Lately, vampire-themed books, movies and television shows seem to be everywhere.
It’s difficult to not encounter a fan of the Twilight series and the more recent television show The Vampire Diaries. There are dozens of vampire book series on the shelves that have been written within the past five years, and this may be because of the phenomenal success of Twilight. Now that the first movie has been successful, it seems that we cannot escape this new fascination with everything vampire.
With the large number of vampire story lines out there, it seems that similar plots are being recycled over and over again. Most of these vampire books follow a general theme of an internally conflicted, handsome vampire who finds love in a human who he must then try not to kill. It is not hard to see how these stories are appealing to the reader but after a while of reading the same plot for the fifth time, it gets monotonous.
The fact that books like these are so popular now says a lot about their audience. It reflects that the audience enjoys reading or watching a story that has redemptive characters who feel guilt for all of the people they have killed to survive and now want to make a change because they have fallen in love. This is not a bad thing, but when a story like this has been told again and again, it’s no longer interesting.
It is also troubling that the vampires of today have completely strayed away from the original vampire legends, perhaps for the worse. In past centuries, vampires were portrayed as satanic creatures who are animalistic and subhuman, only combated by crosses, holy water and sunlight. It was more of a good versus evil story with good always triumphing over evil.
Today, the Christian, religious elements of the vampire legend are virtually non-existent, with the exception of the show True Blood, Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and to some extent the Twilight series. The vampires of today aren’t repelled by crosses or other religious icons, and the worst thing that could happen to them in the sunlight is that they may sparkle. The grandfather of all vampire literature, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, displayed the vampire as a satanic figure, especially in his physical characteristics of pointed ears, fangs, flaming eyes, and his consumption of blood, which many consider to be the perversion of the Christian ritual.
The legend of vampires came not only from exaggerated stories passed down for generations, but also from historical figures, like Vlad the Impaler, who was the Prince of Wallachia and also a ruthless murderer who committed unspeakable acts on innocent people. The character of Dracula is based on Vlad the Impaler, and this illustrates that vampires were considered to be horrific creatures with no other desire but to satisfy their hunger for blood.
This is quite a departure from the current smooth talking, socially adept vampires of today. Vampire stories now are rarely scary at all and they are more about seeking redemption through love. They are no longer portrayed as evil but more as pensive individuals who are struggling with their immortality and a sense of guilt for the many they have killed throughout their lives.
One of the possible explanations for the large number of slanted vampire stories today is the desire for many industry writers and producers to reproduce the success of the Twilight series. This is the same thing that happened in the early 2000s when Spiderman was successful at the box office, and a lengthy list of superhero-comic movies followed in its success.
In October 2009, Bram Stoker’s great-grand nephew, Dacre Stoker, published a continuation of Dracula, called Dracula: The Un-Dead. Perhaps this will be the start of a return to the original vampire legends. Hopefully this will spark a return to the original essence of vampire literature and stop the growing trend of painting these creatures as superficially beautiful and quintessentially un-vampire.