On Taste vs. Money – a Baron H Reflection

Our resident vampire guest poster is back – giving us more of his view of the world following his thoughts on humor from a couple of months ago.

Hawaiian zombie

Greetings faithful readers,

As cold weather and low skies make the northern hemisphere a gloomier place, I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you that I am in Hawaii at the moment.  This isn’t, by any means a choice I would have made on my own.  I like cold, dark, gloom.  Ideal lighting for a midafternoon abduction and dismembering of a used car salesman.

Hawaii, on the other hand has little to recommend it.  After a few hundred years, even the wittiest of undead humor grows thin (“My last meal disagreed with me.  So I ate him.  Har Har.” Aaargh!).

And yet, here I am, trying to avoid direct sunlight in a place where the sun seems to be permanently smiling on beautiful tanned bodies.  Not a place where the undead walk joyfully.  And the humidity is just hell on zombies – they get moldier and riper.  As you can imagine, I am here by invitation of the Big Island’s royal ghosts.  I’m currently sitting deep inside a natural cave formed by a lava floe, and my wireless access is patchy (what does it say about the world when you can actually get internet acces in a CAVE?).

Being here has, once more, gotten me thinking about the relationship between money and taste – mainly because I’m surrounded by tourists who were able to afford the price of admission, so presumably have at least some disposable income.

Most people hear the word taste and equate it with money.  Good taste seems to be something that everyman is not allowed to have.  Now, while I will be the first to admit that it is in short supply, and would like nothing better than to say that yes, it is the exclusive domain of those who are well-to-do, I simply can’t do so with a good conscience (and before the moralists out there point it out, yes, I am a multiple mass murderer.  But it doesn’t affect my conscience, since they are only humans.  Lying about this or anything else, however, would be beneath me).

Now, while I’ve often been accused of being a snob about money, the truth is that I’m a snob about taste.  I would much rather spend my time with the ghost of a penniless maid who’s spent the intervening years haunting a library than even the most aristocratic vampire whose idea of elegance is a pimped Cadillac Escalade.  Hell, I’d rather spend time with the creature from the black lagoon than this particular aristocrat.  Earthy as the monster is, it is at least honest and unpretentious.

To those with even a modicum of taste, the above will seem obvious, a waste of a few hundred words.  But those of us who are here at the Aikanaka Reunion and Bloodbath, there is a single self-evident truth, a new first law of everything, if you will.  One that, when broken, will cause gods of the underworld to cry:  Zombies.  Flowered shirts.  NO.

I have seen things here that no undead was ever meant to see.



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An Early Zombie Walk

I walked with a Zombie still

We all know film zombies.  They are the gentlemen and ladies who shuffle along in the direction of the nearest warm body (especially if it’s one of the main characters in the film) slowly decomposing, asking for brains, making others like themselves and generally being antisocial.  We should probably blame the seventies for this image.

But zombies are a little more complex than that.  They’ve even found a certain amount of street-cred among intellectuals due to the fact that they are said to embody the fears and anxieties of consumerism – the mindless pursuit of a given objective – and the atomic era.  This viewpoint has caused them to be accepted by certain areas of academia and there are even articles in serious newspapers and even academia dealing with the phenomenon.  Seen this way, as a symbol and a metaphor, they become socially acceptable.

I personally believe that the whole “metaphor” thing was planted by George Romero in an attempt to boost their popularity.  They’re friggin’ zombies for crissakes – if you over-think them, you’re doing it wrong.

I walked with a Zombie

Which brings us neatly to the next installment in our review series about the 1001 films to see before you die (hit the 1001 movies tag for the rest of them).  Today’s subject is the 1943 horror vehicle I Walked With a Zombie.

What makes this one interesting isn’t only that the lack of symbolism is appealing (in 1943 the atomic age hadn’t started, and the discussion of the angst of consumerism by postmodernists was still awaiting a time when psychedelic drugs were more widely available), but also that it uses the actual zombie mythology from Haiti.

We generally try to avoid spoilers when we do these reviews, but in this one, there’s not that much to spoil.  Generic character A discovers that Generic character B has a strange disease (a probable source for the virus-zombies of later years?  Discuss in comments), and the villagers, driven by their Voodoo belief believe that B is a zombie, and as such needs to be put out of her misery.  Tension ensues.

What makes it worth tracking down is not the story itself, but the fact that it tells the tale of a zombie as it would have been told before we all “knew” what zombies were.  It’s a story of witchcraft and curses and spiritism, all washed down with rum (and the first performance of a Calypso song in an American movie).  Also, like the movie Cat People by the same director, it leaves the audience with the question of whether anything supernatural is actually happening – or whether it’s all just an unfortunate misunderstanding.

As modern horror, it’s not all that compelling – or even frightening for that matter – but if you know what’s under the hood, it does become interesting!

And, if you ever get dragged into a Zombie Walk (seriously, you should get new friends or a new boy/girlfriend)… at least you’ll be the single person who knows what real zombies are about!

zombie walk


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