Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I want my Sundays back, please.

I can remember being a kid, no more than 10 or 12, rushing home after church to plop in front of my gran's tv, anticipating yet another installment of the worst possible vampire films the 50's and 60’s ever produced. They were campy and flat and gruesome and gaudy and I loved every single moment.

There was 'Horror of Dracula,' Christopher Lee's and Frank Langella's versions of one Mr. Vlad and many, many others, most serving up much blood, little subtext and quite their share of hapless damsels. And then, of course, I got treated to Dark Shadows-where the tracks to Gothica were paved with melodrama and what can now be seen as Emo ad nauseaum. (I still loved every single second of it). I cannot tell you how happy those Sunday afternoons made me...sitting with my brother, eating popcorn, screaming at all the best 'gotcha!’ moments and hiding my eyes with my hands when the blood was a bit too thick or, of course, when a smooch was a big too long. True, there was an irony of sorts given that my Sundays were spent with both light (church) and darkness (the undead), but I fast became, during that time, a kid very eager for Sundays to come around.

I shared this love of vampires with my middle daughter and she, like her, mom has become a Halloween embracing, vampire loving, zombie cheering little fanatic. It's the camp we love most of all, the ridiculousness of the entire genre. It's the gore and the underlined motives behind every nefarious deed done by 'Those Who Walk At Night.' It is fascinating and frightening and now, thanks to the undead overkill given to us over the past two years, not remotely acceptable or even tolerable in publishing, television or film. The sad fact is, thanks to this vamp overkill, everyone is beyond tired of hearing, reading, listening to or watching vampires.

VH1 did their 'Best of/Worst of' list and guess where vampires fell? You got it...worst of. Like most things trendy, the media embraces then shoves said trend down everyone's throat, juicing up society on an undead concoction of sex and blood, making us choke on its bitter after taste.

What annoys me most acutely is HOW the vampire is portrayed in the majority of these treatments. With the exception of Joss Whedon (who gave us, at least, some brief peek of how cruel a vamp can be...and left us with a not so happy ending between Buffy and Angel), there have been very few writers or producers who can give the public, readers or watches, a true version of what a monster vampires can be. (Not discounting the Niles/Templesmith gore fest '30 Days of Night' that, at least, began with monster vamps).

No, now we have this idealized version of the vampire tale. The vamp himself, is at all times, sensual, exorbitantly wealthy, centuries and centuries old… (why OF COURSE he knew Noah, helped him build the Ark, in fact), usually European, because let’s be honest, there was really nothing all that romantic or mysterious about being American a thousand years ago…and, certainly, he is, at all times, increasingly turned on by that girl…that one small, average little girl that normally doesn’t even warrant a second glance. You know the one. The film/book is always about ‘her.’ She is ‘special.’ She is that one solo character, the somewhat mousey looking slip of a girl that, wonders of wonders, discovers she IS special…she IS supernatural and wow, she didn’t know it, but her GIFT will save the sad, lonely, centuries old vampire of her dreams.

To some extinct, Rice did it. In another very large one, Myer did it. The point is, vampires became the trend and that trend has killed, in the mainstream at least, vampire fiction. But I have a suggestion for those of you who are fellow vampire fans. If you happen along into the Big Easy (maybe for a playoff game, Who DAT?), take a couple of hours to venture onto The Vampire Tour. It will open your eyes and creep you right out. It will awaken you from that silly handsome, perfect, idealized non-existent character in that poorly written YA book and give you a feel for the true monster within the Vampire myth. You will question what you’ve just seen, you will blink twice and shake your head at what the city has seen happen in the past few centuries. You will be amazed.

So until the trend has died, I choose to write about fairytales…ironic, campy, laughs-at-the-stupidity-of-celebrity fairytales, but fairytales nonetheless. I will write about a secret land where characters struggle against their own limitations and the rule of others until my vampires come back. Until I get to enjoy a Sunday afternoon like I did when I was ten. I hope I’m not waiting too long.


Bryan said...

Just what I've been saying! Just you wait. I'm writing about a vampire, among other things, and he's a monster. He's a god of darkness and hunger. I will show you the vampire. I will show you fear in a mouthful of blood.

TS Tate said...

Please do. I know if anyone can show me a real vamp, it's you, Camp. My faith in you and your ability is endless, but then, you knew this. After all, not many can bully me into a writer's group and live to tell the tale. :P