Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Name Your Favorite Vampire Story

Good evening, folks!  Yes, it's that beautiful day of the week devoted to all manner of beverage.  Precious, thirst-quenching, life-giving fluids.  Today I'd like to focus on the most nefarious of drinkers, the ever-popular vampire. 

The original supersucker has a long and storied history.  Tales of vampires have manifested in one form or another for centuries in nearly every culture.  And while they vary greatly in form, from mindless fiends to sophisticated socialites, they all share one thing in common: a lust for blood.  In their newest and arguably most popular incarnation, vamps have even become teenage hearthrobs.  More on that later.

So what's the big deal about these reprehensible creatures?  What's the allure?  I mean, aren't they just walking parasites? 

It would be easy to say that Dracula is the best vampire story ever told, and it was certainly a starting point for me.  One of the first books I can remember reading was a watered-down children's edition of the Bram Stoker's masterpiece.  A villain who drank the blood of the innocent and turned them into mindless minions?  How oogie!  I was hooked.  (Though, really, what editor thought it would be acceptable to release a version of one of the scariest books of all time for six-year-olds?)

A vampire story that pre-dates the old Count, though, is Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's terrifying and provocative CamillaOne of the first works of horror to explore homosexuality, this was a major inspiration for Bram Stoker's work.  Hammer Films even adapted it into the chilling 1970 film The Vampire Lovers.

But my all-time favorite vampire story has to be Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.  None of the film adaptations quite capture the horror of the book, which surprises me considering the cinematic prose Matheson employs.  The uglies here have fallen to disease, which makes them crave blood and fear light.  Yet they remain intelligent creatures who gather outside the house of plague survivor Robert Neville in coordinated attempts to coax him out. 

The genre received a transfusion when Anne Rice published the Vampire Chronicles, which at 12 volumes and counting has, in this writer's humble opinion, far outstayed its welcome.  The series would have worked better as a trilogy or, at best, a pentalogy with the conclusion of Memnoch the Devil.  But, like Rice's immortal characters, the series just goes on.  And on.  And on.  Living forever is just...well, boring. 

Lastly, I would be remiss to mention Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, which just plain sucks.  Forget the pun; I'm not wasting one on these books.  Aside from limp prose, tin-ear dialogue, and cardboard characters, the effect sunlight has on the vampires is that they...sparkle?  And the author doesn't even have the courtesy to go into the biology behind this choice.  

But none of the aforementioned beefs are my biggest one with Ms. Meyer's work.  That falls to the central romance.  We have a) a naive 16-year-old girl and b) a vampire who looks like a GQ cover model but has the life experience of a Centenarian.  The word "pedophile" comes to mind.  If I ever catch my daughter with someone over a century her senior, there's going to be hell to pay.  What could they possibly have in common?  Oogie indeed.  Figuring how this series became a global phenomenon is above my pay grade.

Also, and this is the last space I'll waste discussing it, the woman hasn't even read Dracula!  There are several books that an author must read to effectively be able to write in the horror genre; Drac is one of them.  Call it research or paying your dues.  Either way, it must be done. 

There are still many avenues one may travel in this very tired genre.  I still love a good vampire story, on the rare occasions I can find something original.  Take, for example, Lorna D. Keach's "Slut Dracula" -- fun, fresh, flat-out hilarious.  Check it out if you can spare a minute or two of your life.  If not, I understand.  After all, you're merely mortal.

So tell me: who -- or what -- is your favorite bloodsucker?  I thirst to know.


  1. i dont care what you think twilight is the most original vampire story ever!! it is way better than dracula or that u are legend thing!! team edward!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Was always partial to Louis from Anne Rice's vampire series. The eternally tormented creature somehow resonates, no?

  3. Thanks for sharing, Twilight fan! Can I root for Team Bella?

    When it comes to Rice's books, which I read about 15 years ago, Louis was probably the most relatable character to me. Far more so than his vain, prissy "maker."

    But fortunately, unlike vampires, people change. I read Interview again a year or so ago and it was dreary, boring, eye-rolling stuff. Rice definitely targets a specific demographic and I was happy to discover I'd outgrown it.

  4. OK two things, in regards to Twilight one should also look at the lack of feminism and spine in Bella. Bella just "can't live" without Edward, and it makes me a little ill that no one has noticed that the whole damn series is about waiting to have sex until you are married. Bella wants it soooooooooo bad and Edward just won't "put out" until she marries him. Forcing her into it so she can get some. Come on Stephanie ya big Mormon, how much more obvious can you get. That being said I actually enjoyed the rest of the storyline that was not romance fueled. If you are looking for a good laugh and a fun vamp check out the Betsy series by Mary Janice Davidson. I literally laughed out loud. Any vamp who can use "ass hat" repeatedly is fun in my book. Try it out for a quick funny read.

  5. Excellent point. Twilight might as well be billed as an anti-feminism series. It seems to me Stephenie Meyer had to work very hard to make her central character so weak.

    I will check out Davidson's work -- sounds hilarious! Thanks for the tip.

  6. Some people change, true. I guess some, like Louis, are haunted by what they once loved.

  7. I love Twilight but I'm all about Team Jacob. Werewolves all the way! :)

  8. You know, if Louis wants to whimper and while away the rest of his immortality by refusing to move on, I guess that's his choice. People (and vampires) who insist on living in the past bore me. Wallow in self-pity elsewhere. Learn to adapt because we all know what happens to creatures who can't.

    This post brought to you by the letter W.

  9. i think the one vampire that always amazed me was not in a movie but actually angel the vampire with a soul. he seemed to keep the conflict of human nature of trying to repent for the devastation he caused.

  10. OK I read Slut Dracula and it was hilarious!

  11. In terms of scary vampire books, it's got to be Bram Stoker. For funny, you MUST check out Christopher Moore's trilogy. How do you not love a book called You Suck: A Love Story? (I would also highly recommend his novel Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Not a vampire story, but a great book nonetheless.)

  12. Excellent. I cannot wait to check out all these new sources of literature. Thanks for posting!

  13. I'm in. I cannot wait to read all this mess.