Vampires, Anyone?

I’ve been thinking about something.  Just thinking.  But it’s time to type it out.  It feels like passing a stone. Prepare to be bored.

Generally, it’s about vampires, but more specifically, it’s about story.

The obvious: Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood.  Some others: Being Human, Let the Right One In, Underworld.

The presence of the magical affords the writers an important story tool: extra rules to help with suspense, story twists and structure.  Things have changed for the ‘modern vampire’: garlic and crosses are passe; mirrors are also irrelevant.  This is probably related to the advances in movie/television technologies and is interesting to compare with the Buffyverse, which did away with garlic but was cozy with crosses and holy water and mirrors.  Christian mythology is a fond memory and things seemed to have gone back to evolutionary factors.  What stays in place as lethal to vampires varies.

Twilight – Well, they’re nearly invulnerable to humans; other vampires and werewolves have a shot.  There’s a heavy use of semi-magical powers from other vampires.  In fact, there is little human/vampire conflict.  There is no serious problem with sunlight, wood, or any other physical elements.  When all is said and done, the story goes all conflict between equal/superbeings.  In that respect, it’s quickly reduced to which magical power trumps which (rock, paper, scissors); a story scheme which lacks interest in the long run.  Bella’s aspirations to become a superbeing make her one-dimensional.  They’re rich, well-dressed, with nothing but leisure-time.  She and her perfect husband who adores her endlessly have a child that doesn’t require diaper changes, sleeps through the night, will never get sick, has a built-in nanny, and won’t even require discipline or education.  That’s not a child, it’s a placeholder.  They’ll never fight over parenting priorities, money, friends or who has to cook dinner or grocery-shop.  I don’t get it.  In fact, it’s creepy.  Alan Ball doesn’t like it.  After the final conflict of the books, there is a vista of existence rolling forward endlessly with no features; no goals, no conflict, no development of the physical, mental, personal – absolute stasis (Death!).

To go back to television – Vampire Diaries and True Blood.  Two basic differences – adolescents vs. adults, and when True Blood begins, vampires are a given, whereas it’s a big secret  in Mystic Falls.  For VD, the action is confined to Mystic Falls.  TB has been doing some travelling.  Both are based on books, relatively loosely and the changes from book to series means adjustments for characters and structural elements.

For VD, there is a lot of human/supe interaction and as befits a teen drama, a lot of  ‘becoming aware’ stuff.  Bonnie is finding out about being a witch, Tyler will find out he’s a werewolf.  There are other interesting transitions, possibly into vampire and possibly into dead.  Wood is a big issue, as well as sunlight and as a replacement for garlic – vervain.  No Christian mythology (yay!) and so far, no discussion of death via the ever-popular decapitation.  VD has been happily dispatching vampires with wooden stakes, and they die, in grisly fashion, on camera, rather than turning to dust, or exploding into bloody red pulp.  But after they’re dead, they are dead.  They don’t need to be burned as they do in Forks.

Vampire constructs

Vampire Diaries

  1. Sunlight is a problem, unless you have a magic decoder ring.  Sunlight appears to cause burning (very quickly), but no vampire has been burned to death by sunlight yet.
  2. Wood is a problem. Vervain is disabling but not fatal. Garlic is fine, as are crosses,  holy water and mirrors.
  3. Super-speed and super-strength, super-hearing (but no super-smell?)
  4. Incredible sex.
  5. Have to be invited into a human abode by a resident.  So far, invitations cannot be rescinded.
  6. Older vampire = stronger vampire.  Does not seem to confer other special powers.
  7. Cooler to the touch (solved by lots of coffee, which leads to coffee-breath)
  8. Can eat regular food.
  9. Die on camera like a human who is stabbed in the heart (but get all vein-y). Body has to be disposed of.
  10. Vamping out involves changes to eyes and face (again, all vein-y) and changes to fangs.  The sight/smell of fresh blood  induces the change, but this can be controlled.
  11. Humans become vamps if they die with vampire blood in their system (no complete drainage necessary).  The new vamp goes into transition and must feed on human blood to complete transformation, otherwise, death ensues.
  12. No metals are lethal.
  13. Vampires drink lots of alcohol.
  14. Vampires can subsist on animal blood, or bloodbank blood.  Human blood makes them stronger.  There is no viable blood substitute.
  15. Vampires sleep like regular folks and appear to breathe.  No coffin necessary and they appear to be diurnal (sleep at night, awake during day).
  16. Extensive use of glamoring for all purposes.
  17. Some vampires revel in the kill; others have sworn off a diet of humans for various reasons.  This causes personality changes.
  18. Presence of witches and werewolves; no other known magical beings.  Both conditions seem to be genetic. The witches can control vampires.
  19. Vampires cannot reproduce, though they like to try.
  20. Vampires heal rapidly and their blood is almost miraculously healing.  If a vampire is badly wounded, fresh human blood will accelerate healing.
  21. No beating heart.
  22. Vampires have not necessarily learned to avoid all cameras, so there is evidence of their longevity.
  23. Most or all vampires are rich (no visible means of support).
  24. Vampires exist in a different moral universe.
  25. There is no Vampire Bar & Grill.  There doesn’t appear to be any social/legal organization.  Long acquaintance breeds contempt.

