Since I originally posted this two years ago, it seems that vampires have not gone away. They have become bigger and bigger and more ubiquitous. Can I tell you how SICK AND TIRED I am of vampires? If I see another vampire drama on TV, I think I'll gladly offer up my own neck to the next vampire who wants to bite me.
I wish I could figure out where this vampire obsession comes from. What's it all about? Why are vampires, scary, hideous, ugly, undead beasts, so sexy all of a sudden.
Can't we put some kind of moratorium on vampire entertainment? No more vampire movies, comics, books, or TV shows for another 10 years. How does that sound?
Unless you're Terry Pratchett or Christopher Moore of course. Then you can write about vampires all you want because it's actually funny when they write about them.
It seems the Twilight movie and the books upon which it was based are creating a lot of controversy among vampire-literature aficionados. It seems that Twilight doesn't properly conform to the standard vampire mythology.
What I find funny is that everyone seems to have a different standard of what proper vampire mythology is. Does sunlight kill them or not? Will they eat garlic? Can they handle crosses? How exactly do you kill them? Are they viscious killing machines who will go at it without remorse, or are the misunderstood tortured souls who really don't want to kill people? (Unless you're into From Dusk Till Dawn or 30 Days of Night.)
Twilight doesn't conform to Busty the Vampire Layer. Vampire Layer doesn't conform to Underworld. Underworld doesn't conform to Anne Rice. Anne Rice doesn't conform to Dark Shadows. Dark Shadows doesn't conform to Bela Lugosi movies, which don't conform to Nosferatu. None of it jives with Bram Stoker. Even the vampire spoofs are inconsistent. Compare the urban vampires featured in Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck to the Uberwald vampires featured in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (some of whom have reformed). Why does no one complain that the Count from Sesame Street or the Vampire character from The Electric Company don't conform to vampire mythology?
Much of what we see of vampires in modern literature is a very glamorized, American version where monsters are seductive incubi who seem to be irresistable until their true natures are revealed. Male vampires are handsome charmers who seem to be able to charm women into being bitten. Females are sexpot sirens who seem to make being bitten almost an erotic thrill. I'm not sure this is really what vampires were originally supposed to be like.
Go to the places where vampire myths originated and you will see something very different from the slick, smooth, pseudo-humans shown in today's vampire media. The old European vampire myths portray vampires as what they are: evil monsters that people naturally run and hide from. We get a hint of this in Jane Eyre when Bertha sneaks into Jane's room at night. Jane describes Bertha's bloodshot eyes, purple face, and bloated features. The next day she tells Mr. Rochester she was reminded of the "foul German spectre-the vampire." Vampires were traditionally foul, ugly, and scary. Even Bram Stoker did not describe Dracula as being particularly appealing in his novel. I think Americans just like the idea of glamour and the idea that we can flirt so easily with death and evil.
I think that vampire enthusiasts who war over which book or movie is the "correct" vampire legend have to remember one thing: VAMPIRES DON'T EXIST. Yes, Vlad "The Imapler" Dracula was a real person who was considered a war hero, but ruthless against his enemies. Regardless, he's not still flying around at night drinking blood. It's amazing how passionate people will become over something that is completely imaginary. Why is one person's imaginary creature more wrong than another?
I think I'm going to make up my own vampire story. How about a vampire western? A group of cowboys are out on a cattle drive and are bitten by a rabid coyote during a full moon and realize it was a magic coyote and that they are doomed to drink human blood to stay alive. But it has to be special human blood. The blood must be consumed after the victim has eaten a meal of spicy chili. Soon, panic sets in and all of the chili cook-offs in Texas have to be cancelled. A very determined group of chili lovers discovers that these cowboy vampires can be killed by assault rifles. Unfortunately, Barak Obama is now president, and assault rifles are quickly become illegal and very few citizens have secret stashes of them. While a few gun-stashing heros manage to keep the growing group of chili-blood vampires away, another brave group manages to lobby Congress to overturn the damage a Democratic president has wrought. Barak Obama is outsted from the White House by angry mobs with torches and pitchforks and Republicans are now in power forever.
Now what could be a scarier movie than that?