That’s a picture of my favorite vampire, Spike. He’s a recurring villain/anti-hero from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always like anti-hero characters and Spike is one of the better ones. He starts off as a villain, but fails spectacularly at that. He then tries his hardest to reform and become a hero, stumbling and falling all the way until he martyrs himself to save his love, Buffy.
Vampires are a very mutable part of our culture. The rules that define vampires change depending on which story you’re reading or watching. My dad and I refer to these rules as the “physics of the story.” Magic can have physics or superpowers can have physics or a particular type of monster can have physics. The important part of physics in a story is consistency. If the vampires can shoot lazers from their eyes, that’s fine as long as they all have that power or its absence is explained.
Vampire physics are consistent in most stories about them, but horribly inconsistent if you look at different stories.
Twilight vampires are supernaturally fast and strong, sparkle in daylight, need to be ripped apart and burned to be killed, and each individual vampire has a superpower of some kind.
Buffy vampires are strong and burn in daylight or when exposed to sanctified objects such as a cross or holy water. Buffy vampires turn to ash when a stake goes through their hearts, cast no reflection, and need to be invited into private residences before entering them.
I might be remembering this one wrong as its been a long time since I’ve seen this movie. The vampire in Vampire in Brooklyn (Eddie Murphy in a classic gory vampire movie if you’re interested) has super speed, super strength, the ability to magically charm people, some sort of sixth sense, and the ability to create zombie-like servants.
In D&D, vampires are strong, fast, fear sanctified objects and mirrors, can’t cross running water unless in a boat, and are killed by decapitation or staking in the heart (but will return if the head is reattached or the stake removed). D&D vampires can also turn into a bat or a wolf and summon such creatures to do their bidding as well. D&D vampires can turn into mist, must sleep in coffins, can magically charm people with a glance, and can walk on walls.
All of these are part of the vampire myth and each is consistent within each story, but it becomes difficult when new vampire stories come out to discern what the rules will be. The sparkling vampires in Twilight were a new thing for a lot of people. Dracula isn’t killed by stakes in Van Helsing but can only be killed by werewolves. Another part of the vampire myth is a constant feud with werewolves, present in Twilight, Van Helsing, and Underworld.
That vampire-werewolf connection is actually pretty interesting. One of the theories is that vampire and werewolf stories started when rabies first reached Europe. People didn’t know what it was. All they saw was a bite turning a normal person into a beast of some kind whose bite would also transmit the disease. These people started being called vampires and werewolves (possibly even the same word that shifted pronunciation).
Anyways, I’m thinking about all of this because I’m writing about vampires in my True Colors Hornblower story. I’d like the vampire physics to be consistent, but I haven’t nailed down which rules I’d like to use. I’ll probably closely follow Buffy as that’s the story where my favorite vampire lives, but I’ll ditch those restrictions if they don’t fit the story.
That’s all for tonight!