The Allure of Vampires–Why are they so Popular?

Vampires have been a staple of modern mythology for the last two centuries or so, from Bram Stoker’s aristocratic and sinister Count Dracula, to the sparkling Edward Cullen of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series. The last twenty years or so has seen an uptick in vampire interest; indeed, it is nearly a frenzy. But what is it that makes vampires so intriguing, so alluring?

 

In the beginning, vampires were portrayed as sinister forces of darkness that seduced women and turned them into agents of the devil. Now, they are just semi-dangerous love interests. Throughout they have been associated with sexuality, at least to a certain degree. The drinking of blood summons images of bestial, carnal urges, while the penetration of human flesh by vampire teeth summons images of… well, you get the idea.

 

In Dracula’s time, sexuality was still viewed as a vice, something of the devil that should be avoided. So, making Dracula seductive and human-like in appearance, resonated well with his nature as the prince of darkness. He existed to tempt women, to draw them away from the path of virtue, and corrupt their very souls. His sexuality at that time was synonymous with his corruptive influence; it was his avenue to damnation. We’ve moved beyond that now. Courtesy of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, vampires have become perfectly respectable dance partners, dates, even husbands. I don’t know what that says about us… but it probably isn’t good.

 

There is a third aspect to the vampire that we also find alluring. That of the soul-searching creature of the night. We’ve turned from the vampire as tormentor, to the vampire as tormented. It began with Anne Rice (I think) and the vampire Louis from “Interview with a Vampire.” Now, the vampire broods and ruminates, suffering ungodly horror for his fate. He endures incomprehensible moral anguish for every human he kills. This window into a dark soul entices us, it hopes to offer a better understanding of our own human condition—we with all our faults and failures, and our own anguish for the things we’ve done that eat away at our soul. Perhaps we can find relief and meaning from the experiences of a creature condemned like Louis.

 

In the end, the vampire is a complicated amalgam of forces. It is seductive and intriguing in many ways; it is a monster with a human soul, a sexual lure into darkness, or perhaps… a potential boyfriend with a spotty past. Whatever the case may be, its pull on us mere humans is undeniable.

 

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About atoasttodragons

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, lives in northern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the continental United States, famous for the Battle of Plattsburgh and the ever-elusive Lake Champlain Monster, a beastie more commonly referred to as Champy. Matthew has studied philosophy, mathematics, and computer science in the academic world. He has earned a black belt in martial arts.

10 responses to “The Allure of Vampires–Why are they so Popular?”

  1. Steve says :

    Although not exactly the same, but very close to this idea, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend predates Ann Rice and also deals with a “legendary” monster who slaughters other creatures in their sleep while (barely) dealing with the moral ramifications of his deeds. Although, in this case, it is not until he is captured that he is forced to face the reality of his monstrosity. None of the film adaptations I’ve seen have ever really caught on to this, the very essence of Matheson’s story.

    • atoasttodragons says :

      Never read any Matheson. I remember when the “I am Legend” film with Will Smith came out a few years ago–is that based on his work? Even loosely?. I never went to see it, because going by the trailers and everything it looked to me like it was just another zombie movie. My friends told me it wasn’t, but I never did get around to seeing it. Oh well.

      • Steve says :

        It was based on the Matheson, but again, missed the crucial idea of this man, this sole survivor, becoming the monster who slays sleeping beings – becoming the feared and hated evil creature as seen by the (now) prevalent “species”, so it might as well be considered a loose borrowing from a strict ideological point of view. Without that inner psychological depth, it is, more or less, just another zombie movie.

      • atoasttodragons says :

        Maybe that was necessary going from a book to a movie. Then again, if the whole point of the book was to communicate that idea, it’s kind of pointless to make a movie that doesn’t convey that. Not the first time Hollywood has ruined a good book. Won’t be the last, either.

      • Steve says :

        Exactly! 🙂

  2. kennesawt says :

    Ah yes, you nailed it my friend. We are compelled, pardon the Vampire Diaries pun, to love all things dark, sinister and sexual. I’d like to see the Vampire get back to their roots, no sparkles or remorse for what they must do. Vampires are not evil, they just love the red stuff. I just started watching the Vampire diaries and am amazed at how they seem to use the need for blood as a metaphor for for teenage drug addiction.

  3. Ileandra Young says :

    I’m loving your posts on vampires – they have always been my favourite creature of the night. I’ve asked myself similar questions in the past, but I don’t think I’ve been able to answer them as well as you have started to here.

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  1. As a matter of fact, I am a Vampire « manbehindthecurtain - April 20, 2012

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