Zombies or Vampires?
I reported on this news story last week, on the discovery in Yorkshire, England of the island nation’s first “aberrant burials”; these latter, dating back to the Middle Ages, featured skeletons that displayed signs of postmortem mutilation and burning. That this was done is clearly indicative that the living feared these deceased might possibly come back from the dead to cause problems. The article I referenced last week attributed these depredations of the dead to a fear of the dead reanimating as VAMPIRES. This article here, however, covering the same news story, attributes the mutilation and burning of the bodies to the locals being afraid the deceased would come back as ZOMBIES. Which is it, then? Were they afraid of zombies or of vampires? It was both.
What we need to understand is, the concept of the vampire in that day and age was not all that dissimilar from our modern concept of the zombie. There was no Byron-esque sexiness to them, no suave demeanor. No high school girl would have wanted to date one of these vampires—if they’d had high schools back then, which they didn’t. The vampire of the Middle Ages was a decomposing, putrefied lout with mischief on his mind. Vampires didn’t become sexy and sophisticated until Bela Lugosi played Dracula on Broadway. (One can alternately give credit to John Polidori’s character, Ruthven, as the progenitor of the well-dressed and attractive vampire.) It is thus accurate to refer to these medieval revenants as “zombies” instead of vampires. The line separating the two was as porous and thin as a vampire-zombie’s jaundiced skin.