Way back in the black and white era Vampires were monsters. Eternally damned blood sucking demons. Oh how things have changed! I have been watching a lot of modern vamp stories lately and it caused me to ponder the evolution of Vampire and the relationship to our society. So here are a few conjectures…
As stated briefly above, vampires of the classic era are monsters. They don’t have left over morals or issues with what they are; they eat people and they are very bad. They sleep in crypts or graves and are reborn to an eternal demon life every night. Sun light, fire, beheading and stakes will kill them but its not that easy. They can control your mind, become a bat/shadow or mist and are super-naturally strong. Because of their damned/demon nature all things religious are repugnant to harmful to them such as holy (blessed by a priest/minister) anything, crosses and basic healing herbs such as garlic.
Our damsel in distress would never fall for one of these guys. Frequently they are hairy, have claw-like hands and are very pale or demonic looking. Most normal people would run or faint in their presence. Only a trained hunter/priest can dispose of these nasties. I know for most of us this is (yawn) well known. I take the time to lay it all out so that as I look at the next two incarnations of Vampires it will be clear how much things have changed.
Here are some old school examples of vamp’s.
Though Bram Stoker’s Dracula- movie, borders on this category I left it above because he doesn’t have the identity crisis that these vamps do, though it has all the sexiness.
Let us begin to re-invent the classic. I have a soul-never thought of that one. I never wanted to be a vamp- too bad for you. I am Judas- very interesting, poor execution. Let’s throw some werewolves and half breeds into the mix and I don’t need to kill people when I have groupies.
The main difference in these vamps is they don’t have the “evil” that the old school ones did. They don’t want to kill, have issues with being dead and long to have a more “human” like existence and they are beautiful. Unlike their predecessors part of the new look is frozen age and not just any age, very hot. We see monster mixing in the case of Under world not only with Vamps against Were wolves but half breeds. In this case it is half vamp and half wolf, in Blade it is half human half vamp.
Along with the rise of the “Anne Rice” overly sexy styling of vamps we see a shift in what the audience is looking for. As Frankenstein, the Wolf-man and the Creature from the Black lagoon faded into the “creature feature” past; it was simply the ability of writers to re-invent the vamp that has kept them current. The mid-90’s were all about Brad pit and how long you could keep his shirt off and the vamps followed suit.
Here are some sexy vamps for you:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer-tv-1997-2003
Dracula 2000– 2000
Underworld trilogy– 2003,2009,2012
Blade trilogy– 1998,2002,2004
All bets are off. Oh, shall I speak the dreaded name of Stephani Myers. What you have done to this poor genera may never be undone in B-movie history. Sparkle? Really? Vegetarian? In all fairness when stacked up with these others you can see she was only the front runner in a long line of creative license and mixing of creatures and truths.
Where to being? I can walk in the sun: because I have a magic ring, the aforementioned sparkling or just because I feel like it. I wear crosses they don’t bother me. I love garlic on my food, actually I’m Italian. I live with all kinds of other freaks because I can’t live anywhere else. And above all no matter what kind of vamp I am I will fall in love with a human or other dangerous creature but most certainly not another vamp.
When done “well” I don’t mind the bending or flat out breaking of the classic mythos of a beast/monster. But please for the love of Pete don’t just do it as a cheap a** plot device because you can’t really write original material after your angst filled main character gets it on with their human of choice. That is just bad writing and though it pains me to say it, there is a lot of it mascaraing as real vamp material. I would watch “From dusk until Dawn” any day over some of the sad eyed mooning vamps that litter the screen and page these days. That is not to say that I dislike the “humanized” vamp but please, please remember that when he has a bad day he’s supposed to be ripping someone’s throat out.
1-We don’t believe in heroes or villains without baggage. Check out what they did to Bail-wolf if you need more research.
2- The tween market is driving the market. Publishers and movie makers are not dumb. If a 15 year old will go to see Robert Pattenson moon over Bella 6 times in one summer they are going to rake in every penny they can- and its their job.
Who knows what the vamp’s will morph into next but you can bet I’ll be watching.
Here are a few examples of the mixed culture and broodie vamps:
The Vampire Diaries- TV– 2009-present
Twilight series- books-2005-08
Twilight series- movies-2008,09,10, 11,12
Being human season 1-2 (British version)-2010-present
Great over view of a wide variety of vamp films: