Sooo…I’m writing for a vampire now. I didn’t see that one coming. To be honest (and I’m possibly putting myself at great physical risk by admitting this), I never understood the allure of vampires. They were never romantic in their brooding darkness. Mostly they just scared me. As a child I would actually sleep with a blanket wrapped around my neck for protection (What? You didn’t know that vampires were repulsed by crosses, garlic, and cotton-polyester blend?)
I’m not sure where that fear and my blanket defense system came from. I don’t remember watching vampire movies when I was young. I tended to avoid scary movies altogether. Being scared wasn’t my idea of fun. The only vampires I remember watching were the Count on Sesame Street and Count Duckula on Danger Mouse and then his own spinoff series. Neither of those could be considered remotely frightening.
The first remotely scary vampire I recall was Duncan Regehr’s Dracula in The Monster Squad. This guy blew up a kids’ treehouse with dynamite (evil!), picked up a little girl by the chin, and then yelled…not nice things at her (“Give me the amulet, YOU BITCH!”) before hissing in her face. Can you imagine a vampire doing that to a child today? At least since the mid-90s, when Anne Rice’s Lestat books were popular, the vampire has been more of the brooding and tortured romantic lead that I mentioned earlier. Sure, Buffy fought many vamps that seemed to be little more than fanged killing machines, but Angel and Spike were there to fill the love interest role. The vampires on “True Blood” seem to be more interested in sex, politics, and even running night clubs than in killing anyone. With “The Vampire Diaries” still going strong and getting a spin-off, it doesn’t appear that this kinder, gentler bloodsucker is going away any time soon. It remains to be seen how Dracula will be portrayed in the upcoming NBC series, but at this rate I expect him to be running an orphanage and animal shelter while lamenting his inability to find Ms. Right.
When the remake of Fright Night came out a couple of years ago (co-starring the best Time Lord ever, David Tennant), I had to assure our beloved site-mistress that Colin Farrell was playing an actual killer vampire rather than the sweet misunderstood kind. And, despite my dislike of the horror genre, that just strikes me as wrong. Vampires have terrorized our cultural psyche for hundreds of years stretching back to the early 18th century and possibly farther, as long as our dear friends as Wikipedia are to be believed, and yet it’s taken us less than twenty to almost complete defang them. In less than 100 years we’ve gone from Count Dracula to Edward Cullen.
I’m not usually one to long for the good-old-days, but I’m going to make an exception in this case. Vampires should be scary monsters. If you see one, you should be running in fear and not wondering if he’s going to ask you out on a date. I fear that it may be too late for the vampires of old, though. The romantics of the world may have done what centuries of sunlight, beheadings, burnings, and stakes to heart could not: rendered them extinct.
- Alan Decker (@CmdrAJD on Twitter)