Where have all the vampires gone?

Maybe I’m old school, but I just can’t buy into the new trend of vampires that are everywhere on TV and in movies these days. You know what I’m talking about. The sexy, brooding bloodsuckers that wear designer clothes like skinny jeans and leather jackets. Or no clothes at all to better show off their hairless pecs and abs. Their hair is all shiny from the Shisheido mousse they’ve slathered all over their head to get that spiky just-out-of-bed-and-oh-so-handsome look perfected.

Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries…they may be entertaining, but they’re all posers as far as I’m concerned. “Hip” is not a word that should be used to define vampires. Sure, the characters in these shows are charming and sexy, but they’re supposed to also be fierce, narcissistic, predatory, and dangerous, just as vampires are meant to be.  Vampires aren’t meant to be shallow shells of an Abercrombie commercial with fangs thrown in.  Following a vampire should be unsettling and titillating, not just the latter.  Who does this best? In modern-day, it’s Anne Rice of course, the Queen of the Damned (See what I did there?  Nice reference, right??)

Lestat and Louis, these are the archetypes I always return to when I think of the perfect portrayal of this mythical and terrifying species of monster. Rice keeps these two more closely related to the characteristics held by the legendary Dracula and vampires from past eras. By that I mean that the focus of their identities is placed more on their malevolent charm, their perspective that humans are just prey to be taken down like how a lion stalks weak gazelle on the Serengeti.

Louis leans a bit more on the side of brooding, which many of these new Emo vampires rely heavily on to make hearts flutter (the damaged soul syndrome that high school girls are helpless to resist) but he still embodies what a vampire should be. And Lestat…well… he is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate vampire. He is always on the hunt, always seeing fresh meat when he eyes a human, always ready to kill, whereas the majority of True Blood vampires (for example) are only truly fierce when they have to be. When they’re not hungry they’re just hanging out at the bar playing pool, mixing with human society, and shooting out smoldering gazes left and right as if their blood lust is a switch that can be turned off and on with ease.  Indeed, Eric Northman is the only one in True Blood with the characteristics worthy of a vampire.

I desperately want a t.v. series or movie that harkens back to the age-old vampire legends. While I don’t hate Twilight, I also don’t count it as part of the vampire genre. I mean, come on. And True Blood, while enjoyable, is more like a soap opera that often runs off the rails (werewolves, shape shifters, goddesses, fairies, they pack in a lot). The movie Interview with the Vampire was decent enough and I truly enjoyed watching Lestat leap off the pages and onto the screen. But in the book (and we all know books are so much better than their motion picture counterparts), Anne Rice’s artistic combination of Lestat’s fierce, predatory charm and the despondent, soul-searching nature of Louis (who was himself capable of great violence) sparked an epic vampire tale. Now if we can just get that translated to an HBO or Showtime series, I’d be in heaven.

What I’d love to see is a return to this ruthless vampire archetype. I want the danger of being in their presence. I want to understand the despair of immortality. I want to see ferocity again. The genre is getting neutered thanks to this YA trend and it needs to grow its fangs back.

a must read for vampire fans

a must read for vampire fans

60 thoughts on “Where have all the vampires gone?

  1. I miss the old vampires now there just I’m Edward you know shiny, perfect, sexy, and all around most attractive guy on the planet. May I bite your neck? *No allow me to introduce your face to my bayonet

  2. I only found Twilight moderately entertaining. Anne Rice never resonated with me for some reason – maybe it was because I couldn’t imagine Tom Cruise as a vampire. After seeing the movie I then went on to read some of her books and it was impossible to suspend disbelief about Tom Cruise. To me, the ultimate vampires, although not a series, appeared in the Hunger – with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve in the early 80s, directed by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley. They are the archetypical vampires to me, Required watching if one is a fan of David Bowie or goth music. .

    • Oh YES, I really liked that movie The Hunger (had forgotten about it honestly!) — it was also one hell of a book. I own that one. You should get it if you haven’t read it. I much preferred the book Interview with the Vampire over the movie simply because I didn’t like the casting of Tom Cruise (at all). I kind of liked Twilight, especially the very last movie with the huge fight scene — I just don’t consider it part of the vampire genre.

      • i no your feeling i love all vampires as long as they are vampires. no nice vampires get far. so deadly with a small sense of humor is my kinda vamp

  3. I do like my traditional vampires. I don’t mind teens enjoying a bit of vamp fun, but it would be good to get a proper horror vampire back again too. Dracula is really scary when done properly!

