JISHOU, HUNAN — I’m old enough to remember when vampires were scary, the kind of guys no girl would want to hang out with — unless they really wanted to be both ravished and undead.
Now teenage girls swoon over the impossibly sensitive and chaste modern-day vampire guys, who swear off human blood and suck only animal blood. I am surprised PETA doesn’t get on this flagrant abuse of helpless animals, but the animal control folks are tickled pink, I bet.The vampires I grew up with (not literally, mind you) were all versions of the ghoulish Count Dracula from the novel by Bram Stoker — not very pleasant at all.
They couldn’t stand sunlight, which could kill them. So they only moved about by night. None of this new-age sparkly effects we see nowadays.
They without exception attacked only humans for their blood. Any sex would do, but Dracula in the movies seemed to have a taste for the ladies. And of course the victims, once bitten, would also become vampires. (The sexual connotations here are pretty obvious, but alas lost in today’s abstinence-only vampire ethos. How bloody dull.)
They were technically undead, neither alive nor dead, but somewhere in between. Of course, they were immortal. And creepy. Unlike bon vivant immortals like The Highlander or dashing and glib, yet strangely shy Edward, vampires just suck the life out of a party. If they had any social skills at all while alive, centuries of walking around at night biting people in the neck pretty much burned those skills out.
They could transmogrify into bats, defying both biology and the conservation of mass, for quick escape. Their strength, on the other hand, did not approach Superman-like levels. I’m not sure what would happen if Dracula were hit by a car, for example. I do know what would happen to the driver, however. Instant blood donor!
Aside from exposing them to sunlight, the only other way to kill a vampire was to drive a wooden stake through his heart. (BTW, I failed to mention that vampires in my day seemed only to be male. What happened to all those fair maidens, once bitten, anyway? Hmmm.) A Christian cross would also make them shrink back in fear. Making an undead fellow actually dead was generally very difficult. Centuries of practice evading mortal avengers gave vampires a real advantage in a fight, making for some great suspense in the movies. Nowadays it never seems to cross the minds of winsome vampire lovers like Bella that perhaps dashing and glib, yet strangely shy Edward might be a lot happier dead. Being undead is just a lifestyle choice, after all, so whatever.
(And am I the only one puzzled by why Bella’s creator chose her name, given that a famous Dracula actor was named Bela Lugosi? Is it a joke, or just an oversight?)
It’s Hallowe’en, and one of the tropes of the holiday has been scary villains like Dracula, ashen-faced and looming in black evening clothes, staring meaningfully at someone’s carotid artery. Vampire movies were chilling (OK, some were also deliberately funny: “I don’t drink …. wine.” . Don’t change the subject.), worthy of watching late at night on October 31st. Vampires were staples of haunted houses, along with the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, skeletons, mummies and ghosts.
Now we have emo vampires like Edward. Who the hell is going to be scared out of his pants by a dashing and glib yet strangely shy 20-something GQ model? Will little boys clamor to dress up like Edward for Hallowe’en, so they can scare the little girls? It just won’t work. The girls will just fall in love with them.
In this festive holiday season, we need to remember its time honored tradition of scaring us shitless. It’s time to put the creepiness, ghoulishness and menace back into the vampire. They are not supposed to be socially acceptable, or politically correct, or even abstinent. Send Edward and his woosy brethren and sistren back to the graveyards, and bring back Nosferatu and Dracula! I think if you pull out the wooden stakes, they come back to life … or undeath … or something.