Vampires may seem like an overused trope of modern fiction, but that’s only because Valve didn’t make a game about them, yet.
I really like the Vampire mythos. Take Dracula for instance, the original vampire. (Actually, he’s not the original, but who remembers Varney!?) The 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi ranks as one of my favourite films of all time. Our villain was suave and genteel, if a bit creepy at times, but he was also an evil prick, attempting to kill men, seduce women and spread his affliction like a plague.
But the fact that he acted like a virus, where many of his victims became vampires as well, was the most interesting thing. Because it made vampires one of the few horror antagonists you can actually sympathize with to a certain degree. It wasn’t their fault the prick bit them. Plus, vampires are not slavering beasts with no motivation other than: kill everything. Oftentimes, they’re intelligent, conniving, and ruthless. They feed not out of malice or insanity, but out of a nutritional requirement. If they didn’t drink blood, they would die. You can’t blame someone for not wanting to die.
In recent history, this has allowed vampires to take a brand new direction, changing from unapologetic antagonists, to sympathetic protagonists. Twilight comes to mind pretty quickly. A story about a young vampire covered in glitter who wants nothing more than to stare longingly at a female-shaped block of wood with his shirt off.
Maybe I should get around to actually watching those films.
Anyway, it’s been happening more and more frequently. True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Moonlight, even the old Anne Rice books feature vampires not only as bad guys, but as our main characters, and the ones we’re supposed to sympathize with. And in the case of Twilight and Moonlight, they even went the length to modify the mythos to eliminate their vulnerability to sunlight, turning them from dark creatures who stalk the night, into people who just hate the daytime. Which makes them a lot less creepy. It also allows them to place half their scenes during the day just because they can.
The Vampire trope can act as the foundation for some great stories, and be taken in quite interesting directions. But so few people bother to do that, it can actually get quite disheartening.
But it’s nice that they try. Say what you will about the actual books, the idea behind Twilight is actually pretty solid. A romance story between a vampire and a mortal woman. Such interesting potential here. Would she really want to make the sacrifice to become a vampire so they could live together forever? Or would she stay human and when she dies, leave him to mourn her for the rest of eternity? Or would they not even bother, realizing that the pain and the troubles are simply not worth it? Which is why I still think Moonlight was a really good show. It did deal with those issues, but also offered the possibility of Mick finding a cure for vampirism. He was a vampire who hated being a vampire. That alone adds some interesting depth.
But I digress.
The important thing here is that vampires can be taken in interesting directions, and the mythology can be messed with in interesting ways. Like, for instance, by applying it to a completely different species and having them suck fruit juices instead of blood.
Seems a bit contrived if you ask me. Continue reading