Saturday, May 22, 2010
Call of the Vampire
My favorite thing to do on a Friday or Saturday night when I was a teenager--since I had no dates--was to watch the late night movies on "Creature Features" and "Svengoolie". They showed the old black and white horror flicks we now call classics. "Dracula" was my favorite--whoever played Dracula, be it Bela Lagosi, or any of the others, I watched it. When I discovered the Hammer films starring Christopher Lee, my heart just went into overdrive. His portrayal, at that time, of Dracula was it. But I never liked seeing him get killed at the end. I always liked when he "rose" from the dead and fought back.
Then, Frank Langella starred in the 1979 John Bedham version of Dracula, in which Van Helsing's men are the villains, the women are victims--not of vampirism, but of patriarchy--and Dracula is the hero. I remember going to see this at the theater, and fell madly in love with Dracula all over again.
It's no wonder my favorite holiday is Halloween and I so loved dressing up for it and being the "tricker" as well as the treater.
And if my friends (or anyone who I went to school with), thought I was weird, then so be it. I was my own person. I loved walking around in the dark at night in our small town, and my fantasies took hold. Believe me, I've wanted to write a vampire book since age 16.
I recall that once a guy I knew had stopped by. He was interested in me and I was not interested in him. In order to keep him at bay I'd told him a far-fetched story that I was dating a vampire. Even gave him a name. This guy, who was older than me actually pretended he believed me and acted like he knew exactly who I meant! He just wanted to get to first base with me, I know that now.
Over at VampChix blog today the question was "Vampire Appeal: What makes them so irresistible?"
If we go with the old-world belief that vampires are "undead" or the risen corps of someone, then you have to wonder what would be so appealing about some cold, dead guy wanting to bite your neck. Right. Not much for the cold, dead guy in the coffin.
On the other hand, the sexuality, no one can dismiss. Ever been bitten--I mean nibbled--on the neck? The Ear? The inner arm? All erogenous zones, for sure.
I can get past his drinking a little of my blood, if he's going to send me into next week. Which I expect what would happen, since vampires must have developed something supernatural, like making us think we've just had the best sex ever. Why not?
Just as the film versions, Dracula--and the vampire--has been re-written, and re-invented. What are we trying to say? Or is it some political barameter, we're all dissatisfied with everything?
In books, I think as paranormal/fantasy writers we want to re-invent the vampire to some degree and give us a hunk we really would like to get to know. We want to find the vampire's best attributes and put those forward, and maybe play down the not so favorable ones, or change them a little, or find very good reasons for them.
The blood? Is it what makes them Immortal? Or, is it what makes them supernatural, and able to bend steel, and even take a bullet, as long as it isn't made of silver and goes through the heart? I don't know. Is it important? I think it is. It's part of their dark mystery. We all like a dark mystery to ponder during a dark, quiet night.
I think the wooden stake through the heart thing is over-rated too. Something so simple, yet could you put a stake through a vampire's chest? In those old movies, we see Dracula, or one of his babes asleep in the coffin (another fable we modernists have shucked--I mean really? A coffin with dirt in it? I don't think so!) Jonathan Harker or Van Helsing taking a stake and hammering it through the chest of a vampire while it's asleep like it was easy. Poppy cock! What vampire could sleep while someone has ripped off the lid of their coffin holding a stake and hammer to their chest? A stupid one, that's who.
The call of the vampire, it's all around. Those of us who claim we can't get enough can catch them on TV, at the bookstores, and even at our favorite blogs.
Whatever it is that has captured every one's attention, it might be a mystery to some people. But not to me. I've been a vampire devotee for over 40 years. There's a reason that the vampire comes into vogue every 20 years, like a locust.
Every age embraces the vampire it needs. The amber-eyed Edward, who won't bite Bella, Bella who demands he does. Did anyone notice that roll reversal?