True Blood

  1. Sunlight is a problem.  No magic decoder rings, but there is a new possibility that faerie blood will protect against immolation for a few minutes.  Older vampires appear to burn faster than younger vampires.
  2. Wooden stakes to the heart are instantly fatal.  Decapitation is another method of killing them.
  3. Super-speed, super-strength, super-hearing, super-smell.
  4. Incredible sex.
  5. Have to be invited into a human abode by a resident.  Invitations can be rescinded.
  6. Older vampire = stronger vampire.  Age can lead to other abilities (flying) and maybe others.
  7. Cool to the touch.
  8. Do not (cannot?) eat regular food.
  9. Are seen in mirrors.
  10. Death is a spectacular bloody explosion/dissolution.  What’s left is a gooey, bloody mess, but there are no bones. (this is extremely puzzling)
  11. Vamping out involves flip-down fangs (there is a satisfying click).  No other facial changes.  It seems to be induced by smelling blood, aggression or other arousal.  Weep tears of blood.
  12. Humans become vamps if they are drained, then drink ‘the blood’, are buried for three days and then rise.  New vamps are hungry, but may  not die if they don’t feed immediately.
  13. Silver is hideously corrosive but not lethal.  No other substances appear to be a danger to them.
  14. Vampires appear to drink only blood or blood substitutes.  They do not drink alcohol or eat food.  True Blood has allowed vampires to mainstream and was the impetus for ‘The Great Revelation’.
  15. Vampires must sleep in light-tight environments during daylight hours.  If they do not rest, they get the bleeds and become ill in other ways.  A vampire guards the secret of their resting place.  They are active only at night.  They do not breathe.
  16. Extensive use of glamoring; does not work on those with faerie blood.
  17. Some vampires semi-enslave humans for blood and sexual purposes.  Others have gone to a diet of blood-substitute.
  18. No beating heart.
  19. Most or all vampires are rich (no visible means of support).
  20. Vampires exist in a different moral universe.
  21. There is a Vampire Bar & Grill.  Vampire society and its interactions with other supernatural beings/witches is highly organized and very political.  There is a Vampire League Authority.  There are Kings, Queens and Sheriffs.  Vampires are organized in the United States into three political districts (east, central, west).  They have conventions.
  22. Blood exchanges means psychic and emotional connections.  A Vampire can sense the mood and location of a human that has received their blood.  Humans that have received a vampire’s blood are also sensitive to moods; this also establishes an erotic substrate to the relationship.  ‘V’ is an extreme intoxicant/stimulant/aphrodysiac/psychedelic/elixir to humans.  Effects vary from human to human/occasion to occasion.  Addictive.
  23. Presence of witches, werewolves (also panthers, tigers, foxes), demons, faeries, maeneds and probably other beings that will be revealed when it suits the writers.  One of the most interesting exchanges was Sophie-Anne telling Bill that all supernatural beings willed themselves into existence.
  24. Different people taste different to vampires.  Modern life has spoiled the taste of some.  Faerie blood is delicious to vampires.  They aren’t interested in were-blood, shapeshifter blood, demon-blood.
  25. The relationship between ‘maker’ vampire and ‘progeny’ vampire is extremely strong.  The child must obey the maker and is dependent on the maker for knowledge, protection and political purposes.  The maker can ‘call’ the child.  There is a sexual element at times.  A maker can release a child.
  26. Vampires don’t commonly associate with other supernaturals, although there may be business relationships.
  27. Vampires cannot reproduce sexually, though they like to try.

Congrats to Arielle Kebbel, who has guested on both shows.

Vampire Diaries premieres for its second season on Thursday, September 9 on the CW at 8 PM.  True Blood wraps up its third season on Sunday, September 12, on HBO at 9 PM.  Season one of VD ended with Uncle John fingerless and stabbed in the gut, Jeremy possibly dying upstairs in an attempt to become a vampire, villainness Katherine returned to wreak havoc, and no one but Uncle John the wiser.  We’ll see more romance for Elena, more ignorance from the townspeople, and lots more drama as the Brothers Salvatore figure out how to cope with Elena’s nasty doppelganger.

Season three of TB is currently in cliffhanger mode with Eric and Russell set to fry in the sun; Tommy is running off with this big brother’s money; Maxine Fortenberry is preparing to off her son’s sweetheart; Sam is hooking up with Tara, and we have a DEA raid on HotShot in the offing.  Who will survive?  I’m pretty sure Eric survives, mostly because Eric figures so strongly in the later books, including a delicious development in the fourth book, and the series has very loosely followed the books.  There is also word that Denis O’Hare will reappear in the fourth season, but he may appear as a ghost, in flashbacks, etc.  I think he probably dies next week.  But it’s hard to tell where the writers will go with this fairy-blood thing.  Can’t wait.  I’m also pretty sure that Lafayette’s mother, when she came to see to protect him against some evil force, knew somehow that that evil force was Jesus, or his proxies.

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