Vampire Weekday

by John J. Miller on January 13, 2010 · 42 comments

in Blog Posts

  • SumoMe

I snuck off yesterday afternoon and saw Daybreakers, the new vampire movie. Quick review: Cool premise, poor plot.

It may be a vampire film, but it’s not a horror film–i.e., it’s not scary or creepy or haunting. Instead, it’s a science-fiction movie about vampires, with a little gore tossed in.

I’m now officially suffering from vampire fatigue. The bloodsuckers have inundated popular culture so thoroughly that they’ve lost their mystique. They’re now positively boring. Do you agree? Sound off in the comments section.

daybreakers-poster

  • justin

    I thought it was a pretty good take on vampires with it’s view of what would a vampire society be like. Yes, it had the standard anti-big business, anti-pharm message like all hollywood movies, but it at least used it in an original setting. It was a far better movie than that awful Avatar which was nothing but Dancing With Wolves or The Last Samurai but with blue people. And talk about liberal movies! It must have been produced by Al Gore. Anyway, I’ll recommend Daybreakers.

  • erin

    I’ve been sick and damn tired of vampires since Anne Rice’s books became movies. Maybe the real theme of these movies is about what we value as a society: Eternal youth, sex and power.

  • William

    Lord yes I sick to death of them. They just need to stop or failing that turn them back into monster.

  • Ron

    I’m with Erin, thought he/she left out repressed guilt and a desire to be dominated. The whole pagan blood sacrifice thing.

  • Anthony

    I have lost my wife to the vampires. That’s okay because they make her randy, grrrOWWWL.

    She first got sucked in (HAR HAR) by “First Blood” on HBO. I loved the first 10 minutes of the first episode of this show but quickly got tired of it. The premise that creatures that feed on humans should be afforded equal rights struck me as an affront to the entire civil rights movement. As a parody of society it would work, if were funny. I kept hoping for somebody to kill some vampires, but they were the main characters, and my wife eventually banned me from watching the show with her.

    Since then she’s read about every vampire book out there. I won’t get tired of the traditional idea of vampires but it has gotten way beyond ridiculous. They’ve got Jane Austin vampire mashup books for cripe’s sake. ENOUGH!!!!

  • http://www.theshuffle.org Todd G

    Reminds me of “Dracula Meets Magic Johnson”, a (very) short clip in a compilation of video shorts from the great Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy). Dracula and Magic Johnson have just finished dinner. Dracula suddenly jumps up and bites Johnson. Nonplussed, Johnson says something like “You don’t follow the news very much, do you.” Confused, Dracula responds, “No, not really. Why?”

    Comedy genius, that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOVjq8UltKw

  • matt

    Hey John, I agree–we’ve not only done vampires to un-death, we’ve done every possible twist on vampires: anne rice vampires, awful George Hamilton comic vampires, Twilight-y brooding teen vampires, pre-grunge ’80s Kiefer Sutherland vampires, foppish Tom Cruise vampires, etc. Put a stake in it, it’s done. Zombies, too. Short of a new crop of Creature-from-the-black lagoon-inspired features, are there any decent monsters left out there worth inflicting on a monster-hungry public?

  • Riff

    When I was in grad school, I asked a screenwriting professor of mine (who was himself an accomplished screenwriter and novelist) why the assigned work in his class consisted only of adapting established literary works. His reply? “If I let them write whatever they like, all I get are f–king vampire scripts.” He didn’t understand the big attraction to vampire movies and neither did I. That was in 1992 and I still don’t get it. It’s a tired genre.

  • http://blaknsam.wordpress.com Blaknsam

    While I would love to see a really good film (or HBO miniseries) based on ‘Salem’s Lot (the old one was okay for the time but it “stars” David Soul for God’s sake, the remake terrible), it’s time to retire vampires for awhile. I always preferred werewolves anyway.

  • Joseph

    I agree, Mr. Miller, sick and tired of vampires. The band Vampire Weekend, on the other hand, I cannot get enough of.

  • Mike

    I am tired of all vampires except Vampire Weekend.

  • Charley

    BORING!

