Vampires. I’m a huge fan of horror movies, but I’ve really began to loathe vampires.
To be clear, there are some great vampire films out there spanning decades, and occasionally a really good new one will appear.
So what’s my beef with undead blood suckers? It’s really my disgust with how all things “Vampire” have evolved in pop culture over the last thirty or so years, but especially over the last twenty.
Vampires are a great classic monster. Almost every culture has at least one creepy vampire myth, and the film and literature versions were mostly scary, until 1976 when “Interview With the Vampire” was published. Now, by that time vampires probably needed a dose of originality to keep them frightening for newer audiences, but keeping them as monsters would’ve been preferable to turning them into bisexual immortal super heroes, which is how Anne Rice’s vampires have always struck me.
I’m not the hugest Stephen King fan, but 1975’s “Salem’s Lot” managed to keep the vampires a lot spookier than Lestat and company. If a dead blood sucker isn’t at least spooky then something has been lost along the way.
Yes, the movie vampires have almost always had powers of seduction. It is part of the myth’s appeal, but when the undead begin to resemble gothic club pickup artists more than hell-spawned creatures of darkness, that’s going to get in the way of my enjoyment.
About that gothic club thing…
I’ve been around the gothic music scene since the 80’s, and while I don’t presently claim any sort of membership in the gothic subculture, I am fond of some of the music and associated culture. I own an old Cadillac hearse, I collect horror movie props, my house looks like a horror museum of sorts, and my old bands played gothic and industrial music clubs all over a North America. I have some considerable experience around that scene.
The gothic subculture is a lively one strangely enough, and has mutated and continues to mutate as the years roll on. One of the weirder developments in that subculture was the introduction of vampire role playing games into the mix. Way back in 1991, the “Vampire the Masquerade” game was released, and fangtards everywhere were suddenly born. People that probably never would’ve set foot inside a gothic dance club before were donning leather trench coats and top hats, and snapping in a set of fake fangs for a night out on the town.
This was not a good development in preserving the inherent scariness of vampires. Encountering goofy vinyl wrapped fanboys and girls wearing fake teeth and in some cases expecting others to take their vampirism seriously made vampires seem dumber than ever before.
Yeah, a few of these costumed nerds actually expected the rest of us to believe that they were REALLY vampires. Made me want to drive a fucking stake through the lot of them.
Look, I fully support anyone’s right to shape their reality in any way they see fit, but don’t expect me to believe your patently absurd bullshit. There are even a few of these nouveau vamps that see their fake undead status as a “religion” of sorts, and who see it as some sort of energy transfer..
I would be fine with people absorbing certain aspects of Vampirism into their state of being, but so much of this stuff just looks like a sad cry for attention. Someone who actually possessed certain vampiric qualities probably wouldn’t need to go to some “Vampire Night” at the local goth club wearing a fricking cape.
So there has been a silly convergence of comic book and role playing game style fandom, combined with gothic club culture and vampire fiction.
Somehow this combining of elements has managed to make all of those things worse. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, some stuff just doesn’t go well together, and gothic culture and vampire wannabes are one of those things.
The Internet has created and organized all sorts of subcultures, and in the case of “real vampires” this has drawn more people to “embrace” the goofiness.
Probably as an attempt to market to these types of vampire fans, a new generation of shitty vampire movies came into being. Films like the “Underworld” series, or the “Blade” films look like they’re tailor made for the fake fang and top hat crowd. Unfortunately, this “Clubification” of the vampire myth has made them less scary. Now they’re just sexually seductive anti-heroes, and might as well be a new kind of super hero. That’s fucking stupid to me.
Vampires are supposed to be dead, and the real myths are fairly gruesome, not sexy. Most film and book depictions up until Anne Rice shat all over the myth preserved the central monstrosity of vampires even when they were shown to have powers of seduction.
Somewhere along the line, a specific kind of nerd fan base was born, and when vampire role playing games came along, many of those folks started integrating some sort of fake vampirism into their public life.
Movies inevitably came along, and suck followed. Not blood sucking either, just sucking in general. I guess it goes without saying that that I’m not a fan of these types of films, and would like to see the vampire preserved as a scary monster, not the greasy dude wearing ill-fitting vinyl pants in the corner of some dance club, trying to pick up chicks.
Oh yes, the role playing connection has also created an equally stupid “werewolf” subculture. It’s like the vampires except hairier. Also like the vampires, some of these folks expect you to believe their status as a magical being, despite them being unable to demonstrate any supernatural powers at all.
I’ll leave you with this image. Once, many years ago, my roommate and I were working at a comic book convention as part of our job. We accidentally walked through the wrong door into a huge banquet hall filled with mostly obese “werewolf” people in the middle of some sort of live action role playing game. They were all howling in unison, as if the Ramada Inn had been transformed into a Transylvanian Forest.
Roommate and I exchanged a glance and backed the fuck out of that place.