Friday, October 29, 2010

Creature Deliberation: Vampires

Vampires, creatures of the night, monsters beyond all horror of imagination who... until recently... had represented terrible ideas of sexuality and life beyond death, and nowadays seem to represent terrible books and movies that should be stricken from all records.

Look, I love vampires. I feel ashamed in saying that, but I find that vampires are among my favorite horror movie monsters. Although... I don't know how many vampire movies are actually "horror" movies especially in the last thirty years or so. Some books and movies that have vampires in them still stand up quite well in the horror genre, such as Dracula (1931), as well as the original novel which is still fantastic. 'Salem's Lot , the book by Stephen King, is also quite good even though the movies made of it are nowhere near as good. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is also fantastic as a very recent vampire novel. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is one of the first novels to really explore vampires as almost zombies and takes multiple forms of vampires. Then there is a movie like Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), which is fantastic both as an early film and a starter to the genre.
There are a few other decent vampire stories, but most of them have not been recent. Vampires as monsters are barely recognized anymore. Now vampires seem to all be about lust and sexuality rather than a monstrous force. Anne Rice is the one to blame here. Sure, Bram Stoker kind of started it off with a sexy Dracula back in the Victorian Age, where sexy was not vogue, but try comparing that sexuality to the present-day. It's gone a little crazy. Vampires seem almost to be a fetish nowadays and not one of those cool fetishes like I have, but a disturbing one that makes me shudder every single time I hear a fangirl squee about Twilight. I have really no opinion about Twilight, only because I feel it's unfair to judge something I've never had any part of. I know about it, kind of, but at the same time, I couldn't care less about some teen girl novel, or series of novels, or movie about shirtless men that kind of make me feel very uncomfortable and inadequate... I mean... yeah... if that's what all girls want... You know something? I'm not getting into this.
My point is that vampires are first and foremost, in my mind, monstrous and horrible. That's where the horror of most of these novels and movies come from. The vampire talks like a gentleman (of gentlelady in some cases), and one can never tell what kind of monster lurks beneath the surface until it is too late and the vampire gets to have a late night snack of person neck.

The vampire myths are fascinating, stemming from old time illnesses that were diagnosed as death, and people being buried before death. Hell, maybe the myths even have some bases in reality. I'm not going to rule it out. It would be hella cool if that were the case. It probably isn't... but still, you know?
I guess my problem with modern vampires is that they aren't scary. There is no obvious horror anymore and that makes me very sad. Vampires are such an interesting monster, much more refined than werewolves or zombies or Frankenstein monsters or swamp things or whatever... and it makes them fascinating. They retain so much of their humanity while also losing so much of it as well.

Then there are things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and those kinds of television shows, which are infinitely better than Twilight, but simply awful in comparison to earlier and better works in pretty much any kind of media.

I like the idea of vampires. I really do, but there are so few good forms of vampires (and there really have never been many good ideas out there anyway) that it is very disappointing to see how many failures that there really are.

I wish there could be better vampires, but nowadays vampires, true horror vampires, are fast on the decline, and it shows just how far those monsters have fallen.

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