Monday, July 15, 2013

Being Undead Really Bites

Did you read Dracula when you were a teenager?

I started the book. It scared me so much I quit. Then I didn't sleep well for several nights afterward. I removed the paperback from my bedroom and finally relaxed.

For some people a good scare is enticing: shivering around a campfire while telling ghost stories; watching a movie about a mysterious murderer who creeps around a corner and slashes his next victim; screaming on the Tower of Terror at California Adventure.

And even though I've done all of these things (and I'm a big fan of Tim Burton and his morbidly imaginative movies), I'm not really a scare seeker.

Maybe that's why this vampire craze that has taken over bookstores and movie theatres perplexes me. But the thing is that, as scary as Dracula is, people seem to see vampires as romantic heroes rather than terrifying monsters that eat people.

Have you seen the young adult fiction section of a bookstore lately? It sort of looks like Hot Topic without the super-loud, crappy music. Since Twilight it seems like vampire romance novels are all over the place: Vampire Diaries, The Morganville Vampires, Eighth Grade Bites, City of Bones, etc., etc., etc.
All right. I confess: I've never read Twilight or even seen the movies. My sister and sisters-in-law all read them, but I really can't force myself to read sub-par prose. (My husband read the first book as a talking point; my sister quit in fury when she found out that the third book was not, in fact, the conclusion of the series.) So I didn't understand the Team Edward and Team Jacob thing until people stopped to explain who the characters are. Oh, right. Vampire and werewolf. Great guys for a high schooler to date.

And I guess the fact that this teenage girl (or is she twenty by the fourth book?) marries a 200-year-old undead, sparkly vampire gives me the creeps. But women love this Edward. I've heard weird stories about women who are looking everywhere for a man like Edward: sneaking into your window to watch you sleep, deciding what's best for you without asking your opinion, suicidal journeys upon hearing of your (false) death, leaping out of windows while carrying you in his arms, and skin as cold and hard as marble. 
One adult woman's obsession with Edward inspired her to ask her husband to bathe in cold water so he was cold to her touch.

Is it just me, or is that nasty?

I think while people are busy romanticizing vampires, they forget one important element: death.

Not only do vampires kill people, but they are actually dead people.

The truth is, being undead couldn't be anything but awful. Let's say you're bitten at fifteen: you stay in your awkward fifteen-year-old body forever, always wishing you could grow into your adult figure. You can't go out into the sunshine: the sun burns you up. You have no reflection (maybe that's why Edward's hair looks so weird in the movies). Your diet is based on human blood. If you don't kill the humans around you, you outlive them anyway.

It sounds really lonely.

I think that's why my nomination for best vampire story ever is Life Sucks by Jessica Abel, Gabriel Soria, and Warren Pleece.
Imagine you are the undead, slave to the owner of all-night convenient store, forced to watch pathetic wanna-bes pretend they're vampires.

And no one has a freaky undead baby at the end.

Now that's a vampire story worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. I have also been completely stymied by this whole Twilight saga. The one thing that cheers me is that the fad might have died down by the time my daughter is old enough to notice it. I do have one confession: I have seen every Twilight movie. It's not what you think, though. Have you heard of It's the same guys who used to do Mystery Science Theater 3000. They do basically the same thing, record a running commentary riffing on newer, terrible movies that you can download for a couple bucks and then sync with the DVD of the movie. Hilarious. We used to have rifftrax parties. Twilight movies provide some pretty good fodder. Highly entertaining. So if you're ever tempted, it's the only thing that makes some movies watchable.