I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, “Vampires are so overdone.”
As a writer – especially one who writes about bloodsucking creatures – that phrase always peeves me. Not because I take it as an insult, but because it rarely means exactly what people think they are saying.
Let’s back up a few steps. Vampires have been around for hundreds of years. Several European countries have told stories about vampires. The concept of vampirism has been around for centuries, included in Ancient Greek and Roman mythology.
Back then, vampires were creepy demonic monsters. The gothic romantic vampire we are most familiar with arose in 1819 in John William Polidori’s short fiction prose “The Vampyre,” and then strengthened in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” These stories not only influenced later works about vampires, but brought about vampires as literary figures that are seen in non-vampire novels. For example, Count Dracula was not a scary monster. He was an older man who was able to manipulate people, especially young girls, for their blood. The novel used Dracula not as just a horror element, but to touch upon the theme of women’s roles in the Victorian era. Vampires being older men controlling younger women remain an important archetype in literature.
If you think vampires are “so overdone” because they’ve been a hot topic for thousands of years, then yes, they have been overdone. But so has everything in literature. Greek mythology is full of love stories, war, monsters, and super beings. So if that’s your logic, then I wish you good luck on finding an original concept, but please don’t pick on just the vampires.
BUT…that’s generally not the complaint people have about vampires. Most people are just sick of seeing overly sexualized vampires on TV or reading about them in young adult novels. They’re tired of sparkling creatures that are more concerned about love than finding their next meal, and I’m honestly tired of it, too. But I’m not tired of vampires as a whole.
If you’re a vampire fan who is also tired of all the pretty-boys, you’re in luck: there are other vampire stories out there for you to check out. The great thing about vampires being “overdone” is that there are so many cool twists on them. There’s something for everyone out there.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really good, scary movie about vampires made in recent years. However, I recently watched a couple great newer films that use vampires as interesting metaphors for two different concepts.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” directed and written by Jim Jarmusch is about two vampire lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). The story revolves around their struggles to hide their vampirism in the modern world. They are unable to simply drink blood straight from a human’s neck since their blood is tainted, they seek out the “good stuff” from local suppliers.
If this reminds you of drug addiction, you’re spot on. The vampires are symbolic of drug addicts, searching for clean, safe blood to drink to stay alive. Adam find comfort in playing guitar and is often bothered by the local “rock and roll kids.” Eve’s sister is representative of a drug junkie who can’t control urges and gorges herself on Adam and Eve’s blood supply, which causes trouble for the vampire lovers. The story cleverly uses vampires to create a fresh commentary on the modern underground rock scene and the heavy drug usage that plagues the followers.
If drama-romance stories aren’t your thing, you might find “What We Do in the Shadows” to be more up your alley. Directed and written by Directed and written by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, the film is a mockumentary comedy about vampire roommates going about their daily lives.
Though there are some brilliantly funny and graphic blood drinking scenes, the movie, for the most part, revolves around their surprisingly ordinary struggles. They argue over chores, have unresolved issues with past lovers, encounter enemy gangs (aka the werewolves), and face challenges with their new roommate. The film gives the viewers a realistic view on what it’s like to be a vampire. Sure, there are fun parties to attend and silly pranks to pull on humans, but it’s not easy getting dressed without a mirror, giving up your favorite foods you ate as a human, or entering bars without an invitation. As humorous as the movie is – and it is VERY humorous – it does an excellent job showing that although vampires may not be humans, we are more similar than we may think.
Vampires are here to stay, whether you enjoy them or not. I’m not sure how long the sparkly vamps will remain in the media, but as long as they stir up a fan base, keep an eye out for lesser-known films, as those are the ones that take a fresh spin on the age-old bloodsuckers – or at least as fresh as one can attempt to be on such an “overdone” topic.
Have you seen either of these two movies? What did you think? Are there any other vampire books/movies that you really enjoy? Let me know what you think below in the comments!