Sunday, June 10, 2012

VAMPIRES ARE NOT DEAD... I MEAN, NOT EXACTLY... by Lane Adamson

There's been a lot of talk lately about how zombies are the "new" vampires; the formerly top-shelf undead have been co-opted by the tween set and relegated to sparkly irrelevance.

I respectfully call BS.

While the pop-culture phenomenon that is the zombie/ghoul, the rotting risen dead returned to feast on the flesh of the living, has reached new heights, I don't think we can say the vampire has been thoroughly staked just yet.  Let's discuss.

The vampire first rose--if you will--to international pop-cultural prominence with the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897 (if not with John Varney's The Vampyre a little earlier).  A new peak was reached, then surpassed, with the archetypal performances of the elegant Bela Lugosi in Stoker's iconic role on first stage, then screen.

Bela was a debonaire Dracula

Christopher Lee made Dracula a snarling, brawny predator in the Hammer films from the 1950s through the 1970s.  Louis Jordan, Frank Langella, and even Jack Palance all essayed the part with some success in the 70s.  Since then we've also seen such notables as George Hamilton, Gary Oldman, and Gerard Butler sink their teeth into the part (we'll overlook Mel Brooks for the sake of this discussion).

Christopher Lee embraced the dark side

Also, let's not forget our off-Dracula vampires:  (just-departed) Jonathan Frid as the elegantly menacing Barnabas Collins; the tragically super-fly William Marshall as my main man Blacula; Geraint Wyn Davies in the Forever Night TV series; a younger, pre-Bones David Boreanaz as Angel; Alex O'Loughlin as Mick St John on Moonlight; and of course, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas as Anne Rice's immortals in 1994's Interview with the Vampire.  Oh, yeah, and that aforementioned, scintillant, Pattinson guy.

William Marshall:  so sad, but so bad

(There's also that True Blood thing on HBO, but I don't subscribe and so can't comment intelligently.)

Anyway, are we detecting a common thread yet?  I'll spell it out for you:  all of these gents brought the sexy.  I say that with the honest appraisal of a happily married Texas boy without a homoerotic bone in his body; just appreciating the facts.

Zombies may be a lot of things, but they've got all the charm and charisma of used toilet paper.  (No offense intended to any coprophiliacs in the audience.)  Almost no one wants to be one--though many of us might feel as though we are, in a spiritual sense; stripped of our last human vestige by an increasingly egocentric society seemingly intent on self-cannibalization.

Vampires, on the other hand, like Clara Bow, have it:  that indescribable combination of threat, power, and allure that makes them both fascinating and frightening all at once--rather as some feel toward bikers, or perhaps politicians.

Folks might dress up like zombies for Halloween and other assorted events, but I think very few actually want to be a reanimated, flesh-eating corpse.  Vampires, on the other hand, have got it going on.  Superhuman strength, eternal life--many feel that the night life is, indeed, the right life... and what's a little exsanguination among friends?

Why, heck.  As a youngster, I dumped all the junk out of my toy-box precisely so I could climb inside and pretend to be Barnabas Collins or Count Dracula (depending on my mood; Dracula was generally more peeved).

Now, we may be a bit short on drop-dead deadly bloodsuckers just today--but they'll be back.  They always come back, after all.

Don't they?

2 comments:

  1. I missed a few college classes because my nose was stuck in an Anne Rice book. Hopefully, it won't take a couple of decades for vampires to be hot again. I cranked out a YA novella (Vampire Music) that was in my head and self-published a few months ago, and I think it was DOA because of The Hunger Games. Long live the zombies, though! I have to wonder if all the weird cannibalistic stories in the news (and the pending doomsday) are going to help apocalyptic story sales.

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