Sucking Blood, Eating Brains: International Love…of Monsters – Lauren Tormey

Do you have a favorite monster? Sucking Blood, Eating Brains- Vampires and Zombies as Cultural Products; School of Social and Political Science; Photograph by Arek DakessianPhoto by Arek Dakessian

The world is currently experiencing a vampire/zombie craze, and the School of Social and Political Science’s Dr. Naomi Haynes had students explore this monster infatuation in Wednesday’s Sucking Blood, Eating Brains: Vampires and Zombies as Cultural Products.We started off by exploring what constitutes a vampire or zombie, everything from the fact that zombies feed on humans, to the idea that vampires sparkle—a Twilight reference I think we were all expecting. We then went on to watch a bunch of film clips, both zombie and vampire films from all around the world—America to Nigeria, Cuba to Malaysia. My favourite clips were from the Nigerian film ‘Witchdoctor of the Living Dead’ and the Ghanaian film ‘Final Account’. I had never seen any African cinema, so it was quite enlightening to see how they represent this global monster fascination in film.

Although the cinematic quality and techniques of these films may be different, this genre seems to lend some universal plot points everyone makes use of, and all audiences could probably agree that as scary as the topic may be, it can get a bit silly, too. As a side note, Naomi also informed us that African films tend to rely only on images rather than dialogue to tell their stories, which is why an average film can be about six hours long!

After the clips, we discussed different points on vampires/zombies: why monsters are popular all over the world, what questions they bring forward, even how they incorporate into our discussions on economics and politics, such as the term zombie capitalism.

Hopefully, this innovative learning event can become an everyday learning event as Naomi explained at the beginning of the session that she would like to create a class on monsters for the Anthropology department. The attendees of the event surely agreed with this, and even though Anthropology is not my department, a monster class definitely gets my vote!

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