Read Richard Matheson‘s 1950s short story, ‘Long Distance Call’, in a 2007 Penguin anthology entitled American Supernatural Tales. I’m always struggle to find ghost stories that are genuinely chilling or unsettling, and I think that Matheson does a nice job. “Hello?”

Stacey Abbott discusses the role that vampires and zombies play in 21st century culture
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Stacey Abbott, Undead Apocalypse: Vampires and Zombies in the 21st century (EUP, 2016)

Recent decades have brought an increasing preoccupation with the gothic figure of the vampire and the apocalyptic zombie. Rather than reading them in opposition to each other, Stacey Abbott traces the similar places they hold our collective imagination. Through a series of engaging and incisive readings encompassing film, television, literature, and pop culture of the 20th and early 21st century, Abbott examines our fascination with these monstrous creatures and the cultural anxieties that they reveal. Undead Apocalypse delineates a contemporary canon of vampire and zombie texts to shed new light on our present historical moment, and the ‘culture of apocalypse’ that surrounds us.

I caught up with Stacey Abbott to discuss her book, published by Edinburgh University Press in September 2016. She shares her personal interest in vampire and zombie texts; what she considers the classics of the genre; and her thoughts on the proliferation of apocalyptic narratives across graphic novels, video games, and cosplay. With critical precision and a fan’s enthusiasm for the subject, Abbott offers a guide to navigating the impending undead apocalypse. (more…)

A notable precursor to the contemporary zombie movie
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Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
Recently, I picked up a copy of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend at a second-hand bookstore. Matheson—whose high-concept man vs. truck short story Duel was to launch the career of Steven Spielberg—made a name for himself in the genres of science-fiction, horror and fantasy. His writing spans novels and short stories, alongside work in television and film. I Am Legend, itself no stranger to the silver screen, has been adapted no less than three times, and is, in some ways, a reflective document of post-war American culture. First published in 1954, it laid an early foundation for zombie movies such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) series, and critiques many of the same social and cultural concerns associated with these later films.

“a reflective document of post-war American culture”

The plot revolves around Robert Neville, the ‘last living man on earth’. He navigates a post-apocalyptic landscape where every other man, woman, and child has been converted into zombie-like nocturnal vampires. It is a cautionary tale, negotiating the long-term impact of violence and exploitation in the atomic age.   (more…)