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Are vampires still viable as monsters?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Greybeard, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Greybeard

    Greybeard Minstrel

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    It would seem that vampires have been defanged, so to speak. Once feared as creatures of the night, they are now predominantly portrayed as high school crushes who sparkle in the sunlight.

    Have vampires lost their capacity to inspire terror? Are there any comparable monsters who may take their place?
     
  2. Donny Bruso

    Donny Bruso Sage

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    While normally I support anything that will get America's children away from TV and video games and put their noses into a book, I have to differ in this instance. What follows is my personal opinion, since I certainly haven't had any contact with the 'books' to learn any facts.

    My opinion is that Stephenie Meyer needs to be beaten for what she has done to vampires. There is now an entire generation of children who have absolutely no idea what a vampire is, except some pretty loser who sparkles. (grouping sparkles with vampires deserves another beating by itself...)

    Anyway, once we're done with the obligatory beatings, I'm not sure that you can find a suitable replacement for what vampires once were. The combination of evil, seduction, and fear that a properly created vampire exudes is difficult to transfer to any other 'monster.' Horror has never been my speciality, I prefer to stick to sci-fi or epic fantasy in my writing, but for those of you who do go in for it, I suggest you go create some proper vampires that can beat the crap out of 'Twilight' (I feel soiled even typing the name, lol) and leave it as a forgotten work slowly decaying somewhere in the stacks of the local library.

    *Yes, I realize I'm totally, virulently against this series, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt if you wish. Changing my mind is a lot cause though, lol.
     
  3. willg71

    willg71 Dreamer

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    Donny, I am so on board with you here. I run a site solely dedicated to all things undead, movie, lore, you name it. It's pretty new so there's still months of work to be done before it's a proper archive of the dead. I'd give the link but I'm not sure it would be appropriate or appreciated to advertise here without authorization of some sort. As chief editor I utterly refuse to include or categorize those twilight jokes and Greybeard by all means vampires are still viable but someone needs come forward and take a stand to give us back our nightmarish abominations. I think Ann Rice started this downward spiral for vampires. I want to be on record here, I am a big fan of Lestat but with all the ambiguous sexuality of the Rice novels. it is easy to see where Meyer got her inspiration from, only she toned down it for young girls. Reminds me of a south park episode, where the Disney franchise use the Jonahs brothers to sell sex to tweens.LOL
     
  4. Legerdemain

    Legerdemain Troubadour

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    Though I do agree that the Twilight Books are not in the best of taste, class, morality, or even have much basic value, I do not think that anything to do with vampires is her or Anne Rice's fault. It's perhaps our fault for letting those views of vampires cloud our thinking, but I sadly disagree with both of you, Donny and willg71. Vampires will always be very interesting characters to people, that's why those books are successful.

    I do not see the vampires as falling into a dark time versus how they once were, because even Bram Stoker's Dracula was a ROMANCE.

    Honestly, I see the childhood vision of what vampires could be fading into a mixed bag with all the media we've taken in, and now we've lost the point of it all. A vampire is what we make it my friend, so if the view of a vampire needs to change, then it needs to be written back into its glory. Let Anne Rice and Meyer have their vampires, take ours back with our own work, praising and spreading by word of mouth what should be considered in your minds to be better vampires. Otherwise, those that spread the stories about how they like their vampires to sparkle will have won... and that would be very sad.
     
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    There is no reason vampires can't inspire terror these days. If you want them to be scary, just write them as scary… which, of course, Meyer did not. They aren't monsters precisely because she did not make them monstrous. (Or so I've been told. I haven't so much as read one of her dust jackets: all my knowledge of her sparkly misfits is secondhand.) The important point is that nothing is scary per se: yelling "Vampire!" will have no more impact than crying "Wolf!" (though "Fire!" might still work in some instances…); werewhatevers, without some psychological exploration or sense of tragedy, will be no more frightening than slashers (will, in fact, come off as much the same thing); Cthulhu won't intimidate anybody if he's portrayed like Pokemon.

