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 Camilla. One 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.