How to enjoy vampires: Appreciating those blood-drinking fiends!


Vampire movies can make you shiver in fear or roll your eyes. Still, I happen to love some creature of the night movies. Let’s examine weaknesses and strengths of vampires!

Vampires are interesting creatures. Recently, I watched The Lost Boys for the first time ever, and found it reasonably enjoyable. Some horror fans would say: “You never saw The Lost Boys?  How is that possible?!”

It’s one of those movies which, for whatever reason, just eluded me for quite some time. After seeing it, I’m reminded that I’m capable of liking vampire films.  It’s a fun movie.

Still, vampires come off as awkward somehow. Maybe it’s all the quirky little rules they tend to have. You know, show them a cross and it can ward them off, or sometimes physically harm them.

Throw so-called “holy water” at them and they will get singed, or at least repelled. Then, of course, you have the whole thing with garlic. From what I understand, this results from an ancient belief that garlic prevents evil, or disease, and similar things.

Still, it sounds a bit silly to me. Of course, the most ridiculous vampire theory is that they die from sunlight. Well, okay, they usually don’t just die — they typically burst into flame!

In case, you didn’t notice, this is quite a tally of weaknesses right off the bat. I mean, sunlight is obviously a pretty major phenomenon for planet earth, with or without the life it presently sustains. Similarly, if you’re a garlic lover, you’re pretty safe from vampires (especially if you believe they’re around). It’s undeniable that vamps have a narrowed window of opportunity, right?

Fortunately, some vampire stories find ways around these weaknesses, such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula saying vampires are only quite weakened during the day. They don’t necessarily die. Also, the movie Daybreakers puts a nice spin on this aspect of vampirism.  It’s also true that sunlight can be harmful even to ordinary humans.

It can burn the skin, cause cancer and harm one’s eyes. In fact, I’ve read that blue eyes are more sensitive to sunlight, which is definitely relevant to me.  In other words, vampires are just hyper-sensitive to something that can already be harmful (yet, ironically, is necessary for human life).  Still, it’s debatable whether sun weakness is a benefit to the average vampire story.

Why the weaknesses?

Every great villain and hero has strengths and weaknesses.  However,  all of these vampire weakness theories date back to antiquity, when people were far more likely to believe in real vampires (and real werewolves, and other such stuff). People wanted to believe their were ways to ward off such creatures, so they likely looked to their pre-existing superstitions, which they wanted to strengthen anyway.  They believed garlic, crosses and blessed water were not just potentially medicinal, but also magical.

With just a bit of research, you can find accounts of ancient people stuffing deceased mouths of suspected vampires with garlic, and other such things. To hard-boiled skeptics it may be hard to enjoy this sort of fare, as it’s steeped in old superstitions.

Or, conversely, it might add an element of unintentional humor.  Similarly, modern people pretending to be “real” vampires often come off as seeming hokey and desperate. In fact, Key & Peele have an excellent sketch about “sexy” vampire culture which you should definitely check out.

More recently, David Farrier’s Dark Tourist examined some self-proclaimed vampires.  They insist they’re just normal people who have to drink human blood.

How to enjoy vampires

A surprising amount of my movie collection features vampires. I already mentioned Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but I’m also partial to Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Thirst (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979), Fright Night (1985), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Let the Right One In (2008), and so on.

What do all these movies have in common? They tend to emphasize the strengths of vampires, as opposed to their myriad weaknesses. They’re also just well done movies.

For example, a big part of Nosferatu‘s appeal is simply how otherworldly and creepy Max Schreck looks as Count Orlok. He is by no means a sexy creature, and would have probably avoided sunlight even if it didn’t physically threaten him. Other films, like Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre and Thirst, highlight vampire weaknesses to some degree but put interesting spins on the compulsion to drink blood (also, Werner Herzog really emphasizes plague rats, which links vampirism to disease).

In many ways, Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot is another definitive horror film, blending aspects of cinematic fun with general creepiness. Honestly, hat blue, bald-headed vampire is a thing of nightmares! Fright Night and From Dusk Till Dawn are also fun, over-the-top movies that are hard to even hate. Meanwhile, Let the Right One In reminds us that not all vampires are 100% evil, and can sometimes be allies to normal humans.

A good vampire movie helps suspend disbelief for you. Its mood and unique approach can help draw you in, disarm you, then swoop in for the kill. Still, you’ll need to suspend some disbelief yourself. In order to appreciate vampires, you simply have to imagine they could be real.  Respect their strengths and their weaknesses.

dark. Next. Call of the Cryptid: The Barmanou or Pakistan’s bigfoot

It also helps to remember that, once upon a time, many more people seriously believed in them.  In fact, some still believe they exist!  On the bright side, it’s yet another excuse to stock up on garlic crust pizza.  Who knows?  Maybe they’re warded off by stuffed crust, too.

What are your thoughts on vampires and vampire movies? Let us know in the comments!