With Halloween around the corner, I want to return to a particular complaint that I'm sure I've mentioned before, but it needs repeating. What prompted this forthcoming rant was a book by Brandon Massey called "Dark Corner". I read the first chapter, having no prior knowledge of what the book might be about. It began promisingly enough. An African American goes south to live in the home of his now dead famous father. The characters were engaging and whet my appetite. But then...then Massey began Chapter Two with a tall man in black sitting in first class on an airplane, a metrosexual vampire drinking blood through a straw from a juice pack. I threw the book aside and began this rant.
An open letter to would-be horror writers and urban fantasists.
Dear Sir or Madame,
Leave the vampires alone.
I understand that they are alluring and that these manifestations of repressed Victorian sexuality are irrestistable as you attempt to draw in readers by playing upon their own power and repressed sexuality issues. However, in writing about these dark creatures and in giving them all the neurosis of metrosexuals in heat, you rob them of their primal energy. You take away that which has made them fearful, that which has haunted our subconscious and thrilled us and instead left behind a pale, ineffectual doppleganger.
I remember the thrill I had watching "Nightstalker" for the first time. The made for TV film followed a vampire as he hunted prey in Las Vegas. No charming foreigner there, with smoldering good looks and a seductive smile. No. Kolchak's prey was the vampire revealed. The cruel animalistic bloodsuck, drinking our fear along with our blood, chewing through our psyche, devouring it as though chewing through popcorn at a midnight show.
Dan Curtis' Barnabus Collins. I know some will think that he was a fop, a pathetic troll trapped in a daytime drama. However, every so often, Jonathan Frey showed what lay beneath the romanticized version of evil, and it wasn't pretty. Not one bit. Love him all you want, you lovers of "Buffy" (one of the greatest offenders) but when given rein, Barnabus was evil without bottom. He was darkness come solid.
Shall we talk about Simon Clark's creations? What about Dracula as drawn by Bram Stoker, without the baggage given him by Hollywood? Shall we discuss Robert R. McCammon's "They Thirst"? What about F. Paul Wilson's "Midnight Mass"? Or King's "Salem's Lot"?
I won't throw blame though. I won't wail about Anne Rice, nor shall I stake poor Laurell K. Hamilton. I won't even turn a critical eye toward the likes of Mary Janice Davidson and her Queen Betsy series (you really don't want to know). Let me instead just extend my arms in supplication and beg that these writers stop. Go pick on someone else. Leave the vampires alone. Write stories about uncertified car mechanics. That can be terrifying. Write about professional soccer players transplanted to the U.S.. Egads!!!!! Just turn away from the nightstalkers. Stop. Now.
Given time, these creatures of shadow can reclaim their mystique. The word VAMPIRE can regain some of its iconic horror. The mind heals. The culture forgives.
So turn back to the light where you really belong, and leave the darkness to us who know it and love it.