We have writers like Anne Rice and L.J. Smith (the OG teen vampire author) to thank for the recent influx of romantic vampires in our culture. Instead of terrible beasts of the night that murder their way through the centuries, we have sparkly, emotional hunks preying on lonely high school girls and southern women. With the new season of True Blood debuting last night, I thought I’d take a look at real vampires. You know, the ones that leave dead corpses around instead of sexually satisfied women. So I give you…
Vampires who don’t play nice with humans
— 30 Days of Night
Comics are one of the the few mediums that are still pushing the evil vampire, and we have Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith to thank for that. Niles and Templesmith started the 30 Days of Night series in the mid 00s, creating a race of pale monsters who set themselves upon the small town of Barrow, Alaska to attend an all-you-can-eat buffet of people during the dark winter months. These vampires do not fall in love with the natives, they do not sparkle in the pale moonlight. They rip out people’s throats and leave the town of Barrow in a pool of blood. Though the story is about the humans trying to survive the invasion, the story isn’t about a battle of humans vs. vamps. It’s a survival of the fittest, and the fittest have fangs.
Chan-wook Park is best known for his Vengeance Trilogy, which includes one of my favorite films of all time Old Boy. Therefore, you know if he’s doing a film about vampires, it’s going to be really, really messed up. Thirst follows a priest, Sang-hyun, who turns into a vampire through a freak medical experiment. He starts off his life as a vampire seeing it as a gift that can heal people. But then he degrades into a man powered by impulse and desire. He falls in love with a woman, runs away from his monastery, kills a man, steals blood from the hospital, and basically does everything a man of God isn’t meant to do. Park’s take on the vampire is a loss of control, an abandonment of everything that makes us human – regret, self-control, morality, etc. Sang-hyun may not be ripping people to shreds but he’s certainly not a man anymore.
— American Vampire
Scott Snyder has a different take on the new vampire – they can be monsters but above all else they should be sexy. His series American Vampire follows a race of new vampires as they evolve throughout American history. These new vampires can walk in the daylight and look pretty much like you and I. But then they hulk out and turn into these lithe killing machines full of teeth and claws and rage. The father of this new race, Skinner Sweet, was a mad man before he was turned and remains a mad man in death. In his first arc, written by Stephen King (so you know it’s messed up), Sweet rips apart an entire town just for fun. And even the demure Pearl Jones, his protege, kicks more than a little ass when she turns vamp. Sweet and Jones are the new modern vampire – sophisticated but deadly.
— Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D is the long-running series of over 20 books that follow D, a lone hunter in a post-nuclear Earth run by the Nobles (aka vampires). The series itself has been turned into magna, a radio series, and even two animated features. Through D himself is a dhampir (half-vampire), he is not the monster in these books. But he encounters plenty of them. Vampires, demons, hybrids like himself. All willing to maim, kill, and feed on the humans they control. Where 30 Days of Night is a story of humans trying to fight back against vampires, Vampire Hunter D is a story where humans have lost the fight and are struggling to hold on. In the end they’re just a bunch of feed bags for their rulers.