Or whatever you want to call it. I feel bad about how when I was a kid, I thought all vampires were pretty much the same.
I only knew about a few vampires then, and most of them were different guys playing Dracula. None of them really stand out to me, frankly, not even the classic black and white guys which everyone’s always going on about. I think of all the Draculas I saw as a kid, the hilarious one in the Bugs Bunny cartoon probably stands out the most.
‘Salem’s Lot was the first vampire movie I saw which actually frightened me. I saw the movie before I read the book – and the book eventually scared me more. Barlow was the vampire’s name in that one, and Stephen King has said that he pretty much set out to do a contemporary Dracula, and that’s what he did.
In the book, he did that so well it was like a hologram. It really felt exactly like how a vampire invasion would go down, in a real seventies town. Plus, since I’m such a big sissy about scary books and movies, I appreciated how the vampires had rules – they couldn’t come in unless they were invited for instance. I like it when a book tells me what to do in case the scary stuff actually happens in real life.
In the movie, though, I don’t even remember Barlow, just the scary vampire kid – Danny Glick – floating outside his friend’s bedroom window, trying to get invited inside. That scene is right up there with Linda Blair’s spinning head, in terms of the most frightened I’ve ever been by a movie.
Frightening me wasn’t hard to do, though. Remember the episode of the Smurfs, where they got some kind of disease that made them turn red and hop around yelling “Guh-Nap!” or something? Then if they touched or bit (or something) another Smurf, then that one would turn red and do the same thing?
Those were Smurf vampires, and they scared the hell out of me. Kind of caught me off guard – you don’t expect to get freaked out by the Smurfs really at any age. And I was pretty old. I think some of my friends had girlfriends by then, and I was sitting there getting the crap scared out of me by the Smurfs.
I’m pretty sure Papa Smurf got it all straightened out, but every single other Smurf was a hopping red vampire Smurf by then. They were lucky he also figured out how to change them back.
Isn’t that weird by the way that Papa Smurf made one girl Smurf – a really flirty, sexualized Smurf, too – and then stopped? A hundred dudes – that’s just trouble brewing, you know?
Anyway. Vampires. Then came Fright Night, which really I think was attempting a contemporary version of the Vincent Price version of vampires, and my favorite part about Fright Night was the rules were much more numerous and firm – it was like a vampire condo association.
Sunlight wasn’t just bad for Fright Night vampires. It made them explode. And crosses worked pretty good, too – and I love the very handy rule about killing the head vampire before dawn, thus reversing the vampire infection on whoever he bit that night.
Seems like a complicated mechanism, whether vampirism is spiritual or biological. It works though – that was Prince Humperdink from Princess Bride, playing the head vampire, by the way. Why does he always have to be such a jerk?
Then Lost Boys did the same thing. The rules were so firm in that one, they were loading squirt guns with holy water and shooting wooden stakes out of bows, and their elderly uncle managed to drive a truck into the side of the house, expertly blasting a wooden post through Vampire Jack Bauer. It was a good shot – he’s really good at driving a truck.
Then came Anne Rice, and her vampires were worse and better. Worse because the rules didn’t work – they had to stay out of the sunlight but the more powerful they were less it mattered. And they lived forever and drank blood but the wooden stakes were irrelevant. You couldn’t get close enough to these things to stab one of them. They were like Superman.
But at least it seemed like it would be kind of cool to be one of them. The vampire stories so far, it seemed like you’d be a zombie slave with a really messed up monster face. If you were an Anne Rice vampire you were smoking hot, and also for some reason bisexual, and you lived forever, but you could walk around like a normal person and people liked you. You could form relationships and decide to only eat bad people, for instance.
Now there’s Twilight. The sun makes them shimmer, and they are super duper hot, and their main concern is what girl to sit with at lunch. I like them because they aren’t scary and they seem to have a West Side Story kind of thing going on with werewolves.
Thirty Days of Night was the scariest vampire movie I’ve seen in the last few years, though I missed the one where vampires had taken over the world and Ethan Hawke was trying to cure them. And my favorite vampire ever is Blade – I saw Blade II in the theater three times.
Vampires all over the place, a culture as rich and diverse as our own United States of America. That reminds me of Mexican vampires in From Dusk Til Dawn – speaking of vampire profiling, I wonder how those dudes are doing these days?