As far as I am concerned, there is no room for debate, vampires > zombies hands down. I mean really, which would you rather be if you were undead? Nobody, I mean nobody wants to be a zombie, but there are folks who beg to be made a vampire. Creepy, decaying dead guy look versus the sophisticated, creature of the night. Am I right, or am I right?
When it comes to the world of the undead there are basically two categories: vampires and zombies. While that may seem like a simple dichotomy, a comparison between the two is complicated by exactly what kind of vamps and zombies one is talking about.
As a whole, the vampire genre is relatively homogenous, but there are some very striking differences on a few key points depending on which variety of vampire you are considering.
On the one hand, we have Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, forever made iconic by Bela Lugosi. Reclusive, mysterious, terrifying. Dracula lived in a land far, far away, terrorizing the inhabitants of the local villages. But, his entrance into our own backyard made him even more frightening. A creature of the night, he was able to transform himself into a bat as needed. He did not possess any unnatural strength. Instead, his power came from his ability to mesmerize and hypnotize his victims with his piercing eyes and seductive voice. Dracula was timeless and ageless, but he was a loner of sorts, living only with his select few ‘brides’.
A close cousin to Dracula would be Anne Rice’s Louis and Lestat in Interview With a Vampire. Building on the themes of Dracula, Rice’s vampires share the same darkness and historical context. Ageless and timeless, these vampires wreaked havoc leaving the dead in their wake. However, in contrast to Dracula, Louis and Lestat were loosely a part of a much larger vampire community. And while Dracula killed and fed with impunity, many of these vampires were tortured souls, aware of their curse and damnation in the darkness.
The True Blood vampires take the genre mainstream. Here we have vampires who have gone public, drink synthetic blood and become members of society at large. They have retractable fangs and can appear relatively normal. They share Dracula’s ability to glamor humans, and in their case they can actually erase memories. These are hip vamps who are the object of both envy and derision. Groupies follow them around and donate their blood, while religious zealots seek their destruction. One notable characteristic of these vamps is their unusual strength and speed. These traits become more common with later vampire groups and stray from the historical roots.
The vampires on Buffy the Vampire Slayer are very different. These vamps appear as normal humans until they put on their disfigured vampire face. Unlike Count Dracula, Anne Rice’s Lestat or the True Blood vamps, these vamps are unsophisticated and stupid. They are portrayed as mindless brutes, but with great strength. There is nothing ‘cool’ about these vampires. They aren’t creatures of stealth and wealth, but rather they are animals of the basest nature. They are a departure from the world of the vampire aristocracy.
And then we have the Twilight Vampires, a different breed altogether. These vampires can walk in the daylight (although they shimmer), and they can possess special individual gifts. Some of these vampires are “good” vamps and want to peacefully co-exist by being “vegetarians”, that is, not feeding on humans, but animals. They have human emotions and human functions. They love, they hate and oddly enough, they mate.
One thing that stays fairly consistent is how a vampire is “made”. To make a vampire, a current vampire must feed on you, and drain you, and then have you drink their blood.
When it comes to zombies, there aren’t as many varieties, but nevertheless, they do have some differences. But honestly, a zombie is pretty much a zombie and there isn’t much more you can do with them. They have zero personality and zero life.
We start with the Night of the Living Dead zombies. These zombies are frightening, yes, but they are incredibly stupid and slow. Did I mention they were slow. That’s the thing about zombies, they don’t overtake you, they overwhelm you, with sheer numbers. One zombie? No problem, just run away or dance around and keep moving, they will never catch you. But that’s the problem. There is never just one zombie. They are everywhere. They just keep coming and coming. Relentless. Like the Energizer Bunny. They never stop, they never tire, they never rest, they never sleep, they never give up.
In contrast, we have the Resident Evil zombies. These zombies are virtually the same as Night of the Living Dead variety, only they are more disfigured and creepier (better makeup and special effects). They do move a little quicker, but they still have their strength in numbers. There are a couple of unique things about Resident Evil zombies though. First, they have some super zombies. Either they have amazing strength or something like multiple jaws/teeth/feelers/etc. And then there are the zombie animals, such as the zombie dobermans and other creatures (and even zombie crows). No vampire equivalent of that.
For zombies, making another zombie is simple… just bite someone and they are infected. How you escape after one bite is your problem, cause they don’t stop with one bite, they want to eat you, that is, cannibalize you. They have no goal of making new zombies, that is just a by-product of what they do. Which makes one wonder, why do they eat human bodies, but don’t eat each other? Hmmmm.
Zombies are disfigured and creepy looking. Their decaying bodies are enough to create panic and mayhem in the streets. Vampires, on the other hand, are usually portrayed as beautiful or handsome creatures of the night. They have wealth, power and position. Of course both will kill you and enjoy it. One thing that needs to be noted as well is the life expectancy of the undead, if there is such a thing. Vampires live for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. From what I can tell, zombies don’t get to hang around that long because they aren’t able to adjust to their surroundings.
So, the bottom line here folks is… if you’ve gotta join the ranks of the undead, my vote goes for vampire over zombie.