“They just keep coming,” says Abbott, who laughs at the inadvertent joke. It’s hard not to say funny things when talking about zombies, so she just goes with it. Abbott researches film and television genres, with a focus on horror.
Edinburgh University Press has just published her latest book, Undead Apocalypse: Vampires and Zombies in the 21st Century. She had already written widely about vampires and the surge of vampire stories in which the once-maligned creatures were portrayed as romantic or seductive.
More recently Abbott noticed a rise in zombie narratives, such as the hit TV series The Walking Dead (2010-present).
“People historically have seen vampires and zombies as very different, and they have very different fandoms,” Abbott explains. Yet there are more similarities than immediately meets the eye. In modern narratives, vampires started hanging about in groups; zombies, on the other hand, acquired a voice.
In the early aughts movies like the Resident Evil series and 28 Days Later (2002) exploded in popularity, and zombies, well, started to take over. Next came tongue-in-cheek action films such as Shaun of the Dead (2004), parodying Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Warm Bodies (2013). The sweet romance, filmed in Montreal, follows a zombie who falls in love with a woman after eating the brains of her boyfriend, absorbing his memories.
The stories are creative and lucrative and, as Abbott notes, “They feed off of each other.”