    I’ve read some interesting vampire stories over the years, such as Fred Saberhagen’s take or a short story in Playboy years ago which had South Asian female vampires who performed the ultimate oral sex and the revenge of a homosexual doctor. Or, maybe the best was Michael Talbot’s take on vampires in A Delicate Dependency, which focused on differences that immortality would bring based on his memories of other incarnations.

    But most of this stuff is schlock, and the more popular it gets, the more hack writers pile on to do and redo it. People like Michael Chrichton and Richard Matheson did the medical version of vampires years ago. How is this really different or better? I probably shan’t find out through direct experience.

  • Steve

    It’s been getting more difficult to distinguish between vampire and zombie movies recently. Think about it: You’re bitten, you slowly die (or quickly, depending on the screenwriter or novelist), you come back from the dead desperate to bite more people and spread the infection.

    The differences were with Stoker’s Count Dracula–passionate AND hungry, with the subtle references to the fears Victorian syphillis outbreaks. Romero’s zombies fed our Cold War-era invasion fears, peppered with his not so subtle commentaries on American race relations and materialism (still the worst part of his “vision”). But other than that, are there really a lot of differences between vampires and zombies?

  • Doug

    I’ve had it, too. Many newer vampire stories have lost their power. I always thought that a vampire was a metaphor for a man with an ungoverned sex drive, especially a middle aged lothario. He feels the need to feed off of young flesh in order to fend off his own mortality. The literary power comes from the examination of the evil within the human heart and the corrupting power of sin. Now, nobody worries about sin or looking for corruption inside themselves through self-examination. It’s all about blaming others for whatever is wrong. This makes many modern vampire stories puerile and ultimately boring.

  • Mike

    I’m keenly awaiting the coming wave of Leprechaun mania.

  • Mike G

    I’m plenty tired of vampires, but if anyone wants to see a movie (or rather, a TV miniseries) which deals with some of the same vampirological sociological issues (close enough to call Daybreakers a ripoff, quite possibly), check out the BBC series Ultraviolet (not to be confused with dumb Milla Jovovich actioner). In it, a cop goes to work for a combined British government-Catholic Church (and isn’t that ironic?) anti-vampire unit, and has to wrestle with issues like whether it’s okay to abort a half-vampire fetus (since it will be okay to kill it once it’s “born”). Eventually it gets into the same kind of environmental territory, but less one-dimensionally, it seems. Plus, it’s scary as hell sometimes.

  • Douglas

    It’s not that I want vampires to go away… I love the genre… I want modern vampires to go away; the Anne Rice/Twilight misunderstood emo goths, the “blood virus” scientific vamps from movies like Blade. I want my monsters back. I want the undead, foul, servants of Satan from books like Dracula and Salem’s Lot back. Those are real vampires.

  • http://www.gormogons.com Confucius, the Œcumenical Volgi

    We discuss vampires perhaps a little too often over at Castle Gormogon. Stop by if you’re interested:

    http://www.gormogons.com/search/label/Vampires

    Basically, we line up with Douglas—we’re anti-revisionist.

  • http://www.chaosprg.com/blog irv

    Vampires have fallen a long way since the glory days when Barnabas Collins was tearing up Collinsport. The romantic vampire schtick as developed by Ann Rice and super-popularized by the Twilight dreck is enough to make you want to swear off vampires entirely.

    Unless there’s even the faintest possibility of bringing back Buffy. Or even Angel.

    At least in Angel, vampirism wasn’t just some kind of super power thing. Being a vampire should be a curse and a misery, not an alternative lifestyle.

  • Lee Russ

    I’m waiting for Hollywood to make a movie out of this concept: Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters Exploit Obama Terrorism Precedents http://optoons.blogspot.com/2009/08/vampires-werewolves-and-other-monsters.html

  • Bob

    Well, the vampire thing has been getting old for a while, but I think True Blood and Twilight sealed their fate. What disgusts me most about both of them is that the evil undead who became vampires by killing a human being are seen as the enlightened, open minded, but persecuted folk. And humans are seen as shallow, evil, bigoted (especially those pesky Christians) and the bad guys.

  • Bleepless

    The only fangs I want to see on screen are those in the mouths of huge apes or giant Japanese dinosaurs.

