As Posted at Fantasy Magazine
There is a brilliant movie out there called “Perfect Creature” which is a quasi-steampunk world where vampires are the established theocracy. The thing is in this world, there are no female vampires. People stand in lines for “church” to donate blood (as in a here’s the needle, would you like a sugar cookie kind of way) for their blood drinking patrons. Vampires in this story represent logic, wisdom, and the rule of law. Why? Because they are in charge. What are their limitations? Lack of ability to reproduce sexually (no women) and the usual sunlight, stake through the heart schtick. Though, a stake through anyone’s heart is generally fatal.
Only you’ve got a vampire who embraces his baser appetites, and he’s going around killing people. Having sex. I won’t even go into the rest, for fear of spoilers, but the whole thing is very noir, steampunkish even (towering cathedrals, 1920’s-30’s tech). Think “Dark City” mixed with “Equilibrium.”
But, the premise of the story, hey, why not? How long have vampires been limited to the shadows? At best, you’ve got vampires like Dracula or Louis and Lestat who live off the fringes of humanity, offering their “gift” to hapless narrators. Sometimes twisting things with implied and blatant homoeroticism, coming off as elegant or fiendish –as with Underworld. Underworld was cool to me because it went beyond the dark shadows (pun intended) of vampire lore. The vampires were tech-savy. Enjoying aristocratic lifestyles, fighting their secret war.
Perfect Creature was great because the characters are limited more to a clerical/theocratic function, with the knowledge that their fates hang from a string because their needs (blood) are fed by their B.S. religion.
And why not? There are cult leaders out there who’s biggest thing going for them has been choice of eyewear (Jim Jones, David Koresh) to hair styles (Charles Manson), or love of track suits (Heaven’s Gate’s very own Marshall Applewhite). At least with vampires they have superstrength, longevity, high intelligence AND charisma.
Why the hell not? They are total cult/religious iconography in the flesh! And hey! What’s a little blood? When I was in college, I sold my plasma for $20 a week, just for beer money. That is to say nothing of eternal salvation of the soul! Lot’s of people would be waiting in line on that hookup.
But, on the flipside, I have to say this about "Twilight". What the heck? The guy twinkles? Well shine on you crazy diamond! Vampires have become the new unicorns for adolescent girls. I won’t even get into the phallic/freudian imagery this implies. Two horns are better than one? What?
Anne Rice took the vampire and made it a homoerotic allusion for cancer or AIDS, detracting from Bram Stoker’s tuckerization of actor Henry Irving and depiction of Lord Byron (with the ethnic flair of Vlad Tepes). Where Stoker’s take was a souless monster with brutal charm, Rice’s was the dandy, the sexually ambiguous fop with fangs that dabbled in pederasty.
Twilight Represents the highschool girl’s crush on the guy with the motorcycle. Sure, he’ll probably grow up to be a dentist, but for now, he’s emo, listens to the Cure and Bahaus, and "understands" her more than Jeff the jock or Clint the D&D-playing Star Wars geek. He’s also the older male. The forbidden fruit of college guy that could be 22 or 250–to high school girls, 22 and 250 aren’t much different. Sorta like David Bowie in Labyrinth, who single handedly catapulted many prepubescent girls into early woman hood just by the mere suggestion of…well, his junk. Next time Dave, wear a codpiece or something.
David’s Bowie aside, vampires will continue with us, representing the fear of death, the possibility of unblessed family members seeking vengeance, avaricious aristocrats, a debilitating disease, or a dream date who is constantly c*ckblocked by parents and peers.
Vampires are in every culture to some degree. Whereas I want to mock Twilight, I will say this, Anne Rice and Bram Stoker did not make the vampire cannon. People should do what they will with this monster. But please keep him/her dangerous.