Monday, January 07, 2013

Vampires, Zombies and Other Assorted Curses

Watching the trailers at the movie theater yesterday, I was struck by three in a row that easily fit into the "horror" genre. They were all about one or another of those things in the title of this post. I have never been a fan of that genre, no matter how it's presented. Whether it's the Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th or even the Twilight series, vampires and the like aren't interesting to me. I understand the metaphoric role they can play, but somehow or another I don't find even that little bit of redeeming value in those movies.

Which is why I am surprised at my reading the Justin Cronin novels The Passage and now The Twelve. They are post-apocalyptic thrillers, science-fiction with (yes) a horror twist. They have zombies and vampires, but aren't called that. I was "tricked" into reading it by a glowing review from my daughter and have found the books every bit as good as she said. Like most good sci-fi or post-apocalypse novels, there is interesting character development, cultural criticism, and a sense of the ability of humans to both mess things up royally- and work to fix them up again.

In many such novels, these included, the apocalypse is a human invention gone crazy. Even the personal apocalypse of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Frankenstein's Monster come from these all-too human tendencies. The popularity of such stories would indicate that we know this- and that most of us end up powerless over forces far beyond ourselves.

I don't know where Cronin's trilogy will take us. So far he has set up the basic story line in the first book, filled it in and, int he second book, set up the big final battle sure to come in book three. He has given us heroes and saints, monsters and sinners. They will clash and there will be blood. But somehow, in the midst of it, it appears to have some hope. Maybe that is what these books and movies are ultimately about, remembering hope.

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