I think I know why vampires and zombies have been especially popular in fiction lately: bankers are vampires, and their bailed-out institutions are zombies.
In 1950s science fiction, a repeated theme was invasion by Martians. This likely reflected, to a degree, the public's fear of Soviet expansion during the Cold War.
OK, so, I am just joking, for the most part, about why zombies and vampires are popular, but when it comes to what is going on deep in our collective unconscious, you never really know. This piece by Yves Smith, on Japan's experience creating financial zombies, is what got me thinking about the businesses that walk dead among us.