Vampires: Beyond I Vant Tu Suck Your Blaud

I think Vampires and Vampire stories suffer from a bit of an image problem. Yeah I know, that sounds funny, but it’s true. I often hear people say Vampires are disgusting or that the stories are limited in their scope because all vamp tales are the same. In my most humble of opinions these are folks who must not have much imagination. There’s tons of badass stuff out there if you care to look, so I wanted to post up a quick slam course in Vampire and why they're cool. Don’t worry, this won’t be too painful.

So the whole thing started with this dude named Vlad the Impaler. Vlad here was the prince of what is now Romania back in the mid 1400’s and he had a bit of a border problem - as in, the Ottomans and Germans were constantly trying to expand their borders and lessen his.

So Vlad started some of the most effective psychological warfare in recorded history - he impaled captured solders on spikes in areas he was about to do battle. In short, it worked. Enemies were so messed up by the tactic morale went through the floor and some opposing commanders reportedly turned away from him. It worked so well he did it a lot more and it became a kind of trademark for him and his reign.

After his death, there was a certain “Elvis effect” going on. His people saw him everywhere. Possibly to try and keep out armies that thought there was nothing stopping them anymore and the idea of a terrible wraith you can’t kill is pretty damn scary. Scholars still debate how he died, what happened right after and whether Vlad was a quality human being or not. To me, that isn’t really important to the story. What is important is that Vlad and his legend helped inspire a guy to write a bit of fiction about 400 years after his death.

In 1897 a dude named Bram Stoker wrote a book called Dracula that used some of the myth and legend associated with Vlad the Impaler, grouped it with Vlad’s fathers sir name of Dracul and formed them into what can only be called a masterpiece. It’s here that the first roots of Vampire lore get cemented into the modern culture; vampires drink blood, the fascination with wooden stakes, bats, bottomless lust and the whole undead thing. The bookish types love to go into the Christian symbolism here but I’m gonna blow right past that for two reasons: One, I don’t care and Two, we don’t have that much time and I can already feel this getting long. :D

1931 rolled around and there was an interest for vampirism (after the silent movie Nosferatu) in the movie industry so Universal released Dracula. The film propelled the already well known Hungarian accented Bela Lugosi to a mainline horror film actor. He did so well in the role as the famous, fang-bearing count there were very few people who could see him as anything else.

In fact, his face, accent and mannerisms became a large part of what a vampire is supposed to be for close to 50 years after. Bela had managed to make such a deep mark on the role that many people today, if forced to call up in their minds what a vampire should look like, will describe Bela’s version without hesitation.

Then…a funny thing happened - the sub-culture that supported the vampire mythos started to become more established and crave more stories. It started to generate its own content. Not just a rehash of the old but new and different material that stood on its own merit. In a saga almost as old as some of the celebrated immortals in it, the rules started to change.

Writers and creators learned that much like the Matrix, some rules can be bent, others, broken. With this knowledge an explosion of content ensued.

Read on to Page 2...

21 Responses to "Vampires: Beyond I Vant Tu Suck Your Blaud"
  1. mymatedave says:

    Sean, my man, I like vampires just as much as the next man. And while I may not be a huge romantic, I have been known to watch “chickflicks”, especially if they’re funny.

    But Twilight?!? Really?!? Out of all the romantic vampire books that’s the one you like?

    That’s not romance, that’s a travesty. Even putting aside the terrible writing, the story’s terrible, the main character has no personality, and her relationship with the Edward is incredibly unhealthy.

    Sorry, that must’ve been transfer from my girlfriend, who absolutely hates the books, but decided to read so she can be informed in her loathing.

  2. Sean says:

    Lol, yeah, out of all that Twilight is certainly the trigger puller when folks gather to talk about Vamp lore. Either you’re pro, con or haven’t seen/read it yet. I certainly respect the exclusion of this series as some people’s choice however in its defense I’ll say this:

    1. Remember it’s written with heavy teenage angst in mind. It pulls the most on someone still trying to figure out how the whole ‘first love’ relationship thing works and it’s written in the first person from the perspective of a somewhat emotionally charged teenage girl.

    2. Anytime you have a relationship with another being that considers you food it’s going to present issues which are going to come up from time to time. But I think that was the point of the series in general. It doesn’t matter who or what you are, love is love and it can be stronger than nature – especially in young hearts that don’t know any better. Think Romeo and Juliet… with fangs and a few wolves. (Not on the level of The Bard of course but the gist is still the same.)

  3. Pike says:

    Sean, are you talking about Twilight the movie, or the series? Or are they substantially the same?

  4. Sean says:

    The 4 book Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. There is one moive out now as well as one coimng out soon to the big screen. 🙂

    Depending on who you the movie is fairly true to the novels. At least the first movie was after seeing the movie and reading the book. We’ll see about the second.

  5. V. Vxn says:

    Don’t forget that within several of your categories vampires can often be a metaphor for forbidden or alternate sexuality/sensuality. There are some great lesbian vampire stories out there, and I think the sense of forbidden sexuality is what works well even for Twilight. I’d also love to see a little clarification on your distinction between passionate and amorous vampires. What’s the difference between the to categories and why make it? And might we expect a vampire movie watching or two in the future?

  6. Cressy says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful and fun post, Sean! I’m a late-comer to vampire stories but I loved the Dracula story/movie and Blade, and am going through Anne Rice right now. It is quite intriguing mythology and I’m definitely not ashamed of being a fan~

    Though, I have to say, Twilight really isn’t one of the better stories in the genre. I read all the books and saw the 1st movie, just to see what it’s about. I agree that since it’s written for a teen audience, it depicts more extreme emotions and behaviors and a more fragmented sense of self. Teenagers all struggle with identity, I get it. I wasn’t an exception, either. But it could’ve been constructed better.

