Living Dead went on to become the first of six …of the Dead films: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Each film continued to track the progression of the living dead in the United States and humanity’s desperate attempt to stop it.

From there, zombies became a staple of the horror genre. From virus outbreaks to infection via bite, the idea of a zombie apocalypse terrified viewers. In the 1980’s, zombies were overrunning popular culture.  However, this meant that zombies became a little more familiar and little less scary. Even Michael Jackson jumped on board with the “Thriller” video full of dancing zombies. Soon, we thought zombies were more funny than scary and they began to disappear from horror. But then zombies came back.

Zombie Aftermath – When zombies come – be ready!

In 2004, Shaun of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead were released and brought with them the fast zombie. Gone was the slow, rambling zombie. Replaced by sprinting monsters seeking brains, zombies became terrifying once again. After these films, comedies kept exploring this new zombie: Zombieland, released in 2009, featured high-speed zombies killing and being killed in increasingly violent ways.

Then, out of this increasingly violent and terrifying zombie landscape came The Walking Dead. Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead instantly became a cultural phenomenon. The zombies in this show, referred to as “walkers” are shambling, brain-crazed zombies following the sound of their next meal. This show has become incredibly popular for its terrifying monsters, white-knuckle tension, and compelling storylines.

Now, zombie films are being released so frequently that they have become a separate sub-genre of horror films. In 2014 alone, there were fifty-five separate zombie movies made and released and The Walking Dead has the highest total viewership of any series in cable television history. To say the least, zombies (brain eating and all) have been welcomed into our culture as a staple as horror and entertainment that will still be terrifying us for decades to come.

Thanks again for a great 2016! See you soon!

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