"Hysterical, campy fun!"
- Tony Brown, cleveland.com

"Full of suspense, romance, drama and lots of laughs!"

- Dan Shaurette, Out of the Coffin podcast

This extraordinary one-act drama deftly explores the evolution of the centuries-old vampire myth.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The (American) Cure

A vampire is dead. Life has departed it, one is an animated corpse. The act of attacking a living creature, ripping its flesh to drink its blood - such a cliche, think about it, to suck the blood out of a human being, to sustain its own life ... a vein or an artery is not a drinking straw. Try pulling the liquid from a sponge with your mouth - forget the fangs for a moment, imagine what you need to do with your lips, drawing blood - dark, pungent blood - from another human's body, into your mouth, down your throat, so you may live another night.

How do you cure that? You can defeat a vampire, kill it, destroy its body in a number of proscribed ways. But how do you make something not what it is? How do you take a dead body and give it life, make it "normal" again? That's the Frankenstein story, isn't it? And how successful did that go?

Where did it first become a thing to cure vampirism?

I was listening to a podcast today where they had a "round table discussion" on The Lost Boys. The participants were maybe a half-decade or ten years younger than I. The Goonies generation. People my age were already well into high school when Goonies came out, and most of us thought it was pretty rank. Corey Feldman was great, absolutely fabulous in Stand By Me, I will give you that, everything after that is just vomit-making. My friends-who-are-slightly-younger love that flick. And The Lost Boys was made for them.

I was in college when that came out. It's insufferable. It is fun, but it is insufferable. I like Jason Patric, especially in his later work (Rush, Your Friends and Neighbors) but meeting him here for the first time I just figured Rob Lowe had turned the script down. And yes, Keifer is sexy fun ... even with a mullet.

But the Coreys? Grampa? Dianne Wiest wasted as a painfully stupid single-mother stereotype? And of course, there's the whole kill-the-head-vampire-and-you-become-human-if-you've-never-drank-blood-yet thing.

Maybe, if you kill the head vampire, all vampire children perish, I might buy that - see: The Vampire Chronicles. If vampirism is an ancient spirit being passed around, then yes, that makes sense. But you're dead. Because you are dead. Because some vampire drank your blood - you were drained of what keeps you alive and that killed you and you are being kept alive by something else but you are a dead thing.

Some say vampirism became a metaphor for AIDS in the 80s, and hence we longed for a cure (and by the way, I hope you had a good World AIDS Day) but I am not buying it. Vampirism can be a metaphor for being gay, to be sure, anything "outsider" metaphor works for that, especially stylish outsiders, even those with mullets. But I think it is more sinister - or mundane - than that. It's the American film idea that any story, every story, should have a happy ending. The puritanical idea that evil gets vanquished and that good is rewarded. If you were bad, but repent, you can be made whole again. A very simple, child-like idea.

And it makes for crap vampire stories.

Because sometimes, death happens. Sometimes people must be held accountable for their actions. And sometimes death comes to those who do not deserve it, most of the time really. It's the sad reality of life. And it goes back to the old myths. An animal jumped over your open grave, you're a vampire. Sorry. You were attacked in an alley by a vampire and several nights later you rise from your grave to feed off the blood of small children. Happens. These stories are supposed to be f*cking scary. Providing an out robs them of any potency, to me.

Don't get me started on "sucking the venom out" that doesn't even work with snakes it's something they tell people to make them think there is something you can actually do, you can't, it's venom not bubble tea you can't just suck it back out.

I liked it better when vampire stories had irrevocable consequences. And don't get me started on Jami Gertz.


Art2mis said...

Prescribed, not proscribed, I think. Other than that, a very fine rant.

pengo said...

Grrrr ...

pengo said...

... but thank you. I imagine some of these random thoughts landed harder than others for you.