– Warning: Swearing ahead…This is a rant, after all. –
In light of the fact that it’s Halloween I have been turning my attention to all things spooky. Recent reads (and watchings) of current monster baddies have left me cold though. There is an ongoing trend in the monster world to humanize the mythos behind certain creepies. The newest generation of monsters are not scary. They’re not even off-putting enough to make you intake an extra breath. The newest breed of literary, and televised, monsters just feel neutered. Soft. Flaccid.
The worst of the monster bunch to receive the treatment – Vampires. Vampires are traditionally the stuff of nightmares.Take, for example, Dracula; written in the late 1800’s this tale was based heavily off of European folklore… folklore that was meant to scare strangers and children from venturing where they should not go. Dracula himself has a legion of nifty powers to draw upon. He transforms into many different animals, into fog, and grows younger. He drinks the blood of babies. I repeat… babies. He, more or less, abducts young Harker and keeps him in his castle to sate his, and his three brides, baser needs. Then he turns his attentions to London where he begins to systematically work through Harker’s loved ones until he is ultimately stopped. Dracula is fucking scary. Dracula is a real Vampire. Let’s go back further with the Vampire narrative – Carmilla. Carmilla stalks a young woman and befriends her in order to consume her. Also fucking scary. Also a real fucking Vampire.
Edward Cullen, Stefan Salvatore, even the Moroi in the Vampire Academy series – not scary. Not even a whit. Cool stories, great rewriting mythos, awesome world building narratives but all missing something vital… terror. These are monsters stories at their core. We read them wanting to be terrified. We are not terrified. We are dissatisfied with how not scared we are. We don’t want to watch Vampires connect with humans. We want to watch them eat them, not date them. Not chastely kiss them, and certainly not become part of their every day lives. Vampires are cool because they have a terribly carnal element to them. Because THEY DRINK HUMAN BLOOD. Take that away and you have, well, Edward. And no one is scared of Edward.
Granted, this new generation of Vampires has more abilities to move within our world. They can move within the sun light without burning to death with the usage of rings and charms… or preternaturally twinkly skin (Worst. Super. Attribute. Ever). They can survive on the blood of animals so they do not have to take a human life (which Anne Rice pointed out can be done, but to the detriment of any kind of potency of the Vampire power). They can… *groan* … play sports, thus blending in with the normals and becoming super popular… I’m not sure how this ability is relevant, but it is. They can do things that their parent and grandparent generations were limited by. However, this doesn’t improve their cool factor. This new range of abilities tones them down and tames them in a way that no amount of sun-walking would have inured old Vlad. Instead of working within this new set of dynamics the Vampires whinge, and moan, and spend long hours waxing emo about their poor, tortured pasts. They seem to chafe at their new-found freedoms in a way that Dracula and his ilk would have relished. I don’t want to read about a Vampire with a soul… or, at the very least, therapy worthy baggage.. I want to read about a Vampire dominating and terrorizing human kind. These soft Vampires have got to stop.
Now, I blame Stephenie Meyer for a lot of this. Pre-Twilight fervor vampire books were scary. And dark. And the stuff of nightmares. Now Vampires have been tamed down by standards that 15 years ago would have been laughable to introduce. Granted, there are still authors that write the badass Vampire book. However, the proliferation of the new Vampire softie outweighs the number of titles being written today with more traditional Vampires. For every 20 Vampire series I see come across my shelves there is probably only one that has any actual amount of fright to it. And this trend doesn’t just extend to Vampires. Other traditional monsters have been impacted as well. In the recent movements I have read Zombies that survive on tofu, demons that have hearts and refuse to be evil, and werewolves who don’t were or wolf often enough for my taste. This trend of humanizing our monsters needs to stop for the good of Horror stories everywhere. Stop making Vampires kissable and lovable. If I wanted a teddy bear to snuggle up with I would have grabbed a fucking teddy bear. I grabbed a Vampire book because I want to be fucking terrified. I want to be scared and I haven’t been for sometime. And this frustrates me.
The closest that I have come in many years to being scared by any book with a Vampire myth was by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist – Let The Right One In. Unfortunately though it was not the Vampire element that effected me… it was the pedophile character in the book I found more disturbing. But Lindqvist set this story up so that is you are not emotionally wracked by the pedophile then… well, you’re sympathetic to a pedophile. Which is a bad thing and no one wants that. The actual Vampire bits in the book were, once again, not scary to me. Sweet and endearing and even tender… but, again, do I want my Monsters to be sweet?
We must bring the fear back in the Vamp folklore. I want scary vampires like the ones from Fright Night. Now, I hear some of you out there saying “Fright Night? Really?” but, believe me, this tangent is apt. Fright Night fucking terrified me when I was a kid. I concede I was 7 or 8 years old when I first watched it and, admittedly, was probably far too young for it. However, those images stuck with me for some time afterwards. I believe it was a full 2 years that I had to sleep with a nightlight on. No 7-year-old today is terrified of any of these new Vampires and, if they are, I fear for their developmental health. These ninnies that we call Vampires are not going to scare a kid into a nightlight. They’re not going to scare a child in broad daylight…which, apparently, they can do now. *heavy sigh*
So, authors, editors, screenwriters everywhere I implore you. Stop it. Stop writing the Vampire softie. Stop pandering to your audience. Just stop. There is a reason why horror sells. There is a reason we like these creatures. Stop humanizing the inhumane. Stop neutering them. We want to see their fangs.
And, for fucks sake, stop making Vampires play sports! Vampires are the stuff of nightmares. They are not supposed to be dominating on some field of glory… and don’t tell me it’s a Metaphor for the Predator/Prey relationship because, if this is the intent, it’s a bloody terrible one. If anything they are supposed to be stalking quietly in the outcast hallways.. like the art halls… or drama (the emo personality of Vamps blends itself nicely to performance).. or perhaps writing terribly morose poetry. But not sports. Come on, really? Vampires playing Baseball? Ski-bunny Vampires? FOOTBALL GODS! It’s ridiculous. STOP. MAKING. VAMPIRES. PLAY. SPORTS. Period. End of story. I cannot take any of them seriously with shoulder pads or jock straps on because that means THEY NEED TO BE PROTECTED. Seriously. Stop it. Just stop.
*And, by the way, Happy Halloween all!
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