  4. Anyone remember the TV series Forever Knight? The main character wants to be human again and his “father” sees nothing wrong with being a vampire and is a lot (not totally) like Lestat. IMHO. Loved that show and all of Anne Rice’s books.

      • I disliked the ending also. You’re right about Janette, but I think she may have changed a little after she became human again. But after she was changed back we never really saw her again much.

      • That’s because she was mad at Nick for turning her again. She didn’t want to be “turned” and he couldn’t let her die. Plus I think the actress had another gig so that was their way of writing her out. I really liked her as a vampire though, she was beautiful and predatory and could never really understand Nick’s change of heart (even though she tried). Really a good series up until the end.

  5. If you are interested in a really off-putting vampire type, check out Guillermo Del Torro’s book series The Strain. It is in the works as a miniseries for FX, I can only hope it does it justice!

  6. I completely agree and wish I could write a longer message… alas, it’s late and if I don’t post now I’ll forget about it. But these books are still around, they’re just not quite as ‘popular’. For example, although they kinda go bad later into the series, the Anita Blake ones start out really strong and most of the vamps in those are still what vamps are supposed to be.

  7. I just read Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, a little while ago, and it is a unique twist on the vampire theme… most excellent, and refreshing, and definitely not aimed at the YA market. It “sucks” you in, :P, and doesn’t let go until the very last page.

  8. I really do need to read some of the books written by Anne Rice. She’s one of the few bigger names I only have secondhand knowledge of – that is, I’ve seen “Interview with the Vampire”, I know a bit about her books, and I’ve heard plenty about her… but I sadly haven’t *read* any of her books yet. Anyhow…

    I really couldn’t agree with you more. I’d love to see a decent vampire series that captures the kind of malevolence, viciousness, and that predatory nature that makes them someone like Lestat so monstrous(ly charming).

    “I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.”
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche

  9. You expressed my thoughts about vampire literature exactly. The three best vampire books? ‘Dracula,’ ‘Salem’s Lot,’ and – of course – Rice’s first of her vampire series, ‘Interview with the Vampire.’ I also like ‘The Historian.’

  10. One of the best series EVER. And I agree, the “new” vamps aren’t scary in the least and they only go after the bad guys so no threat is there either. Yes, fangs but no bite left. Anne Rice knows her vampires and she rocks.”

    • Exactly — today’s vampire stories are fun and the movies and/or books aren’t bad, but there’s just no bite. I’m so glad there are authors like Anne Rice who keep the genre more to the vampires of old.

  11. I wouldn’t have said it better myself :). Despite my, I now suppose, never-ending admiration for vampires as such, I just can’t accept this “new vampire model”. Personally I adore the classical Bram Stoker’s Dracula and even Lestat seems to me a little bit too… civilised. There is also Regis – a fine specimen of a vampire – but that one I am pretty sure you know nothing of, as he appeared in Polish fantasy series “The Witcher Saga”.

    “Twilight”, “True Blood” etc. have nothing in common with the concept of a vampire. It’s just a teenage literature that coincidentally uses vampires as characters. I suppose it is all about having a true outsider hero for the girls to sigh for.

    Ups, I’ve got it a little bit to lengthily. Sorry for that :). Great post, anyway.

    • No worries on the length! I enjoy hearing from people so chat away! Dracula of course was the quintessential vampire and inspired all that came after it. The vampires in today’s world seems to be more like what you said, an outsider the girls can swoon over but never so dangerous as to be truly predatory or scary. It’s just not the same.

      • Exactly! Wouldn’t it be nice to read (or see – it’s just that I’m more of a notorious reader than a TV fan) a story where the vampire actually kills the not expecting victim? I suppose that’s why I like Loki from Marvel series – you can always trust he will do something that just isn’t right. No notions of betterment, no attempts to become decent.

        And thinking of it, I’d say the true question is “Where are all the villains gone?”. I’m afraid that soon enough we can expect to see Professor Moriarty confiding the secrets of his tough childhood in some adorable young lady.

  12. Never liked vampires at all, but I agree that if they’re going to do more of these vampire books and movies, they should go back to the old fearsome vampires instead of these hip and sexy ones. Make vampires monstrous again, I say.

  13. It’s true, vampires ain’t what they used to be. Still, even the blandest ones are more interesting than zombies, who just basically shuffle around groaning a lot. Personally I’d like to see ghosts make a comeback in the paranormal stakes.

