Sense of Wonder: Virulent vampire zombie soldiers

Variety informs us that New Regency has picked up the film rights to Virulents, a graphic novel about soldiers in Afghanistan who encounter vampire-zombies. The obscure Virgin Comics title (I couldn’t't find it on Amazon.com) made its debut this February; you can find its rather threadbare webpage here.

The film version will be scripted by John Cox. John Moore, who directed the unnecessary remake of The Omen, will direct and co-produce. Gothan Chopra and Sharad Devarajan of Virgin Comics will be on board to co-produce the film, along with Seth Jarret.

Says Chopra, in lingo that shows his aptitude for Hollywood stylings, Virulents is “set in a part of the world that has a long history of myth and mystery, and it’s going to rock.”

Well okay, but here’s my question: What’s the deal with war-horror hybrid movies? 2002’s Dog Soldiers showed what happens when some British grunts on training maneuvers ran into a pack of werewolves. 2006 gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginningin which a couple of Vietnam draftees avoid the horrors of war when the encounter the equally lethal horrors of Leatherface and family. And earlier this year we had The Hills Have Eyes 2, wherein a troop of soldiers training for deployment in Afghanistan encountered the equally lethal horrors of radioactive mutants in the desert. With Virulents, it sounds as though we’re finally getting into the thick of battle, mixing monsters with more conventional battle mayhem.

The earlier films had an interesting idea (whatever their ultimate merit), which was taking conventional genre horror theatrics and placing them in a context that forced the viewer to consider the similarity to the all-too-real horror of war. The disturbing message seemed to be: you make think you’re safe at home, but you don’t have to go to foreign lands to encounter death and destruction – there’s plenty to be had in your own back yard. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, this subtext could not fail to deliver a chill.

But putting the monsters actually on the battlefield is another matter. The comic’s plot synopsis refers to a platoon of American soldiers teaming up with some Indian commandos who are searching for “a group of terrorists suspected of hiding a most heinous weapon…” I’m going to take a guess that the weapon is some chemical/bacterial agent that turns people into zombie-vampires, and I’m going to ask, “Do we really need this so soon after Robert Rodriguez’ ‘Planet Terror’ episode of Grindhouse?”

More to the point, this sounds like psychological denial. Real-life horror is too horrible to contemplate, so why not create a fantasy version that reduces death and tragedy to the level of a comic book? This might be acceptable years after the conflict, as a method of processing unresolved feelings and coming to terms with unpleasant truths. But it feels more than a tad exploitative and cheezy while real soldiers are still dying on the killing fields.

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

2 Responses to “ Sense of Wonder: Virulent vampire zombie soldiers ”

  1. [...] at New Regency, which is also developing another vampire-themed graphic novel to the screen, Virulents, which will be directed by John Moore from a script by John [...]

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