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Vampirism in the Movies

Vampirism in the Movies

**Originally published in The Vampire Church’s E-Zine in July 2003**


As a 38 year old, I can honestly say that I have gone out of my way to watch every vampire movie I could, soaking up every detail that I could. So yeah. You can say I am a Vamp Flick Fan.

Early on, when introduced to the world of film (or should I say ‘to the world BY film’) the dark, deadly and rat-like Nosferatu made its first appearance. Overwhelming themes of this myth based vampire rocked the screen and, for its time, frightened its share of movie goers.

Dracula, played by both Christopher Lee and the ever linked, Bela Lugosi, were next to take steps to terrorize young and old alike. Yet even here, with Dracula being the primary character there was more than a penchant to bring myth, legend and lore into play, giving vampires ungodly strength, a voracious appetite for destruction, and a repulsion to silver, holy objects, mirrors and sunlight. Although Bela Lugosi also linked the quintessential accent and classic style of dress, it was hard to get past the more fundamental ‘supernatural abilities’ to allow the character to stand on its own.

Even in the comical Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, Dracula (played by none other than the ever popular Bela Lugosi) hinted at a series of amazing super powers. However, I spent more time laughing at the antics of Bud and Lou, to really care. (so I am a kid at heart)

During a short recess, vampires under went only one change really. The were not all linked to Brahm Stoker’s creation. New blood had come into play. However… The same mythic qualities were being given to a great many of these renditions of vampires, as were applied to their predecessors. In the movie, ‘The Hunger’, vampires (in this case an attractive woman) were hinted at being immortal with their lover/donors being drained to the point of almost mummification. (WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT?!?)

However, here the vampire genre changed. Though there were strong undertones of myth that were not flashed as had been done in the ‘flicks gone by’, done away with were the obvious things such as shape shifting into a bat, sleeping in coffins and aversions to holy objects (save for the holy water in the bath tub). Being locked inexorably to the night, living forever, and the undeniable thirst still ruled the genre.

‘Lost Boys.’ Now here was a testosterone filled pretty-boy-gone-renegade collection if ever I had seen one. These bad boys flaunted the law (and respect of their ‘father’) at every turn. In the end, it was probably this that got them toasted. Well… That and the script writers *smiles wickedly*.

‘Near Dark’. Wow. Here was definitely a movie towards my liking. Hokey to the point of the comical, throwing in traces of history to liven the story line up a bit, while still an air of the mythic. Now here we come upon some more subtle differences though. With ‘Near Dark’, although immortality is hinted at, as well as superior strength and an aversion to sunlight. BUT three important differences can be found. One. The vampires in this movie do not immediately burst into flames upon contact with the sun, they are given enough time to find shelter or further bungle up resulting in the unwary vampires destruction. Two. These vampires do not shape shift, fly or turn into clouds of vapor, as is eluded to in myth and legend. And three. THEY DO NOT TAKE BLOOD BY BITING PEOPLE WITH ELONGATED CANINES, instead they use knives, gunshots, biting (normal mouthed) and even spurs to draw the blood.

A bit of a jump later, three movies (don’t know that I’ll actually count the fourth, though I will list it) have taken grander steps to bringing more reality to the genre of vampire movies.

First up on the list is ‘The Breed’. Here we have a uniquely dark look at a more governmentally controlled United States complete with a jack booted, overly authoritative police action suggesting that ‘true patriots turn in anyone who does not agree with the governments strict control. Adrian Paul stars in this vampire flick (and for those that were fans of the Highlander: the Series, you can definitely make out hints of Duncan in this movie). Vampires here are said to be an offshoot of the human race. Though admittedly, it still sloughs off into myth and legend, again no shape shifting, but superior strength, longer lives (never actually says that but we know that Adrian Paul’s character was a Jewish man escaping persecution from WWII Nazi soldiers whom he later admits to hunting down and killing) and though fangs are a prevalent part of the vampires in this flick, THEY ARE ABLE TO TRAVEL AROUND DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS!!! *gasp!!*

Next we have ‘The Forsaken’. Brendan Fehr stars as a vampire stalker, who has been infected with a genetic disease that causes one to turn into a vampire, however, has somehow stumbled upon a ‘cocktail’ of medications that suppresses it. The spread of vampirism is, of course, by bite, yet it imparts a genetic twist there. Supposedly the bite transmits a germ that is linked specifically to the original vampire. They use a really big term that means exactly what I said here, so when watching the movie be prepared to hear it. The vampires in this flick still have superior strength, a problem with sunlight and the ever present thirst, but again, no shape shifting, no flying but there are hints at immortality, though this version of the vampire is said to begin with 8 surviving members of the Knights Templar that led a crusade and were turned on by the Church. They made a deal with a demon and were from that time forward ‘forsaken by God’. So, though many of the mythic parts were dropped and others kept, a new part was added. Becoming a vampire meant you were cursed by God.

Finally we come to a little known ditty titled ‘Blood Ties’. Jason London stars in this vampire flick, as a person who witnesses his parents being brutally murdered by a group of people using wooden stakes and are dressed like hunters stalking prey. Here you have a ‘family’ trait being passed down from one generation to the next. Vampirism. Over the centuries the blood hunger has been pushed aside, but still remains, there are no fangs, there is hints of superior strength, and an aversion to day light (but this is mostly from partying til all hours of the night).

Combine these movies and to a degree, you can muddle out the facts of our existence, which I find quite enjoyable.

There is another movie out there. ‘Reign of Darkness’. A vampire flick from Down Under that sets a lot of realism in it, though it also dips into the mythic.

Watch these movies, they are great… Well, for those of us who like this kind of thing.

With an eye on Hollywood, I am Belfazaar Ashantison bidding you a fond adieu.

About The Author

Zaar Ashantison

Belfazaar Michael Bousum Ashantison is a well versed practitioner and teacher of archaic magic, Voodoo and Native American spirituality, Zaar is the founding member of the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA) and works at Voodoo Authentica in New Orleans when not helping the homeless.

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