    • I actually love ghosts! Ghosts and demons. Because they are very difficult to put into a cookie cutter plot (if it’s done right) and can be extremely terrifying (again, if done right). I’ve never liked zombies. Number one, they give me anxiety (LOL) and number two, I never understood why people simply couldn’t outrun them (the old-school zombies). The latest zombie movie, World War Z, was an interesting take on the zombie genre though.

  14. “The genre is getting neutered thanks to this YA trend and it needs to grow its fangs back.” – Ha ha…Love it!
    I enjoy books about the ruthless, predator vampire types and the sparkly more cuddly types as well as in the YA books. I will check out the book mentioned just above too. I just started a book that so far has some scary vampires in it. I am really enjoying it so far. It’s the first book of the Anita Blake, vampire hunter series. I know, I’m a little behind here. I will see how the series progresses, but so far so good, at least for my taste.
    Excellent posts!

  15. I wonder of you would like the vampires in my book. I made the vampires and human vampires stiffer than humans. I wanted them to be different. But some of the reviewers of my book have claimed that my characters are too stiff without in depth character analysis. I agree that TV shows and movies make vampires look silly. You can’t please everyone. Susanne

    • You’re right about that, can’t please everyone. Your book sounds interesting! I wouldn’t let the critics get you down. Not everyone listens to them. I like book reviews and movie reviews and I like to read them (the reviews), but I don’t let them influence me on whether or not I should read a book or watch a movie. More often than not, I just compare notes afterwards with the review I read previously. But I don’t let them stop me from reading something or watching something. Even the best critics can’t speak for everyone’s taste.

  16. Ann Rice is the master at lush prose when it comes to this. One of my favorites. Twilight is child’s play. Love the post, and completely agree.

  17. General comment – thanks for following me, and I’m enjoying returning the compliment. It’s not often I find a good writer whose thought process I enjoy. Looking forward to a mutually beneficial exchange.

  18. Hey, thanks for the follow.

    I happen to watch “True Blood” and seen every episode. From what I remember, most of the vampires in that series (minor and main characters) are vicious and enjoy the kill, and at times, the torture of humans.

    As for “Twilight,” I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. But I was hooked after that first movie. And yes, I’m a die-hard, horror movie fan, and I prefer serious, hard-core horror and frightening monsters that don’t look like they just came off a runway modeling stylish clothes. Still, I’m a “Twilight” fan : )

    I never read any of Rice’s books, but I did see the movie “Interview With The Vampire,” and I thought it was great. And again, that was surprising to me that I liked that movie, since I prefer vampires to be disgusting, ugly, extremely vicious and heartless.

    The best vampire story I’ve read though is “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. He wrote an incredibly detailed story about how the vampires in his novella came to be.

    –M

    • Thanks for reading! The only vampire I like from True Blood is Eric Northman. I don’t see the others the same way you do I guess. Some of the newborns are vicious but they’re usually quickly brought into line by the others. I didn’t think Twilight was too bad. I especially liked the last movie with the big fight scene. I just don’t consider it in the vampire genre. But I did enjoy it. I didn’t read the Twilight books but my daughter did and she said the books were better (no surprise)…although she liked the movies a lot. I read I am Legend (the novel) and while I enjoyed the movie (the Will Smith version), I don’t think it did the book justice. Of course the books always tend to be better than the movie no matter the subject.

  19. I like Eric as well. Twilight, and most of the vamp books and films are so often about conflict. Today’s vampires have a problem embracing their true vampire nature. I agree with what you, they aren’t that scary anymore.

  20. It’s many years since I read it, but the bit I most remember from Interview with the Vampire where Louis goes on a kind of ‘pilgrimage’ to Transylvania to seek the archetypal vampires… and finds only pathetic, mindless creatures, as far removed from the glamour and sophistication of Dracula as could possibly be imagined. The shock of that discovery I suppose mirrors the shock of any tradition that has long gone… I thought Rice did that really well, so too making a statement about updating the myth and legend.

    And not an example of ‘old school’ vampire horror, but the best vampire film I’ve seen in recent years is a Swedish film, Let The Right One In. I highly recommend it!

    • I have seen that movie and I absolutely loved it. There is an American version as well (Let Me In) which was done very soon after the original and was touted a a remake. While it was good, I enjoyed the Swedish version more. I haven’t read the novel, have you? The same author did the screenplay for the Swedish film.

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