    Just to be cliche, I do think the Harry Potter books do a better job at exploring child/adolescent psychology without dumbing everything down. It shows more respect for the complex thoughts and feelings a child/teenager can experience. Twilight feels like an extremely self-indulgent fantasy by the author to put herself into a romance that she so wanted but was never able to get. It wasn’t completely bad, of course. But I personally would like to read something that is less self-centered and has a stronger heroine.

    Alright, I’ll stop with the Twilight rant that you probably haven’t heard over and over. Instead, I’ll recommend a manga/anime series to you. It’s called Karin, or Chibi Vampire. If you haven’t come across it yet, check it out. The premise is creative and hilarious, and it is cute enough to satisfy your “I’m-manly-enough-to-like-chick-flicks” side 🙂

    Again, a wonderful post! Keep up the good work~

  7. Sean says:

    @ V. VxnI’d also love to see a little clarification on your distinction between passionate and amorous vampires. What’s the difference between the to categories and why make it?

    That’s an excellent question and the answer may indeed be my own way of looking at things. In my head, the difference is the one between an emotional love and lusty love. Both are valid and both types can be experienced in either category but the passionate category to me leans a little on the physical side of the street and the amorous is more about the relationship and how it works… if that makes any sense.

    Both are fun but there is a little bit of a crow-bar separation in there for me.

    @ CressyI’ll recommend a manga/anime series to you. It’s called Karin, or Chibi Vampire. If you haven’t come across it yet, check it out.

    That is awesome, I’ll do that!

  8. Fedora says:

    I highly recommend “Let the Right One In” to all hardcore vamp-lovers.

    I’m also enjoying True Blood.

  9. MercuryShadow says:

    A BIG second on Let The Right One In. Best movie I saw in 2008.

  10. DawnAZ says:

    I’ve been a huge vampire fan for years and own an extensive collection vampire books. I even met Anne Rice at a book signing years ago. My favorite of all is Chelsea Quinn Yarbo’s Sanit Germain. You must love historical fiction for him because he’s a couple thousand years old and all the books place him in different points in history.

    I haven’t read Twilight, I’m thinking it’s too girlie and I’m a bit of a purist, so the daytime thing is an issue. I won’t say never tough. Am LOVING True Blood on HBO, an incredibly dark, crazy world created there.

    I’m so excited to learn you love the vamps too Sean!

  11. Solai says:

    Vampires suck! (see what I did there? Hey-o!). Great post Sean! Very thotful and interesting. I may have to go pickup Twilight now.

  12. Pike says:

    Oh gods yeah, totally seconding “Let the Right One In” but ‘obtain’ the UK version. For whatever reason they butchered the translation on the US version (I’m not sure why they redid it to begin with.)

  13. Default Prophet says:

    Sean hand your man card over to Chuck so he can hand deliver it to me next week. It’s been revoked.

    =P

    Seriously though Twilight?!

  14. Nike says:

    I’m not sure if I’m just the last one to find out about it, but vampires are huge now in romance land. I think that there’s always been a substantial following in this subgenre but it’s like Twilight focused a floodlight on all things that suck blood and ravish women.

    I devoured Meyer’s entire series and I did love it but—like I said in the forum discussion of her books—there were some serious flaws. But it was a great, fun story and when I read the book in public I don’t try and hide the cover. Okay, that’s a lie, I do hide the cover—but I’m not completely embarassed if someone happens to see it.

    Anyone else familiar with J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series? Now those books are pure mind-candy. Don’t read them. I have, and even though I’m consumed with shame, I can’t stop.

  15. RobinInSeoul says:

    Nice post, Sean!

    Having said that: “And then Buffy staked Edward. The end.”

    http://tinyurl.com/cy6mhu

    Just bought this for Comic Con! Weeeeeee! 😀

  16. Bug-Eyed earl says:

    I like my vampires as they were when people believed they were real- evil, inhuman monsters with the sex appeal of a swarm of leeches. Not to say there’s no merit in the vamp romance thing.

  17. coco says:

    I’ve finally read bits and pieces from Twilight and Breaking Dawn (I skipped around a bit), and unfortunately, did not take a liking to them, at all. I’ve really tried to get into them, but I guess because I found the ‘epic’ relationship between the two main characters to be perhaps the opposite of what I consider epic, it was difficult to get into the world the writer was trying to portray. And perhaps because I’ve been spoiled by other vampire motif books/etc, I found it impossible to root for the protagonist of the series, and quite frankly I couldn’t stand reading it anymore and stopped a few chapters into Breaking Dawn.

    I can see why the books are popular, but at the same time I wish they weren’t. 😀

  18. Buffalo says:

    Sorry Sean, but if you didn’t like “Let the Right One In” is one thing, but you can’t just exclude that movie when you analyze different kind of vampyres. And if you haven’t seen it, then you just haven’t done your homework. Simple as that.

    People love the vampire Eli in “Let the Right One In”, even if she kills innocent people, including children, is filthy and obviously smells like dogshit. Then concider how far from a real vampire character they had to go with Edward in Twilight, to make us feel for him. Now these aspects really elucidates the differences between good and poor movie making.

  19. Sean says:

    Lol, nope, I haven’t seen “Let the Right One In” and didn’t exclude it on purpose. As I said in the post, I’m sure I left some films or series out but it wasn’t a hell-bent exclusion type of thing.

    As to the not doing my homework, watching Sci-Fi or Vamp movies should never be considered homework, they’re too much fun for that. Instead I will simply kick over the Netflix queue and fix the glitch in my viewing portfolio.

    Rock on.

  20. Buffalo says:

    Well, you know what I mean with “homework”.

    Beyond this little flaw your article was interesting and well written, so expand your portfolio and keep it up.

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