In my new series, I am exploring vampires. The first book, Vampyre Desire Immortal, is set in the Middle Ages. This second book, Vampyre Secret Kingdom, will be set in modern times. Let’s explore changing attitudes about these creatures.
Vampires have become legendary as handsome, cold, desirable romantic characters in fiction and movies. Early stories of these creatures told of horrible bloodthirsty monsters, abhorrent demons whose very appearance struck fear in the hearts of the Ancients. Modern twists to the vampire story portray a more human character, able to love and give love, an aristocrat more misunderstood than feared.
Originally, these creatures were presumed to roam the earth, spreading disease and death and feeding off the life force of other humans. They were ghouls, more like cadavers than the sexy, young, handsome creature of movies and literature. Some old legends of vampires have them with only one nostril or long tongues with stingers. It wasn’t until 1922 that the vampire character in the silent movie, Nosferatu, was killed by sun light.
Blood is mystical in Old World mythology. It may be said to have magical powers. Blood is a symbol of Life, the human soul, and regeneration – just what every undead one needs to keep him living forever. They are beings of the night. Step outside on a very dark, moonless night. Look up at the infinite sky filled with stars. Do you not feel frail and small and very vulnerable as you stand alone?
Your skin crawls. You catch the snap of a branch, the crunch of dried leaves. You are wrong. You are not alone. Who is out there? What eyes are watching you?
People suffering from this rare genetic disease have an aversion to sunlight. If left untreated, the nose can fall off due to exposure to sun – thus these people would only venture out at night. Some victims are extremely hairy – leading to the werewolf legend. Garlic has a component that makes this condition worse – thus, Middle Age people suffering from this defect would avoid garlic. 2
But moonlight has a way of softening the edges on vampires. At least the modern day ones. Consider how lonely it would be to never die. Everyone else around you drops like flies. Everyone you loved or hated – who were the reasons you got up from your pallet on your dirt floor and greeted each new day – are rotting in a hole in the dirt somewhere while you still walk around in a world of strangers.
It’s enough to drive the sanest immortal batty!
You’re able to see in the dark, scale walls and buildings, and even weep tears of blood, but try finding a buddy ten thousand years out who knew you when. Impossible.
No wonder the ages before Christianity saw these beings as grotesque, malignant monsters that terrorized mankind. I’d be ill to if there was nobody left to hang out with, share a pizza, or rehash the old times.
Medieval Europe changed the view of vampires. They took on the ‘skin’ of the corpse and became revenants – animated corpses. Now, the vampire was becoming human and could spread disease and suffering and be at the Devil’s beck and call. He also got upscale threads, becoming more aristocratic and seductive. Smarter, too.
Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.
His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
Count Dracula appears in the black attire of an aristocrat of the period. It is his sharp teeth that hang over his lips and his pale skin gave him the gothic horror features of the Undead. And so, the vampire is transformed into the gothic bad guy.
But the lone wolf figure of yesterday had transformed himself into a regular vampire gang member. Today’s vampires have other vampire friends he regularly hangs out with – dare I say ‘vampire cliques.’
He has evolved into a more sympathetic and human character. Stoker’s Dracula is an evil vampire who is much like a cat that plays with his prey before annihilating it.
Today’s literary creations are often young sexual entities who may not want to drink their victim’s blood. These new vampires are capable of feeling real emotion. Rather than stalk their prey, the newer versions of vampires will isolate themselves from their love interest for fear of giving over to their uncontrollable lust for human blood.
Vampires in today’s stories often try to protect would be victims – garnering sympathy as a guardian angel figure instead of terrorizing readers as demonic deformities out for blood. These vampires are caught up in the ‘I can’t possibly prowl about your neighborhood because I might lose control and do something horrible to you’ mindset.
These great-looking young characters become objects of desire on the screen and in the pages of these newer works of fiction.