This is for you filmmakers and writers. To help you answer that all important question: “What kind of vampire do I want?”
There are several ways a vampire can go and this is by no means a complete and accurate list. Some are significantly more acceptable than others. Some are vampires in the classic sense and others are just skirting the edge of, “Good God! What are they thinking?!” Let’s examine the *ahem* lifeblood of these creatures to help you decide what kind of vampire you want in your film/book/nightmares.
The Deadliest of the Species
The Classic: These vampires are the ones we know and love. The Draculas and Lestats of vampirism. These characters have Old World charm and are manipulative to the extreme. They make you give them what they want and if you resist all the more fun for them! Debonair, attractive, and eerie as all hell with style to spare and smooth, sleek fangs. These monsters wear our faces and embrace their vile natures with a rapture bordering on psychotic. They have supernatural power in spades and you’re limited only by your imagination in the magics they can work. Being soulless, they rate pretty high on the horror scale with the atrocities they are capable of. The Classic also works well with period films and children. A prime example is Claudia from Interview with the Vampire. She is positively terrifying because she possesses the sophistication of a Classic vampire in the body of a young child. Weaknesses are the usual; wooden stakes and sunlight are universal. Modeled after Eastern European tradition, The Classic is a vampire that is a tried and true fail-safe, but not very innovative.
The Damned: The Damned can be tricky. There are a few subtypes for these monsters, demons, and tortured souls. With a demonic twist they can be our lust-for-your-life partiers like The Lost Boys or the From Dusk Til Dawn bar flies looking for 30 Days of Night. These vamps are hell bent on murder, mayhem, and a good time… or the flip side of the coin, the tortured soul characters looking for redemption; damned vampires like Angel from the Buffyverse or those just wanting to exist like Eli from Let the Right One In . These monsters can be super fun or more the dramatic lost, destined for eternal torment. With one foot in hell, this can lead to interesting salvation stories or smash and grab good times. You can have the most human and monstrous in the same blood-soaked package. This is the type you get to see “vamp” out with demonic visages and often a bad case of the snaggletooth. With a religious twist you can really explore the heaven and hell angle. Weaknesses are the classics; garlic, wood stakes, sunlight, and silver, and the religious paraphernalia; crosses, holy water and hallowed ground. A pitfall to be wary of, working the tortured soul angle too hard can lead to the dreaded Emopire!
The Hidden Race: They walk among us. You would never know they were there pulling the strings of human existence over the millennia. They are the predators and we are the prey. They have always been and always will be. These Hidden Races, unlike the prior two categories, are the most “natural” of vampires. Their existence is dependent our our existence. They are not any more monstrous than a great white shark, but they are just as deadly. You can find these types of vampires having a True Blood in your local bar just trying their hand at Being Human or waging quiet war with other supernaturals in the Underworld. Weaknesses are wooden stakes, silver, and if you’re not careful, being so “human” they become boring.
The Succubus: This vamp is the kind you see the most of in Vampire Romance novels and really the basis of all historical vampires all the way back to biblical Lilith. Their sole purpose is to seduce the life out of their victims whether it be blood, life energy or the soul. They are consumers. The Succubus is sexual, beautiful and sure it wants your blood and soul, but more importantly it wants to “get down to business.” This kind of vampire can be so seductive, you don’t care what kind of monster he or she is, as long as it’s in the sack. The definition of a destructive relationship, The Succubus is personified with Jean-Claude in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series and pretty much every Katie MacAlister book ever. This vampire is often combined with other types often seen in Dracula type characters. Weaknesses are the standard three S’s: stake, silver, sunlight, but most commonly, bad writing. Bad writing can change this mysterious seduction beast into a cheap gigolo with a dental problem or even worse still, the Teen Romance!
On the Fence
The Loose Connection: I have this monster that likes to eat people, but what should I call it? Ehhhh, I guess they’re vampires. These Loose Connections are generic monsters interested in human blood, flesh, and suffering. But they could be anything from a twisted denizen from hell or some sort of wack-ass beast with too many jaws, I’m looking at you Blade II. These vampires are missing the refinement and sophistication of the other categories and get the job done with sheer pandemonium. Sure, these vampires tend to be extremely scary and gory and horror-laden but, they’re just not right. These creatures often fit better into the “other” category. The weakness with these “vampires” is that they’re not really vampires at all.
The Class Clown: Scary can be funny, if done by the right hand. Mel Brooks knows this and worked it well with Dracula: Dead and Loving It. He had the brilliant formula of tapping the original Dracula but adding the right amount of spoof for tongue-in-cheek hilarity. Backing this up are gems like Love at First Bite, Once Bitten, and Fright Night. On the other end though are confusing villains such as Dracula in Van Helsing. Is he supposed to be funny or is he just laughably bad? It’s too close to tell if they’re being serious or not. Or even worse, Stan Helsing *shudder*. Funny vampires CAN be done, it just hasn’t been done well for years! There is hope though. The 1987 Monster Squad is being remade for release in 2012. The weakness here is not knowing how to temper humor and spoofs with an actually entertaining story or character. Two much “funny” takes you from stupid funny and leads you right into the realm of just plain stupid.
The Science Experiment: With our life and times being so wrapped up in modern medicine, it’s only natural that we try to explain the unexplainable with science! With The Science Experiment, vampirism isn’t a curse, it’s a virus! What if everyone was infected, what if there was a cure, what if the vampire isn’t out to kill you, it’s just sick? There is loads of potential here for vampire social commentary… and failure. Great ideas fall under the heavy hand of poor execution with movies such as I Am Legend, Daybreakers, and Ultraviolet. They could have been great, they could have been contenders. It isn’t the category that’s at fault, it’s the subtle failings of bad writing and weak climaxes. All three of these examples fell short. These vampires don’t have weaknesses, they have premature death and “allergies.” Well, I’m allergic to crap writing and stories that start out with a full head of steam and peter out to a pffffft *poof*.
They Suck, in a Bad Way
The Emopire: You know it, we all know it. The vampire that just won’t shut up! There is a fine line between a damned soul looking for redemption and whining. One of the worst offenders in my opinion is Anne Rice’s Louis de Pointe du Lac. He hates himself SO MUCH that you can’t help but hate him too. I know many people love Louis and his kind of tragic vampire looking for salvation, but spare me the theatrics and go get a tan or something. If you want a relatable vampire, take a page from Angel’s book and balance the good versus evil with a minimum of whine. Vampires are not people and trying too hard to shove the square peg through the round hole just makes a vampire lose everything that makes for a vampire. You end up with a person who has questionable eating habits.
The Teen Romance or Glitter Fiend: The bane of horror fans everywhere, the Teen Romance or Glitter Fiend. Under no circumstances should vampires ever sparkle. Ever since Stephanie Meyer published her Twilight Atrocity and made “horror” cool, we’ve seen an influx of sparkly man-meat fiction and movies geared towards parting women from their hard earned cash. This “vampire” phenomenon has created a cacophony of commentary on backwards women’s lib, teenage entitlement, and distress for our future vampires. Vampires are no longer scary, they want to be your friend, maybe even date you. They’re unreasonably good-looking and will change all of their instincts FOR YOU! Aren’t you special?