    In general, the people most frightened of vampires these days will probably be publishers, who, when they realize what kind of story they have in their hands, will say "Aiiiee! Not another one!" Many magazines specifically state that they don't want vampire stories in their slush piles. But at the same time, their editors will freely admit that they'd be happy to take a good vampire story if they found one… they just consider the odds of seeing one are so low they don't justify having to wade through all the bad ones they can otherwise discourage by "prohibiting" them. But if it comes from an author they've already worked with, you can bet they'll give the story the benefit of the doubt and read it through rather than stuffing it in the SASE the minute they see the word "vampire" pop up.

    So if you want to use a vampire, use it because the story would not work if there wasn't a vampire in it… and if you want your vampire to be scary, write him that way, with emphasis on the things that made vampires frightening in the first place. And in the meantime, just be thankful that Rowling knocked off before she got to Harry Potter and the Coffin of Love.…
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  6. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    I'm afraid I have to take issue with this: as far as I can tell, the perception that Dracula is or was ever intended to be a romance has come from a generation of English Lit teachers who needed material for their dissertations, along with a poor movie adaptation by Coppola that pretended to be "closer" to the original simply by proclaiming that it was… and nobody went back–assuming it was "back," assuming they'd ever read it at all–and checked to see if it actually was.

    Nobody except me, I guess. I did; it isn't. It's no "closer" than the version starring Bela Lugosi–and even there, the romantic aspect was played up relative to the actual amount of such in the book. If anything, I'd say the Coppola version is farther from the original. There may be a number of entendres in the book that Victorian audiences would identify as titillating… but not as "romantic." And these are far outweighed by the balance of the book. (At least if you're talking about the vampire being "romantic"; if you want to say the book is a romance between Harker and Murray, I won't argue.) The sexual innuendo, such as it is, is presented as a part of the horror, not as something to be admired or longed after. To a Victorian reader, Dracula would not be seen as a lover: he'd be seen as a rapist. The sole instance of spoken interaction between him and Mina covers less than a full page, and contains such expressions of endearment as:

    And that's the closest he gets to being romantic; next closest is "First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions." Or maybe "You know now… and will know in full before long, what it is to cross my path." Or maybe the line where he threatens to dash Jonathan's brains out–at least we know how much he cares. (And with that, I've covered about 90% of the total dialogue. Sorry, monologue: she never says a word to him.)

    The day after this encounter, he's already aboard ship back to Transylvania. Love 'em and leave 'em, just like he did with Lucy. Let's face it: once they're dead, they just aren't the same. (A modern analysis of this might take "dead" to be symbolic of "knocked up." I could make an argument for it.…) Some "romance." :rolleyes:

    Stoker may have been guilty of being the first writer to use sex as a cheap hook to get people to read his horror novel–with any lasting success, at least: I'm sure he wasn't the first to use it at all; nevertheless, horror it was.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  7. Legerdemain

    Legerdemain Troubadour

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    Two quick thoughts: First off, I do not think that Dracula was necessarily the romantic protagonist, but he was a foil of Jonathan, and it was a romance between Mina and Jon. Horror, certainly as well, but I still see it as a vampire in a love story as much as I see it as a love story in a horror. Though I do think that

    Watching "Gone with the Wind" again will remind us all that rape and love are one and the same to some people. :p I always had issue with the Scarlett character over that.

    Oh, Bela Lugosi is classic, I often wish to walk around with my face covered, to hide the fact I can die during productions, and STILL star in films... about UNDEAD! BRUHAHAHAHA!

    Second, maybe it's my definition of Romance that is more in play than what the book is or is not. I see any book based around human love and relationship as romance, regardless of setting or character. Though Dracula may be the net the story is caught in, I don't necessarily think it's not a romance. Then again, I would not qualify most "Romance Novels" as romance... but quick written sex stories... with no hint of real hardships or relationships.

