The horror! What movie monsters say about money

If you're headed to the movies this weekend, you have your pick of the paranormal. There's demon possession, alien invasions, and of course, zombies. The mindless, murderous creatures have experienced a resurgence in pop culture in films like "Warm Bodies," a comedy with a zombie in the role of the romantic lead, and the TV show, "The Walking Dead," a smash in its third season on AMC. Maria Pramaggiore, a film professor at North Carolina State University, says she sees a link between horror movies and personal finance. Scroll over the photo above to find out what Pramaggiore says your favorite movie monster represents financially.

"These zombie films -- 'Warm Bodies' included -- are using death or the undead, that boundary, as sort of the ultimate expression of feeling disconnected, feeling powerless," says Pramaggiore.

Pramaggiore says classic zombies of the '20s and '30s were often exploited labor, working in places like sugar plantations. But more recent incarnations of zombies don't have jobs. They wander and threaten, and ultimately have their bodies destroyed. On the opposite end of the spectrum from zombies -- vampires.

"Vampires are sort of the upper echelon of the horror film world. They're aristocratic. They're European. They wear velvet," says Pramaggiore. "We almost see the vampire as the power of capitalism whereas the zombie figure is really the working class, the plebian. In terms of horror films, zombies are the lowest of the low. They always come in groups. They are in many senses the sort of great mass, the great unwashed, all of those negative terminologies that might be used to talk about the working poor, the working class."

Here's what Pramaggiore says classic horror creatures represent financially:

Zombies -- The walking dead are the embodiment of the "poor, working stiffs." Because zombies can't help what has happened to them, they are symbolic of everyday laborers. They don't call the shots, but rather are the ones trapped at the bottom of the pyramid, representing the dispensable work force.

Werewolves -- What happens when the wealthy stray outside their lifestyles of comfort? They're often exposed to experiences that can change them for better or worse.  In many horror films, people are bitten by werewolves when traveling abroad or to exotic locations. When these jet-setters return home, they have trouble adjusting. Werewolves represent the inability of the upper class to accept the primitive nature within all of us.

Ghosts -- Phantoms are obsessed with property: Just think about it, most ghosts haunt a specific house or piece of land.  They inhabit places in the earthly world with unfinished business. Haunted houses don't fetch much on the open market, after all.

Aliens -- Extra terrestrials are usually smart and powerful -- sometimes, they're even portrayed as superior to humans. Adjectives like those can be used to describe both aliens and your boss. In horror films, humans fear that aliens are more technically advanced and will take control of us. But because aliens don't recognize human emotions, they make decisions solely based on numbers and facts -- much like a middle manager.

Vampires -- The Donald Trump of movie monsters, vampires represent the pompous, upper crust of horror creatures. They are aristocratic, powerful, and often physically attractive (this is where they may differ from Mr. Trump).  They own property going back centuries and can amass wealth endlessly because they live eternally. These blood-suckers are known to be manipulative, magnetic, and nocturnal -- just like wealthy socialites.

About the author

David Lazarus is an American business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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