I’d like to know when this happened.
Vampires, particularly those in a series, have changed. Gone are the undead stalkers of the night; the monsters who’ll drink human blood with no more thought than we’d scarf a burger. The badass, mess with me and I’ll drink from your brain stem vampires are in hiding. The vampires that have taken their place?
Angsty, guilt-ridden wimps who still somehow find the motivation to ravage a woman who, on more than one occasion, gives us ample reason to question her intelligence. Of course, said ravaging is always done in a sensitive manner, with buckets of over-wrought emotion.
Of course, our “heroine” usually finds herself threatened at some point, usually by another vampire that inexplicably wants her for himself (and, we get the feeling, would probably show her a damned good time) and won’t take “no” for an answer. But of course, he can’t be too manly, or he’ll just stomp the juice out of our “hero” vamp.
In other words, we’re surrounded by “romantic vampires.” Where, I ask you, have all the monsters gone?
That’s not to say there wasn’t a fair amount of romance in the classics. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was, for its day, rife with sexual tension. In the scene where the Count attacks Lucy in the graveyard, Stoker tells us—in an incredibly classy way, mind you—that Lucy is coming her brains out the whole time. Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde is, at least on some level, about letting the inner beast run wild. While it’s not necessarily addressed, one gets the feeling that, if she survived, the woman who took Mr. Hyde to bed would have to be peeled off the ceiling. In Shirley Jackson’s excellent The Haunting of Hill House, I came away feeling very sorry for Eleanor, even though she’s a classical narcissist, mostly because she was so incredibly repressed that I got the feeling one good roll in the hay would have made her head explode.
And action, too. The final chase scene at the end of Dracula still rivals most fiction today in terms of pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat action. I dare any reader to stop turning the page in this final scene. Even though the story in Jekyll and Hyde is told second-hand, the scenes seem to jump off the page, and when Hyde walks over the little girl, you can practically hear her scream as her tiny bones snap.
So why the change? I tell you, old Bram Stoker must be spinning in his grave—assuming he’s still in it, of course.
I say let’s bring back the monsters, and let ’em do what they do—have fun, fight, kill things, and even get lucky once in a while–all without boo-hooing in their O-negative about it for weeks on end. In that vein (pun not intended—unless you laughed) I’ve reluctantly started a series that features vampires, werewolves, a drunken hitman, and lots more assorted wackiness. The only thing you’ll find missing is the brooding, I’m-so-deep-and-dark, let’s-have-awkward-sex moments.
Who’s with me?