    Anyway... I agree, the book was horror, but in my eyes it was also romance. Tragic romance maybe, but I don't think I can feel good by saying it's only one or the other.

    That said, Twilight is only one genre in my mind. "Unread" :D
     
  8. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Heh. Different movie. But, yes, nice work if you can get it.

    I can see that being the refrain in a new Bauhaus single: "Stephanie Meyer's dead… unread, unread, unread." ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  9. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Vampires are still taken seriously by the general reading population, but you will just have to accept that if you ever become a successful, famous author you'll likely have a few Twilight based quips thrown in your direction. It's hardly a tragedy.
     
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  10. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Ophiucha, I think you've hit this on the head. Though I would hazard a guess at saying a number of publishers would see vampire in your letter and throw it straight in the recycling. Any good publisher, I hope, would give it a chance and see if you've succeed where other have failed so to speak.

    I believe if you want to write a vampire story go ahead, especially if you want to get it published, because the flood of half-arsed vamp stories will probably stand you in good stead if you've written something a bit different! Right?
     
  11. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I wanted to write a story once where Nosferatu (the Max Shrek version) was in high school. No one would want to date him or think he was hunky. He'd just be a weird creepy guy.
     
  12. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Haha I'd read it.
     
  13. Behelit

    Behelit Troubadour

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    I was under the impression some of the original usage of vampires were as a metaphor for lust in an age of sexual repression.
     
  14. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Depends on what you mean by "original." Certainly not in any of the cultures they originated in; whether the English Romantic and Victorian writers intended them to be metaphorical is an open question, though I suspect that a lot of the "intentions" ascribed here are as much a result of reanalysis by modern commentators as anything else. Taking the four "seminal" works of this period in order: Polidori's The Vampyre is the first to present the vampire as anything resembling a sexual character (not just in English, but in any European language, to the best of my knowledge), at least insofar as he does perform a couple seductions (the impact of which may well have been heightened by the story's then-well-known connections with Lord Byron); Rymer's Varney the Vampire the first to present the vampire as a "sympathetic" character, but lacks romantic overtones (even undertones, so far as I'm aware); Le Fanu's Carmilla has pretty undeniable sexual overtones–but here the relationship is a lesbian one, so I'm not sure that qualifies, at least not in quite the same way. Dracula, the last of the four by more than two decades, has already been covered.
     
  15. I think that's correct. From what I remember, vampires were a perfect mirror of the worst fears of the pious. They were dangerous, sexually rampant, enormously powerful, absolutely unconcerened about human dignity and preservation of the soul, and of course...dead. The medieval Church (again from what I remember) was adament in the repression of anything sexual that all people who held excessive interest in sex were condemned and ultimately had to be destroyed (with a good stake thru the heart...and for good measure, the removal of their head).
     
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  16. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Vampires were not invented by Bram Stoker. They come from Slavic mythology.
     
  17. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Scribe

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    I've always felt there was an undercurrent of dark, deviant, sub/dom sexuality in vampire stories.
     
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  18. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Not in the original Slavic vampire stories. They were about decaying corpses murdering their own friends and family and drinking their blood.
     
  19. Toby Johnson

    Toby Johnson Minstrel

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    Yes and no, i say yes because they kill and have lots of little weird weaknesses, but no in the sene that theyre human. but again i say yes because a wearwolf is considered a monster and thats part human, a vampire is just a human and a bat
     
  20. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Minstrel

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    You can use the "human looking" part to make it worse. Vampires are a group of Them who can make Us into Them, and you might even want to be Them so it can double as a Deal with the Devil too.

    There's a quote I like that was a commentary comparing the old miniseries Pennywise to the new movies Pennywise by saying: "The old one seemed like a clown that something was wrong with, the new one is something wrong in the shape of a clown". This can be applied to any monster that can pass for human.

    In my own writing I had a vampire tell someone that their looks is like the fake lure of a predatory deep sea fish, a shiny distraction so you won't see the maw in the dark behind it.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
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