A friend asked the other day about the popularity of stories/movies featuring zombies and vampires and whether there was any correlation between the two, since they both revolve around an undead being. We had a pretty good discussion on the topic and I’ve thought some more about the particulars.
For me the only correlation is that in most stories the zombie and the vampire are both former humans who, through some event, have undergone a change. Though the “event” is often violent in both cases, the outcome is decidedly different.
Given a choice, I would bet that most would prefer the vampire route. The modern vampire incarnation has relatively few downsides, the exception being the no daytime playtime rule. The zombie experience, however, is pretty much all downside, the only saving grace being that there’s no mind left to mind.
The vampire is portrayed as an elite evolution, usually an outsider careful to hide his true form while picking and choosing victims. The zombie, on the other hand, has little choice but to thrash about, having devolved into mindless pursuit in the grip of hunger.
Since the basis for each genre comes from different parts of the world, the vampire from Europe and the zombie from Africa by way of the Caribbean, it’s not surprising that there are vast differences in the particular points to which, through tradition, each adhere.