  • Kevin

    The last enjoyable vampire treatment I saw was the final episode of “Angel”. Joss Whedon knew that vampires (with first one and then two exceptions) were evil and deserved to die. Since then, inspired by Anne Rice’s Lestat and Whedon’s Angel (who was probably at least partially inspired by Rice)vampires are all cool, brooding immortals who are simply mis-understood by the creatures who serve as their food supply. Every other vampire book and movie seems to borrow from either Buffy (woman fights vampires but falls in love with one), Lestat (woe is me I am evil but soooo cool) or Angel (once evil seeking redemption). Until someone can come up with something new, it should cease now! Daybreakers looked promising but fails to deliver.

  • Mike

    Or if it’s not going to be leprechauns, maybe Keeblers: there is a lot of potential for passion, angst, dark desires, and, of course, cookies.

  • Rob Crawford

    Yeah, I know you’re all sick of vampires. I think you’re sick of seeing them turned into the angst-ridden, “complicated” heroes. But I have to recommend a piece of rather light-weight (but fun!) reading: “Monster Hunters International” by Larry Correia. Yes, the bad guys are vampires — but they’re the BAD GUYS! Even better, there’s a discussion between two of the hunters about how hard killing vampires has gotten since the Anne Rice novels came out — too many people trying to “make peace” with what are just sophisticated predators.

  • tabacman

    I’ll agree that the pop-Andy Warhol’d vampires have lost all connection with their roots as Celtic extensions of paganism and fertility/sexuality figures.

    Brian Lumely (a brit I believe) wrote a series of Wamphyria books that were completely over the top goth fanatasy almost cartoonish fiction. As usual a neat idea and probably a pretty fair start – but similar to films and tv – the longer it was extended the poorer it became. Never the less – I would recommend them just as maybe an alternative to the highly laquered veneer that is Anne Rice, Stoker, Twilight and anything newer than 1970. Unfortunately these Lumely tomes are hard to come by as they never really did that well I think. Heck if anyone collects them all up I would be willing to get on a rotation to re-read them and then pass them on…

    For straight entertainment I will still stick with the old 20s 30s and 40s vintage Vincent Price era stuff. Lot of crap to be sure – but some of it was at least better than f’ing Twilight.

    Twilight is an extended infomercial for megamall retail clothing chains and upscale furniture sellers. Looked to me like a pitch for Abercrombie and Fitch. With the vague child porn-ishness included. Probably similar to what another commenter said about the representation of mid aged sexual predation being highly stylized for mass consumption.

  • http://theculturealliance.org Daniel Crandall

    My biggest beef with the current Vampire trend is turning them into the good guys, some kind of tragic hero who just had know idea what he or she was in for … when the soul is handed to the Devil in exchange for immortality. You want to keep a vampire out of your house? “Just say No.”

    Personally, I’m hoping the soon to be released Wolfman movie creates a werewolf trend. Werewolves actually can be seen as a tragic heroes since the curse is forced upon the individual. Perhaps werewolves represent civilization’s conflict with barbarism, and the evil that comes when barbarism is allowed to run around unfettered. Anyway, it’s a theory.

  • http://www.federalistpaupers.com Tom Meyer

    We’re certainly in the middle of a a vampire moment and I — who’ve enjoyed a lot of vamp-fic — am suffering from fatigue.

    The problem isn’t so much with vampires themselves; used properly, they’re a great vehicle for stories about sex, desire, and evil. Rather, it’s that there are simply too many of them about right now, and most treatments simply aren’t any good.

    Post-Buffy/Angel, the only interesting portrayal of a vampire I’ve seen was the superb Swedish film “Let The Right One In,” which I simply cannot recommend too highly, either as a film in its own right or as a much-needed antidote to Twilight. Unfortunately it’s being remade, and I have every expectation that Hollywood will ruin it.

  • http://www.vampjac.com E.E. Knight

    I’ll second Mike G above on Ultraviolet. You may have to dig a little to find it, but it’s worth the search.

    It’s tough days for people who side more with the vampire hunters than the vampires. John Carpenter’s Vampire$ and 30 Days of Night are good popcorn fun if you like your vamps menacing rather than mincing. I’ve had some success with my own Vampire Earth series (Penguin/Roc — think a WW2 occupied Europe story with Lovecraftian vampires and their quislings replacing the Nazis) but nothing like Twilight and Sookie, so vampire daters still outnumber vampire haters.

