Not that you could tell it from my writing, but I’m a huge vampire fiend. I’ve loved the undead since I first laid eyes on Dracula (as portrayed by British actor Sir Christopher Lee) when I was perhaps ten years old. In this day and age when people are terrified their children will become serial killers or perverts if they watch the wrong movie it may horrify you to know my mother introduced me to the darkly seductive Count.
Christopher Lee who first took on the legendary bloodsucker in 1958 with Hammer Films’ The Horror of Dracula at the age of 36 was the epitome of the perfect vampire. His dark mesmerizing eyes and noble features brought a sexiness to the wicked bloodsucker that had women swooning. He was savage, wicked, and seductive without straying from what most had come to know as the modern vampire.
Unlike Bela Lugosi (who vampires owe a great deal, too), he wasn’t one for chewing scenery; no pun intended. He was elegant, well-spoken, but you did not want to fuck with him. He was a traditional vampire in the sense that he flinched from religious icons, hated garlic, mesmerized his victims, drank human blood, turned to mist, called forth the beasts of the night, and lastly could be killed by a stake driven through his heart. The problem was that he would never be gone permanently because some fool would collect his ashes and call him back by feeding the ashes blood–usually that of a nubile young beauty or her unfortunate boyfriend.
Thus Christopher’s count returned numerous times until he donned the iconic cape for the final time in The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) at the age of 51. Even at 51 the man had the it factor that has made him, to some horror fans, the ultimate Dracula of all time even surpassing Lugosi.
Over the decades vampires have evolved in numerous ways including trading the cape for leather, romanticism for eroticism, but one thing that never changed were their feeding methods. Whether human or animal blood they still popped out the fangs and had at it. Now the mesmerism by which they controlled their victims (a snake-like quality much as the fangs are) has fallen by the wayside as a general rule. Some inject venom much as a snake and this venom is what transforms their victims into vampires themselves. One bite and your history, which is far closer to the werewolf legends. This line of thought has left behind the slow seduction more popular in earlier romantic vampires where the creature would mesmerize the victim, drink three times from them (a mockery of the Holy Trinity) and then feed his own blood to the dying victim. Thus infecting them with vampirism and once they took their final breathe they would rise from the grave.
The idea that vampirism is a disease is not a new one by a long shot, but has appeared more often as science overtook the superstitions from which the beast arose. I could spend a couple hundred lifetimes discussing the subject and barely touch the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Folklore contains countless versions of vampires or vampire-like creatures with varying physiology. Hell, there’s one version that walks about like a normal human, but after nightfall detaches its head; the head then flies about attacking its victims. I guess that’s easier than changing to mist or a bat. 😉
What we recognize now as vampires have their origins in Eastern European folklore, yet even they only skim the surface. The original European vampires were nothing close to the romanticized version Hollywood and many fiction writer’s present to the public. They were rotting corpses, draped in burial shrouds that often ate the flesh as well as the blood of their victims. They were reanimated by demonic spirits for any number of reasons ranging from lack of baptism, excommunication from the church, pacts with Satan, and even such things as being born with teeth. These creatures were closer to what we call zombies in modern literature. Drawn to the one thing they no longer possessed, a human soul.
Which leads me to the mirror and why they have no reflection. This particular aspect of most vampires comes from the ancient idea that the reflection of the physical body is only possible because we possess a soul. So it tends to make sense if the vampire is soulless then he or she would possess no reflection. I recall an interesting conversation with an acquaintance a few years back about this precise aspect of being a vampire.
Being a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel its spin-off not to mention a vampire fan in general I often required myself to
suspend disbelief at a number of things. Joss Whedon the creator of the show treated vampires as they once had been treated in fiction. They were evil things, unnatural, that ran amuck, feeding on humanity, and needed to be destroyed. That is with the exception to the rule–Angel and then Spike later in the series. What was the exception for these two? Souls–human souls.
So back to the point. This particular acquaintance was pitching a bitch fit about how a vampire should not be affected by intravenous drugs since their hearts didn’t beat and thus no circulation. My snicker pissed her off even more especially when I said, It’s called suspension of disbelief. She was furious because she considered herself an expert and came back with, What the fuck do you know about vampires? My reply shut her mouth and there was no further bickering. What was my reply you might ask?
Technically, both Angel and Spike should have reflections since they both possess human souls although for different reasons. Yes, I went there. I love you Joss, but if people want to nitpick then there you go–souled vampires should technically have reflections.
Now the Goddess knows I’m all for variations on a theme. The quantity of material out there on vampires at a writer’s fingertips is tremendous, but there is one vampire (and I use the word lightly) mythos that I cannot abide–Twilight.
I’ve mentioned Twilight a couple of times in my blogging, but my dislike of the series has nothing to do with what some may believe. After all, I’ve babbled about how there are numerous types of vampiric creatures out there. None of which by the way fit Meyers’ vampires completely. They are immortal, they drink blood (Ms. Meyer, dear, they are not vegetarians if they consume any part of a living breathing creature), they have enhanced abilities (strength, speed, etc.). That’s pretty much where it ends.
Her creations do not possess fangs an essential part of a vampire in modern fiction, but then that makes sense to an extent. The fangs were always a part of the sexual nature of the modern vampire and frankly her vamps are sexless. The puncturing of the carotid artery or even femoral artery is symbolic of sexual penetration as was the need for the vampire to exchange blood with its victims. Meyer wiped out all sense of sexuality in her characters which I find hilarious considering the state of teenagers and sex in modern society. After all Edward Cullen is a virgin whose held on to the whole Wait until you’re married rigmarole for–what?–a hundred years. Yeah…right…
Her claim is that their very normal looking teeth are so strong they can bite through metal if they want. Excuse me? Hold on…I have to stop laughing before I start writing again.
I have nothing against the entire We don’t drink human blood since that’s nothing new. Sorry, Twilight fiends, been there done that and no Meyers the Goddess did not come up with it. Hell, Joss Whedon did it with Angel. Angel drank animal blood as well and thank the stars above he didn’t say he was a vegetarian since he had more sense than that. Moving on now…
I don’t even have a problem with the walking in sunlight thing. There are vampires in both folklore and fiction that move in daylight going back to at least the Middle Ages. Some vampires were affected by sunlight though in a number of ways i.e. blindness, loss of enhanced abilities, etc. What I have a problem with is what I’ve affectionately started calling the Glitteratti. The reason her creations do not go out in full blown sunlight? They sparkle. That’s right kiddies say it with me The vampires sparkle like diamonds!
Seriously, Ms. Meyers? Why in the name of all that is unholy do they sparkle? *head desk*
Well, to each his own I suppose. To be honest I look on Ms. Meyers’ creations as not vampires, but rather emo-teenage-20 something-goth-vampire wanna be-kids and that’s an insult to the Goth kids. Edward isn’t scary or menacing in the least even when he’s trying to be which makes him even less of a vampire, if the sparkles didn’t make you think that already.
The two most important things that make a vampire a vampire were kicked to the curb by Meyers. The danger and the sexuality–after all vampires are killers. Like I said before I have no problem with variations on a theme, but there’s variations and then there’s just turning deadly killers into pussies that couldn’t scare a mouse.
On that note I bid you a found fair well and a good evening.