Forget ‘Horror,’ Hollywood Has Invented a Whole New Genre

Vampires are the new heartthrobs, zombies are the new action villains

Last Updated: November 23, 2010 @ 9:22 AM

Vampires are from Venus, Zombies are from Mars

I missed posting something scary for Halloween, but that’s all right because vampires and zombies aren’t just for Oct. 31 anymore.

As Hollywood continues to delve into the realms of geekiness for material it’s time to expand our genre labels. You can’t call a vampire project “horror” anymore. There are tons of vampires in "Twilight," but those movies terrify no one other than hardcore feminists and Kristen Stewart haters.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are two terms producers may want to learn. These categories have been red hot in publishing for the last decade and show no signs of letting up. Hollywood’s already tapped the genre for both the "Twilight" and "True Blood" franchises, and more are sure to follow in the coming years.

There’s some evidence that Hollywood may have originated the genre or at least had a hand in its development. When Joss Whedon’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" first premiered in the late '90s, no one knew how to categorize it. Today "Buffy" would fit perfectly next to the latest bestseller by Sherrilynn Kenyon or Christopher Moore.

The same goes for the "Underworld" movies. Maybe after Whedon’s done with "The Avengers," Hollywood should have him tackle Anita Blake. (Rr how about his own creation, Buffy?)

While girls may be flocking to Urban Fantasy, boys have been flocking to zombie movies, films, books and videogames. Sorry if that offends any male "True Blood" or female "Walking Dead" fans, but on closer inspection the rise of the zombie genre certainly seems to be a male reaction to the Urban Fantasy craze.

Look at last year’s "Zombieland" hit. There were some scares, but mostly this was an action-packed thrill ride. It was also a coming-of-age road movie with Jesse Eisenberg learning from Woody Harrelson how to be a man and slaughter the undead. They usually present a world devoid of normal rules and norms, a place where the inner destructive adolescent isn’t just encouraged, it may also be life saving.

A lot of other blogs have speculated as to why fast moving zombies have replaced slow moving ones. I think it’s because fast moving zombies give you a faster, more adrenalized action scene.

Zombie and vampire films have been some of the most consistently successful “horror” movies in the last few years. There is a reason the two have sprung up side by side. It’s the same reason why there is more teen angst than blood sucking in "Twlight" and why there’s more undead ass kicking than terror in "Zombieland."

It’s because in their unbeating hearts they have stopped being horror films. Vampires are the new heartthrobs. Zombies are the new action villains.

Michael Lee is a novel writer, blogger and freelance journalist living in L.A. He's been a judge for the prestigious PAGE Awards and blogs about his two biggest passions, screenwriting and food, at Screenwriting Foxhole and To Cook and Eat in L.A., respectively. Lee is also a co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Screenwriting" and has just published his first novel, "My Frankenstein."