  • http://thehyacinthgirl.wordpress.com april

    I’m with you on the vampire fatigue. I’m switching to werewolves.

  • Kdawg

    Perhaps “Daybreakers” is a political allegory with the humans being taxpayers and the vampires as the government? At the rate we are going, the vampires (aka government workers/union hacks) will run out of humans (taxpayers and the private sector) to feed their insatiable palates.

  • RTL

    Let the Right One In is very good.

    In defence of Whedon…vampires are extremely evil and the two good ones had to get their souls back. In the case of Angel, it was a punishment from the Gypsy’s.

  • LL Karnay

    After Salem’s Lot, that was about it for me and vampires. tried Buffy – too high schoolish. tried True Blood – just don’t get it. 30 days of Night – had its moments but what is it with the vampire language of clicks? I did enjoy a movie form the 80s/90s (?) about a plague that is attacking vampires and a human who tried to help them – think it was filmed somewhere in eastern Europe (where else?). What I find really fascinating about all this vampire talk is if only Bram Stoker were alive today to see all this. The man died in poverty, and yet, the stories that his original work has given birth to over the decades. Does he have an estate? Any ancestors?

  • Mike Long

    When I saw this movie, all the vampires were blue and in 3D. My reaction was entirely different from yours. Well, to each his own.

  • Melvin

    Yes, they are boring, and I have my own novel about them that I wrote in 1989 sitting quietly in my closet. Whatever they are, vampires should not be seen too often in the “good guy” role. They should also not be waif like pretty boys with sunken cheeks and some ashberry rouge. That is not scary–its pathetic. Christopher Lee may have looked like a gentlemen count, but boy was he ugly when he was ready to take a bite. These Harlequine Romance vampires must die!

  • http://www.devinetoursrome.com Charles Collins

    The TV series Ultraviolet was great, and very deep. The agents are all agnostics working for a priest, and the moral angst about the the vampires is there – but that is because the Vampires are really, really good about being evil.

    John Carpenter’s Vampires kinda sucks, but the book it is based on, John Steakleys Vampire$ is great – Vampires are evil, the Vatican hunts them down, but in the book the Vampire hunters get found out, and the Vampires strike back.

    Vampires are great, and I haven’t gotten bored by them, but I hate the Interview or Blade vamps – you need the evil, and it is better if you keep the overt religious aspects. You can play around with it, which Daybreakers tried to do, but failed (as did 30 Days of Night, but that was just an incompetent script and director). Because they are intelligent, you get more stories than werewolves and zombies.

  • Diane

    The best review of Interview With the Vampire, by Anne Rice, that I ever saw started out with the following words: “These people are all a bunch of psychopathic mass murders, would someone please stake them NOW!”

  • Bill

    Here is the answer to “resurrecting” the vampire genre to what it was before Hollywood started portraying vampires as handsome, engaging, even someone to love (yecch!.

    Bring back James Woods as this era’s Van Helsing. Make it a federal law that no vampire movie can be made unless James Woods plays the vampire hunter. And……give the vampires capes to wear. They were soooo cool when I was 10 watching Lugosi on Creature Feature.

  • misterd

    Try delToro’s Cronos, and his novel The Strain. Cronos is definately an original take on vampires,and The Strain very much in the vein of I Am Legend, though set at teh start of the outbreak.

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    If Bram Stoker could be brought to the present to see what he started … he’d probably say “Vampires are monsters, you twits!”

  • Ky Person

    Dang, I came in late on this one, but I might also add that vampires are infesting romance novels. I enjoy reading them, and have to go far afield to find one where the characters are both human.

    Thank God for mysteries and techno-thrillers – at least Joe Pike is still human (I think).

  • Jessica Majzner

    You guys aren’t sick of vampires…or you wouldn’t be watching vampire movies. You are sick of BAD vampire movies/books. If you are looking for something different check out the book I wrote once I get it published. No sex, vampires are menacing, and unique werewolves. It delves into werwolf culture a bit like the Wolfen but moreso. And no love story. Just scary werewolves/vampires and a good story 🙂

Previous post:

Next post: