Defanged: When Did Movie Vampires Become Pussies?
Read the books. Watch the movies and television series. What kind of vampire is ashamed of his fangs, “just says no” to bloodsucking and glitters in the sunlight?
These days, you find the modern vampire roaming around public schools in daylight and managing nightclubs in rural America. They are our friends, neighbours, and one-night-stands. And they listen, stalk, care and cry—anything but feed—on us for their survival.
The release of Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst got us thinking. While it’s full of moral angst and whiny monologues, there’s still enough horrific violence and bloody spurts (which is what you’d expect from the guy who did Oldboy) to satisfy the average horror fan.
When was the last time we saw a good to honest ‘poop in your pants’ vampire scarefest?
Fangs for the Memories – where did it all go wrong?!
What happened to the good old days of deception and bloodshed? The original Dracula of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel actually drank blood. Not only that, but he was a frightful vision of “white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth.” And then the ‘90s arrived.
There is one particular scene towards the beginning of Interview with a Vampire (1992)—based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel—where Brad Pitt, as the new-fangled and kind-hearted vamp Louis, weeps. He weeps. His indiscriminately bloodthirsty maker Lestat, played by Tom Cruise, has thrown a poor blubbering—and quite bloody—slave girl his way to quench his hunger. But Pitt cowers and twinges at the sight of blood. And this marks the first sign that something is awry.
The true reformation of the vampire comes in 1997 with the arrival of Angel, the benevolent and fetching human-loving monster, introduced in the premiere episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A gypsy has allegedly cursed him with a conscience, so if the leather-wearing, crying-on-the-side immortal ever feels true happiness (i.e. sex), he will turn evil again.
Here is a vampire who is too guilt-stricken to drink blood and too afraid to have intercourse. Could it get any worse? Why yes it can.
We have now entered the highly touted mid- to late-2000s vogue of pop-vamp culture, where 90-year-old high school student-vampires glitter in sunlight and stand by abstinence. Intimidating kids with the horrors of unprotected sex has gone too far—just read the final instalment of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. And all because the pre-pubescent near-century-old vampire Edward Cullen, played by tween heartthrob Robert Pattinson, fears his wild side in the sack. God forbid he bites a human, or his girlfriend Bella.
For the adult vamp-loving variety, there is True Blood, the television adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001), now awaiting its third season on HBO. Vampires are out of the coffin in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Here is a perfect opportunity for terror and carnage. Instead, we meet sad sop Bill Compton and love-lust Sherriff Eric Northam—both pining after a telepathic waitress named Sookie. Most disappointing is Northam, once-sadistic manager of Fangtasia, now a girl crazy wimp who cries blood tears.
From the ‘90s on, vampires have evolved into sugary sweet pop icons. Instead of howling in fear, tweens go “aww” at the lovey-dovey duo of Twilight and the emo crybabies of True Blood. Dracula’s coffin is closed. The pubescent progeny are here.
For more movie vampire goodness, check out our reviews of Thirst, Let The Right One In and Lesbian Vampire Killers (oh and not technically vampires, but you have to check out Zombieland). Or for more crushing supernatural disappointment, read our special feature on Monster Movie Fight Offs (That Are Crapper Than You Think)…..