When news broke earlier this month that NBC had finally jumped on this latest installment of the vampire bandwagon, I died a little inside. The studio, now synonymous with kicking Conan to the curb and giving David Hasselhoff a career boost as a human clap-o-meter, has purchased spec script Zombies Vs. Vampires, written by Jake In Progress creator/producer Austin Winsberg. Pegged as a “fun buddy cop procedural,” the series explores a world where vampires make great (yet secret) cops and in which zombies are controllable with medication. According to Deadline, we can expect the show to chronicle the adventures of two cops (one bloodsucking) assigned to manage zombie crime. Ack.
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Sometimes, I can almost picture studio executives sitting in their offices, staring out at the Team Edward t-shirts on every 14-year-old girl in town and exchanging vacant looks until that Aha! moment: “Vampires. We should make a show about vampires.” “Ooh. And Zombies. Zombies are so hot right now.” Then, much to our displeasure, we’re bombarded with promotion for a genre-maiming that tempts us to resent even those first great stories that made us love the genre in the first place. It’s not that Vampires vs. Zombies is sure to be a low point in television history, it’s that it takes three popularized entertainment trends – vampires, zombies, cop dramas – and turn them into formulaic TV isms. We scoff at the very idea of pitting monster against monster because generally, it requires no strike of genius (or originality) to realize that Sharktopus vs. Dinoshark might attract a flock of viewers searching for the latest lowbrow orgy of creatures. It’s a little insulting.
As a horror fan with a soft spot for zombies, I see this latest rise of the undead into trendiness as a chance to showcase the work of those who have become the new leaders of the genre: Max Brooks, Robert Kirkman or hell, even Seth Grahame-Smith, not a feeding frenzy for studio executives and publishing houses who couldn’t explain to you what it is they find appealing about zombie lore other than a lame gag and a paycheck. Thing is, the vampires vs. zombies notion isn’t as awful as I originally thought. After you run the dozens of ways NBC is sure to desecrate on the idea through your mind, take it to an elevated level. At the end of the world, what will stick around? Monsters. Imagine the possibilities and things will begin to get interesting, I promise. If you strip away the made-for-TV mediocrity, monster vs. monster does still hold an appeal for horror fans.
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In 2006, comic guys Bobby and Chris Crosby created Last Blood, a webcomic that tells the story of the last group of human survivors during the zombie apocalypse, and the vampires who protect them. In true Romero fashion, a large-scale zombie attack prompts panic and the selfish nature of humanity, but in this recipe, add vampires and stir well. While the vamps seek to protect humans as a food source, the survivors come around quickly to the idea of acting as livestock so long as they’re offered protection. Last Blood‘s peculiar Armageddon co-op is one that makes for great bar conversation (trust me), without dumbing down an entire genre as a Tuesday night antidote to AMC’s latest zombie hit. All you vampire cop fans can go Netflix Angel.