Vampires and Zombies – The Group

dracula-1931

Crew Of Light is not mentioned in DRACULA by Bram Stoker.  The phrase was used by critic, Christopher Craft, in his study, KISS ME WITH THOSE RED LIPS.   It fits so perfectly, academics and critics have attributed the title to Stoker.  In Hammer movies, Van Helsing is alone and defiant but only because it suited the personality of the haunted actor.  Take on vampires alone and you will become a vampire.  The same happens with zombies.  Want to know why friends are important?  Watch Buffy.  Even before the vampires arrive the neighbourhood sucks.  Afterwards, everyone either becomes sensitive and heroic or a vampire.   Americans do not sacrifice individualism easily, so the hero has remote moments and needs personal resolve but the group is important.  Buffy has friends and worries if they can stay loyal to someone with superior powers.  In the Crew Of Light relationships are simpler.  The aristocrats are simply fine chaps.  Stoker insists that group approval and integration will make men of them all including his new woman, Mina.  When their antagonist, Dracula, is killed, the members of the group return to society and their families.   Mina abandons being a new woman and breeds.

Perhaps fighting vampires and zombies is what good men and women do when there are no wars to occupy the energetic.   Enemies and comrades, it is either one or the other.   The First World War arrived after the publication of DRACULA.  The success of the book was already fading.  Vampires became a cultural force after movies arrived, and after the War had ended.  PARADE’S END is the best British First World War novel.  The author, Ford Madox Ford, understood well the destructive capability of the group.   We blame individual villains like Stalin and Hitler but war and genocide are invariably decided by a committee. Ford argued that the group always provides identity, helps us distinguish comrades from enemies, which was why it was essential to fight a war.  But he also identified a tragedy other than carnage.  If the group provides identity, it dissipates authenticity and, worse again, it allows those in the group, because of their superior identity, to castigate the authentic and decent.  Christopher Tietjens is the authentic hero of PARADE’S END.  Unable to identify with the group he has nothing but the principles that are his aristocratic inheritance.  He is a gentleman and something that all the hearty comrades of battle are not.  There may be wisdom in the crowd, although the recent record of neo-conservatism suggests not, but groups are dangerous.  They are required to prevail against vampires and zombies but the damage to the decent is high.  Neither do those who need the group escape free of harm.  In DRACULA, Jonathan insists that his wife Mina is deliriously happy in her new role as mother and subservient wife.  But few readers are convinced.  Most battles eventually end, and the group perishes. Tietjens will not speak to you ever again.  Zombies have to be slaughtered but we should be wary.

 

Howard Jackson is currently working on ZOMBIE BITES, which is the sequel anthology to DRACULA’S MIDNIGHT SNACKS.

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